Author Topic: Bell ringing knot?  (Read 16968 times)

Phil_The_Rope

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Bell ringing knot?
« on: June 21, 2008, 08:40:18 AM »
Hello boys and girls!

I've had an enquirey from a chap in New Zealand about bell ringing. Are any of you involved in this pastime?

If so, I wonder if you might help - how is the rope attached to the bell (wheel) in order that it swings both ways and can be brought to the top when required?

Thanks!

Phil The Rope
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dfred

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Re: Bell ringing knot?
« Reply #1 on: June 21, 2008, 12:56:26 PM »
Not a bell ringer myself, but found a few links that could be a start.  This page has a short explanation of the parts of a wheeled church bell.

  http://www.wdcra.org.uk/study/bellparts.htm

This one actually has some (small) images of a rope fastening method.  As a single example it's unclear if this is actually the preferred method of attachment...?

  http://st.mary.users.btopenworld.com/campanol.htm

It seems unlikely such a large amount of wrapped rope would be necessary, but perhaps it comes from a desire to avoid cutting the ropes and allow them to be adjusted, reused on different bells, etc.

I think the function of allowing the bell to be moved and positioned is a matter of where the "garter hole" is placed in relation to the rotational position of the bell.  The diagram on the second page shows this positioning fairly clearly.  The balancing of the bell vertically seems to be accomplished mechanically with the "slider" and "stay" arrangement.  The animated GIF below shows how it works...


[image mirrored from here to avoid hotlinking ]

dfred

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Re: Bell ringing knot?
« Reply #2 on: June 21, 2008, 01:09:05 PM »
Also found this bibliography:

  http://www.cccbr.org.uk/pubs/biblio.php#mntnrst

yaldea

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Re: Bell ringing knot?
« Reply #3 on: June 22, 2008, 07:14:17 PM »
I am a change ringing steeple keeer and have commented below

This one actually has some (small) images of a rope fastening method.  As a single example it's unclear if this is actually the preferred method of attachment...?

  http://st.mary.users.btopenworld.com/campanol.htm

It seems unlikely such a large amount of wrapped rope would be necessary, but perhaps it comes from a desire to avoid cutting the ropes and allow them to be adjusted, reused on different bells, etc.

The assumption is corect above, the most frequent reason for adjustment of the position of the rope is to reduce the wear at the garter hole. It is at this point the rope switches direction 180 degrees round the wheel for each hand and back stroke. It is also necessary to adjust the height of the salley ( the coloured hand-hold at the ringing chamber end of the rope) to allow for a change in lenght of rope due to excess moisture content or to the stature of the ringers. When a youngster joins they usualy start on a small box under a small bell and in ssome towers require the salley to be lower as well.


[/quote]

The salley end of the rope also reqires some traditional knot tying skills, such as a figure of eight to temporarily shorten a rope. There are also knots used to indicate whether the bell is 'up' on the balance ( and therefore likely to fall if handled carelessly or 'down' and safe to leave without danger of falling. Papers often lead with stories of ringers hoisted to the ceiling by falling bells. The up and down knots require the twist/flip of the standing part of the rope as per a bowline and are held in place by gravity and the up can be shaken out with a flick of the wrist

dfred

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Re: Bell ringing knot?
« Reply #4 on: June 23, 2008, 04:27:38 AM »
Hi yaldea,

Thanks for the reply, it is always great to receive firsthand information...  I saw the ropes were knotted up off the floor in this picture, but didn't realize the convention of the knot type conveying information of the state of the bell above -- seems like a very good idea.   Telling how danger often breeds cleverness...  ;)

Since we have an actual practitioner available, I have a few other questions if you don't mind:

Is the position of the salley with respect to the bell position and floor determined entirely by the height of the person ringing the bell, or is it somewhat a matter of style, choice, size of bell, or something else?  Is there a general rule of thumb for positioning the salley?   How is the salley moved upwards along the rope as the rope itself is lengthened to spread the stress/chafe over more area?   I see some short splices in that photo above, are there other methods of attaching the salleys?

BTW, after posting here I got into a debate regarding the sound propagation from bells with a friend of mine...   Does the upside-down orientation of the bell more efficiently project the sound out and downward from the steeple, or is the simply an artifact of the ringing method?  Hopefully it won't taint your answer, but my theory is that the shape of the sound bow would tend to project better from a height when upside-down.  It also seems to me that the interference patterns in the cone "below" the bell might potentially result in a less pure tone than from the unobstructed "upper" surface of the bell.   

Thanks again for sharing your specialized knowledge.


yaldea

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Re: Bell ringing knot?
« Reply #5 on: June 23, 2008, 09:25:10 AM »
Is the position of the salley with respect to the bell position and floor determined entirely by the height of the person ringing the bell, or is it somewhat a matter of style, choice, size of bell, or something else?

