Thread Number: 75570  /  Tag: Other Home Products or Autos
Antique Doorbell (Ringer) Installation
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Post# 993936   5/12/2018 at 01:06 by RP2813 (The Big Blue Bubble)        

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I'm hoping for some help with installation of what I suspect is a 1920s vintage doorbell, the old school type with coil box, exposed gong and clapper.  It may have been the original from our current home, which we'll be vacating by the end of this month, and has been in a drawer in the garage for neary 60 years.  I want to clean it up and use it in our new vintage 1922 home.


Currently in the new place there's an updated doorbell with two chimes and a pair of plungers contained in a box that I'd estimate at about 8" x 8" and I assume there's a transformer inside the box.


The vintage ringer will need a transformer as well, so I may need to harvest the one from the existing chime.


I've attached pictures of the old ringer.  I don't know why pictures taken with my phone get cut off when I attach them here.  There's only one wire lead from the coil to to one of the terminals for the wiring from the doorbell switch.  This single wire is insulated from the base of the ringer assembly by rubber/fiber washers.  The other terminal appears to be used as a means to close the circuit and is configured for the other switch wire to make contact with the base.  If anyone would like a picture of the coil underneath the cover, just ask and I'll take one to post here.


I did some searching on line and found a reference to this type of wiring arrangement, so would it make sense that I would run wires from the transformer to these two terminals in order to get the ringer to work?


Here are pictures of the front and back of the ringer assembly.  If anyone knows what the ST/TS markings signify, please chime in!

  Photos...       <              >      Photo 1 of 2         View Full Size

Post# 993962 , Reply# 1   5/12/2018 at 08:41 by gansky1 (Omaha, The Home of the TV Dinner!)        

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It's been a long time since I put this in (2007) but I believe the hot wire goes to the wired terminal and neutral to the other.

I replaced a BOL plunger type with the clapper/bell as there were parts of the house the ding-dong couldn't be heard, especially if standing over the Norge washer watching it thrash a load clean. ( I know, extraordinary accommodations made for THAT washer) I believe I found the new bell at Home Depot or Lowes at the time.

When we first bought the house, there were doorbell buttons at the back door and the garage door and those wires are still in the system and connected to the bell although those buttons have been removed long ago. I put in a new transformer, available at the home center or hardware store, standard parts.

No trouble hearing the bell now, it actually startles most people the first time they come expecting the standard, gentle ding-dong. That may be the best feature of all. LOL

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Post# 993965 , Reply# 2   5/12/2018 at 08:47 by Yogitunes (New Jersey)        

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these are a low voltage its almost like a 12v system of a car, the main 'hot' wire, and then connect the other wire to the base of the unit for the 'ground'....

in the country house, there was the standard doorbell.....I tapped in an added a door bell in the basement...both worked fine....

but then, I added a vintage 10" school bell out in order to make all of these ring, I had to change the transformer to a more beefier one...

this one also had only the one wire coming out of it....and a 'ground/neutral' screw to attach the second wire...

Post# 993991 , Reply# 3   5/12/2018 at 13:46 by RP2813 (The Big Blue Bubble)        

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Thanks guys -- and I loved the validation from your Norge story, Greg!


Are the hot and neutral wires on the transformer usually so clearly marked?  I guess I'll have to figure out a separate cover for the transformer I'll be using.  I hope it doesn't all end up looking too wonky.

Post# 994014 , Reply# 4   5/12/2018 at 18:14 by RP2813 (The Big Blue Bubble)        
Voltage Question

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I have some AC converters laying around and found one with 8v output.  I got the bell to ring, but it's not very robust even with the gong positioned for maximum volume.


Then I tried one with 12v output.  That just gave a slow, single tapping motion to the clapper accompanied by a click, but it didn't contact the gong.  If I nudged the contact tab next to the coil, the tab itself buzzed and the clapper acted more normally, but the contacts sparked. 


Does this info translate into what the ideal voltage should be?  I'm assuming that whatever it is, it's AC and not DC.


Should I just buy a reproduction type and be done with it?

