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Courthouse’s Tower Clock Bell System to Undergo Testing

Chimes will be activated every 15 minutes during the next week

During the next week or so, visitors and residents within a few blocks of the Santa Barbara Courthouse may hear bells tolling from the observation tower at odd times.

No, they won’t just be hearing things. The Clock Team will be testing the new bell system that will be activated every 15 minutes by the Seth Thomas Tower Clock.

In the past, the tower bells have been generated by an electronic carillon system that was not connected to the clock. So oftentimes when the chimes would play, it would not match the time on clock dial.

All of that has been solved by Bryan Mumford of Mumford Micro Systems, who has been volunteering his time to work on the new electronic system for the courthouse clock. Mumford has obtained the bell sounds from the UCSB Storke Tower carillon system with the help of acoustical engineers in the UCSB Department of Engineering.

Micro switches will be installed on the Seth Thomas Tower Clock that when triggered at the appropriate time will instruct the electronics on which bell sound to play and in what sequence.

The conversion of the Santa Barbara Courthouse Clock Room into a gallery of time is nearly complete. The project has been funded entirely by donations from two Santa Barbara families whose interest in timekeeping has motivated their yearlong restoration of the Santa Barbara Courthouse Seth Thomas Tower.

The project is expected to be completed next month. It will be available to the public through tours guided by the Courthouse Docent Council in 2012.

— Robert Ooley represents the Santa Barbara Courthouse Legacy Foundation.

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