Question About Chime Blocks

Discussion in 'General Clock Discussions' started by Sagebrush, Jul 6, 2011.

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  1. Sagebrush

    Sagebrush Registered User

    Sep 10, 2009
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    I have a Howard Miller wall clock that is about 25 years old. It still looks like a brand new clock. It currently has a Hermle 351-03A single chime movement which was cleaned and rebuilt a few years ago. While it is working fine, I am planning to replace the movement with a new Hermle triple chime movement (1051-030A) because I want the triple chimes and more importantly, the ability to turn off the chimes at night.

    My question is about chime blocks. My current chime block has 5 rods (longest length 12”) of what appears to be bronze (back mounted). They appear to be pressed-in and not screw-in. I don’t know for sure that the chime block was made by Hermle but I am assuming it is because the original movement is made by Hermle.

    Since my new movement will be 8 hammers instead of the current 5, I will need to replace my current chime block with an 8 rod block. My question is: should I get a chime block with steel rods or bronze ones as my current one has? My current bronze chimes sound great and since I am quite content with their sound, I am inclined to replace it with an 8 rod Hermle chime block with chime rods of the longest length I can possibly find (up to 14” that is since my case will accommodate that length). I’ve been told that the longest chime rods possible will produce the best sound.

    I guess that my questions at this point are:

    - Is it true that the longest length chime rods produce the best sound?

    - Is there any advantage to using steel rods instead of bronze ones?

    - I’ve seen in the literature where they recommend mounting the chime block so that the hammers strike the rods at 1” from the base in order to produce the best sound. The hammers strike my current rods at 1/4” from the base and as I mentioned earlier, they sound great. Should I mount the new block so that the hammers strike at 1” from the base as I’ve seen recommended (there is room in my case to do this), or should I just go ahead and mount them so that they strike at 1/4” from the base as in my current movement and chime block?

    - Finally, does anyone know where I can get a Hermle 8 rod bronze chime block with rods up to 12-14” in length (assuming that is my best option)? I have checked with Merritt and Black Forest Imports and neither one has Herme chime blocks with chime rods that are as long as I am looking for.

    Thanks in advance for any feedback.
     
  2. Scottie-TX

    Scottie-TX Registered User
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    I agree that the longest rods sound the best. I'd even go 20" or longer if available. Altho you like bronze, you may like steel better. Sound is an individual preference. I will say I believe I've seen far more bronze than steel and don't recall ever hearing steel so I have no opinion there. I would however think that striking them at one inch may be an improvement over a quarter inch.
     
  3. Timesavers has 8 chime blocks for Hermle in the lengths you are asking about (13"). However, they are labeled as either
    steel or copper. I don't see any in bronze at all. Could it be the ones you have are actually copper and just tarnished?
     
  4. Scottie-TX

    Scottie-TX Registered User
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    Yeah, I don't know either whether the ones I heard were copper or bronze. I just think they were not steel.
     
  5. Mr Smith

    Mr Smith Registered User

    Apr 22, 2011
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    The steel Divina gong is the best. It sounds like a church bell.
    But I haven't measured my rod so far. :D
     
  6. Thyme

    Thyme Banned

    Sep 18, 2006
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    Not necessarily. The longer the rod, the lower the pitch will be. That's what the length of the rod determines: pitch, not tone. However, if the entire set has longer rods it will produce pitches that are lower and they usually are perceived as sounding more sonorous than a high pitched set.

    It's a matter of personal preference. The steel ones will produce a 'brighter' sound. (What sounds bright to one man might sound harsh to another.)

    It's probably not critical, but I suspect that striking the rod closer to the block will produce a 'harder' sound. The reason you wouldn't want the rod to be struck farther away from the block is that the rod would tend to bounce more when struck.
     
  7. lpbp

    lpbp Registered User
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    Make sure that you have enough depth in the case to accept the new movement and the chime block.
     
