• Alison Hodge
    88
    Remembrance Sunday is about a month away. Hopefully, this year more towers will be able to ring in the "normal" way.

    Having needed to find and fit the muffles for a funeral at a local tower this week, i have come across a few styles of bell muffles.

    What fixings do steeple keepers use that successfully prevent the muffles slipping round the clapper ball? I will see later whether the ones I have used will be correctly muffled for the whole of the service ringing.
  • James Kirkcaldy
    3
    My experience of Big Wilfs is very good, especially once the ball and flight have been painted with non-slip paint (Exeter Cathedral has used these for years without issue, including peals).
    Unfortunately, Wilf has ceased production. I'm unsure whether others use industrial strength velcro, as Wilf did.
  • Simon Linford
    152
    Was Wilf's productions facility / business bought by someone?
  • Mark Elvers
    3
    Alison, We use this leather style. I find the key is to make them very tight. I wrap the top strap around four times with the second two wraps on top of the first two and pull it as tight as I can. Then below the ball the strap usually only goes around twice leaving a longish tail. I take lose end and feed it through underneath the strap making it tighter and then fold it over and feed it through again making it tighter still and getting rid of the lose end. See photo. rNtMln1.jpg
  • Alison Hodge
    88
    Thanks Mark - yes, the leather straps do need to be very tightly buckled or they will slip round. The key point is to take up any slack left when the buckle holes are not quite in the best position. I have seen some people use rubber strips (typically old bike tubing) as a spacer or even blue tack - but blue tack is rather messy!

    The muffles in the local tower that I used last week were designed with a strap on one side plus leather laces on the other. The lacing did not fix the muffle firmly enough but someone had obviously also found this so there were 6 large jubilee clips in the box that could be tightened over the leather that would have been laced. No problem with the muffles slipping, but next time i would inset a strip of rubber inner tube between the leather and jubilee clip - i fear that the jubilee clips would cut into the leather if the bells were rung for example for a quarter or longer.
  • Robin Shipp
    9
    I was at Avon Ropes today to arrange a replacement stay. I discovered that they have now taken over Big Wilf's business - very amicably, I understand. Philip is an old friend of Big Wilf.
  • Philip Pratt
    16
    Hello Simon/James, yes, Big Wilf's Bell Muffles are still being made to the same tried and tested design as Wilf has perfected over the last 15 years. There will be a notice in the RW and an updated website in due course, but we are accepting orders.
    http://bigwilfsbellmuffles.co.uk/
  • David Smith
    7
    I've seen plenty of half muffles, but never seen a full muffle. If one orders full muffles from a supplier, are they usable to either full or half muffle a bell, or are they really only usable to fully muffle?
  • Alison Hodge
    88
    Two muffles on each clapper is what I assume. That may make securing them quite tricky with the buckles / velcro / laces etc. But someone like Philip Pratt may have another suggestion.
  • Jonathan Frye
    2
    I have used self amalgamating tape to good effect to prevent muffles from slipping. Its a rubber tape that after a few days bonds to itself on any overlap to become a continuous piece of rubber.

    To use it wrap 4 or 4 turns around the clapper shaft just above the ball (where the top muffle strap will sit). Make sure to pull it tight as you do each loop as its the tension that causes it to bond to itself. Do the same thing on the flight just below the ball where the lower muffle strap will sit. Ideally put the tape on a few days before the muffles are needed to give it time to bond to itself.

    The rubber provides a grippy surface between the leather strap and the clapper shaft and is very effective at preventing turning. The tape can be left on the clappers permanently but if it needs to be removed then just use a pair of scissors.

    One roll of tape will be enough to do a set of bells and its a few pounds from a hardware shop, B&Q, etc.
  • Jonathan Frye
    2
    If one orders full muffles from a supplier, are they usable to either full or half muffle a bell, or are they really only usable to fully muffle?David Smith

    We got a set of full muffles from Big Wilf. They are usable as either a full muffle or a half muffle. Essentially they are the standard half muffle with normal velcro straps. The other half muffle is just the muffle bit, no straps. The straps from the first half muffle loop through the back of the second half muffle to secure them. They are easy to use and fairly quick to swap between half and full muffle configuration.
  • Philip Pratt
    16
    As Jonathan has ably detailed, when using the velcro type muffles, the second muffle is different to the first, being that it has loops and no velcro. This is a Big Wilf's Bell Muffle. yq3hpqak3j9wli51.jpg
  • David Smith
    7
    Many thanks Jonathan and Philip. That's very clear and very helpful. Also exactly what I was hoping would be the case, but it's reassuring to have this confirmed - common sense does not always prevail!
  • John Harrison
    92
    The muffles I grew up with had a buckled strap around the flight and leather thong around the shaft. Buckling the strap held the muffle in place while you tied the thong but unless you were really lucky with the holes the strap wasn't really tight. You could then focus on making sure the thong was really tight.
    At one point we had muffles with two straps that were really difficult - they weren't long enough to wrap round like the pictures above.
    The muffles we have now have thongs top and bottom. They are a bit more fiddly to put on because the muffle isn't held in place while you tie the bottom thong. OTOH you can potentially get both ends tight.
    I do a half hitch on the first turn (strictly two half turns) and pull that really tight. Then I do however many turns are needed to leave the right lengths for the knot. Make another half turn and pull that really tight. Then hen add the slippery half turn (the bow) to lock it, and pull that really tight. NB by pull really tight I mean a couple of sharp tugs, not just a steady pull.
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