Making new bells?

NigelW

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Jan 2, 2015
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With the demise of the Whitechapel bell foundry there is, as far I have been able to discover, no manufacturer left who makes sets of domestic clock bells. Making my own could be the solution. I need a set of three for a quarter repeating clock, tuned roughly to be a tone apart - i.e. to sound like the start of "three blind mice".

If I can turn them in wood (ply perhaps for stability) I could make wax models using a silicon rubber mould. The waxes could then be sent off to be cast in bell metal. My woodturning skill is rudimentary but I am reasonably confident that, with a bit of practice, I could do it. The technique would be the same as for turning a bowl.

A theory question first. For two bells of identical proportions and material, how does the pitch interval relate to the diameter? If the bell has twice the diameter, for example, it is tempting to conclude it will be an octave lower but it will have four times the surface area and, if the thickness is also twice, eight times the mass, so is that really the case? And what if the thickness is kept constant?

If the linear size ratio for an octave can be established, smaller intervals can then be worked out. A twelve note scale of equal temperament (the system of musical instrument tuning widely used since JS Bach) is a geometric series, so the frequency ratio of adjacent semitones is the twelfth root of 2 and two semitones is that squared - the sixth root of 2. If the size ratio of bells an octave apart is n:1, bells a tone apart should be n*(1/6):1.
 
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novicetimekeeper

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There is, though I don't have the details. My clock restorer does though. Dean had a new one from him for his Thomas Wright.
 

NigelW

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Great potential resource. My son speaks german so I might ask him to call them (I will need to teach him about clocks first!)
 

NigelW

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This is not the chap I was talking about before, I believe you now have that info, but Taylors still exist and have a small bell works.

Handbells & Small Bells
This looks a bit more promising. I emailed and phoned Taylors about 9 months ago but wasn't able to get anyone to confirm that they could make small clock bells. It looks like they may have updated their website so I will try again.
 

novicetimekeeper

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This looks a bit more promising. I emailed and phoned Taylors about 9 months ago but wasn't able to get anyone to confirm that they could make small clock bells. It looks like they may have updated their website so I will try again.
They are in trouble a bit, business is now in much better shape but the building is listed and needs a lot spent on it. Not sure they will survive if they have to move. They still do pit casting and still have the same furnaces they built when they built the factory.
 

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