A commemorative ship's bell.

Project date: 2010



It is said that a ship's bell is it's soul. If so, what better way to make your boat come alive than a commemorative ship's bell? Depending on the size of the boat, a bell may or may not be required by either the USCG or your state. However, if you are exempt, it does not mean you cannot still have a bell.

The bell 8" dia, and is chrome over brass, which presented some particular engraving challenges. The engraver that was able to do this project was Williams & Sons Engraving, out of West Jordan, UT. The capabilities of Williams & Sons including engraving bells such as this, as well as custom electrical panels and other similar pieces.

You may contact Williams & Sons engraving by email (kevin@engraver1.com), or visit his website for samples of his capabilities website.

The engraving process is done on a CNC engraving machine. I know of no other small shop that has the capabilities of engraving a bell in the detail I desired. The engraving has my boat's name (Yesterday's Dreams), an inscription in memory of my father, and an inscription for guiding me to favorable waters.

I am not going to pretend to know all of the technical details of how the tool works, but here is one time to leave such a thing to an expert. You could destroy an expensive bell otherwise.

 

 

When engraving my boat's name, the shop was able to use the font I use for the name (A&S Snapper), which really makes it tie in with the rest of the boat.

I was just so pleased how the completed engraving turned out. I could not have hoped for better. The shop even engraved the month and year of the engraving.

Now the hard part, where and how do I mount the bell. The bell weighs several pounds, so the mounting method has to be sturdy. I finally selected the area I wanted, along the railing over the glass window at the rear of the boat's salon. Any marginal mounting method will mean possibly striking the glass with the bell, so the mounting methid is critical.

I am using a piece of mahogany, 36" x 8", and 3/4" thick to mount the bell. I felt that if I can distribute the bell's weight over a large area, so much the better. I had thought of using a shorter piece of wood, perhaps 8" to 12" wide, but I like the long piece, as it seems like it belongs there (as well as providing space for more mounting brackets to secure the wood).

After finishing the wood with several coats of varnish, I am using United Yachting Manufacturing Rail Mount Pole Holders for 7/8" to 1 dia railing or stanchions. I am not using the entire kit, only the railing adapters. If you contact United Yachting Manufacturing perhaps they may sell you just the rail mounts. I bought mine as a kit from West Marine.

Although the kit includes machine screws and captive nuts, I had to use wood screws from the rear of the mounts into the wood. You can tighten down the mounts, but with Mahogany, make sure you don't over tighten the screws or you will strip them out. Surprisingly, the mounts hold the wood pretty securely.

To further secure the wood from turning on the railing, I used a 7/8" dia cable clamp with a nylon spacer and a screw into the side of the wood. After adding this brace, the wood piece is very sturdy and solid.

Mounting the bell then simply became a matter of screwing it onto the board. The bell is designed so that a knurled knob at the bottom of the gooseneck releases the bell from its mount, so you can store it if desired. I think I need to make a custom bag out of Sunbrella as a future project.

The finished project. By the way, the boat pole to the left is attached to the railing with one half of a second Boat Holder mounting kit from United Yachting Mfg. I have room on the Mahogany board for additional items if I wish. We're thinking of either a life ring, or perhaps a plaque with the boat's name on it. Now the wife wants me to attach Mahogany caps to the aft railing... this doesn't ever end.

 

References:

Williams & Sons Engraving
United Yachting Manufacturing


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