Perry Tech helps preserve 100-year-old bell

March 19, 2019

Leonard Thompson ran a successful fabrication shop in Tenino, Washington for about 20 years before becoming a Welding instructor at Perry Technical Institute. He used to help residents of the small town with their welding needs, so when some of them reached out to him recently with an idea, Leonard didn’t hesitate to see how he could lend a hand. They asked if Perry Tech could help restore a century-old-bell that the community hoped to put on display.

“Knowing these folks personally, I was eager to help them with a project they had been trying to complete for several years,” explained Leonard.

Bob Hill with the South Thurston County Historical Society explained how a local couple donated the old bell they found in an antique shop. “It sat there for many years, and then we decided to try and put it on top of the school. It didn’t work, so we built a tower, for it to sit next to the school.”

Bob says they needed a way to properly display the bell and the tower together. “We heard of Perry Tech’s reputation and the kind of work they produce, and thought it would be a good idea to reach out to the school.”

The Welding and Machining Departments collaborated to make the vision a reality. Leonard worked with his Welding Lab Coordinator, Branden Calahan, and teamed up with Dan Steinmetz, head of Machining and Manufacturing at Perry Tech.

“Branden and I got the fabrication and welding done after class hours and Dan Steinmetz’s machine class fabricated the moving parts of the assembly.” When the project was almost complete, a local shop donated the time and materials to powder coat the parts.

The result of this collaboration will help Tenino’s history. Bob Hill says plans are being made to proudly display the bell outside the Ticknor Schoolhouse, which is a part of the Tenino Depot Museum. On the bell, you can see the Ticknor name displayed on the parts Perry Tech created, along long with the “T-9-0” nickname for Tenino.

Bob Hill explained one of many reasons the donated time and materials were significant to the historical society. “We operate out of a few hundred bucks. There’s no way we could have afforded this without the help of Perry Tech. It’s a huge blessing to us.”

“It’s always a good thing when you can be of service to the local community when they have a special project that needs attention,” said Leonard. And some advice Leonard hopes students will take away with them long after graduation? “Always be ready to help.”

Perry Tech helps preserve 100-year-old bell
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