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Why do bells need restoration?

A cast bell can ring for centuries. Because of this longevity, bells often outlive the structures and hardware that support them. Bells are also subject to daily stressors, including:

  • Wear and degradation of the metal at the striking point 
  • Original casting defects or poor metal quality
  • Unsuitable clapper size or weight 
  • Blocked or misaligned pulleys
  • Loose fittings and shifted supports from sustained vibration
  • Weakened, damp, and aged structures (bell towers) 
  • Corrosion from the elements, including bat and bird droppings 

Not only do these conditions present problems for bell acoustics, they may also render the bell inoperative or unsafe to ring. To prevent the debt of silence from a bell not ringing, we recommend regular inspection and maintenance of bells and bell ringing equipment. However, we understand not every bell has been looked after so vigilantly, particularly bells of significant age. That’s when the National Bell Festival steps in to help.

Image: A cracked bell sits outside the parish church of San Miguel Arcángel del Espíritu Santo in Comala, Colima, Mexico.

Restoring a bell’s sound and a community’s voice.

Together with our network of bell foundries, historic preservationists, architects, and contractors, we repair, refurbish, and restore bells cast of bronze or iron alloys. We oversee the complete bell restoration project with recognized professionalism and expertise to:

  • Safely remove the bell from the tower or site
  • Fully inspect the bell and determine the extent of damage or wear
  • Remove surface grime, signs of oxidation (rust), or toxic patina
  • Stabilize or repair fractures and cracks
  • Buff the bell to a beautiful luster and recoat fittings and hardware
  • Fabricate or replace missing and ineffective bell parts, like wheels, yokes, and clappers
  • Restore the bell to its original, clear resonance
  • Repair structural works and support timbers
  • Reinstall the bell in the tower or commemorative display 
  • Add electric swinging systems or mechanized tolling hammers 

Best of all, we do this at little to no cost to the bell owners. We believe the resonant toll of a bell is integral to the spirit of a community or neighborhood, so we partner with citizen organizations, business improvement districts, schools and universities, municipal buildings, religious institutions, firehouses, and more to keep bells ringing.

If you have a bell, chime, or carillon in need of refurbishment or repair, we can help. Individuals and organizations representing a bell of significance are invited to apply for one of our bell restoration grants.

Image: A worn and damaged bell with rusted clapper hangs against a vibrant blue sky.

We are dedicated to authenticity and historic preservation.

Sentinels in bronze, bells toll a history of our nation: the jubilation of independence, the pain of civil war, the sacredness of community, and the resounding hope of tomorrow. We take the utmost care to protect this heritage by preserving heirloom bells, restoring their original sound, securing their installation, and setting them swinging again. The National Bell Festival can even help you plan a neighborhood rededication ceremony.

See how we're restoring the sound canopy. Explore our current bell restoration projects.

Image: The cast iron bell at Georgetown Lutheran Church in Washington, D.C., before restoration work funded by the National Bell Festival.