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Can broken chime rods be fixed with metal-to-metal epoxy?

J. A. Olson

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The rod would have to be punched up to the point where the screw-in slot begins to have enough grip so the rod doesn't fall out. Then they'd have to be re-tapered to resonate. The resulting repaired rod - if it even works - would be shorter and higher-pitched which means it won't match the rod pre-break. There aren't any techniques that will successfully amend a broken chime rod back to how it was pre-break, otherwise those techniques would be in common use by now. Given that chime rods were designed for mass production, it's easier to just buy a new set of rods instead of repairing broken ones.

It isn't the same as large church bells where techniques to weld cracked bells have been devised by companies such as Soundweld. You have more surface and material to try repairing large bells than you do small chime rods, and the technique still must be done right to avoid having a dead bell. The "usual" method of welding will not give good results because it does nothing to amend the bell, you're just putting a patch over what is still a broken bell..

Some insight into Soundweld:

 

Micam100

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There aren't any techniques that will successfully amend a broken chime rod back to how it was pre-break, otherwise those techniques would be in common use by now
When I was faced with the broken rod situation, I found lots of threads on the message board about the problem. I didn't see any sensible repair options and most advice was to source a new set of rods.

That didn't suit me, so I devised the method I detailed in post #44.

This is a viable technique if you have the know-how, or know someone who does. The lathe work is straightforward, the welding is critical…in my case tig welded by a local engineering shop for A$20 for two rods.
 

J. A. Olson

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I'd like to hear what the repaired rods sound like, comparing to an undamaged or new set of rods.
 
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J. A. Olson

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It would be a real surprise to hear a welded chime rods set sound as good as an undamaged set, hence I ask for a recording. The welded chime rods usually ended up sounding like what is shown in this video. The first clip shows a clock with the old "repaired" chime rod, the second clip is the same clock with a new rod altogether:

 

Micam100

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Yeah, That's funny. Where was that welded? Right at the break I presume - that's unlikely to be any good. I'll try to get a recording from mine...should strike 5 our time in about 45 minutes. I don't have any "before" recordings unfortunately.

Michael
 

J. A. Olson

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Looking forward to the recording. That clock's broken rod would have been welded at the captive end and didn't do anything to restore sound quality. Tuning a 16 rods 'Concerto chime' would be quite an exercise.

The other example of welded or soldered rods, this time they were silver bronze rods:

 

Micam100

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Sorry about the video quality…standing on a stool with my wife holding a torch over her head.

I'm working the strike manually. Two of the strike rods are the ones I repaired. Of the four rods, there are two long and two short.

I'll try to get a better recording of the 5pm chime and strike.



Michael
 

J. A. Olson

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Thanks for the recording - I appreciate seeing the results of restoration techniques, even if they differ from what I'm used to. Those German hall clocks often used a cluster of rods meant to give the sound of a giant church bell tolling. Usually they appear to be two sets of twinned rods but careful examination reveals they were slightly different lengths from one another.

I have no idea how close it would be on a tuned set, but it's worth remembering in case a clock with this hour strike setup appears for repairs. Bim-bam strike hall clocks used the same rods setup with two sets of hammers striking. I'll leave it to Smiloid to try this repair technique out with the broken rods.
 

Micam100

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Here's 5 pm our time.

German grandfather, early 20th. century. Two of the strike rods were broken when I bought it. Original strike rods were two long (640mm) and two short (560mm). Each pair had a very slight difference in length to its partner. I read on another thread that this was to give the effect of "many voices".

One long and one short were broken. These are the two I repaired.

 
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gmorse

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Hi Smiloid,
Would it be possible to drill a hole 0.25mm to 0.1mm in size in the tapered end of a chime rod where the break occurred?
Are you sure about the units or the decimal point position? 0.1 mm is only 0.0039".

Regards,

Graham
 

Micam100

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Thanks for the recording - I appreciate seeing the results of restoration techniques, even if they differ from what I'm used to. Those German hall clocks often used a cluster of rods meant to give the sound of a giant church bell tolling. Usually they appear to be two sets of twinned rods but careful examination reveals they were slightly different lengths from one another.

I have no idea how close it would be on a tuned set, but it's worth remembering in case a clock with this hour strike setup appears for repairs. Bim-bam strike hall clocks used the same rods setup with two sets of hammers striking. I'll leave it to Smiloid to try this repair technique out with the broken rods.
I'd love to see someone else with the necessary capabilities do this and post the results. For me, it was a much easier option than trying to find equivalent replacements or buy a complete set. I realize that it may not be suitable in a commercial environment. Edit: On second thoughts, might be very useful in a commercial environment, knowing the skills of some of those that contribute here.

