I moved recently and the new house has a vintage doorbell. It's by Friedland, but there's no other identifying information that would help me find a manual. All the wires had been disconnected by the previous owners, and I'm trying to get it working again.

The thing is pretty standard except for the fact that it has a mercury switch attached to the striker arm (see green vial in picture below; no I'm not going to leave the wires like that). If I ignore the switch and wire things the normal way it works fine, but I assume it's there for a reason. My expectation was if I put it in series with the button and the solenoid, it would cut the current before the striker reached the bell on the right, resulting in a "dong" on the backstroke instead of the full "ding dong." That way you could wire one button through the switch and one around it and be able to tell the two apart. But, this isn't what happens. The only difference the switch makes is that if you hold the button down, the bell ding-dongs repeatedly until you let go (otherwise it dings when you push and dongs when you release). So what's the point? Am I misunderstanding how this is supposed to work, or is the switch just calibrated wrong after all these decades and not cutting off fast enough?

The red wire comes from the button via one terminal on the transformer, the white wire goes back to the other terminal on the transformer, the blue wire comes from a second button that I haven't hooked up yet.


Switch/arm detail:


  • A picture with more pixels of the area of interest would be helpful in speculating - I can't really make out detail in this one. But I kinda wonder if the attachment point of the switch lever arm is adjustable (I can see what looks like a part to grab it and turn, but I can't see if there really are threads there.) If so, I'd try adjusting it to the right.
    – Ecnerwal
    Dec 19, 2015 at 3:38
  • @Ecnerwal No; no threads. I did try rigging it to rest farther to the right/clockwise, but that didn't stop it from striking the right chime before reversing. I added another image with better detail.
    – dlf
    Dec 19, 2015 at 4:03
  • 4
    this video may sooth your nerves: youtube.com/watch?v=H07RcSlnSs0
    – ojait
    Dec 19, 2015 at 4:42
  • 3
    I believe you answered your own question; the additional switch breaks and re-makes the circuit to produce repeated ding-dong while the button is held. But that's an educated guess, and I may be a ding-dong for suggesting it.
    – keshlam
    Dec 19, 2015 at 4:46
  • Looks like that's true. Seems like an odd way of doing it, but I guess it works.
    – dlf
    Dec 19, 2015 at 13:51

4 Answers 4


here is a video similar to your door chime: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H07RcSlnSs0


I also own a Friedland No 454 chime. The Youtube video link provided by ojait shows the correct connection of the mercury switch, and if you look carefully, it also shows where to connect two bell pushes with different chiming effects. This video does not cover usage with a transformer.

However, the wiring recommendations provided above by Phil are wrong. I drew a wiring diagram based on those recommendations. This shows that only the top set of batteries would be used when the front door button is pushed (though all batteries would be used when the back door button is operated). More importantly, the suggested wiring for use with a transformer would cause a short circuit of the transformer whenever either button was pressed!

The mercury tilt switch should actually be connected across 1 and 2, not 1 and 3.

For transformer operation, the jumper wire should connect 2 and 4, not 2 and 3. All the other quoted connections are correct.

  • 1
    I have the same chime. The post by Haggis describes the correct wiring.
    – Okangan
    Dec 4, 2017 at 1:23

The mercury switch is on the front door so it rapidly rings vs the back door witch just goes ding dong. Its how you can tell if someone is at front or backdoor. Back door ding dong, front door rapidly ding dong. hope this helps.


I have this exact Friedland chime. It has the number 280-860 on the back. Here's how to wire it:

The terminals are numbered, clockwise from top left: 3, 0, 2, 1, 4.

The solenoid is internally connected to 3 and 4.

The upper 2 batteries go to 3 and 0.

The lower 2 batteries go to 2 and 4.

The mercury tilt-switch is connected to 1 and 3.

The front-door bell-push should be connected to 0 and 1.

This gives a continuous DING-DONG, DING-DONG, ... as long as the bell-push is held down, by striking the vertical plates at either side.

The back-door bell-push (if used) should be connected to 0 and 2.

This gives a single DING when the bell-push is pressed down, and a single DONG when it is released.

Operating with 4x 1.5V D-cells, that is all there is to it.

If you want to use a 6 volt transformer instead, be sure NOT to fit batteries as well.

Link 2 to 3 with insulated wire (be sure to remove the batteries otherwise this will short out the lower pair).

Connect the 6V AC supply from the transformer to 3 and 0.

When fixing to the wall make sure the mercury switch is at the bottom, as per the photo above.

Job done.

  • Useful post but perhaps there are typos in describing the connections? The post by Haggis correctly describes the wiring needed for my, seemingly identical chime
    – Okangan
    Dec 4, 2017 at 1:27

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