Rang for a wedding today which finally gave us a daylight chance to adjust our new ropes. Particularly the heavy bells were getting rather ridiculous in the height of the sally and the long tails. Opportunity whilst the bells were up to measure how much to move the ropes around and then once down these were reset. The result was a few nice neat ropes now fixed around the wheels all of which are now looking much tidier.
Finally an event which some of our number thought they would not live to see. Tonight all six new ropes have been fitted to the bells. With the third rope being broken beyond repair and no spare tail end available we have splashed out and fitted new ropes to all the bells. This is the fourth set of completely new ropes to be fitted to the bells since they were hung at Nether Whitacre in 1976. However these ropes have had the longest lead in time being bought when the rope makers were offering any length up to 80ft for £80. So we have plenty of spare top end wrapped at the moment about the wheel spokes. We now just have to let the ropes settle in but we hope they are not too springy after such a long time being hung up, treated and stretched.
Sunday morning nearly ground to a halt when the tail end on the third rope started to fray. Much to the relief of the ringers this was taped up and the rope lasted till the end of the ringing without issue. Does this mean that our new ropes will finally be fitted after over 15 years of "stretching" in the tower.
Not quite fireworks but with the muffles on for the practice night which always makes the bells sound so nice the rope on the second decided to slip wheel. Simple solution in the end - change it for one on the third and then the practice continued.
Hot on the heels of the waxing of the ropes comes the survival yet again of the old ropes. An eye splice in the fifth rope to enable the all but snapped tail to be replaced will allow a small indian summer for these old ropes. There is actually nothing really wrong with them its just that we have had new ropes sat waiting in the wings for ten years or so! However we would not have two half used sets if they had been fitted all that time ago!
The new ropes have finally been taken down from their long term "hanging to stretch" in the tower (well over ten years for those not in the know!) and today finally got a coat of wax waterproof sealer. Not the most pleasant of jobs to to with a brush and yoghurt pot of white waxy liquid but they are all done and dry now. The other treat is that another half decent tail end has been recovered from a practice evening at Shustoke so the old ropes might have an indian summer yet. However promises have been made to fit the new ropes soon......
Finally managed to create a satisfactory eye splice to repair the treble tail end. Dick had procured a suitable tail end to replace the rather thin and about to break tail, that has graced the treble for a few weeks now. As the replacement tail already had an eye splice on the top of it, it seemed a shame to cut this off and short splice the rope together. So courage was plucked up and the eye splice investigated as a sample. After about an hour of looking and testing and even a sample being tried, success was achieved and a very tidy looking first attempt is now ready to go back into service, on the treble.
On the very last blow of the practice tonight as the "and catch in rounds" command was issued the treble bell struck and then the rope came tumbling down over the ringer. Much mirth and hilarity was forthcoming over the chances of the new ropes being used but yet another decent length of rope was found and it looks like it will be a splice again to save the day. However now with no spare rope to use the chances are that the new ropes will get used soon.
This afternoon whilst the wedding of Lowenna and Ricky was taking place, an interesting race developed in the ringing chamber which led the ringers not being sure whether to watch the tower captain or the wedding service. Most kept an eye on both as the pressure was on to complete a rope splice. The fourth rope was reef knotted together before the service after the tail end all but failed and so the moment the bride arrived the rope was removed from the bell and the race began. The rope had to be back on the bell, ready to ring all six bells as the newly married couple walked back up the isle! Progress was rapid as the identified replacement sally and tail end had already been checked out and was ready to be long spliced onto the good top end. Unfortunately the pressure was increased when it was realised that there was one less hymn than normal in the service sheet but with moments to spare and a fortunate slightly lingering register signing, the repaired rope was returned to service; just in time to ring the newly weds out. The ringers did have to stop to re-adjust the tail end due to a miscalculated length assessment as well as taking up the normal stretch that the fresh splice always has. It certainly made the wedding service pass very quickly. The bad news was that when the sally height was fine tuned when we had finished ringing it was noted that the treble rope also needed a little attention as well so the process had to be repeated later the same night. At least the pressure was not the same whilst watching Ant and Dec's "Saturday Night Takeaway!" It cannot be long now before our new ropes are finally put to use - how long have they been in the tower? - officially stretching!
St Giles Bellringers
The trials and tribulations of a small village bellringing band.