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Tales from the Bell Chamber

by Quilla Roth report

Silencers – For those of you who don’t make it up to the bell chamber at the Cathedral to take out or put in the silencers, there’s been an evolution in silencer design since the original 1963 ones. Most recently, the silencers have been “slimmed down” (see picture 3) making them much lighter and easier to handle. This should prove particularly nice on those rare occasions when we have to take them out or put them in down bells. The pictures below give you an idea of the evolution (though the original silencers are long gone, so no picture of one of them!). Thanks to Ed for his creativity and for listening to our occasional “suggestions” about possible improvements!

    1. Plywood and wing nut -- This one is a more “polished” version of the original silencers, which didn’t have hand-holds (the bell-shaped cutouts), but did have the ting-tangers (unbound in the pre-simulator days) and the sometimes awkward wing nut to hold the latch.

    2. Oak and spring latch(!), version 1 (full size, with ting-tanger) -- Ed’s first great innovation, the “WOW! What a clever idea! replacement of the bolt and wingnut with a simple door latch. No more problems with the silencers occasionally falling out because the wing nut got loose while we were ringing. AND, more importantly, much easier (and quicker) to latch and unlatch. But still heavy, especially because now made of oak.

    3. Oak and spring latch, version 2 (2.5” and no more ting-tanger) -- These can be easily held in one hand, don’t require special handholds, and put less vertical force on the clapper as the bell swings. They can’t accommodate the ting-tangers, but we’ve not done any ting-tanger ringing in so long, and have gotten pretty good at replacing the simulator sensors (watch for our next exciting tale from the bell chamber), that we decided it was OK to have ting-tangerless silencers.

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The Tale of the Silencers….. from the Steeple Keeper Poet

Once upon a late night dreary, climbing bell frame, weak and weary,

With quaint and curious thought, “Who dropped the silencer on the floor?”

While I sang, but not Rapping, I placed the silencer without tapping, And my knuckles gently rapping, rapping on the bell as before.

“I’ll invent, something easy, something clean, but not too cheesy, For the ringers to install, Only this and nothing more.”

Forget these wing nuts, they’re a chore, looking for them on the floor,

Turn a wing nut, now it’s too tight, to loosen them would be a fight,

I try again, this time without much might, but I see now it’s just too light,

The bell swings, the silencer takes flight, it’s once again upon the floor,

I’ll redesign this whole damn thing, make it easy, make it right, Then it will work all the time, having a failure nevermore.

“Fix the problem”, ringers do implore, a new design now to explore,

To catch the latch, now that’s the thing, replace the old nut with a wing,

A new idea I must now bring, so the bell shan’t either dong or ding,

What do you call, that springy thing, opens with knob or anything, Keeps the door from opening on its own, keeps the old cat safe at home, It’s a spring latch from a door, that should do it, nothing more.

Verticals of 2x4, made of oak, like days of yore,

The body, should be lighter, too, a thing that only I can do,

The design will be mostly new, a pleasure for the ringing crew,

Prevent the rust from the dew, I’ll use some Thread Lock, with color blue.

This new design they will adore, should make them happy evermore.

Maybe I should use a door hinge, then this rhyme could end with orange.

--Ed Donnen

Posted Aug 15, 2017

Responses

Rosemary S ColeAug 16 2017, 1:44 pm

Quilla, are your "silencers" on the clappers? It's hard for me to envision from the pictures. You may remember that Jim Fletcher combined bicycle tires and rope to silence Shreveport's bells. We got pretty good at getting them on and off in a timely manner. Enjoyed the poem! Rosemary Cole

Meredith A MorrisAug 18 2017, 8:33 pm

The silencers fit inside each bell and hold the clapper still. Basically, the silencer is on one side of the clapper and the latch mechanism is on the other side.

Meredith

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