Been working on various ways to
get the Bell
(made years ago), to ring automatically. Spent a lot of time
experimenting with steam operated bell ringers. Ended up making
about a half dozen of various designs. Couldn't get the fine
"regular" ringing cycle that was needed (about once a second). On
a parallel path, work was progressing on an electronic solution.
This isn't a digitally simulated bell sound, but one in which a timed
pulse activates a solenoid which strikes the bell.
Crossing Bell Ringer Circuit kit was bought (see link) along with
various solenoids, resisters and capacitors. The original kit was
modified to handle the additional power needed to activate the solenoid.
If you're not familiar with electronics, it's suggested you get someone
to help if you want to go this route. The kit comes as-is and up
to the buyer to do any modifications. When the
right capacitor/resistor combination was found to get the correct timing and power
for the solenoid, the circuit was soldered together and installed in the
cab of the engine (hidden away).
Next thing was to figure out how
to mount the solenoid to strike the bell and still look acceptable.
Actually, looks weren't too important in this case because the bell in
under the smokebox and can barely be seen. What ended up being
used was a 5/16" rod suspended from the mounting hole at the top of the
bell. To hold the solenoid, 1/8" steel was bent and soldered onto
the rod (see below).
Here is the apparatus all hooked up.
(Need to finish smoothing out the
inside of the bell. That's for another time)
Adjustments were made up/down
and left/right to get the solenoid in the right place for a good
sounding ring. Once the right spot was found, the solenoid was
hot-glued in place. Wire was run from the solenoid, through the
rod, under the smokebox, under the walkway and into the cab where the
circuit board was mounted and powered by the battery in the tender.
From a side view, only a small portion of the solenoid can be seen.
If hiding the solenoid is preferred, moving it up or angled differently
should also work. Just need to fiddle around with it until you get
what you want.
Ding... Ding... Ding...
The operation and
sound of the ringer was great in the shop. Once it was taken
outside with all the ambient noise, I quickly realized it wasn't loud
enough to be heard from any distance. The capacitor/solenoid
combination needs to be changed to provide the additional current to
operate a more powerful solenoid. Back to the drawing board.