Source at Schulmerich Handbells (11/11/98)

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Schulmerich Handbells 

Care & Maintenance
































HANDBELL PARTS LIST (Major Components)

MISCELLANEOUS PARTS LIST (Hardware, Springs, Pins, etc.)


Home Page, Back to Handbell Page Anatomy of a Bell ( 140K)






Welcome to the growing Schulmerich family! We put a lot of ourselves into our handbells, and it delights us to know that you will soon be using them to make beautiful music, enjoy good fellowship and have great fun.

Your new handbells are 100% American made, guaranteed for life, and they are the finest-tuned handbells anywhere. Schulmerich's Lifetime Guarantee covers the entire bell, from the tuned bell casting and the clapper assembly to the handle. We will give you the service and support you need, for as long as you own your Schulmerich handbells. No wonder Schulmerich bells are played by more choirs, churches, schools and institutions than any other. We are the oldest manufacturer of English handbells in North America, having started in 1963. We are proud that you have chosen to play them, too.

Sincerely yours,

Your Schulmerich Craftsmen

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If you are also the owner of Schulmerich carrying cases, you need not worry about how to transport or to store your bells. Your cases take care of both of these problems, as well as providing additional storage space for maintenance tools and materials furnished with your bells. Your bells are received in plastic bags. Please do not use these bags for continued storage as this may harm the highly polished finish on the bells. To maintain this jewel-like finish on the outside of the bells, it is important to avoid contact with rough or coarse materials. Therefore, if you do not own Schulmerich custom-designed carrying cases, we recommend that storage bags or pouches of soft materials, such as flannels or velvets, be made for your bells.

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Please take a few minutes to check your new bells for shipping damage. It is the responsibility of the recipient to file a damage claim if such is necessary. A tool kit and a specially treated polishing cloth encased in a plastic container are also included with complete octaves of bells. We suggest you review this instruction bulletin and note pages of helpful illustrations which follow the text. A parts diagram is included for your ordering convenience should the need arise.

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As you examine your bells, set a large one aside (a G4 provides good visibility of the internal parts and construction), so you can become familiar with some of its unique parts and features.

First, the Soft Touch plastic handle of polypropylene copolymer features inlaid enharmonic musical note designations and a campaniform. The campaniform shows the strike point side of the handbell, and is also used for rapid identification for those who use uneven spring tension adjustment. In all respects, it is far superior to the conventional handles in use. Two locating pin holes in the block, to which the handle is securely riveted, indicates the relationship of the handle to the striking plane of the clapper.

This striking plane of the clapper (selected at the factory as the point of "best response" which, when used as the strike point, creates the clearest tone) is fixed by an indexing pin in the casting to a hole located in the clapper yoke. As each bell is individually tuned, the optimum striking plane is permanently recorded by scribing an index mark along the inner surface of the bell casting. It is most important that no attempt be made to buff out this mark. Such attempts may result in detuning the bell. Schulmerich bells offer the pin feature (included in a Schulmerich patent) and inlaid enharmonic note designations with campaniform marking and Soft Touch durable handle.

Note the raised crown, or bell "tang", at the top of the bell. This Schulmerich exclusive provides greater amplitude.

Next examine the plastic handle disc (guard) and notice that it carries the same plastic-coated note designations as does the handle. This permits identification of the bell, whether the playing preference is to lay the bells on their sides or to stand them upright on their mouths, or by reading from the handle or handle disc respectively. This musical note system is in direct reference to that of the piano keyboard.

Now look into the mouth of the bell and notice the unique Select-A-Strike clapper which allows you nearly unlimited freedom for voicing your bells. (Or, you may have selected the Quick-Adjust which can be easily hand adjusted for soft, medium or hard strike settings.)

Schulmerich manufactures two types of adjustable clappers:

  • Select-A-Strike (See Figure "B")
  • Quick-Adjust (See Figure "C")
  • Select-A-Strike clappers are adjustable by rotating the clapper screw slightly counter-clockwise until the clapper is free to rotate. Rotate the clapper to the desired position and retighten the screw.

