Ships Bell

bizzymixin
31st May 2005, 22:50
As a point of interest does anyone know how many bells a ship has and where it/they would be located ? does it depend on the size or type of the ship or is it a case of having just the one, and that's it ? If that is the case, where would it be situated so as to be heard by all and sundry ?

Guest
31st May 2005, 23:53
Just speaking from memory, I only recall seeing bells on the port wing of the bridge by the wheelhouse door. But Ron says we're all mad here, so you have to take that for what it is worth.

Dave

PS. They didn't ring the watches very often, so it didn't matter whether they could be heard or not really. T'other end of the ship was hundreds of feet away.

oldbosun
1st June 2005, 00:01
One bell on the fo'csle head for certain. That is the one with the ship's name engraved on it. All deck sailor's know it's purpose but probably not all engine room and catering staff do, so I'll outline a bit here.
The fo'csle head bell has more than one main use.
Look outs use it to report a sighting. 1 bell for starboard, 2 bells for port and 3 bells for dead ahead.

Also when the anchor is let go, the number of shackles out is rang to signal to the bridge how many shackles are in the water. Same done as the anchor is being weighed.

Another use for the fo'csle head bell is that when a ship is at anchor in fog, the bell is rung for so many seconds (10?) every (minute?) Somebody will answer that one if I'm wrong about the timing.

Another use for that bell is for the lookout to repeat the time bells being rung on the bridge. (That assures the bridge watch that the lookout is awake.)
Many ships have a bell on the outside of the fore part of the bridge housing that the wheelsman rings by pulling on a line that passes overhead in the wheelhouse and out through a small hole in the housing and is connected to the bell clapper.


Other than those two bells I can't think of any more unless the engine telegraph bells are counted.


On some of the bigger ships where lookout was kept in the crow's nest there would be a bell up there, but most of the communication with the bridge was done by telephone.

James_C
1st June 2005, 00:15
Today, usually only one bell, up on the fo'c'sle, but since the widespread use of two way radios and talkback systems, its just there for decoration, and of course for the oldest and youngest man on the ship to ring out 8 bells on Hogmany.
Sometimes we have another bell onboard, which would be kept in the Officers bar, or around a white painted canvas lifebelt with ships name and port of registry, with the bell in the middle, to put at the top of the gangway. But such things are becoming rarer and rarer of course.

Guest
1st June 2005, 00:21
Ah Well, you see I was a sparks and the only time I ever went up to the pointy end was once as we were leaving Antwerp and I had a telegram for the Mate telling him he'd just become a dad. I didn't notice any bells.

Ron told you we were mad.

John_F
1st June 2005, 00:51
On some vessels we had some quite beautiful belles who had some lovely positions.....
oops, sorry - wrong belles

DMA
1st June 2005, 05:25
So John F how many Bell[es] have you rung!!!!
As for myself I had the honour of ringing in new years [16 bells,thinks] being the youngest person on board while at anchor in Tripoli, 1961 I believe. (Thumb)

Doug Rogers
1st June 2005, 08:28
Now now now, Gentlemen never tell about Bell(es) or not!!.

trotterdotpom
1st June 2005, 09:14
Most of the bells in the officers' bars were either knocked off from the foc's'le or just decorative. It was generally accepted that anyone ringing the bell would buy a round - shoresiders seemed to like this quaint custom, seafarers stayed as far from the bell as possible!

A few years ago I saw the bell from one of my former ships, "Cape Otway", in a nautical paraphernalia shop in Sydney's Rocks area. Thinking it would be a couple of hundred dollars, I was quite tempted by it, but decided not to purchase it as it was a bit of a lump to cart on a plane to Brisbane. Recently, a Scottish Ship Management contact sent me an email advising me of the bell's sale - $2,400! Glad I didn't embarrass myself. To anyone who managed to snaffle one - well done.

I knew a 2nd Mate from Australian National Line who was selling a house in Melbourne. The house had previously been owned by fashion guru Pru Acton and was pretty snazzy. It got a write up in the real estate section of a Melbourne paper which included: ".....an interesting feature of the house is the nautical themed bar with the bell from MV "Australian Explorer". Sprung!!

Regards and welcome to the site. John T.

John_F
1st June 2005, 09:43
Following on from bells, whatever happened to ships' gongs? Every vessel over 350' should have had one. This had to be of a different tone to the bell. When at anchor in fog, a vessel over 350' in length sounded the bell on the fo'c'sle for 5 seconds every minute & banged the gong, positioned on the poop, at the same intervals. Whoever was given the job of banging the gong was known as someone going for a J. Arthur.....The gong was kept in a case on the bridge & once in a blue moon was cleaned with bathbrick & vinegar. Still remember the smell.
Not surprisingly, these gongs don't seem to be as treasured as the bells!

Regards,
John

Doug Rogers
1st June 2005, 09:53
Most of the bells in the officers' bars were either knocked off from the foc's'le or just decorative. It was generally accepted that anyone ringing the bell would buy a round - shoresiders seemed to like this quaint custom, seafarers stayed as far from the bell as possible!

A few years ago I saw the bell from one of my former ships, "Cape Otway", in a nautical paraphernalia shop in Sydney's Rocks area. Thinking it would be a couple of hundred dollars, I was quite tempted by it, but decided not to purchase it as it was a bit of a lump to cart on a plane to Brisbane. Recently, a Scottish Ship Management contact sent me an email advising me of the bell's sale - $2,400! Glad I didn't embarrass myself. To anyone who managed to snaffle one - well done.

I knew a 2nd Mate from Australian National Line who was selling a house in Melbourne. The house had previously been owned by fashion guru Pru Acton and was pretty snazzy. It got a write up in the real estate section of a Melbourne paper which included: ".....an interesting feature of the house is the nautical themed bar with the bell from MV "Australian Explorer". Sprung!!