Michael
 
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wow

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Thanks for sharing your results, Michael. As I posted earlier, I believe welding is the only way to achieve a sound that is the same as the the original. Welding actually melts the two parts being joined and adds metal (welding rod). The welding rod used can affect the sound also. When done on rods from the strike side, it is not as noticeable if a rod is not the same quality as the rest because they are all struck simultaneously. It is much more critical on the chime side where rods are struck individually. I would like to hear a repaired rod that has been repaired by welding struck on a chime side. I believe It would be very difficult to achieve the same resonance as the other rods.
The time used to use this method of repair is, in my opinion, not worth it. I would replace the broken rod/rods with a longer rod made of the same alloy and tune it to the needed pitch. Much easier.
Justin, please don’t post that video in post 56 again. Terrible! Makes me cringe. Where did you find that?
Will
 
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J. A. Olson

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The horrifying Herschede belonged to another collector I used to talk to. He imported that clock from America to England and had no idea the rods were bad until it arrived. All looked OK in the eBay photos but there was no way to tell what it sounded like beforehand. Unfortunately he'd fallen out of clockwork by the time I started furnishing customary chime rod sets and there was no chance at purchasing the clock for further repair. I recall he tried replacing the rods later on with spare rods from a Haller mantel clock but the sound wasn't satisfactory enough for presentation. Sad end for what was a nice clock.

The Herschede chime rods sound great but they are also prone to breakage if not secured during transit. They were a silver bronze alloy comprising nickel-cadmium and bellmetal bronze, a shrunk-down version of what served their tubular bell hall clocks. The large tubular bells were bronze with nickel-cadmium plating. If they become damaged from heat exposure they turn somewhat golden in color and tend to sound tinnier. Cleaning the heat-damaged rods may help, otherwise it's replacements ahoy:

SymphonyRods Tambour and Upright.jpg
 
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Micam100

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Justin, please don’t post that video in post 56 again. Terrible! Makes me cringe. Where did you find that?
Will
Amen to that!

Thanks Will,
I'll try to get a recording of the individual strike rods tomorrow. It's getting a bit late here now.

Michael
 

Smiloid

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Thanks for the recording - I appreciate seeing the results of restoration techniques, even if they differ from what I'm used to. Those German hall clocks often used a cluster of rods meant to give the sound of a giant church bell tolling. Usually they appear to be two sets of twinned rods but careful examination reveals they were slightly different lengths from one another.

I have no idea how close it would be on a tuned set, but it's worth remembering in case a clock with this hour strike setup appears for repairs. Bim-bam strike hall clocks used the same rods setup with two sets of hammers striking. I'll leave it to Smiloid to try this repair technique out with the broken rods.
I am planning on finding somebody very capable of the work in reality. I have no such tools and will have to pay money. Planning on purchasing an antique rod to help with the work. Speaking of the broken rods, they had tarnished again for a while. Made them shine again but it is not perfect. Does beryllium copper tarnish?
 

J. A. Olson

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The rods tarnish unless they were coated to give some protection. I always coat the rods with a thin oil film to keep them from tarnishing. Works like a charm. I don't have the resources required to do specialty welding but there must be others on here who may like to give it a try.
 

Micam100

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Thanks Will,
I'll try to get a recording of the individual strike rods tomorrow. It's getting a bit late here now.
This is easier to say than do, (especially without my lighting and video assistant who had to go to work)…trying to do all strikes with the same strength while avoiding mis-hits and clashes with other rods.

I would like to hear a repaired rod that has been repaired by welding struck on a chime side. I believe It would be very difficult to achieve the same resonance as the other rods.
The lowest note in the chime set is the same as the highest note in the strike set, so here I've compared the chime low with the repaired strike high. Bear in mind that the strike pair are originally made slightly out of tune with each other for the "many voices" effect. Ignore the start of the 3/4 chime that caught me off guard at the end.
Apologies to Smiloid for highjacking his thread.
Michael
 
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Smiloid

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Anyways, if someone other than you guys offers to repair the chime rods that are original to my clock, that user should message me.
 

wow

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This is easier to say than do, (especially without my lighting and video assistant who had to go to work)…trying to do all strikes with the same strength while avoiding mis-hits and clashes with other rods.



The lowest note in the chime set is the same as the highest note in the strike set, so here I've compared the chime low with the repaired strike high. Bear in mind that the strike pair are originally made slightly out of tune with each other for the "many voices" effect. Ignore the start of the 3/4 chime that caught me off guard at the end.
Apologies to Smiloid for highjacking his thread.
Michael
Michael, I’m a dummy. I do not understand what you did in the video. All I hear is the same note at the beginning followed by the four Westminster notes. Which one was repaired?
 

Micam100

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Michael, I’m a dummy. I do not understand what you did in the video. All I hear is the same note at the beginning followed by the four Westminster notes. Which one was repaired?
Will, Ignore the four Westminster chimes at the end. That was the clock catching me unawares.

The first four notes you hear are not the same rod. They are me hitting the following notes manually:

  • Chime rods, lowest note.
  • Strike rods, (repaired) high note.
  • Repeat first note.
  • Repeat second note.
In the original set up, it appears they used the same rod for the chime lowest note and for the strike highest note pair. For manufacturing and inventory efficiency, I guess.

Michael
 

wow

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Ok. I got it. There is a slight difference in the sounds. The pitch is the same. The repaired rod is not quite as resonant and clear as the original. A little mushy maybe. Could be compared to “tone quality” in vocal music.
please understand that I am not criticizing in any way. That is great work. In my opinion, it is still not as sharp and clear as a new unaltered rod or an unaltered old rod that has been tuned.
I just do not see the need of going to all that trouble to have the “original” rod in the clock.
 

Micam100

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Thanks Will, I've enjoyed this discussion. I'm very happy with the result as a first attempt at a method I had to devise myself. Next time it will be my first choice of method…a basic turning job at the important end and a weld at the other.:)

Michael
 

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