    Quick-Adjust clappers (See Fig. 3) are adjustable without loosening the clapper screw. In fact, the clapper screw should never be turned. This screw is locked to the clapper shaft by a special chemical bond between the screw and shaft. To adjust, rotate clapper until it clicks into the desired position. NOTE: DO NOT TAKE YOUR "QUICK-ADJUST" CLAPPER APART. THEY MUST BE RETURNED TO THE FACTORY FOR ANY REPAIRS NEEDED.

    Try it! On all bells C8 and below in pitch, three decidedly different impact tones can be achieved. This permits a selection of mellow or more brilliant tones to be generated in your bells, according to your tonal preference. These options provide a soft mellow strike tone designated by the letter "S" imprinted on the clapper insert, a medium tone designated by "M" on the insert, and a strong brilliant tone designated by "H" on the insert.

    Try our clapper and listen for these differences in timbre. First, with the felt material striking the bell (the "S" plane of the clapper in the striking plane), strike the bell softly and then with a harder blow - while noting the low mellow tones which result. Next, loosen the screw which holds the clapper, using the screwdriver furnished for this purpose - or just rotate it, if you have Quick-Adjust clappers - and turn the clapper so that the "M" plane of the clapper is oriented to strike. Adjust the clapper so that the center of the slot or hole in the "M" plane will contact with the side of the bell. Then tighten the clapper securely and again strike the bell with a soft and then a harder blow and note the medium mellow tones which result. Now, loosen the clapper again, align the "H" plane to strike, tighten the screw, and again strike the bell and note the hard, brilliant tones which will result.

    Bells higher in pitch than G#4 are equipped with clappers whose design does not include a felt striking position. As we progress higher than G#4, it is necessary to use harder impact materials to excite the higher tonal frequencies. Therefore, in ascending order, the clappers contain smaller slots or holes, or none at all in bells C#8 and above, in order to generate these higher frequencies. This is opposed to that of the larger bells where the purpose of the felt is to subdue the extraneous higher partials and thereby achieve a dominant strong fundamental and twelfth partial. Even in smaller bells, small changes in strike tone can be achieved by striking on the thicker or thinner areas of the clapper head since the thicker areas, being more resilient, provide a softer striking surface. To get the best results when striking with the slots or holes in the striking plane, be certain that you've oriented the clapper so that the centers of the slots or holes are aligned with the point at which the clapper strikes the bell.

    Now, look further down into the bell and examine the unique Micro-Adjust control at the bottom of the clapper shaft - (See Fig. 2) for a diagram of this mechanism. Note the two elastic stop nuts (a type of high-friction nut that holds the position to which it is turned) which restrict the movement of the spring secured to the bottom of the clapper. Hold the clapper lightly to one side of the bell and, using the appropriate nut driver furnished (bells B5 and below require the use of the socket with the larger hexagonal opening. C6 and above require the smaller one), turn the nut counter-clockwise and you will notice that the clapper moves closer to the side of the bell, thus requiring less effort to strike the bell. Now release the clapper and turn the nut clockwise (downward) and you will see the clapper move away from the side of the bell. It can be adjusted in this manner so far from the side of the bell that the bell cannot be rung on that side.

    This feature, whereby the clapper can be restrained from striking on one side, makes the Schulmerich bell ideal for Four-In-Hand or Six-In-Hand playing. Its primary purpose is to permit the selection of the desired clapper restraining action to suit the touch or feel of any bell ringer. Uneven adjustment of the nuts can be utilized to give a softer strike or none at all on the back stroke.

    Obviously, excessive downward adjustment of the nuts will require excessive effort to strike the bell since the clapper is held too far from the side of the bell. Excessive downward positioning of the nuts can overstress the spring to a point where spring failure could occur. Position nuts downward only as far as necessary to effect a smooth, easy and controlled strike. Approximate spacing between the side of the bell and the clapper should be as little as 1/8" on the smaller bells and between 3/8" and 1/2" on the larger bells - with the clapper inclined toward one side of the bell.

