Why are the Bells Back?

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

Some of you may have noticed that the bells in Clothier Tower are ringing again. See below for a quote from Ralph Thayer, Director of Maintenance, explaining why.

“The bells have been out of commission since last fall. The bell ringing controls and devices (separate and distinct from the bells themselves) were completely updated when Clothier Tower underwent major masonry repairs in 2013-2014.In the spring of 2017 the bells began to exhibit problems with missed strikes. Over the summer the problem became progressively worse until they got to the point where they were so erratic that I elected to turn them off in September 2017.

“The original installer (out of state) dodged returning to analyze the problem as the system was out of warranty and they had no immediate work in the area. They referred me to a local outfit that services the Apollo bell controls.  They were booked solid until after Christmas. When they finally got out here the technician was able to determined that the power supply on the control board that activated the strikers had a fault in it.Like most things these days, it required replacing the board rather than a component on the board. They had no board in stock. It had to be ordered from the manufacturer, Campa, in Belgium.

“Weeks later, weather was not cooperating so it was not until last week that the board was in hand, there was a gap in the schedule, and the weather was nice.  Mission accomplished.  I did notice today they rang about a minute too soon but we’ll fix that.”

Keton Kakkar ’20

Keton entered Swarthmore with the class of 2019 and graduated with the class of 2020. He double majored in English literature and computer science and was awarded Honors at commencement. A former editor of this newspaper, he was responsible for merging The Daily Gazette with The Phoenix, among other initiatives. He grew up in Sands Point, New York, completed the last two years of his secondary schooling at Phillips Academy in Andover Massachusetts, and is a member of the class of 2025 at the NYU School of Law.

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