Restoring these chimes

Last month, I found this set of chimes for sale out in New Orleans.
I just inquired, not thinking I’d actually get them and asked if they would accept $1,000 for them. Unexpectedly, they said they would be willing to accept $1,000, if I paid at once, as they had another interested party. I agreed. (Paypal 12 month, no interest, dawg). So, I took the opportunity to take a weekend vacation (5/14-15) to New Orleans and stayed in the French Quarter, as I had to pick up these Chimes personally. Maybe more on my stay later.

When I arrived at the Culture Warehouse in New Orleans, I had a look around at all the other things they had available. Turns out they had a Cello that Julie was interested in, and they accepted $300 for it.

I was a bit too optimistic about the condition of the Chimes on my initial look at them. Plus, it takes three people to get them in and out of my Santa Fe. Rather than taking them home, I took them directly to band rehearsal. I polished the Chimes there, thinking that might be all I needed to do at first, but the Chimes’ pedal assembly completely fell apart before the end of the rehearsal. I had the dress rehearsal and concert the next couple weeks afterward, so I left the Chimes behind to work on later.

I brought the Chimes home Monday night and unloaded them from my car Tuesday (with help from my mom and a neighbor). I did some work on them yesterday… I wrote down my notes from them so far…

Chime Restoration Notes:

Chime bars are very dirty: Polished with Mothers California Gold Chrome Polish. Probably will do it again though. Removed all bars from frame. Will come back to this toward the end.

One chime bar needs to be re-strung: Bar is hanging by a shoe lace. Purchased thin metal wire and fastener clips. Have vice grip. Not started yet.

Damper felt is insufficient on at least 3 bars: Purchased adhesive felt. Not stated yet. I’m not sure if this felt is thick enough.

Frame is rusty, Paint isn’t great anymore: Purchased steel wire drill bit attachment. Purchased Rustoleum Rusty Metal Primer. Purchased Rustoleum “Metallic Oil Rubbed Bronze”. Think this might have more character than solid black. Purchased paint brushes. Removed most areas of rust using the drill/wire brush. I might be being too thorough with the initial rust removal. Stopping for now to repair the frame. May do more before painting, depending on how compulsive I feel.

Dampener lock-out knob not functioning at all, Pedal rod and assembly completely fell apart with light use: Assembly instructions from manufacturer don’t discuss this area so I’ll need to try to figure it out on my own. On examination, the pedal rod is too long. The pedal rod is also bent. The lock-out knob doesn’t appear to be attached to anything. The right counter spring is not attached to anything and dangling. Realized the entire damping assembly is actually upside down. My guess is this was taken apart, put back together incorrectly, then hacked up to sort-of work (Is this why the pedal rod was bent?). Removed the pedal rod. Got a new 1/8″ nut and reattached the counter right spring (with considerable effort). Flipped entire assembly right side up and tightened both counter springs. Reattached the lock-out pen. Reconnected the pedal rod and shortened to good length. The entire pedal assembly appears to be working as intended now. The Pedal rod being bent doesn’t seem to interfere with the functionality of the pedal.

The two caster wheels breaks are not functioning at all:
Breaks not attached to be best wheels: The break assembly appears to be upside down… I guess… Took off wheel and put it back together correct. One wheel break seems to be working… I guess… The other break is on the wrong wheel. Took off two wheels and swapped their assemblies. However, I put the second break assembly together incorrectly (where’d that washer come from). I cannot remove the wheel to fix with the tools I have and getting frustrated (can’t get enough torque). Need to borrow better tools. I don’t think I’ll be happy with the results in the end. I’ll may either need to replace the caster wheels or ignore that the breaks aren’t great. Checked the writing on the wheels. These are a different brand than what’s mentioned in the manufacturer documentation. Perhaps this is why I’m having trouble.

Notes: Javis cart, it’s definitely had a lot of use. The chime bars are still in good condition. No obvious cracks, but there is wear around where the bars hang against the steel wire. I’ve not compared them with a tuner, but I compared the sound with my bells, and it sounded fine. They also sounded fine when played with the band (before the pedal assembly fell apart). I’m still not sure what brand the bars are. They are 1.5″ brass. I originally suspected they’re Pearl/Adams Philharmonic, but they might be Musser, but I thought Musser typically writes their brand/model on the lowest note. One bar appears to be a replacement. The note lettering is a different style from the rest, but otherwise it looks the same as the others.

Here are some pre-work pictures.


Here’s some of the rust remove results.