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    The following is an itemized list of suggestions compiled to help you get a lifetime of satisfaction out of your Schulmerich bells:

    Never put your bells away after playing or handling them without first having wiped them clean with the specially treated polishing cloth furnished as part of your accessory kit. Make this a rule and a habit. If left on, finger and hand marks, due to body salts and acids, will quickly etch and mar the bright, polished finish. The bell should be dry before using the polishing cloth. If the bell is badly tarnished, a slight moistening of the tarnished surface by blowing on it will aid in the removal of same. Rub the surface briskly with the red cloth, using the hands against the outside cloth to protect them from jeweler's rouge. Finish by rubbing the surface with the outside cloth. Coloring on the hands is harmless and is easily washed off.

    Should a bell become so badly tarnished that it cannot be cleaned with the polishing cloth, buffing with a polish such as Simichrome, available from Schulmerich, will remove most stubborn tarnish. When using polish, apply with a clean soft cloth or cheese cloth and remove with a separate clean cloth before the polish dries.

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    If disassembly of a bell is necessary or desired for some reason, the hex ball driver furnished is the only tool needed. A look at the bell diagram, illustrated on (See Fig. 1), shows that the entire bell assembly is held together by means of one cap screw through the handle block, through the top of the bell, and then into a threaded hole in the yoke. Disassembly is performed by engaging the end of the hex key wrench into the socket of the cap screw above the handle block and turning the screw counter-clockwise until its threads are free of the threaded hole in the yoke.

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    To reassemble (See Fig.1), replace the parts in the order illustrated in the diagram. Place the disc on top of the bell. Insert the cap screw with the washer beneath its head, through the center hole in the handle block and through the top of the bell - at the same time orienting the handle so that the small hole (off center in the handle block) is engaged with the protrusion of the index pin extending above the tang of the bell. Holding the bell mouth side up, place the spacer bushing over the extension of the cap screw and, holding the yoke assembly by its shaft, turn the assembly clockwise, thereby drawing the screw extension into the threaded hole in the yoke. With these parts engaged, align the hole in the yoke with the extension of the index pin beyond the inside of the bell - push the parts together so that the yoke and handle are indexed by the pin and complete the tightening of the cap screw until it is drawn snug. Note: overtightening of the cap screw may (especially in the higher range of bells) result in a deadening of the bell tone - hence, draw the screw up snug, but not so tight as to deaden the tone.

    The clapper shaft in a Schulmerich bell is free to move on nylon bearings and requires no periodic oiling or lubrication.

    Should the plastic handle become gummy from dirt accumulation after a time, cleaning can be easily accomplished with a cloth moistened with a lukewarm solution of water and a mild detergent. The plastic material is unaffected by almost all strong chemicals and cleaning agents except benzene and carbon tetrachloride which will affect the plastic only after long contact with it - avoid their use.

    In addition to the type of plastic used in the handle, your Schulmerich bell may use as many as four additional types. Different types of plastics are more or less susceptible to reaction with different types of chemicals and to different degrees. Many of today's better products include plastic parts and assemblies for the added advantages that plastics offer, and most reliable manufacturers caution against the use of various chemicals on their plastics. Schulmerich therefore recommends against the use of any chemicals either on its bell assemblies or in the storage container with the bells. In a closed container such as a carrying case, under certain conditions, a stored chemical can give off a gas which could react injuriously with one or more of the plastics. For example, the fumes given off by ordinary mothballs can have damaging effects on plastic. So, play it safe, and don't put chemicals into your bell storage cases and follow the Schulmerich instructions for cleaning.

    No special care is needed for the ruggedly built Schulmerich bell carrying cases. The plush-lined, profiled recesses for the bells in each of the available cases provide excellent resistance against abrasion and wear. The tough, black leatherette covering bonded to the exteriors of the cases will stand considerable abuse. Scuff marks on the finish, resulting from rough handling, can be simply touched-up with an application of one of several black self-shining liquid shoe polishes on the market, such as "Scuff-Kote".

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    There need be no reluctance in disassembling your handbells. They have been designed so that you, the customer, can do repair work that will have no effect on the precision tuning of the bells.

    SPRING REPLACEMENT - For bells with Select-A-Strike clappers and "elastothane" springs (also when replacing metal springs with "elastothane" see Notes).

    Tools required: Standard handbell tool kit

    1. Using the screwdriver, remove the clapper and washer and set aside.

    2. Using the hex ball driver supplied, remove the cap screw located at the handle block. This completely disassembles the bell. Be careful not to lose any of the parts, particularly the spacer bushing that goes between the yoke assembly and the casting. Failure to reinsert this bushing could result in a tonally "dead" bell.

