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Getting the C.S. Bell Co. bell in the belfry

Lead Summary
Steve Roush-
Ladies and gentlemen, there is still a C.S. Bell Co. in existence as we’ve mentioned in an earlier confabulation, but the company that’s no longer based in Hillsboro and is now located in Tiffin, Ohio no longer manufactures bells and focuses instead on milling and grinding, conveyors, crushers and recycling.

However, there are still C.S. Bell Co. bells that were made right here in Hillsboro all over the world – and even all over the Internet.

Just a little “googling” and you can find a No. 3 farm bell for $350 with $131.21 in shipping; a “restored” 1870-82 farm bell (it appears to be a smaller, No. 1 bell) for $1,870 (plus shipping); another No. 3 bell where you can place a bid that’s starting at $900 with $139.53 in shipping; and the cheapest one I see is a No. 1 bell for $185 plus $76.37 in shipping cost. Oh, there’s a neat old C.S. Bell coffee grinder selling for $299, plus $51.63 in shipping.

OK, let’s say you are able to find and purchase a C.S. Bell Co. bell. Now, how do you set the doggone thing up?

Good question. Let’s consult page 34 of an old C.S. Bell Co. catalog.

Ah, it says “Complete instructions for setting up steel alloy bells” at the top and begins, “Hoping the bell and parts have reached you in good condition, we desire to make a few suggestions as to the manner of setting up and operating it so as to get the proper results.”


It continues, “Take the uprights or standards from the box and set them on the wood sills; place the plain sides facing each other; then use the bolts that will be found in the box to bolt them firmly to the sills. If the uprights lean in or out, insert pieces of wood under the feet until they stand upright and are the same distance apart at the top as at the bottom. The frame can now be placed in the belfry.”

Hmm, obviously they’re talking about a bigger bell, like the one that sits in front of the Highland House Museum in uptown Hillsboro, but I find this rather interesting, so let’s continue.

“Then raise the bell to the belfry and when inside attach the wheel; bolts for the wheel will be found in the box. Then place the frame with uprights in place; set the tolling hammer opposite the rope wheel; and set the bell on the uprights. See that the journals of the bell yoke rest only on the uprights. By swinging the bell you will see if all is clear and that
the bell is in proper place. Then attach the clapper and swing to see that it swings across the line of the yoke and that it is caught by the springs.”

Folks, now we need to ensure that the bell is properly balanced.

The instructions continue, “If the bell has been roughly handled in transit, a thing that sometimes happens, you may find two things that need correction: the bell may be out of balance, that is, heavier on one side than the other, or the springs may have shifted out of place. To correct these things loosen the nuts on top of the yoke and turn the bell until the springs and clapper are in proper position. To balance the bell, insert some yielding substance like soft wood or old leather between the bell and the yoke on the heavy side; then tighten up and try again until the clapper and springs operate together and the bell is in balance. You should allow something for the weight of the rope if the test is made before the rope is attached. It is always best to have the bell some heavier on the opposite side.”

Now it’s time to attach the rope to the bell.

“Having secured these points you can attach the sheave wheels to the floor where the rope comes down. Now look at the cut showing how and where the rope is to be attached and place as shown (in the catalog). Pass the other end of the rope down through the sheaves, having previously made a hole of ample size through the floor to allow the rope to pass without obstruction. It is usual to have a tin tube to pass the rope through. Then let the one that is doing the ringing go down to the floor where he is expected to stand when ringing the bell. Then swing the bell up as in ringing to a point short of turning over and hold it there until the man on the lower floor makes a mark by tying some article to it that will show him where to arrest the bell before allowing it to turn over. The object of the sheave and these precautions is to give the bell sufficient force and prevent overturning.”

Now we can ring the bell, which has its own set of instructions, but let’s pause for now, and we’ll continue next week.

Steve Roush is a vice president of an international media company, is vice chairman of the Highland County Historical Society Board of Trustees and is a columnist and contributing writer for The Highland County Press. He can be reached by email at

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