Apprentices in the Belfry!

The Bristol Mills Congregational Church approached us to help with their church bell. The wooden frame supporting the metal A-frames from which the heavy bell swings was in need of replacement. It had been built by a local carpenter a couple of decades ago, of lumberyard stock, threaded rod, and bolts. We decided to go the traditional route and make the new frame of hemlock heavy timber. To keep the frame from twisting as the old one had done, we cut double tenon joints at each intersection, and secured them with wedged half-dovetails as well as oak pegs.

Late this winter, we took the disassembled little frame to the church and handed the timbers up into the belfry. We had to pass them through the church attic where, as we were warned by the sexton, if we dropped anything (including ourselves) it would go right through the plaster ceiling of the sanctuary and down to the floor far below. We got everything into the belfry without mishap and put the frame together, driving home four pegs and eight wedges. Later that week a professional steeplejack came to hoist the bell and mount it on its new foundation.

The bell was cast in 1850 in New York State.   We are excited to enable it to keep ringing.