    3. Using the adjustment wrenches supplied, remove stop nuts, neoprene bumpers and anti-friction washers.

    4. Remove the damaged spring by sliding toward the clapper end of the shaft (note springs fit snugly).

    5. Inspect the clapper end of the shaft. If there are any sharp edges or burrs, remove them with a small file.

    6. Place the "elastothane" spring with the flat center portion on a board or other hard surface. Push the end of the hex shaft through the center hole, reverse the yoke and continue to push the spring down fully to straddle the block and be parallel with the sides of the "U" channel so that the studs are free from the sides of the slots.

    Springs are numbered for easy replacement:
    #7 G2 thru F#3 (for bells shipped after 2-1-85)
    #1 C3 thru F#3 (for bells shipped before 2-1-85)
    #2 G3 thru B3
    #3 C4 thru G#4 (see Notes)
    #4 A4 thru B5
    #5 C6 thru C7
    #6 C#7 thru C8

    On bells C#7 and higher a metal spring is used. Its number is 10-2023-4. Please refer to the next section for replacing metal springs. Also available is an elastothane spring for bells C#7 thru C8 for replacement purposes.

    7. Replace the anti-friction washer, neoprene bumper and stop nut on each stud. Simply hand tighten these now, since you can adjust them to suit your ringer when the bell is together.

    8. Bell reassembly...Place handguard, handle, lockwasher and cap screw into the casting and holding these, turn bell over and insert spacer bushing. The small hole next to the threaded hole in the bottom of the yoke block is the index pin hole. Start to screw the yoke onto the cap screw with the hole opposite the index pin. Turn the yoke assembly down until you feel the index pin lock into the index hole; now retighten the bell cap screw and stop nuts and you're ready to ring! But remember, adjust nuts down as far as needed to keep the clapper from resting on the casting, and to effect a smooth, easy and controlled strike. (Any further adjustment only puts undue strain on the spring.)


    A. Metal springs were standard in earlier Schulmerich bells. These may be replaced with elastothane springs. This is done by following the steps for replacement of bells with Select-A-Strike clappers. One additional step is required, after completing step #3. With the yoke assembly out of the bell, use a pair of pliers to bend down and up on the metal spring leaf on each side of the yoke block until it breaks. Discard the pieces. The small section of spring remaining under the hex shaft need not be removed if it does not interfere with the installation of the new spring. Now, skip step #4 and continue with step #5.

    B. Bell notes G3 thru B3 use two different widths of clapper shafts. Bells with Select-A-Strike clappers use a wider shaft and require a #2 elastothane spring. Bells with Quick-Adjust clappers manufactured between 1979 and February, 1985 require a #3 elastothane spring.

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    SPRING REPLACEMENT - For Quick-Adjust clappers (also when replacing metal springs with elastothane springs).

    Tools required: Standard handbell tool kit with drift pin and small hammer.

    1. Using the hex ball driver supplied, remove the cap screw located at the handle block. This completely disassembles the bell. Be careful not to lose any of the parts, particularly the spacer bushing that goes between the yoke assembly and the casting. Failure to reinsert this bushing could result in a tonally "dead" bell.

    2. Using the adjustment wrenches supplied, remove the stop nuts, neoprene bumpers and anti-friction washers.

    3. Place the yoke assembly on its side over the open vise (or hole in wooden block) and, using the drift pin, drive out the axle. This frees the shaft from the yoke channel.

    4. Before proceeding further, scribe a mark on the bottom of the shaft and shaft block (see figure).

    5. Place the shaft assembly over the open vise (or a hole in a block of wood) and, using the drift pin to drive the shaft out of the shaft block (never use pliers to do this as it will damage the shaft and possibly break it).

    6. Remove the broken spring and replace it with a new one of the proper size.

    The springs are numbered for easy replacement.

    #7 G2 thru F#3 (for bells shipped after 2-1-85)
    #1 C3 thru F#3 (for bells shipped before 2-1-85)
    #3 G3 thru G#4 (see Notes B above)
    #4 A4 thru B5
    #5 C6 thru C7
    #6 C#7 thru C8

    On bells C#7 and higher a metal spring is used, its number is 10-2023-4. Also available is an elastothane spring for bells C#7 thru C8 for replacement purposes.