Regards and welcome to the site. John T.



I have one of two replicas of the s.s. Himalaya ships bell recast in 1975, dont ask me how I was lucky enough to obtain it, or what I paid for it, that is a story in itself. It was cast from a mould of the original in 1975, it is bronze and has the most wonderful resonant sound. It is mounted in a very prominent position in our household, and in earlier times at social gatherings I have been known to ring it for announcements of various types. It is a total conversation stopper, everyone is amazed at its resonance and sound.
So the moral of this story is...if you want a conversation stopper, buy a ships bell.

backsplice
1st June 2005, 10:30
when you talk about ships bells .........when i was o/s on the "Lochee"we did 3 trips every 2 weeks to the cement wharfs on the Thames to load for Dundee(1000,s of bags I might add ) but back to the bells as often as not we,d be met by the typical pea soupers common in them days.. consequently the "Lochee" and dozens like her would drop the hook (no radar in them days )and sit out and wait for the fog to lift which could be a long wait and as fog watches were kept with the ringing the BELL every couple of minutes on the fo,csle it was common practise for surrounding ships to try and ring up some kind of tune .some days it was quite a challenge to get the peels in the right spot........however when the fog lifted it was like the wacky races all vessels scurrying for the lead to make up lost time .....these were the days ........yes those were the days no doubt about it .........ringading ........dong.........Backsplice

Guest
1st June 2005, 12:40
The only gong I remember was the dinner gong, and that was only in Brocks. When I joined the Manaar in 1963 we had a steward who gave a virtuoso performance on it at meal times while walking round the accomodation summoning us to eat. However, we changed crew in Ceylon and got some less expert replacements. Bong Bong Bong was the best they could do.

Amusingly at the first breakfast the new mob served, a request for a cheese omlette turned up an omlette with a big wedge of cold cheddar placed on top of it. My how we laughed.

James_C
1st June 2005, 13:46
I had something similar with Sierra Leone crew. It was either their first or second night onboard, and the Catering Off had Cheesecake down as a sweet. So what duly appeared?
A bit of pastry with a massive wedge of cheddar cheese!
Another great thing was cooking burgers on the griddle whilst still in their protective plastic wrapping!
Sort of set the tone for the rest of the trip....

R58484956
1st June 2005, 15:44
On the good hope castle sunday night's sweet was egg surprise, but after nine months the surprise bit was no longer a surprise. It was an upturned half an apricot surrouned by a white sauce.

Guest
1st June 2005, 16:16
When my kid was about five he came home from school having been convinced by a teacher that he should be a vegetarian. I agreed that this was okay, and his favourite meal became Vegetarian Rice Surprise. It was only when he got bored with the veggie idea that he discovered that the surprise was that it had chicken in it.

oldbosun
1st June 2005, 17:43
Following on from bells, whatever happened to ships' gongs? Every vessel over 350' should have had one. This had to be of a different tone to the bell. When at anchor in fog, a vessel over 350' in length sounded the bell on the fo'c'sle for 5 seconds every minute & banged the gong, positioned on the poop, at the same intervals. Whoever was given the job of banging the gong was known as someone going for a J. Arthur.....The gong was kept in a case on the bridge & once in a blue moon was cleaned with bathbrick & vinegar. Still remember the smell.
Not surprisingly, these gongs don't seem to be as treasured as the bells!

Regards,
John
Talking about J.Arthur and gongs..Anybody know who that bloke was that banged J.Arthur's gong? And it wasn't Arthur Askey!!

DMA
1st June 2005, 19:23
Talking about J.Arthur and gongs..Anybody know who that bloke was that banged J.Arthur's gong? And it wasn't Arthur Askey!!

Well then if it wasn't Arthur Askey I'll take a guess & say it was Tommy Cooper in his in his early days,'Just Like That'

Ron B Manderson
1st June 2005, 19:29
Was it not Tarzan John wes888888
Or Mr Charles Altas.
I did know but old age now you know soon to be 63.
Ron
It will come to me .

michael james
1st June 2005, 19:30
Jonny "Somebody" cannot recall surname, Mr Universe wasnt it ?

Santos
1st June 2005, 20:38
Weizmuller. pardon me, hic. (Smoke) Jonny Weizmuller

oldbosun
1st June 2005, 23:15
Nope!

Wanna clue?

He was a boxer.

Not Frank Bruno either. (Read)

trotterdotpom
2nd June 2005, 01:23
Hi Old Bosun,

At first I thought Michael Miles (Yes and No Interlude), but then realised it was Bombardier Billy Wells!!! Is there a prize?

The origin of the ship's gong goes back to the days of the Roman Galley. When a galley slave was slacking off, he was punished by being tied to a beam and a huge gong hanging from the mast was slid back and forth across his chest. While pushing the gong, the oarmasters (?) would sing: "We're sliding a gong on the chest of a slave."

With reference to the breakdown in communications with foreign stewards, I did a run from Cardiff to Glasgow on Runcieman's "Hazelmoor". On my first breakfast I asked the Chinese steward for boiled eggs. He replied: "How many many?" I asked for two, he said: "Too many." Thinking, the company was as tight as a duck's ****, I said: "OK, one then." He confirmed: "One many?" and I nodded. Very soon I was presented with an uneatable raw egg! I gave up. Something brought the incident to mind years later and it dawned on me he was asking "How many minutes?" Sorry Mr Runcieman.

John T.

oldbosun
2nd June 2005, 17:24
You got it right first time trotterdotpom. Bombadier Billy Wells it is. He is. He was. Well, it was him anyway. Wells that is.