  8. Sagebrush

    Sagebrush Registered User

    Sep 10, 2009
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    Thanks for all of the responses. The chime rods I have now could very well be copper instead of bronze. It's really difficult to tell. As I mentioned earlier, the ones I have now sound great and if I could get an identical set of the same material but with 8 rods instead of 5 I would be quite satisfied. I have indeed found a Hermle chime block with *bronze* rods (at least they are labeled as such) but it only has 5 rods instead of the 8 rods that I need. Also, those chime lengths are only up to 7".

    I am going to contact Howard Miller's customer service help department, give them my clock model number and see if they can tell me whether the chimes I currently have are bronze or copper. That could at least help with the confusion if they are able to tell me that.

    Also, I found the copper 8 rod chime block at Timesavers that I think you are referring to however I noticed that they are not labeled as having been made by Hermle. I will send a note to their customer service department which should clear that up.
     
  9. Sagebrush

    Sagebrush Registered User

    Sep 10, 2009
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    Thanks for the response. Both my old movement (051-030a) and the new one (1051-030A) have the same height, width, depth, pendulum length and handshaft sizes. Both also have side mounted hammers. I will be double checking all of those before I order the movement however.

    I have also verified the maximum length chime rods and block that will fit in the cabinet.

    I do need to verify the winding arbor sizes of the movements to make sure that my current dial can accommodate the new movement. So far it seems that it can. I think that the only other thing I need to do is make sure that the chime selector lever extends past the edge of the dial bezel. I believe that I can either fashion or purchase a lever extender if necessary in order to make that happen.
     
  10. The header on the page for the chimes in my Timesavers catalog says "Hermle Chime Units" and the first few words in
    the description are "German import chime units for Hermle...". So, I think they are Hermle made. Page #47 in catalog 36.
    Just to be sure, call them to make sure you're getting what you want. They're nice to deal with.
     
  11. Sagebrush

    Sagebrush Registered User

    Sep 10, 2009
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    Thanks! I also discovered that Black Forest Imports does indeed have the Hermele chime blocks in the size I am looking for even though I originally thought they didn't.
     
  12. Scottie-TX

    Scottie-TX Registered User
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    Mark Butterworth - all things Hermle- would be able to answer definitively but I think the key word here is, "for". Not made by Hermle but made FOR Hermle. Really shouldn't matter unless it's important to you to keep your unit all Hermle.
     
  13. Willie X

    Willie X Registered User

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    The only show stopper could be lack of depth, as already stated by ipbp. BTY the copper rods are a beryllium alloy, same as used for the spring contacts on circuit board contacts. You will need a chime shift lever, usually goes outside the dial on HMs but can go through the dial. A short shift lever with a length of 3/32 brass brazing rod that dangles downard will work well with clocks with a dial board.

    Good luck, Willie X
     
  14. chimeclockfan

    chimeclockfan Registered User
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    I tend to think bronze (copper, whatever) rods give a more subdued tone, while steel ones give a more clear tone. However, steel rods are usually longer, I rarely see them in mantle clocks.

    A bronze set with the longest rod at 18" won't give the same notes as a steel set of the same length. I find the bronze ones are lower pitched, however as I said, they have a more subdued tone.

    Brass finished rods are also available somewhere. Whether they are really brass (or simply colored rods of a different alloy) is out to debate.
     
  15. Thyme

    Thyme Banned

    Sep 18, 2006
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    The shorter the rod, the higher the pitch; and with steel rods, the more shrill it will sound.

    I agree. And they are probably thicker. That too will affect the pitch and the tone.
     
  16. Sagebrush

    Sagebrush Registered User

    Sep 10, 2009
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    I heard back from Black Forest Imports (I had sent them a question about Hermle chime blocks). They say that the chime rods are made in Germany (no surprise there) and that the current ones that Hermle sells are made of steel. They also said that the older Hermle chime blocks (such as the one in my clock now) are made of bronze (which is what my current ones indeed look like).
     
  17. chimeclockfan

    chimeclockfan Registered User
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    Some places still seem to offer bronze (or copper) rods, however they may not be Hermle rods.

    As long as they fit and sound good, it shouldn't matter exactly who made it.
     

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