Update for June 2, 2017. After a bit more rust removal, Julie and I worked on the metal primer / enamel coat. I wasn’t expecting this reddish brown look. It is kind of cool, I guess, but I am glad the top coat will be dark. I cannot imagine how many coats it would take if I tried to put a light color on top.

Maybe tomorrow we’ll get to paint it. Not sure how many coats it will need. After that, I need to re-string, re-felt, and decide what I want to do about these caster wheel breaks.

Update for June 3, 2017. Julie and I put on the oil rubbed bronze paint. Here are the pictures but not dry yet.


Update for June 5, 2017. Yesterday, Julie spot checked the paint job while I polished the bars again. Today, I went to re-felt the frame, but I ran out of Musser felt. I originally was only going to only replace some of the notes, but decided after ordering replacement felt to replace all of them. I did purchased some other felt from Home Depot, but it ended up not being thick enough. Now I have to wait for the new felt to arrive. Darn…

Update for June 9, 2017. I ended up going to Jarvis, the manufacturer of the frame, for replacement felt. Even still, I am not 100% happy with the dampening. Most of the notes dampen just fine, but some of them, not so much. I am not sure how to fix this, so I may just live with it for now and dampen with my hand if I need to. Here is the final result.


Update for June 10, 2017. Nope. This felt just won’t do. Regardless how pretty the chimes are, I need them to be functionally great too, and right now, not all bars are dampening. The felt Jarvis sent me was 1/2 inch wide, 6 inches long each, and 1/8 inch thick. It was really not much different from the felt I got from Musser, just a little firmer maybe. It is clear to me now that this cart needs 1 inch wide and 1/4 inch thick. I found this on Amazon, which I think will solve all my problems, but this will be my 4th felt, so maybe I shouldn’t hold my breath. I’m supposed to receive two of these (I got one extra for the future), and they should arrive Monday.
I still have done nothing to resolve my two wheels with non-functioning breaks. However, it occurs to me that I don’t believe I’ve ever used the breaks on chimes while playing them. Maybe I’ll come back to that some other time.

Update for June 28, 2017. After going back and forth, it was determined what that the problem with my Chimes wasn’t so much the felt but the cam. The cam is the piece that actually pushes the Chimes against the felt when the pedal is not pressed. This part…

Problem is that this part was so unevenly worn that some bars would dampen, while others would have no contact with the felts and would continue to ring. I ordered a replacement cam, and it arrived. I began disassembling everything…

Of course, nothing ever works. It didn’t take long for me to realize that the existing shaft collars wouldn’t fit around the new cam. I called the manufacturer, and they determined that their design had been revised many years ago, and the new replacement parts won’t fit the older carts (cart is over 6 years old). The manufacturer offered to re-weld my dampener to take the new replacement parts if I sent them the entire dampener system.

I used TheUPSStore pack and ship to send this 32 lb package. If all goes well, I’ll receive the dampener back fully assembled. Let’s hope all goes well. Yesterday, I re-strung all 20 of the chime bars. The old wire was in bad shape. I used 100lb stainless steel hanging wire and 1/16″ aluminum ferrules as a replacement. I’m hoping it won’t take too long to receive the dampener back, but I know it is summer marching season has already begun in some areas, and they may be busy with other orders.

Update for August 15, 2017. I received the dampener back on Friday (Aug. 11). Saturday, I put the frame back together and tested it out. I would say that the dampener isn’t perfect, but probably as good as it gets. It occurs to me that I don’t know how well it would work if it were new. Where as, letting go of the dampener pedal on other Chimes would immediately cut off the note, it seems like letting go of the pedal on this frame dampens in a couple counts or so. I can also dampen individual notes with my finger of course, but I realized that a slightly dampened note is not noticeable in a full band situation.
Yesterday, I was able to load the Chime frame and bars (individually) into my car by myself and take them to PBCB rehearsal, which meant I could fit hardly anything else in my car. I played them with the band last night, and I feel like they were really good. They are [potentially] louder than the Chimes we were previously borrowing, and they sound better [to me]. However, they are a little harder to play, since the intervals are wider and a good 4 or 5 inches taller than I’m used to. I am glad I am not waiting until last minute to get used to these. Anyway, it felt kind of strange leaving the Chimes behind, with how much work I put into them. We probably won’t be able to borrow Chimes much longer, so I am glad I was able to get these to play. If I had to go back, I am not sure I would have done all these. This Chime job was much more difficult than I expected.

I’ve already started on my next Percussion project…

Update for August 24, 2017. So quickly… I was asked to make a sound bite of the chimes. So, here is a F major chord, in all its glory:

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