Quick work allows bells to ring in Dyersville on Christmas

DYERSVILLE, Iowa (AP) — Thanks to a charitable push, the bells rang in Dyersville on Christmas.

The hourly chiming of the bells has resumed at Dyersville’s Basilica of St. Francis Xavier. The bells stopped ringing this summer after one of the motors malfunctioned.

“The impact of (the repairs) can be seen in just looking at our church and the way the community takes pride in it,” said basilica maintenance lead Ron Deutmeyer. “… The chiming of the hours, it’s something the community has gotten used to hearing. It’s one of those sounds that people look forward to.”

The Dubuque Telegraph Herald reports the new motor was installed Dec. 22, meeting an ambitious Christmas Day goal set by leadership at Bodine Electric Co. in Peosta. The company worked over the past week to build the motor at no cost to the church.

“Usually doing a one-off custom job like this isn’t in our wheelhouse, but given the nature of the job, it was something that we were willing to take on,” said Continuous Improvement Manager Dusty Bodine. “… It’s a little bit of the Christmas spirit, that time to do a good deed.”

Bodine Electric obtained the nonfunctioning motor Dec. 14 after several other repair shops told the church that repairs would be cost-prohibitive due to the motor’s age and degree of damage. The wires were burnt up and mangled, and many of the parts were so old that finding replacements would be difficult.

“Any time you get to work in the basilica, it’s special. It’s an awesome building,” said electrician Brian Pfeiler, of Pfeiler Electric, who reinstalled the motor for the church. “… But everything there is so old that everything is almost one-of-a-kind anymore, so getting things can be a unique challenge.”

Pfeiler knew a friend who worked at Bodine Electric and asked if the company might be able to make the repairs. Within a week, the company was putting the finishing touches on the new piece.

“We knew we couldn’t make an identical one, but we could make a modern-day version of it,” Bodine said. “… Now, every time the bell rings, our employees can think, ‘Hey, I had a part in making that happen.’”

Deutmeyer said Bodine Electric’s decision to donate the new motor significantly helped the church complete the project amid rising inflation and supply-chain issues.

“Especially in these times, donations are super important as far as getting stuff like this done,” Deutmeyer said. “… Money is always tight, so something like this is always a big help.”

To get around nationwide supply-chain slowdowns, the new motor was constructed using common parts or those left over from other projects. That helped reduce the wait time significantly, as some Bodine clients are experiencing lead times of up to six months for certain parts or products.

The finished product somewhat resembled an oversized version of an old pencil sharpener with a rotating handle. Colorful red, yellow and blue wires could be seen through its side as the finishing touches were added Wednesday morning.

“It’s a little bit of an oddball for how old of a motor it was,” Bodine said. “… We’ve never organized this specific combination of parts like this before.”

The part was delivered to Pfeiler on Wednesday night, and he braved the blustery winter weather Thursday morning to return the piece to the church. A longtime member of the basilica, he said the community will be glad to once again hear the hourly tolling of the bells.

“Those bells chime every hour and half-hour, and it’s something that’s been noticed missing lately,” he said. “We’ll be glad to get it up and working.”

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