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Bell Restoration Project

The bells in Loughborough

Having loaded the bells onto the lorry Andrew Worth was straight off to Loughborough arriving late in the evening of 22nd March.

First thing the following morning Andrew arrived at John Taylor & Co and the bells were unloaded. By lunchtime on Saturday 23rd March Calstock bells were safely at the foundry. The headstock still had the bell numbers stuck on them which the school children had used to identify each bell.

The first task at the foundry was to remove the headstocks and bell pads, then stack the bells neatly one inside another.

The headstocks had always been known to be too heavy for the bells but the real extent of this was revealed when the old tenor headstock weighed in at 128.5 kg (2.5 cwt); its replacement will be nearer 80 kg (1,5 cwt).

Next the old crownstaples were drilled out. These large sections of iron formed part of the original bell hanging which attached the bell to the wooden headstock. Removing these would help to reduce the weight of each bell.

Once the crownstaples and old bolt holes have been cleared of iron the voids are filled with resin. First, a stop is placed inside the bell to support the resin which is poured in from above. When the resin is solid it is skimmed and levelled and finally a hole is drilled through the centre.

In the carpentry workshop the wheels were being resoled and reshrouded, this raised a few problems because some of the wheels were found to be rather warped, so we had to commit to three new wheels.

And the bells were being sandblasted to clean them up. So for a brief period the bells look bright. But before long they have been blacked up with graphite to protect them from the harsh realities of conditions in a church belfry.