During routine checking and maintenance of the church’s bellcote earlier this year (2017) excessive wear was found to the bell’s headstock with partial separation at its gudgeon’s / axle apertures. The risk of continued use was too great and therefore it was removed for further investigation and repair. Following dismantling a small fracture was found to the bell’s crown indicative of fatigue failure.
The work required to return the assembly to use entailed the repair of the bell’s crown; replacement of the headstock with appropriate seasoned oak; renewal of retractable stainless steel axles fitted with stainless steel springs built into the oak headstock; stainless steel support bands for the lateral timber extensions; the headstock’s circumferential retaining straps were renewed. To retain historical elements where possible, the headstock’s original vertical support rods were re-threaded and re-used, but their nuts were replaced as they were excessively corroded. All the non-stainless steel metal components were hot dip galvanized and painted.
The bell was refitted on Thursday 07th December and returned to its weekly use on the following Sunday; and yes, it sounds as clear as a bell.
We must acknowledge the excellent work carried out by Skyline Ltd of Oldham; in addition to the high standard of refurbishment of the bell’s assembly, their high level rope access skills meant that it was not necessary to use scaffolding, thus realising a substantial saving on costs.
Images of the bell and its refitting can be viewed shortly in the ‘Gallery’ page.