Colebrooke Bells Restoration Project


Whites of Appleton have been commissioned to do the Colebrooke bells Restoration Project.

Lower bells to the ground

They will dismantle the bells and their ringing fittings, lower all to the ground and transport all back to their workplace. From there they will remove and discard the head-stocks and other fittings.

They will then take detailed measurements from the inside and outside surfaces of the bells. From those measurements, calculate new leading dimensions such as to bring the hanging radii, wheel diameters and clapper throws into perfect alignment.

At the workshop

Also at the workshop they will neatly remove the Doncaster canons from the crowns of the treble and tenor. Cutaway, drill out and remove so far as possible all remains of the original cast-in crown staples to the third and fourth. Cast a resin pad onto the crown of each of the bells to form a flat level surface to which a new headstock may be accurately mounted.

For each of the bells make a newly fabricated steel headstock, that to the fourth to be of the canon-retaining design, all six head-stocks to be of the same family such that the canon-retaining and non-canon-retaining types perform indistinguishably from each other. The head-stocks to be fitted with steel gudgeons set in true alignment. The head-stocks to all but the fourth to have staple adjusting screws for setting and maintaining even clappering. All six head-stocks to be sent for hot-dip galvanising.

Further work at the workshop

Stock the bells down with their head-stocks and carefully balance each bell with its headstock, turning the bells to present new faces to the blows of their clappers. Drill through the crowns of the bells and fit galvanised steel bell supporting bolts together with insulation washers for fitting between the bolt heads and the insides of the crowns of the bells.

Overhaul the existing bearings to the third and fourth and fit new felt seals to the plummer blocks. For the remaining bells provide new heavy-duty double-row self-aligning ball bearing races housed in cast-iron plummer blocks together with all necessary seals and other components. Fit the bearings to the gudgeons and charge with the correct lubricant before closing, this design of bearing only requiring attention every 15-20 years.

Make up heavy steel bed-plates for fitting to the frame heads to which the new bearings may be bolted.

Remove and discard the existing soles and shrouds to all six wheels. Adjust the diameters of the wheels to bring them into proper alignment with the new corrected hanging radii. Adapt the wheel centres to suit the new head-stocks. Fit new steam-bent soles and oak shrouds, all secured with stainless steel screws. For each of the wheels make a pair of steel angle braces and cleats. All bolts to the wheels to be replaced in galvanised steel.

Provide new pulleys consisting of nylon sheaves each running on a pair of sealed ball bearing races, all housed in hardwood boxes.

Provide new stays and sliders made from finest quality ash, together with hardwood runner boards and steel slider pins. The stays to be fitted with galvanised steel fixing bolts.

Further work at the church

Provide a new set of clappers and crown staples, the clappers to be of malleable iron and fitted with Tufnol bushes resiliently mounted in neoprene rubber, the staples to be fitted with stainless steel hinge pins. Provide insulation pads for fitting between the staples and the insides of the crowns of the bells. The lengths of the new crown staples and clappers to be carefully calculated to bring the clapper throws into proper alignment with the new hanging radii of the bells.

Make a pair of heavy steel foundation joists each incorporating a full-strength splice. Send the joists for hot-dip galvanising. Make up all necessary bolts and copses for securing the new joists to the existing joists at all intersections.

Clean down all iron and steel components, prime as appropriate with a heavy zinc-rich primer and paint all with two coats of top-quality machinery enamel.

Treat all timber parts of the ringing fittings with a heavy application of exterior grade Cuprinol wood preservative.

Transport all back to the church and hoist into the tower.

Fully tighten the whole of the bell frame. Clean down all ironwork to the bell frame, prime all with a heavy zinc-rich primer and paint all with top-quality machinery enamel.

Fit the new foundation joists in pockets cut in the walls by others. Fit the bolts and copses and secure the new joists to the underside of the existing joists, inserting seasoned oak folding wedges between the new and existing joists where required. Leave all ready for building into the pockets by others.

Hoist the bells back into the tower and hang true and level. Assemble all the ringing fittings, test each bell and adjust for even striking and correct set at hand-stroke.

Refit the existing ropes, try out the bells with the local ringers and leave all ready for use.

Colebrooke Bells Restoration Project Team