Can a Cracked Bell Be Repaired?

Bells have been around for centuries and some of bells have very long lifespans. Wear and tear on old bells, even with newly cast bells, can cause cracks or surface damage. Natural causes, such as earthquakes and weather can create or add to cracks. Historically the way to to replace a cracked bell was to break it apart for its materials, melt it down, and re-cast the bell. Fortunately today new methods have developed such that a bell can be welded back together without affecting its original composition.

Cracked Bells

The process of fixing a cracked bell can be a very tedious and intricate process. For more narrow cracks and under specific conditions a crack filling procedure is an option. However, for more broad or longer cracks, a welding process is required. There are a number of steps to ensure the bell is correctly repaired without causing further damage. There are few other methods that are used to repair cracked bells, however a welding procedure has been the most popular form of repair in recent years.

Repairing a Cast Bell

Process of restoring a cracked bell
A repaired and refinished McShane Bell Company cast bell dating back from 1888

When it comes to repairing cracked bells, welding is one of the more "modern" approaches to accomplishing the task. At the surface, welding sounds simple and can be an efficient way to repair a cracked bell however it's actually an intricate process that requires specific experience with cast bells rather than just general wielding. There are a number of different factors involved in determining whether a bell crack can be repaired by welding:

  1. Material of bell - How well a bell takes to the pressure of welding widely depends on the material of the bell itself. For example, there are certain types of bronze that can't be welded due to the levels of iron, tin and other compounds in it.
  2. Cleaning the bell - An important step before a cracked bell is making sure it's cleaned properly. Without a clean surface, you could wind up with a negative welding finish. There are a two main ways to clean the bell before welding:  either chemically or mechanically.
  3. Temperature - The temperature of the weld has a lot to do with the temperature of the bell. When repairing a bell, it's important to remember that the weld should be set on the lowest temperature possible when in use. The area of the bell that needs to repaired needs to be heated up to avoid any sudden cooling that could further damage the bell.

It's important to note that welding a bell crack will not repair sound or tone. In most cases when a bell's sound is beyond repair or located in a steeple/church tower that no longer feasibly supports swinging and bell striking, it can still be refinished and displayed for decorative purposes.

When you're dealing with older more delicate historical bells it's very important to choose an experienced resource. The process of welding a cracked bell is best handled by American's oldest bell company, McShane Bell Company.  McShane Bell Company has a storied history of repairing bells and we're here to help you.

If you have a cast bell that you need repaired or refinished, give our team a call today!

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