The Maguire Memorial Carillon of First Presbyterian Church, Stamford, Connecticut is a 56-bell instrument consisting of 22 bells cast by Gillett and Johnston from the original Nestle Carillon of 36 bells installed in 1948, and 34 bells cast by Paccard in 1967. (A detailed history of this instrument is given in the 1982 BULLETIN of the GCNA.) The bourdon weighs 6,830 lbs. and sounds the note B2. It is connected at the console to B flat 2. Except for the first B2 and C#3 (console), the instrument is chromatic to g7, almost five octaves higher.
The largest 11 bells are housed in the lower bell chamber; three of these, forming a major triad based upon the bourdon, are arranged in full swinging mountings. The 45 smaller bells are housed in the upper bell chamber. The console, located in a teakwood cabin between the bell chambers is of "Bigelow Standard" design. In addition to the mechanical carillon action, the 20 largest bells are playable electrically from the organ; an automatic clock-controlled mechanism plays the Cambridge Quarters on bells 6, 11, 13, and 15, with the hour struck on the bourdon.
Although the beauty and clarity of the tone of this instrument had been acclaimed from the outset by all, many, including the resident carillonneur, had felt that the action was uneven and rather heavy, particularly in the pedals, with consequent difficulty in controlling the instrument. Accordingly, over a period of two years, a number of carillon consultants were called in to examine the carillon, and to submit proposals for its improvement. The I.T. Verdin Co. of Cincinnati was selected to perform the needed work, some of which was necessitated by 13 years of moderate to heavy usage, but of which the balance stemmed from problems in the original installation, which Dr. Bigelow did not live to see completed.
Starting from the top, literally, isolation material and provision for expansion and contraction of the supporting beams were placed on the smallest 27 bells, effectively eliminating the "knocking" sound caused by the former rigid clamping to the supporting beams. All recalling springs were replaced, and counter springs were applied to the lower medium and bass bells. All clappers were removed, cleaned, painted, and replaced with renewed lubrication, and all headbolts drawn, inspected, and painted before reinstallation. New newprene isolation material was also installed for bells 12-29, and all transmission bars were removed, and the bearings cleaned and lubricated. A new umbrella system eliminated leakage and the former friction at that point. At the console, new heavier-pattern adjusters were installed above the music rack, eliminating the necessity of removing the rack when adjusting; all keys and pedals were side bushed with bushing cloth, and all console wood and metal parts were completely refinished. Rear pivot points of the keys were honed and bushed with Teflon, and the first eleven keys, which are extended to the rear for downward connections to the lower bell-chamber, were reinforced, to prevent the former flexing under pressure. A new music rack, long enough to accommodate seven pages, was installed. New pedal springs were installed as well.
Throughout the instrument great care was used in lining up and plumbing elements of the action; this resulted in the movement of both the console, and many of the transmission bar arms, in order to obtain the correct pull lines.
In the lower bell chamber, new hammers were placed on the smaller of the two swinging bells, and rigid aluminum tubing with stainless terminations and clavier connections replaced wires on the six largest bells; the mechanism of these was considerably simplified: the action on any bell does not change direction more than twice; formerly, the action of bell #3 involved five changes of direction, and some bells had three transmission bars.
Finally, in addition to much needed work on mountings, bearings, woodwork, clappers, and other refurbishing and corrections, the electrical mechanism which involves individual motors operating extra internal clappers, was cleaned, lubricated, and re-regulated throughout.
The carillon was first played publicly after renovation by George Matthew, Jr., and Rick Watson on the Sunday before Christmas, 1981. It now provides the sensitivity and achieves the brilliance and grandeur that Dr. Bigelow had envisioned in this, his last and finest instrument. The mixture of open surface and enclosure of the two bells chambers, the happy combination of the English and French bells, and the wide range produce a sound with both clarity and depth, on which music of all periods may be effectively played, and which blends well with instruments on special occasions. The instrument carries up to 1-1/2 miles on quiet days with favorable wind, but is not overpowering in the churchyard and nearby streets.