Deagan Model 400 Chime Restoration - Bought on eBay for $34 - Restoring a bit of history.

Deagan Dinner Chimes are a beautiful testament to days gone by with historical significance in American Railroad and American Broadcasting. This is a JC Deagan 400 Series Dinner Chime. This series was used by NBC as a way to distinguish themselves with a particular sound. The notes C-E-G were struck at 59 minutes 30 seconds, and 29 minutes 30 seconds past the hour during each broadcast. JC Deagan was the custom manufacturer of "Studio" chimes for NBC. The bars are mounted on a wood resonator box. They were also used on passenger trains to announce dinner was being served. They could also be found in hotels, cruise ships and private homes. 

I found this one on eBay a week or so ago and bought it for parts to restore another Deagan Chime I had purchased several months ago. It was in terrible shape and I hesitated to buy it based on the photos I saw on eBay...but I decided to fork over the $34 the seller was asking for it.

When it arrived I opened the box and discovered that all of the original parts were there.... rusted, corroded, rotting, and frayed. The more I looked at it the more I thought that I just might be able to restore it. I did not want to refinish it.. there is a difference between restoration and refinishing. I wanted it to look like it did back in the 1920s when it was produced at Deagan's factory in Chicago.

Be sure to watch the short movie at the bottom of this page so you can hear the sound of the chime...
Jim Radcliffe

Click here to see the restoration of a Deagan Model 21

Here is what it looked like when I first took it out of the shipping package. As you can see, it was quite a mess.
Scroll down to see the before and after photos of this little project.

So now that you have seen what it looked like just two weeks ago. Here is what it looks like today. Here's what I did...

I first stripped all of the hardware off of the mahogany resonator box. I then used denatured alcohol to strip the old shellac finish off. I sanded it in steps of 200, 600 and 1000 grit sandpaper and then gave it two coats of Watco Danish Oil. I then began work on the metal parts, first removing all the corrosion by sanding with 600 grit sandpaper and then polishing each part as best I could using 1000 grit sandpaper to give a very smooth and shiny finish to the metal parts (plates included). The cord that held the plates above the resonator box were almost a perfect match for a pair of boot laces I found at Walmart, Kiwi outdoor boot laces. The felt washers that were on the posts were all totally shot so I had to make my own from brown felt from Ace Hardware. The plates need a bit more work due to rust. I may have them nickel plated. It sounds great. Resonance is quite amazing and my guess is that it now sounds as good today as when it left the factory back in the 1920s.

The old saying about not judging a book by its cover is true.. I almost did not restore this piece. My first thoughts were that it was too far gone and would not be worth the effort I would have to put into it but in the end, I have a piece of history that looks and sounds just the way JC Deagan desired.

If you or someone you know has a Deagan Chime for sale or parts, please contact me.

Click here to see the restoration of a Deagan Model 21

And Now... Watch the movie below of me trying to play the damn thing...

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