Technical Advice - Door Chime Covers

Covers are the part that give a chime its style and most of its decorative character. Many of the early chimes have covers made of wood, sometimes integrating a clock. There were also covers made of early Nylon and a few precious models with catalin covers in the prewar years. The early plastic covers often took advantage of the translucent nature of the material and with the additional of a low powered light bulb, created a glowing night light effect. After 1960, styrene plastic was the predominant material of choice, giving way to some truly distasteful simulated wood models.

The things that go wrong with covers are 1. they get broken, 2. they get beat up, 3. they get lost. A common request I get is for missing chime covers. I generally tell people who are hoping to replace a lost or broken chime cover that almost anything is possible in the eBay age, but the likelihood of finding a specific cover would extend the envelope of the virtually possible (with the exception of the relatively common NuTone Jefferson). Better to improvise. Think of a missing cover as an opportunity to create something unique that would match your taste and decor. After all, the cover is just a cover and could look like just about anything. Make a cover from scratch, from an old clock case, from stained glass panels, from a box decorated with wall paper, an old hub cap, a picture frame, a radio case, a mirror …

The other possibility to consider when a cover is missing is to enjoy the the vintage look of the technology and and show it off proudly in all its naked beauty-- sans cover. Once a mechanism is cleaned up, my sense is that it is really quite interesting looking and attractive.

To address a very FAQ: I do not ever sell stray covers. Vintage covers are the first thing to get lost or broken, hence the rarest part of old chimes. If I had any strays I would build a chime around it.. and it would be insane for me to break up a complete chime to sell the cover seperately. Don't ask.

For items that are just beat-up, repair may be in order. Repairing a wooden housing is just like repairing or refinishing any other old wood item. For those in need of just a little freshening up, any number of finished wood cleaning products will do, then quench any bare, scratched or worn bits with Minwax natural sealer. For rough items in need of a major rescue, it’s the standard program of strip, sand and refinish.

Plastic, depending on its problems, can be imminently restorable if problems are limited to cosmetic issues like dullness, scratches, paint slop. Cracks, breaks, warps, burn marks make for a very poor prognosis for plastic covers, although I have salvaged shattered plastic covers.

Metal covers are easy-- strip off the old, spray on the new.





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