In this picture, the big bell weighs 120 lbs;
a simple 2x4 is strong enough to hold it, and for limited times,
it could bear the next smaller bell as well (here shown on the top
row 70 lbs). However, 200 lbs is too heavy for long-term use
of a 2x4 beam with a 200+ lb load, and that's especially true if
all the weight is concentrated at one point only i.e., if
the bell shown here were larger.
The .pdf which you can download here shows
a heavier frame, built of 4x4's. (We will have a picture of it here
very soon, as well). This is an as-built drawing of the very sturdy
frame that we use for our larger demo set. If the wood is clear
and free of knots or cracks, the beam is likely to be safe for bells
of up to at least 500 lbs. The same design can be used for
heavier or lighter frames. On our demo model, the bolts are 5/8"
The two largest bells on the lower beam in
the .pdf weigh approximately 350 and 220 lbs respectively. Considering
that an average person weighs 150 to 175 lbs, you can judge whether
a beam will support the bell(s) you propose to hang from it by observing
how well the beam supports two or three people of that weight standing
or even jumping on it. Keep in mind, though, that a bell is suspended
from a beam at a much narrower point than is feasible with two or
Always choose lumber that is clear and free
of knots, cracks, and splitting. Drill the holes with a drill press
or other type of guide to ensure smooth fitting of hardware.
Mounting bells on the beam
Below is a picture of the mounting assembly
that we used to mount the bells to the beam in any zvonnitsa. Of
course, the width of the U-brackets will be determined by the width
of the beam (2x4 or 4x4), but at any size they are standard items
available at any large hardware store.
This bracket assembly works just fine for
the smaller bells. For larger bells, it may (or may not) be hard
to find brackets that are long enough. But in any case, be sure
that they can bear the load you intend to hang on them! It may be
expedient to stack two cross-plates for extra strength.
You can find this assembly at any large hardware
store for a couple of bucks.
We used 1/2-inch nylon rope to secure the
larger bells both in the permanent zvonnitsa shown above and in
the portable ones shown in this section. If you use rope, be sure
that the load-test specs show that it is adequate.
Use a knot appropriate to the material of
which the rope is made. SQUARE KNOTS ARE VERY DANGEROUS WITH
SYNTHETIC ROPES. DO NOT USE SQUARE KNOTS. A knot
we have found to be effective is shown in the downloadable .pdf.
Please be aware that the lip of a bell is
somewhat sharp, for acoustic reasons. A falling bell could easily
maim or even cut off a foot or other limb. Watch where you stand
when mounting or dismounting a bell. Always use safe practices.
Do not allow children to play under or around
your bells. (Besides the fact that this could be dangerous, children
should learn that bells are not toys, but are sacred liturgical
instruments. But we have found that they know this instinctively
even if only because they know someone will hear them if they pull
Finally, protect your hearing! Use earplugs
or industrial ear protectors. Hearing loss is gradual, and permanent.
And permanent tinnitus (ringing in the ears) which can accompany
hearing loss is unpleasant. If you must ring without using earplugs,
keep your mouth open as this will relieve some of the pressure.
But remember, in Russia they don't say "deaf as a bell-ringer"
due to lack of experience!
Your knowledge is valuable
By all means please share your plans (and
pictures!) with us as well! Other churches might find in your experience
just the wisdom they need!