Common swinging bell issues

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Neglect is the most common problem with swinging bells. More than half of all churches have a bell in their steeple. Many see regular usage, but many churches are afraid to pull the rope. In particular, the person pulling on the rope is very aware that they are standing under may thousands of pounds of bronze that could come crashing down through the ceiling.

When was the last time your bell was inspected? Regular maintenance is key to safe reliable ringing. Chime Master would be glad to give you a quote on annual or biennial service agreements.

Preventable symptoms

This list is not exhaustive and is not intended to replace a yearly service call by a professional. The old saying that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure holds true today, all of the issues listed above can be easily prevented.

Rattles, clicking and clanking

Bells make a lot of noise. They ring, toll, peal and strike the time whenever it is required of them. There are other noises that aren’t normal. Clicking, clanking, and rattling when you ring a bell can be indicative of many different issues. Clicking might mean that a bell needs grease or that a clapper spring needs a new pad. Clanking might be a loose spring, clapper, or a tolling hammer failing to return to the proper position. Rattling can be a little harder to diagnose. Sometimes a bird screen can cause a rattle that is only audible outside the tower or a loose chain on a motor could be the culprit.

Shifting clunks

Does it feel like your bell clunks when you ring it? This is a very serious problem indicative of a loose bell. If you ever feel like the bell shifts against the rope, stop swinging the bell until it can be professionally inspected.

Rope is hard to pull

Bells that are hard to swing might just need to be greased, but there could be a failed bearing. It’s never good for a bell to be very difficult to swing.

It could also be that the bell is poorly balanced and difficult to swing. While not necessarily a problem, a poorly balanced bell exerts more force on the structure while it swings. A consultation with a professional can help you determine if corrective action is necessary.

Bell only rings on one side

This can happen with any bell and it might just need to be swung higher, however, it could also be a bell with a clapper spring assembly that needs maintenance. Clapper springs are the cause of many issues in bells. They can get loose, break, wear out, or lose their springiness. Clapper springs also wear on the clappers themselves and cause them to break.

Today most modern foundries install clappers that have been designed to function without springs and springless clappers are available for any bell.