Steampunk Mechanical Bellpull




Introduction: Steampunk Mechanical Bellpull

About: Aiming to get a Show and tell maker fair going in March 2009. Anyone in UK or willing to travel, please let me know.

I will tell you how I took out our vile dingdong chimes and replaced with bespoke traditional bellpull made from variety of bought and found items, in the steampunk style.

Step 1: Parts

You will need:

Something to be the bellpull. I found this nice tap but my neighbour uses a climbing carabiner. Whatever.

Wire, about 3m thin wire. Not electrical multistrand. Something like garden wire or other uncoated wire.

Pulleys - you will probably need 3 to get the wire from the pull to go round corners and up to a good height for the bell inside.

Bell or something clangy clattery noisy to rattle around when pulled.

Some sort of spring and arm.

Step 2: Remove the Old Bellpush and Electricals

I turned the power off at the board and traced the wires back to find where they came and went and then unscrewed them from the black box at the top of the board. Some of the wiring I was able to pull out but some was awkward but invisible to normal use, so I left it in place.
The bellpush was actually very nice and obviously the original one from our edwardian tenement (1908) but it had to be taken out to make way for the new fantasmaglorious bellpull system. Just three screws to take out.

There was some ancient linen covered wire in behind the boarding, which I pulled out and decided to use for the bell pull. waste not want not, chronological matching etc.

Step 3: Fit the Bellpull and Wire and Some Discussion of Parts.

Fit the wire you plan to use, to the end of the bellpull. Screw the bell pull in place and pull wire through to inside. You will see that we have a space behind the outer door, or storm door as they are known in Scotland, and then an inner door. This is handy as the less attractive parts of the mechanism are here but mostly not seen.

The proper fittings for bellpull systems can cost a lot of money. I did a lot of hunting around on ebay and decided I would look to see what might be found in junk shops. The bellpull is actually some kind of valve or tap, and says "waste" on it, rather than "pull", but it has a spindle with a hole in the end which allows the wire to be attached easily. It cost me a fiver from a local junk shop.

The wire is reused from what I found behind the old bell, but any wire is fine. String is not good because it stretches.

The small pulleys behind the door are from our local hardware store and are sold here for pulleys holding up a ceiling level clothes drying rack which many scottish homes have in the bathroom or kitchen. They cost a couple of pounds.

The wire will now have to pass through the wall and doorframe of inner door to our inner hallway. I had to drill from both sides as my drill bits were not long enough to do in one. Set this height to be well above the inner door so the mechanism doesnt get in the way of the door.

Step 4: Pulleyblock and Mechanism

Inside the system consists of a huge and beautiful sailing ship's pulleyblock. This was the most expensive part of the whole rig: cost me £20 in a charity shop in the Scottish Borders. I couldnt resist its beauty, but it is of course way way to big for this purpose.

Because of its rather odd design, with a huge swivelling eye on top, I was stumped for a while how to fix it to the wall. However, what I have done here seems solid. I have screwed an ordinary shelf bracket to the door frame at a height that allows the wire coming through the doorframe to easily pass over the top of the pulleywheel.

Then I wrapped some inner tube rubber tightly round the bracket to make a soft seat for the metal frame of the pulleywheel. Then put the pulleyblock on and used the remainder of the length of inner tube to bind the pulleyblock to the bracket. I further secured the pulley to the bracket by tightly winding garden wire through the bracket's holes and round the top of the pulley.

The mechanism was another thing that had me puzzling for a long time. Basically you need something that allows the bell to move freely so it will ring and also some sort of spring that will make the bellpull wire return to its normal position when released.

The solution here uses a tiny but loud bell, with various bits of umbrella mechanism. Followers of my umbrella bag Instructable will know that I have loads of umbrella mechanisms looking for uses.

I used the arm mechanism from a small compact umbrella. In the second picture you will see that I fixed the arm in two places with thin picture nails. This still allows the arm to pivot when pulled on the lefthand end. The bell is on the righthand end.

The return spring is provided by the white umbrella spine. Umbrella mechanisms are made of various materials and some are a kind of rigid springy plastic rod with holes at each end. This was perfect. One end of the white springy arm is secured with the bellpull wire to the lefthand end of the black umbrella arm. The top end of the white arm is bent and nailed to the doorframe so as to become a return spring. Without something springy like this, the bell will not work.

To stop the bell just sliding off the end of the black umbrella arm, I wound black duct tape to make small cylinders on the arm on either side of the bell.

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    4 Discussions


    10 years ago on Step 4

     The only problem I see with this is that people may not understand how to use it.
    My door bell is pictured below. It's a spring loaded mount holding several bells with a cable passing through the wall to the outside. The cable pull is a small bell with the word TUG etched into the side of it.
    The most common use of the bell by callers is to grab it and try to bang it against the door frame.
    I would say 1 in 25 callers actually grabs the cable pull and tugs on it to ring the bells inside.


    11 years ago on Introduction

    This is excellent, and I think I will try this is my room (those blasted parents always scare me by walking in at anytime, and at all hours of the day). This is inventive, interesting, and just enough Steampunk to make it interesting!


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    Obv the design depends on what you happen to have available or can find in a skip. It is umbrella season again so the amount of umbrella parts is really stacking up since I never got thru all the ones I took in last autumn, so this at least used a bit of one! I actually spent far more than strictly necessary and if you dont have a huge ships bell the pullies can be quite small, even probably the ones from tuning systems in radios or whatever.