March 23 - Equipment hire and special transport company, Prangl has helped extend the life of Austria's biggest and most important bell through the installation of a new clapper which is 273 kg lighter than the previous one.

Since Ash Wednesday, the bell in Vienna's St. Stephen's Cathedral - the Pummerin - has had a new clapper. Four years ago, measurements showed that the old clapper was putting too much of a strain on the 20 tonne Pummerin. The shape of the new clapper was calculated with the help of a complex computer simulation. "The Pummerin would have lasted another 200 years or so with the old clapper, but the new one theoretically extends the life of the bell tenfold," said the cathedral's chief architect, Wolfgang Zehetner.

The new clapper, which weighs "just" 613 kg and is nearly 3 m in length, was lifted into place by Prangl engineers in the north tower of St. Stephen's Cathedral with a 55-tonne telescopic crane under the highest of safety precautions. At the same time, the old clapper - which had already been removed at the beginning of February - was transported to the ground.

Prangl says that the planning of this project was particularly important because the cathedral's catacombs were located directly below the spot where the crane was parked. Thanks to the good preparations and the perfect supervision on location, the assembly was completed more quickly than anticipated.