Post# 994017 , Reply# 5   5/12/2018 at 18:37 by kenwashesmonday (Haledon, NJ)        

Vintage doorbells require 18 to 24 volts AC. The power supply also must be able to supply enough amps.

A typical "wall wart" is not large enough, you need a real doorbell transformer.

Post# 994066 , Reply# 6   5/13/2018 at 12:10 by RP2813 (The Big Blue Bubble)        

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Thanks Ken.


So the 8v power supply is the reason for the low volume?  From my observations, the clapper doesn't "clap" so much as it seems to vibrate. 


Also, I noticed that Greg's reproduction ringer has tandem solenoids.  Mine has just one, and its buzzing is almost as loud as the gong.  Again, could this be caused by not enough voltage?  And why would I get the slow clapper and sparking at the contacts with a 12v converter?  Wouldn't it be even worse (the sparking at least) with 18-24v?


Can I assume that the transformer on the modern bell that's there now will provide adequate voltage and amps for this ringer?

Post# 994075 , Reply# 7   5/13/2018 at 13:55 by SudsMaster (East of SF, West of Eden, California)        

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My '41 home has both a front door chime (two long tubes) and a back door bell (like yours). They both run off a 24 v AC circuit.The 24V AC transformer is up in the attic above the main breaker panel, connected to a lighting circuit.

I don't think there is a "neutral" and "hot" separation of the two wires off the transformer. I regard both of them as hot. Obviously the bell buttons on front and back doors complete the circuit from transformer to whichever bell is connected to that button.

The 24 volt bell circuit also runs a small 24 volt incandescent bulb that lights a display of the house numbers on the outer wall beside the front porch.

Post# 994077 , Reply# 8   5/13/2018 at 14:04 by SudsMaster (East of SF, West of Eden, California)        

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I think most of these are 24 v. You may be able to find a 24 v AC transformer at Home Depot in the doorbell section, or maybe OSH.

Post# 994083 , Reply# 9   5/13/2018 at 14:34 by RP2813 (The Big Blue Bubble)        

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Thanks Rich. 


So should I assume there was something about the 12v converter that the ringer didn't like?  I'd have to go take a look, but I think it may not have designated AC or DC. 


Another converter I was thinking of using for testing didn't indicate whether it was AC or DC, but it had an image of two horizontal lines, one solid and one broken, which made me think it was AC.


The 8v converter I've been testing with actually states that its output is AC.

Post# 994161 , Reply# 10   5/14/2018 at 13:32 by RP2813 (The Big Blue Bubble)        
24 volts = crickets

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I found a 24v converter that I bought for my irrigation system when I thought the existing converter had failed.  It has a small green LED indicator that lights up when it's connected to 120v AC. 


Oddly, when I hook this up to the ringer, the indicator doesn't light and, of course, the ringer does nothing.  If I disconnect the wires and plug the converter in by itself, the indicator lights up.


I don't know what to make of this.  Any thoughts?

Post# 994164 , Reply# 11   5/14/2018 at 13:41 by Eronie (Flushing Michigan)        

A 24 volt HVAC transformer will do the job nicely. You want AC NOT DC. Almost all wall wart transformers are DC.

Post# 994175 , Reply# 12   5/14/2018 at 16:24 by CircleW (NE Cincinnati OH area)        

Actually most doorbell transformers are 16 volt, and are available in different wattages (VA) depending on the expected load. I used to work at a place that was a NuTone dealer, so have sold many of these. Some types of bells may use 24 volt transformers, but that is more commonly used in HVAC and fire alarm systems.


Post# 994197 , Reply# 13   5/14/2018 at 21:39 by RP2813 (The Big Blue Bubble)        

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Thanks Tom!


The C909 in the link you provided may hold the answer.  It works a single chime off its 8v terminals and a multiple chime from its 16v terminals.


Could it be that my ringer is happy with 8v because it involves only a single operating mechanism?  If this is the case, I'll have to check the transformer on the modern two-chime box that's in the new place.  It's likely at least 16v.



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