It had to happen. One doesn’t get to be over 40 years without some aches and pains developing over time.
It is the way of things. So too, this reality has overtaken the first three octaves of the hand bells the Touch of Grace bell choir has been playing since 1977.
The bell choir recently announced its initial three-octave set of bells would be shipped to the Schulmerich Company in Pennsylvania for major re-furbishing this summer.
In recent weeks, the plastic handles have begun to break and cannot be repaired with the maintenance tools Judy Brekke, the director, was trained to use to keep the bells in good working order.
As the bells have aged, Brekke has replaced springs and pads as needed. With those chores becoming a more frequent necessity and with things breaking at the most inconvenient times, it had become increasingly clear more in-depth repair was required.
The Bell Choir will play the second Sundays of February, March and April and “Music Sunday” on May 5, this spring.
The bells were shipped in “specially designed boxes,” sent by the Schulmerich Company in May and took about a month to repair.
Each bell was reworked — given a new handle, some new connecting hardware and a fresh clapper in this refurbishment.
“Our bells have remained beautiful and in great working order for over 40 years because the choir members are diligent about wiping the brass bells down with special clothes after every rehearsal,” said Brekke.
One newer practice is to warm up the bells after they have been removed from their cases each week.
Once they are set up on the tables, warm air from a hair dryer is blown into each bell to warm up the instrument. Each bell is also thoroughly polished every August in preparation for a new year of playing.
Brekke learned 20 years ago how to maintain and make simple repairs to the bells. Costs for this major project were quoted at $4,370.
The bell choir members are exploring different fund-raising ideas for this spring, but are most grateful for any free-will donations that fans of the Touch of Grace Bell Choir would like to make toward the Bell Repair Project.
Touch of Grace Bells on is now on YouTube, thanks to the efforts of Chris and Kate Feil.
The videos can be found at www.youtube.com/user/touchofgracebells. Several years of Touch of Grace Bell songs are available at this time.