Bells,Poem,Metal Alloy Formulas


Bramblebush ForumsFAQ

Posted by Dan Weinstein on June 17, 19100 at 08:16:53:

Info about Bells, circa 1901 Attention friend in Belgium (Spleen,

Wonderful Poem, Formulae)

Hi everyone,

I remember a long time ago someone in Belgium expressed an interest in

making bells. I finally

found my book which has a chapter on that topic.

The following comes from a book called "Brassfounders' Alloys", by John F.

Buchanan, published in

1901 by E. & F. N. Spon, Ltd. in London, and Spon and Chamberlain in New


Bellfounders' Alloys

Bellfounding is a declining art, and we believe that

bellringing, as a refined accomplishment, reached its

highest cultivation in the beginning of the last century.

The world is in too big a hurry nowadays, and there

are too many distracting noises in the air, for men to be

constrained to listen to the softening tones of the

" scintillating tin-tin-nabulation of the music of the

bells." Bells have had greater vogue as public mes-

sengers than ever they had as musical instruments.

They were generally known by the suggestive name

" long tongue," and some of the methods of ringing

them fully warranted the appellation. Beautiful sounds

that steal in upon the senses, and linger pleasantly in

the memory, are not rightly appreciated in this age of

blatancy and brass bands.

This much we gather from the " Police Acts " and

" Further Powers " bills which have been promoted by

our large cities in order to put down street noises.

Bells have been included among the latter, and while

the hawker of the necessary coals or carrots may bellow

his wares in the street to his heart's content, if he takes

to " belling " them he becomes an offender against the

civic authority. Similarly, the town-crier's bell has

gone out of fashion, although we have retained his pre-

liminary " Notice," and the showman-like " Hi ! Hi !

Hi ! " for attracting attention. The " factory bell " has

given place to the " organ " whistle--by the bye, it

must have been in irony that " organ " whistles and

steam " Sirens " received their names, for the sound of

the one has no resemblance to any tone ordinarily pro-

duced by the " king of instruments," and the only

attraction about the other is its power of drawing one

on to find out what all the row is about. Even the

menial house bell is degenerating. We cannot think of

the electric rattle--it would be a misnomer to call it a

bell--as anything but a retrogresion in art. "Ting-

ting, that's how the bells ring," may be poetry, but it

is no longer fact, for the simple bell-pull has been dis-

carded, and now the " press-the-button " fiend is having

it all his own way. With the brusqueness characteristic

of the times we are instructed to PUSH this modern

startler. Some men are said to have made their fortune

by PUSH, and business people evidently believe in it,

for they have the word boldly inscribed on their door

handles as well as on bell-knobs. Electrical science is

responsible for not a few of the ills that 20th Century

men are heir to. The shock produced by the spasmodic

whirr of these electric bells has quite a different effect

from the medicinal shock of Galvani. The telephone

would be a wonderful invention, indeed, if it were not

such an unmitigated nuisance. Many devices have been

tried to lessen the irritating noises emanating from it

--isolation, padded rooms, and special attendants--but

with little effect. The business man is still liable to

suffer from its distracting tr-r-r-ring, and should he un-

bend to answer the call, as often as not he is foreclosed

by a raucous " Hullo ! who are you ? " or an equally

impertinent announcement of some nonentity's identity.

With this kind of thing switched on we are " quite up

to date, you know " ; but it gets on the nerves, and is

no more conducive to peaceable reflections than the "dis-

embowelled hurdy-gurdy" to which it has recently been


Perhaps we have gone a little out of the way in

noticing the defects of electric bells and apparatus, but

we hope we have shown that there is a field for the

inventor who can abolish the disabilities of such instru-

ments, and thus conserve the temper of the average

city man.

Schiller's " Song of the Bell " was written long

before the days of " trusts " and syndicates, but it is still

interesting and refreshing reading ; it gives us a glimpse

of the old-world simplicity of relationship between

master and man, and reveals at the same time the

early methods of bellfounding. We give an extract

from Sir Theodore Martin's translation, published in

' Blackwood's Magazine ' for April, 1877.


Firmly walled up in the earth

The mould is set of well-burnt clay ;

To-day the Bell must have its birth--

Then bustle, lads ! To work away !

Hotly from the brow

The sweat must trickle now

If the work is to sound the Master's praise.

But the blessing, it comes from above always.

Logs of pine now have them ready,

Dry and seasoned well belike,

That the flames, compact and steady,

May against the cauldron strike.

The copper's fluxed ; now in

Quickly throw the tin ;

That the tough bell-metal so

Duly may combine and flow.

See ! white bubbles now rise thickly !

Good ! the mass is fluxing fast ;

Stir in the potash thoroughly, quickly,

Then 'twill soon be ripe to cast !

