Rope Driers

Appendix: Rope Driers for Bell Towers - Some Suggestions #

Ringers may wish to use a ‘rope drier’ to reduce stiffness in bell ropes that become damp in an unheated ringing room. Driers are usually designed and assembled by volunteers. However, questions have been raised about some of the rope driers that have been seen during checks and inspections of churches and towers. For non-ringers, it is not immediately evident what the units are used for or how they are to be used. Being electrical equipment fitted with a mains power plug, the concern is reasonable.

We offer suggestions that should be considered when ringers are designing and constructing a rope drier. This is not a definitive guide; knowledgeable and experienced people should design the rope drier using appropriately specified parts, assembled according to manufacturers’ instructions.

Technical #

  • A low wattage (typically 10-20W) heater of the type used for electronics cabinets (often referred to as an ‘enclosure heater’). Datasheets provided with such devices can be used to select the type of heater suitable for the volume of the rope drier
Filament light bulbs should NOT be used as a heat source. The surface of the bulb gets very hot and, if broken, live wires are exposed.
  • 13A power supply using UK standard 3 pin plug and appropriately rated flex
  • Thermostat
  • Timer to enable drier to be operated for a limited period before ringing
  • On / off switch on the unit itself (as well as with mains socket)
  • Warning pilot “on light” on the unit
  • Over-temperature cut-out
  • Residual current device
  • Materials and parts used must not be combustible or flammable
  • Adequate air flow to enable moisture to escape, not drip or condense particularly onto electrical parts

Design #

  • Dust and rope debris cannot build up on the heater
  • Heater cannot be touched by people or the ropes while warm
  • Easily cleaned inside and outside
  • Easy to install ropes correctly and remove them
  • Easy to disassemble and reassemble safely for portability
  • Cannot be disassembled while electrically powered
  • Compact for safe storage when not in use during ringing
  • Stable when in use

Documentation #

  • Electrical and mechanical design and construction should be documented and retained with the unit
  • Instructions for use and routine maintenance (including cleaning) should be available with the unit
  • Unit should be labelled as to its function
  • Drier should be included in register of electrical equipment for routine testing (PAT)
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Disclaimer #

Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this information, neither contributors nor the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers can accept responsibility for any inaccuracies or for any activities undertaken based on the information provided.

Version 1.0, June 2023

© 2023 Central Council of Church Bell Ringers