This section is from the "Henley's Twentieth Century Formulas Recipes Processes" encyclopedia, by Norman W. Henley and others.
The composition of bell metal varies considerably, as may be seen below:
(Standard.) Copper, 78 parts; tin, 22 parts; fused together and cast. The most sonorous of all the alloys of copper and tin. It is easily fusible, and has a fine compact grain, and a vitreous conchoidal and yellowish-red fracture. According to Klaproth, the finest-toned Indian gongs have this composition.
(Founder's Standard.) Copper, 77 parts; tin, 21 parts; antimony, 2 parts. Slightly paler and inferior to No. I.
Copper, 80 parts; tin, 20 parts. Very deep-toned and sonorous. Used in China and India for the larger gongs, tam-tams, etc.
Copper, 78 to 80 parts; tin, 22 to 20 parts. Usual composition of Chinese cymbals, tam-tams, etc.
Copper, 75 (= 3) parts; tin, 25 ( = 1) part. Somewhat brittle. In fracture, semivitreous and bluish-red. Used for church and other large bells.
Copper, 80 parts; tin, 10.25 parts; zinc, 5.5 parts; lead, 4.25 parts. English bell metal, according to Thomson. Inferior to the last; the lead being apt to form isolated drops, to the injury of the uniformity of the alloy.
Copper, 68 parts; tin, 32 parts. Brittle; fracture conchoidal and ash-
gray. Best proportions for house bells, and bells, etc.; for which, however, 2 of copper and 1 of tin is commonly substituted by the founders.
Copper, 72 parts; tin, 26.5 parts; iron, 1.5 parts. Used by the Paris houses for the bells of small clocks.
Copper, 72 parts; tin, 26 parts; zinc, 2 parts. Used, like the last, for very small bells.
Copper, 70 parts; tin, 26 parts; zinc, 2 parts. Used for the bells of repeating watches.
Melt together copper, 100 parts; tin, 25 parts. After being cast into the required object, it should be made red-hot, and then plunged immediately into cold water in order to impart to it the requisite degree of sonorousness. For cymbals and gongs.
Melt together copper, 80 parts; tin, 20 parts. When cold it has to be hammered out with frequent annealing.
Copper, 78 parts; tin, 22 parts; This is superior to the former, and it can be rolled out. For tam-tams and gongs.
Melt together copper, 72 parts; tin, 26 to 56 parts; iron 1/44 part. Used in making the bells of ornamental French clocks.
Castings in bell metal are all more or less brittle; and, when recent, have a color varying from a dark ash-gray to grayish-white, which is darkest in the more cuprous varieties, in which it turns somewhat on the yellowish-red or bluish-red. The larger the proportion of copper in the alloy, the deeper and graver the tone of the bells formed of it. The addition of tin, iron, or zinc, causes them to give out their tones sharper. Bismuth and lead are also often used to modify the tone, which each metal affects differently. The addition of antimony and bismuth is frequently made by the founder to give a more crystalline grain to the alloy. All these conditions are, however, prejudicial to the sonorousness of bells, and of very doubtful utility. Rapid refrigeration increases the sonorousness of all these alloys. Hence M. D'Arcet recommends that the "pieces" be heated to a cherry-red after they are cast, and after having been suddenly plunged into cold water, that they be submitted to well-regulated pressure by skillful hammering, until they assume their proper form; after which they are to be again heated and allowed to cool slowly in the air. This is the method adopted by the Chinese with their gongs, etc., a casing of sheet iron being employed by them to support and protect the pieces during the exposure to heat. In a general way, however, bells are formed and completed by simple casting. This is necessarily the case with all very large bells. Where the quality of their tones is the chief object sought after, the greatest care should be taken to use commercially pure copper. The presence of a very little lead or any similar metal greatly lessens the sonorousness of this alloy; while that of silver increases it.
The specific gravity of a large bell is seldom uniform through its whole substance; nor can the specific gravity from any given portion of its constituent metals be exactly calculated owing to the many interfering circumstances. The nearer this uniformity is approached, or in other words, chemical combination is complete, the more durable and finer-toned will be the bell. In general, it is found necessary to take about one-tenth more metal than the weight of the intended bell, or bells, in order to allow for waste and scorification during the operations of fusing and casting.