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Chapel bells will soon ring in Milner

Brothers Julien (second from left) and Andre Dussault (second from right) show the bells they have built for the Milner Chapel. With them are Milner Community Association members Roland Irion (left) and Wesley Mufford (right).

The 125-year-old Milner Chapel will soon have a new addition — two hand-made bells in its steeple.

The bells, made by Milner residents and brothers Julien and Andre Dussault, were unveiled to an appreciative audience at a Milner Community Association meeting on Monday, Feb. 7.

The bells, which weigh about 90 pounds (41 kg) each, are made of bronze, silicon and tin. Julien has a machine shop and has been making metal objects for many years, while Andre is an expert welder.

The first step was going to be building a mould or pattern, but Julien found one he was able to use at a Vancouver foundry he deals with, Hastings Brass and Foundry.

The bells were cast at the foundry, in a process that involves the mould being encased in sand and the molten metal being poured in several streams.

After the casting, the bells still needed a lot of machining, which was done in Julien’s shop. They have to fit within a fairly narrow confine in the steeple, so the brothers, working with Wesley Mufford and Roland Irion of the MCA, had specific dimensions for the brackets to hold them in place. Andre bent the steel bar portion of the brackets in place using a press — the metal was not heated.

The bells are also counter weighted so that they will ring properly, and the clappers in each bell are different to provide distinct tones.

The bells will be mounted in the steeple within the next few weeks, and will be put to good use when the MCA celebrates the church’s 125th anniversary this summer at a picnic.

The church, built in 1886, has never had its own bell. However, lifetime Milner resident Hugh Davis says the community did have its own unique bell.

A locomotive bell, it hung at the Muffird farm and was rung each day at 12 noon as a signal that it was lunch time. Davis says the bell was taken down about 60 years ago and may possibly still be in a home in Langley.