Vintage Door Chime Service


It is rare to find a chime that is beyond hope.  I advocate repair whenever possible, and as far as I have observed, that is almost always the case.

If you have read all the previous topics you should have a pretty good guide to do your own DYI repair job.  I encourage people to do their own simple repairs, or even complex repairs if they have experience with servicing delicate instruments.  Word of  warning though... so far I have run into a total of two chimes that I could not fix.  Both were victims of a prior repair experiment  that went horribly wrong - and one of those was at the hands of a professional clock repair shop. My advice is that if you have a chime you really care about, the story will probably end better if you just send it to me. 

Iím glad to discuss your DYI project, but please read the tips on this site first because most of the typical problems are already covered here.  Feel free to write to tell me how wonderfully it all went.  Please, if you write with a question about your chime, include a picture of the chime, inside and out, and describe sort of whatís going on. 

I frequently get email from people who say they have a bad transformer, or maybe bad wiring, or a bad chime but just not sure where the problem is... and can I help them figure it out?  It's almost impossible for me to diagnose a chime or house wiring by remote control.  Here's my advice for anyone who wants to debug their own.  Like any multi-variable system, whether its an algebraic equation or fixing your car, the variables need to be solved for one at a time. My own chime test station consists of a miniature of a house door bell circuit, with 110v into a transformer of correct voltage, door bell buttons and appropriate wires.  With this set up I can see all the parts, I can identify each one for sure, and I know that all are wholesome.  If you make a set up like this, you can at least isolate the problem to your chime, or outside your chime, plus you can determine the correct connection scheme by quick trial and error if necessary.   

If  you are not inclined to tackle the project on your own, perhaps you need help.  For clock repair, I recommend that you see a local clock repair shop.  For chime mechanism repair, bell refinishing or cosmetic restoration, that would be me.  I do basic repair as a humanitarian service to people stuck in a crack, but my joy and special skill is in making these things as beautiful as they once were, or perhaps a bit more so.

If you have found my site seeking help for an ailing chime, the following bit of advice may be too late, but I offer it in the hopes of helping someone avoid troubles.  Aside from age, chimes have only two natural enemies-- children and contractors.  Assuming you like your children better than your chime, I can't help much with that problem.  As for contractors, grab your chime by the bells and take matters into your own hands.  It's just not realistic to expect a painter to think that your dusty old chime has any particular value and exercise  due diligence.  Don't for a minute think that  a contractor is either going to know as much or care as much about your old doorbell than you do. Typically painters will leave a chime in place and try to paint around it, invariably getting paint slop on everything in sight.  Or they might knock the cover off and break it.  If he removes the chime, he will invariable miss the crucial step of marking wires so that the chime can be reinstalled without tedious trial and error wire swapping.  Do yourself a favor and remove the chime to an out of the way place before he arrives and reinstall it yourself after the paint is dry. 

Do you have a vintage door chime that needs renovation?   I would be pleased to provide you with an estimate for my services.

Honestly, I really enjoy working on these and would almost do it for free, but I really need to charge to justify taking time away from my other so-called responsibilities, you know, like working for a living or renovating the EurekaModern World Headquarters Building ( aka, The Humboldt County Center for Deferred Maintenance).  All work is bid based on my estimate of time involved x $50/hr. 

Do you have an old long bell chime or just parts for one that you would like to sell?  I buy whole chimes, working or not, or any parts including tubular bells, solenoid mechanisms, clocks and housings.

Contact Tim Wetzel

Did I mention that I do not supply parts?  Thatís right, parts I have are reserved for renovation of my own chimes and for customersí renovation jobs.

Here are a few that have been through the magical transformation at my shop:


A  NuTone Supreme housing as found: beat up and crudely spray painted gold...

B  ...and after refinishing.

C  NuTone Hybrid clock housing as found:  scratches everywhere, finish bone dry and tired, and with a hole in the cover at 11 o'clock, glass missing...

D  ...and after repairs and refinishing.

E   Rittenhouse 620R as found:  finish worn and scratched everywhere, bits of molding broken and missing, glass clock lens gone...

F  ...and after repairs and refinishing.

G   Typical vintage bells with tarnish, scratches and paint spots...

H  ...and after refinishing.

I   Typical set of vintage solenoid plungers.  Lightly corroded, dirty and some missing strike pins.

J  ...and after polishing and strike pin replacement with hardwood dowels.

K  1939 Rittenhouse mechanism before service...

L  ...and disassembled for cleaning, plunger and tube polishing, new strike pins, new wire insulation, new hanger pegs and refinishing...

M  ...and the finished item, ready for another 65 years!

N  1930's Harmony, nonfunctional and looking its age--well actually looking like trash...

O  ...but under a protective layer of oily crud, rust, and sloppy paint was the heart of a chime waiting to be rescued.   


Click on "door chimes" above to see other related topics.


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