THE MAPLE STREET CHAPEL
In May 2010, we got the idea to have a preventative-maintenance inspection of the steeple. No special reason, no known problems. It just had been at least 20 years since someone had really had a good look at it, and we wanted to prevent any serious problems from developing.
Inspired Heights, located in Rockford, was the only logical choice for this inspection and for the repair work. They are the only place specializing in church steeples that we know of that is located in the midwest (Most are on the New England area.).
The inspection found serious issues, but not a crisis situation.
1) The floor under the bell allows water to come in. This is soaking
the beams that
2) Several openings are allowing birds to nest inside. Nesting
material tends hold water
3) The wheel that turns the bell needs restoration. The rope needs to be replaced.
Here are some pictures from the inspection that show the above conditions:
Bell wheel & support beam
Nesting material on floor inside spire
Deterioration of bell support beam
Our initial estimates include a lot of charges for time and material as needed:
Coat the floor under the bell with a rubbery roof coating to seal out
water and protect
New access door in the side of the steeple (This is a priority from the
point of view
3) Seal other holes that allow bird access - on a time & material basis
Bell - Restoration of wood wheel, replacement of rope, adjustment of
Ensure that boards in openings of belfry are solid enough to provide some
6) Solid vented door for belfry ceiling opening - $500
There were a lot of unknown factors in this cost. The final cost was $11,170.
The Actual Maintenance Work
Initial work was done November 17-29, 2010. But because of the cold temperatures, restoration of the bell wheel and application of sealing epoxies was deferred until 2011.
The first and most visible step was to cut a hole in the belfry floor (at the bottom of the bell) and make a ladder so you could go up into the belfry without having to climb out onto the roof, which is a major improvement in safety.
This trap door and the ladder below it.......... make it no longer necessary to climb out onto the roof.
The access hole in the ceiling of the belfry used to be open, allowing birds to fly in. A screen had been nailed over it, but removal and replacement of the screen was destructive, so a vented door was made, for easy opening and closing.
Work was done around the access hole at the middle of the east side of the spire is being rebuilt to reestablish it as a safe worker's access point and seal it against entry by birds.
Even though we will no longer climb out the door on the south side of the steeple, it will still be used to access the spotlight. The old door did not seal well, and since it had no aesthetic value, it was easier to replace it.
Work was done on the bell - replacement of the rope, realignment of the bell clapper, and improvement of the rope's path to make it easier to ring the bell. In the spring, restoration will be done on the wheel that the rope turns to ring the bell.
Inspired Heights owner Tony Stratton (right)
Ken Bohl went up
Work was completed July 1-13, 2011.
The wheel that turns the bell is made of many pieces of wood bolted together. Some of the wood had deteriorated, and some of the bolts had become loose, leaving the wheel a little weak for the heavy task of turning the 800-pound bell. Wood epoxy was used to replace wood that had decayed or worn away, and the bolts were tightened up.
The floor under the bell had been allowing water to come in, which was soaking the beams that support the bell. The entire surface was painted with a waterproof coating.
Notice how tight all the wood joints are. The coating protects the surface.