During W.W.II, many Dutch bells were confiscated and thought to be lost. During the post war years, these bells were recovered but unfortunately many of them were cracked or broken. In August 1938, tests were carried out by a Dutch foundry to investigate the use of manual metal arc welding to repair bells. This process was later used to restore many of these lost bells.
In the following years, the use of this process continued but the success rate for soundbow cracks was very low. Recasting can of course restore a damaged bell but once it has been re-cast, the bell loses its identity.
In 1967, at the instigation of the Council for the Care of Churches and the Worshipful Company of Founders, The Welding Institute embarked on a program of research into the welding of cracked bells.
It was felt that the research facilities and technical know how available at Abington could find an answer to the bell welding problem in this country.
Investigators at Abington felt that the oxyacetylene welding process could be improved upon to give a better quality to the weld. A variety of welding process were examined and tests carried out before the conclusion was reached that the Tungsten Inert Gas process (TIG) with a specially cast filler metal gave the best results.
In 1968, Soundweld adopted this process and is still using it to date.
In 1988, Soundweld carried out the welding of its largest bell to date. The three and a quarter ton “ Great Dunstan” from Canterbury Cathedral. This was to prove the springboard for the welding of cracked bells in this country.
Today, the welding process has progressed to such a level that a crack repaired anywhere in the bell is guaranteed for a period of five years from the date of welding. This would have been unheard of in the early days of welding, as it was quite common for the bells to crack again.
In 2002, after some experimentation, a method was perfected to repair clapper indents. A special jig had to be constructed to enable the bell to be tipped totally upside down and welding to be carried out on the inside of the bell.
To date over 500 bells have been successfully welded with a 98% success rate since 1980. We have a database of all the bells we know to have been welded but are always looking for details of bells welded between 1960 and 1980, as some of these records are incomplete.