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Repairs Have Bells Ringing A Proper Tune



The bells in Storke Tower were repaired Wednesday afternoon after a week-long malfunction that caused them to strike out-of-tune.

The 61-bell carillon, located at the top of Storke Tower, malfunctioned last week when a short length of chain on one of the bells broke, causing the bell to mis-strike every time it rang, said Physical Facilities Maintenance Supervisor Robert Wright. The malfunction produced a clanging, out-of-tune sound every time the bell rang at 10 to the hour and on the hour.

Wright said he is unsure when the malfunction began, but he first noticed there was a problem a week ago.

“I was walking around campus and heard the bells ringing,” he said. “I thought, ‘Hmm, that doesn’t sound right.’ So I called one of the mechanics and told them to go check it out.”

Repairing the malfunction was time consuming and, although replacing the actual chain was a simple task, Wright said the bell’s location and positioning made it difficult to access. The repair cost $400, mainly in labor, not reflecting the cost of the chain itself.

This is not the first time the bells have malfunctioned this year. In February, the carillon bells failed to ring for approximately two weeks due to a systems error within the bells’ programming. The error cost less than $50 to repair. Shortly after, a routine maintenance inspection reported the bells to be in good working condition.

Wright said faulty maintenance was not a factor in this most recent problem.

“This is an old system and periodically things just break,” Wright said. “We don’t normally replace these chains. It’s like fixing a chain on a bicycle – people don’t do it until it breaks.”

Junior Asian American studies major Annie Wong said she noticed the bells were not working properly and figured it was a maintenance issue.

“I noticed they sounded weird, but I thought it was just bad maintenance,” Wong said. “I figured someone needed to do something about it. I didn’t know they had been fixed, though.”

In the future, people who notice problems with the bells can report it to Facilities Management, Wright said.

“We really do rely on anyone that notices any problems to let us know,” he said. “Sometimes people notice the problem but don’t say anything. Things like that can go on for a while before they’re fixed.”

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