B.A. Sunderlin Bellfoundry

B.A. Sunderlin Bellfoundry has been casting single bells and sets of bells for harmonically-tuned peals and carillons since 2015. It is the only foundry in the United States to cast bells in both the lost-wax casting and traditional swept-loam molding methods. In addition to bell making, the foundry offers:

  • Single Bells
  • Chimes & Carillons
  • Consoles
  • Frames & Fittings
  • Tuning
  • Maintenance & Inspections
  • Heritage Restorations
  • Full-Service Casting
  • Campanology Museum

Housed in a former warehouse just off Interstate 95 north of Richmond, Virginia, the foundry may be reached at:

B.A. Sunderlin Bellfoundry
22537 Colemans Mill Rd.
Ruther Glen, VA 22546
(804) 448-0565

Where tradition meets technology

B.A. Sunderlin Bellfoundry was created to provide quality bronze bells in the United States, based on extensive and ongoing research into the finest traditional bell making techniques. In addition to bells, the 11,000-square-foot B.A. Sunderlin Bellfoundry is a full-service non-ferrous foundry, casting alloys in the lost-wax casting technique, while also boasting a full welding shop, machine shop, rapid prototyping equipment, digital modeling and CAD facilities, and wood shop to cast, weld, or build an array of outputs. 

The foundry is also home to a bell making museum with exhibits depicting the history of campanology and heritage bell making tools.

How bells from the B.A. Sunderlin Bellfoundry are cast

No other foundry in America casts bells using the centuries-old ‘Continental’ (lost-wax) and ‘English’ (swept-loam) methods first developed in Europe. Loam is a mixture of sand, horse dung, hair, and clay that forms a high-refractory mud used to build each segment of the two-part mold by hand. 

Layer upon layer of loam is meticulously shaped or swept using a digitally designed and computer-cut wooden template. Then, the interior (core) and the exterior (cope) are sleeked in graphite and closed together, leaving a gap between the two components. This assemblage is lowered into the pit and covered in sand in preparation for casting, when molten bronze is poured to fill the mold. The pit facilitates slow cooling, which allows the bell to develop a refined crystalline structure for a balanced overall timbre.

All of the foundry’s bells are made from bell metal, a high-tin bronze consisting of at least 80% copper and 10% tin. The bell making process at B.A. Sunderlin Bellfoundry results in exquisite surface detail, improved concentricity, and slower cooling, which in turn produces bells of lasting quality and the fullest ringing potential, now and into the future. This age-old process also allows B.A. Sunderlin Bellfoundry to cast designs in relief, creating spectacular artwork across a bell’s surface.

Cover image: Ben Sunderlin, proprietor of the B.A. Sunderlin Bellfoundry, stands at his foundry. Courtesy: B.A. Sunderlin Bellfoundry.