DEAGAN "DINING CAR" DINNER CHIMES

J.C. Deagan was a company that made all sorts of interesting and unique percussion instruments, including orchestral chimes, orchestra bells, marimbas, vibraphones, xylophones, tuned cowbells and the like.  But they also made all kinds of chimes for everyday household and commercial use.

For instance, this is a small set of dinner chimes consisting of four metal bars mounted on a wooden box.  The box serves as a resonance chamber for the four bells to give them additional amplification.  This instrument was used by railroads and steam ships in the 1930's and 1940's to notify the passengers that meals were being served in the dining car or dining room.  A steward would walk around the deck of the ship or up and down the corridors of the train and play the chimes as a pleasant reminder that it was time to eat.  This was, of course, in the days before modern public address systems were developed.

I purchased my set of dinner chimes on eBay for a very reasonable price because it was rather obvious this instrument was in desperate need of restoration.  That is exactly what drew my attention to it, because I enjoy repairing and revitalizing old antique percussion instruments.

The major repair issue with this set of chimes was the resonance box.  It had apparently been stored improperly or been allowed to get wet which caused the wood to separate and warp.  This would require gluing, pressing and re-staining.

In addition to overall wear, chipping and deterioration, all the metal was a bit oxidized and all the cords and rubber washers supporting the chime bars were rotting and disintegrating.  All this would have to be replaced.

Here is what everything looked like when I got it all disassembled:


And after I worked my magic and gave this old instrument a little love and attention, here is the final result:

4 comments:

Kittybacon said...

That dinner bell now looks delicious!!!!

ThreeGs said...

Beautiful! I just picked one up at estate sale. It still sounds beautiful. Thank you for the inspiration.

ThreeGs said...

Beautiful! I just picked one up at estate sale. It still sounds beautiful. Thank you for the inspiration.

Anonymous said...

Do you know what these are worth? I found one in an old storage building in near perfect condition.