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Making a Clapper Stay


Method Library

Clapper Stay
   • Introduction
   • Making It
   • Using It

When teaching a new recruit to handle a bell, most towers tie the clapper of the bell to avoid annoying the neighbours. Actually tying the clapper is a bit of a pain and can take some time. At my home tower we have the added complication of a thin metal frame that is 10 foot off the ground.

To make the process of silencing a bell somewhat easier, I made a 'Clapper Stay'. This fits over the clapper and clamps it in the middle of the bell. Several designs and quite a few lost nuts and washers later, I finally came up with a design which is easy to fit, secures the clapper firmly, and doesn't have you grubbing around the floor to find dropped bits and pieces. It is also very easy make.

This first picture shows the component parts of the Clapper Stay. It comprises a Front Board, a Back Board and two Shoulders, These are all held together with two 3/8" cup-square-square bolts (or metric equivalent), two washers and two butterfly nuts. The front board, back board and shoulders are all made from 4" x 1" pieces of wood. (I used the wood that is used to make pallets.) The bolts are of the type used to secure a normal stay.

The Back Board
Cut the back board to a length suitable for the bell it is to fit. It will be placed above the ball of the clapper so bear that in mind when measuring the length. Because a bell tapers, a clapper stay made to fit just above the ball of one bell can usually also be used for the next two bigger bells. I have one clapper stay that fits the treble, 2 and 3, and another one that fits 4, 5 and 6.

The ends of the back board will need tapering slightly. I found that marking about an inch in on the top edge and drawing a diagonal line to the bottom corner gave me about the right taper.

The Shoulders
The shoulders are pieces 4" x 4" x 1" and are screwed to the back board with a gap in the middle to take the shank of the clapper. Make the gap about one and a half times as big as the clapper shank. This will make it easy to take the clapper stay on and off.

A hole is then drilled through the centre of each shoulder and on through the back board. These must be big enough to take the bolts, but the holes should be slightly under-size so that the bolts will have to be tapped in with a hammer. DO NOT PUT IN THE BOLTS JUST YET.

The Front Board
Cut the front board so that it is just long enough to cover the two shoulders. Then place it in position over the shoulders and clamp it in place. Drill through the holes in the back board and shoulders to make two holes in the front board. Unclamp and remove the front board. Then open out slightly the holes in the front board so that the bolts will easily pass through them. The front board is not quite finished, but we have to fit the pieces together before making the final cuts.

Fitting it Together
Tap the bolts through the back board so that the threads stick out through the shoulders and then hit them firmly into position. Fit the the front board over the bolts to check it fits. If you have not drilled your holes quite straight, you may need to open out the holes in the front board a little more.

Finishing Off
You now have to cut a slot up to the left hand hole of the front board. This will allow the clapper stay to be put on and off without fully removing the butterfly nuts. Lift off the front board and then put it back on just the right-hand bolt. Swing the front board round anti-clockwise until the bottom of the board hits the left-hand bolt. Now mark the bottom edge of the front board about an eigth of an inch either side of the left-hand bolt.

Remove the front board and draw two lines from the marks on the bottom edge up to the sides of the left-hand bolt hole. Finally cut along these lines to form the slot. (Refer to the picture to see the final shape of the front board slot.)

Reassemble the clapper stay and fit the washers and butterfly nuts, but do not tighten them. Check that the front board can be easily swung on and off the left-hand bolt. If necessary open up the slot slightly to ease this movement. Your clapper stay should now look like the one pictured below. (Note that the washers go between the front board and the butterfly nuts.)

This picture shows the clapper stay clamped on to a simulated clapper shaft (A roll of cling film actually!)


And here we see it fitted to a bell. Note that it fits across the bell in the direction the clapper would normally swing.

    To fit the clapper stay:
  • Slacken the butterfly nuts and swing up the front board
  • Place the clapper stay on the clapper above the ball
  • Swing the front board over the left-hand bolt
  • Push the clapper stay up into the bell and tighten the butterfly nuts