The salley is about  2.5 feet long and the normal adjustment of height is to allow both your tallest and shortest ringers (including visitors) to catch the salley at hand stroke. From that and the minor (inches) adjustment for wear you can guess there is a certain amount of estimation ( luck) in getting it to the right height for everybody.

 Is there a general rule of thumb for positioning the salley?   How is the salley moved upwards along the rope as the rope itself is lengthened to spread the stress/chafe over more area?   I see some short splices in that photo above, are there other methods of attaching the salleys?

The salley is woven carpet making material( used to be called redicut if I remember) threaded on piece at a time into each of the three lays of a rope and usually coloured coded to relate to a special purpose in our case it is the patronal colours of blue and gold for St John the Baptist.
The salley is therefore permanent fitted apprx 12 or so feet from the tail (working) end of the bell rope.
Modern bell ropes frequently have a pre-stretched polyester top end spliced to about 20 feet of  hemp end for the salley etc. This poly end reduces the ups and downs of the salley during wet/dry weather and its length is calculated on the diameter of the wheel and the distance to the bell from the ringing chamber often needig to pass through a tower clock room and sevral floors to reach the bell frame and wheels at the top of a tower.

BTW, after posting here I got into a debate regarding the sound propagation from bells with a friend of mine...   Does the upside-down orientation of the bell more efficiently project the sound out and downward from the steeple, or is the simply an artifact of the ringing method?  Hopefully it won't taint your answer, but my theory is that the shape of the sound bow would tend to project better from a height when upside-down.

The bell mouth is only upside down when stationary in the Up position and rotating the wheel by pulling on the salley and tail end alternately causes the bell to move through 380 or so degrees as per your excellent Jpeg.
When the bell reaches the other end of its stoke the internal clapper, which was fractional left behind by centrifugal force, now catches up hits the skirt and produces the BONG. The bong as you may have worked is somewhat later than your hand movements and the skill of working with up to 12 bells and keeping in the right place is done by rope sight and listening which are to separate pieces of information for a bell ringers brain to assimilate.

 It also seems to me that the interference patterns in the cone "below" the bell might potentially result in a less pure tone than from the unobstructed "upper" surface of the bell.   

The mixture of the tin bronze alloy has for hundreds of years been much the same and in the last century great care was taken to tune the bell to a specific note assisted by lathe work to skim it. Probably most founders now use electronics for accuracy but a good ear is just as effective.
Even the Russians manage to document the skill http://www.russianbells.com/founding/bellparts.html

Knot tying and bell ringing have a great deal in common I regularly ring at churches where the bells are dated in the  1400's and I an struck of how many people have stood underneath that bell to ring it and how important it is to pass on the skill to the next generation.
 




PwH

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Re: Bell ringing knot?
« Reply #6 on: July 14, 2008, 06:02:10 PM »
As a Ringer of some 15 years experience on and off but no great expertise (Plain Hunt, Single Court and nearly Bob Doubles) I would agree with Yaldea in all he/she says about the ropes. We could probably debate at length about exactly how and why the clapper achieves its flight from one side of the bell to the other, but thats for another forum and there's probably more than several opinions to be aired (like at least as many as there are bellringers. No doubt some erudite fellow could blind us all with science in the end anyway).

Just to add that the wheel knot shown in the links above is pretty universal, and the main reason for having so much rope in the wrappings and frappings is to give you enough spare length to be able to cut out all the worn section that lives in or near the garter hole and work a long splice below the wheel.

As you can appreciate, the rope changes direction through 180 degrees or a little bit more at the garter hole every time the bell is turned over, often under some strain, especially when learners or rough handlers are on the bell. This happens every few seconds, sometimes for hours at a stretch, usually at least twice a week, over a period of some years. The rope is (should be!) adjusted up and down a little every couple of months to spread the wear, but eventually the fibres break down and having the extra for splicing virtually doubles the useful life of the rope. Terylene top ends are much less prone to wear in this way so are popular despite the extra expense. Nevertheless the extra rope is still there, cos it's traditional to have it, and what better reason would you need anyway?

The wheel knot used is described by Steve Coleman in his excellent series of books about ringing. In 'The Bellringer's Early Companion' he states "the wrappings and frappings... come from something called a shear leg lashing which is a knot that was once used to fasten two poles together in some kind of structure." 
The beginning of the knot is a RT on the right hand post (nearest the garter hole) followed by the W&F, (similar to the first two moves in a monkeys fist) with the end passed down inside the wrappings and nipped on the inside of the first round turn. This is very secure but extremely easy to loose off and adjust.

To quote Coleman again- "A knot of some age, and apparently designed especially for bellringing by a person who really understood what he was about. Elegant, functional, and oh so beautiful to look at."   What all the best knotting should be really!
« Last Edit: July 14, 2008, 11:07:37 PM by PwH »
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Frayed Knot Arts

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Re: Bell ringing knot?
« Reply #7 on: August 27, 2008, 12:14:45 AM »
A most interesting topic and some great information!  Thank you all.  I now have more stuff to clutter what's left of my mind!  ;D