From all scum, too, free

Must the mixture be ;

So may its voice, full, clear and round,

From the pure metal then resound.

How brown the tubes grow, have you noted ?

In I dip this wand. If it

Come out with glaze all over coated

The time for casting will be fit.

Now, my lads, draw nigh !

Test the mixture ! Try !

If soft with hard is blending well

'Twill then a good result foretell.

Good ! Now the casting may begin,

Clean and sharp is the fracture there ;

Yet, or ever we run the metal in,

Send from the heart a fervent prayer !

Now strike out the tap !

God shield from mishap !

Smoking the fiery shoots down

The handle's arch, all dusky brown !

Now 'tis lodged within the ground,

The mould is finely filled ! Ah, will

The bell come forth complete and sound,

To recompense our toil and skill ?

Has the cast gone right ?

Has the mould held tight ?

Ah, while we still are hopefull, thus

Mischance perhaps has stricken us !

Till the bell cools down, we now

From our anxious toil may rest.

Free as happy bird on bough

Each may do as likes him best.

At set of sun,

His duty done,

The 'prentice hears the vesper toll,

But rest there is none for the master's soul.

Now, break me down the walls there ! They

In our work have done their part--

That our successful casting may

Rejoice both eye and heart.

Smite, stroke on stroke,

Till the cover's broke !

Ere the bell can rise from the pit below

The mould must into pieces go.

God unto me great joy has given.

Behold ! Like any golden star,

>From its shell the metal kernel riven

Shows clean and smooth, not a flaw to mar.

From crown to rim it gleams

Bright as the bright sun's beams ;

The scutcheons, clear and sharp, also,

The skill of the hand that limned them show.

Now tackle to the ropes and prise

The bell up from the pit, that so

She to the realm of sound may rise,

High up aloft where the breezes blow !

Pull, pull, lads ! See,

She waves, swings, free !

Joy to our town may this portend,

Peace the first message be she forth shall send.

(This book goes on to give some history of bells, and some technical

information. I'm including

the technical information below. - Dan )

Contrary to the popular idea, the tone of a

bell depends not so much on the metal, as on its form

and the proportions of its various dimensions. This is

especially true of chimes and peals, and it has been

well said that " the successful manufacture of chimes

can only be done by those whose knowledge of the

business is as accurate as instinct, and this is posessed

only bu those who have followed the business for a life-


The Chinese tam-tams or gongs are distinguished

by a strong far-reaching sound, which is obtained by a

process of mechanical treatment, tempering and hammer-

ing. Bell-metal should be hard, compact, and of fine


The following table shows the composition of some bell-metals:

Analyses of Bells.


Copper. | Tin. | Zinc. | Lead. | Silver. |Iron.


Alarum Bell at Rouen

76.1 | 22.3 | 1.6 | .. | 1.6 |..

Bell at Ziegenhain

71.48 | 33.59 | .. | 4.04 | .. |0.12

" " Darmstadt

73.94 | 21.67 | .. | 1.19 | 0.17 |..

" " Paris

72.0 | 26.56 | .. | .. | 1.44 |..


78.51 | 10.27 | .. | 0.52 | 0.18 |..

/10 | 4 | 1.5 | .. | 0.5 |..

Bells of Japanese

10 | 2.5 | 0.5 | 1.33 | .. |..


10 | 3 | 1 | 2 | 1/2 |..


Bellfounders' Mixtures.


Copper |Tin.|Zinc.|Yellow|Iron |German| | | |Metal.|Silver.


1. Standard I.(best tone) .

| 78 | 22 | ..|..|..|..

2. " II. . . . .

| 80 | 20 |..|..|..|..

3. Large Bells . . . .

| 76 | 24 |..|..|..|..

4. House " . . . .

| 76 | 16 |..| 8 |..|..

5. " " . . . .

| 78 | 20 |..| 2|..|..

6. Clock " (Swiss) . .

| 75 | 25 |..|..|..|..

7. " " (Special) .

| 80 | 20 |..| 4 |..| 4

8. Sleigh " . . . .

| 84 | 16 |..|..|..|..

9. Silver " . . . .

| 40 | 60 |..|..|..

10. " " . . . .

| 50 | .. | 25 | Nickel 25 |..

11. Ship " . . . .

| 82 | 12 | 6 |..|..|..

12. Railway Signal Bells.

| 60 | .. | 36 |..| 4 |..

13. Gongs. . . . . .

| 82 | 18 | .. |..|..|..

14. White Table Bells .

| .. | 7 | Antimony 1 |..|..

15. " " " . .

| 2 1/2 | 97 |Bismuth 1/2 |..|..

16. " " "(Special)

| .. | 19 |Nickel 80 |Platinum 1 -----------------------------------------------------

I hope all this benefits somebody. :o) - Dan Weinstein

Follow Ups:

Bramblebush ForumsFAQ