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Y-Class Steam Locomotive Bell... with Bongos

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At a recent charity event held in my small town’s train museum, I was admiring a massive brass train bell when the curator walked up to me. I commented that a bell would really rather be heard then seen, and he agreed. I offered to digitally record it for the museum for free. Today I did that.

The Y-Class steam locomotive was built in my small town at our country’s most desperate hour of need: WWII - to get troops/equipment to war across our huge country which did not have airlines or interstate highways. Those days are a distant memory now and our train museum receives few visitors. I fear it won’t be long before this bell is in an unknown warehouse for eternity.

I told the museum that I would make an artifact recording for them for free.

I lied.

I ripped off this track while I had the room to myself. Although I had applied several different mallets to this bell, it wanted to be played by hand. I accommodated it with the right power microphone inside the bell and the left at the outside rim.

Her resonant drone was mind-blowing.

I like to think that if I was the engineer on that steam engine delivering the goods across the nation through the dark night, across pastures with sleeping cattle, I’d be working that bell like this.

Oh yeah. I’d be working it.

kirklynch's avatar
kirklynch said

I don't know how I missed this. Great stuff man!

Movement To Contact's avatar
Movement To Contact said

Congrats!!! You have just won an M.T.C Music award!!! AWARD: Best use of a Y-Class Steam Locomotive Bell in a song

hojorising's avatar
hojorising said

Norm, what a cool story behind this most excellent recording! Like The Reefwalker said.....Great Field Work!

Cave Street's avatar
Cave Street said

Most excellent! Looking forward to another collab with you, sir. Will have tracks for you soon!

Frankenstein Sound Lab's avatar
Frankenstein Sound Lab said

Excellent !

Guest said

Beautifully and tastefully down for prosterity!

Guest said

Wonderful little tune!

kavin.'s avatar
kavin. said

What a warm tone, nice job.

Guest said

I love it. And the back story rocks. :)

lgh's avatar
lgh said

What a beaut!!! I love those Y-Class's, I have an HO model of one.... Work that thang, of yeah! LG

Guest said


Guest said


thetworegs's avatar
thetworegs said

Great sound Norm the only shame is that Dave got the polishing the bell joke in before me...............

Reefwalker's avatar
Reefwalker said

excellent field work my brother, I know you have other samples from this gem, send me a wav.

Rick Phillips's avatar
Rick Phillips said

has a Pink Floyd ring to it!

vaisvil's avatar
vaisvil said

this is what I'm talk about!! Rocking! So did your hands hurt hitting the metal?

Norm's avatar
Norm said

@ Dave: You know I did!

Dave Berry's avatar
Dave Berry said

Totally captivating and beautful. Did you polish it back up after man handling it? Wonderful recording.

Movement To Contact's avatar
Movement To Contact said

YES! Man that bell sounds sweet! Love image of you working the bell as the train rolled on. The only bell I have is a tiny little tibetan bell...maybe I need to find a tiny microphone and work it! Ha ha