Mar 16

A week of ‘ironworker’ experience has resulted from my volunteering to assist with the refurbishment of the Daventry bells. They had contracted with Taylor’s of Loughborough to refurbish all the clappers, and examine each of the bells for issues. I helped remove all the pulley boxes, used to guide the ropes, and the chutes used as rope guides. Re-installing began with lugging the now-refurbished clappers to the top of the tower, and the same for the pulley boxes (now dunked in smelly wood preservative).

Some 30 trips up and down the tower has led me to understand that I have muscles never before understood!

We repacked bearings and lifted the tenor (975 kg plus fittings) to replace a bearing that had disintegrated. Re-installation of the rope pulleys and guides, and constructing 2 new ones, plus a complete cleaning of the bell-frame, had refurbished the bells for the next 30 or so years. All this on iron frames some 5m or so above the floor. (the bells are there too, and they can’t be leaned upon as they swing…). Lots of cleaning of the dirt and dropping of various animals, deposited since the last event some significant number of years ago…

The whole ring of 10 bells was ready for ringing this Sunday, and they sounded and worked better. Yeah!

This week, I get back to actually ringing bells rather than working on them, and this morning, I rang inside Bob Doubles, and this afternoon treble for Reverse Canterbury. All very intimidating, but I feel as if I am making small progress. I cannot thank the people around here enough for helping me along in learning this complex but enticing skill.

Boating is much less challenging as I remain in the marina for the next few weeks, awaiting spring, and visitors before setting off.

Bell #9 with clapper removed

Bell #9 with clapper removed


the bells from above


treble and #2 behind the #3 on the right and the #4 in the foreground. Note that there is no wheel on the #3- still to be installed


the tenor in the background with the wheel of the #9 in the foreground


the ‘workspace’ looking towards the #3 and #4 on the left, the #5 and #6 in the background on the right and the wheels of tenor and #9in the foreground


the gudgeon of the tenor (shaft that supports the bells as it turns in the bearing). Bearing removed for replacement. Bell lifted to allow work to proceed!


rather bedraggled worker on the bell frame by the tenor bell: bearing replaced and working!


About Ed Mortimer

I'm a retired school teacher, now living on my narrowboat in Britain. I'm touring as much of the canal and river system as I can. This blog describes what I do and where I've been
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One Response to Mar 16

  1. Tom Fannin says:

    I have to admit that the intricacy of the bells escapes me, but its very interesting to follow your bell-ringing progress as you become better and better. Looking forward to hearing about your Spring adventures!

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