    7. Keeping in mind that the spring should be at a right angle to the shaft block, place the shaft in the hole in the shaft block, aligning previously applied scribe marks.

    8. Using a hammer, gently tap block back onto the shaft. Stop to check frequently that alignment marks and hole for the axle line up. When the shaft bottom and the shaft block are flush, use the drift pin on either side of the block, and hammer the block down tight.

    9. Now you are ready to reassemble the shaft assembly to the yoke block. Lay yoke block on its side over an open vise and place shaft assembly in channel, lining up the axle hole in the block with the nylon bearings. If you encounter difficulty in getting the shaft assembly between the nylon bearings, use a blunt nose pliers as a wedge between the nylon bearings and spread the channel slightly.

    10. On longer shafts (low bells), support the clapper end of the shaft to aid in lining up holes for the axle. If the holes are not lined up properly, when you drive in the axle it will destroy the nylon bearings when it passes through.

    11. Before inserting the axle, use a screwdriver and hammer and place a nick in the center of the axle. This will aid the axle in gripping the hole into which it is driven and prevent it from loosening and falling out. Now place the axle into the axle hole and tap it in with a hammer.

    12. Replace the anti-friction washer, neoprene bumper and stop nut on each stud. Simply hand tighten these. You can adjust them to suit your ringer when the bell is together.

    13. Bell reassembly...Place the handguard, handle, lockwasher, and cap screw on to the casting and holding these, turn the bell over and insert the spacer bushing. The small hole next to the threaded hole in the bottom of the yoke block is the index pin hole. Start to screw the yoke onto the cap screw with the hole opposite the index pin. Turn the yoke assembly down until you feel the index pin lock into the index hole. Now retighten the bell cap screw, and adjust the stop nuts and you're ready to ring! But remember, adjust nuts down only as far as needed to keep the clapper from resting on the casting. (Any further adjustment only puts strain on the spring).

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    This is a problem you may encounter which is very easy to fix. Take a thin bladed long shaft screwdriver and place it between the shaft block and the yoke channel and give it a twist. Do this on both sides of the bell. Soon you will find the bell ringing freely again. This works in 98% of all cases, especially if remedied early, before the yoke really binds up. This is an easy fix which does not require bell disassembly.

    If this does not loosen up the yoke enough, then you will have to disassemble the bell and remove the shaft assembly from the yoke block as described above. Then spread the yoke channel.

    Do not oil your shaft assembly. The nylon bearing does not require lubrication and oil tends to attract and hold dirt, causing binding problems.

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    Loose or wobbly shafts can be detected by a rattling sound heard when the bell is struck. If you can hear a rattle and feel excessive side to side movement, you can take the following steps to correct it. (Remember that there must be some side to side movement to permit the bell to strike.)

    Remove the yoke assembly from the bell by loosening the cap screw. Place the yoke block on its side over an open vise or hole in a block of wood and, using a drift pin and a hammer, tap around the axle. Do this on both sides and check often so as not to get the yoke too tight. This will tighten the channel. Now reassemble the bell and you are ready to ring.

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    This sometimes occurs in the larger bells. After determining that the bell is not cracked, ring the bell and hold the handguard firmly with your thumb. In most cases you will note the buzz is gone. If this is not the case, simply retighten the cap screw. If, after tightening the screw, the noise still persists when you remove your thumb from the handguard, loosen the handle to the point where the handguard easily spins. Move handguard slightly to one side and retighten the screw. This should correct the problem.

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    Polishing is necessary especially after exposure to a corrosive atmosphere such as salt air, etc., or having something spilled on the bells.

    Always make sure to polish under the handguard, but be careful to wipe away all polish residue. On the smaller bells this will require disassembly of the bell. If this is not done, the bells will continue to tarnish. If let go, the tarnish may actually etch the bell casting.

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    Caution should be exercised when transporting handbells in extremely cold weather. Sufficient time to permit all parts to reach room temperature should be allowed before the bells are struck.

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    Last modified: July 13, 1998