View Full Version : Train Whistles

Peter Shaw
08-31-2004, 11:05 PM
Anyone out there have any plans for a
train whistle? Brass 1,3,or 5 tone that
can be blown using an air compressor?


08-31-2004, 11:09 PM
A whistle, well steam locomotives had ones designed for steam, running compressed air thru them will not give you the results you want.
I have a wooden 4 chime whistle when blown thru it mimics a steam whistle. I have some very old Train modeler mags that in the back, show some old 5 chime air whistles. No plans though.
I would make a whistle with 4 chambers, each different size, and expiriment.

09-01-2004, 02:20 AM
Geeez, I heard a loco go through town the other day. It must have been a lease from some US road. It had a three chime that sounded so butt ugly you couldn't ignore it. What's up with that? It was so dissonant it made my skin crawl.

09-01-2004, 02:38 AM
They’re designed to get your attention. Annoying tones do this job better.

09-01-2004, 07:59 AM
You know, I think EMD, or another locomotive builder is starting to make horns that mimic the old 5 chime Steam whistles, for Nostalgia reasons.
The Pennsylvannia used a very nice 3 or 5? Chime whistle on its passenger trains, but its freight trains had a 1 chime ear piercing death shrill.

09-01-2004, 08:27 AM
I think there have been plans for whistles in Live Steam magazine over the years; try the index search, or send an e-mail to Neil.

09-01-2004, 02:05 PM
I have a drawing for a 4 chime whistle in my collection, somewhere. It's also in Nelson's book: SO YOU WANT TO BUILD A STEAM LOCOMOTIVE.

If you want a copy, let me know.

Andy Pullen

09-01-2004, 02:21 PM
Here is a four chime wooden whistle. I'm sure it wood work in metal...


Here are more:


real steam whistle info here:


Here is a simple single tone metal whistle:


Here info for a Shay whistle:


If you really want to get carried away try this:


Here are detailed plans for a steam whistle. Look down the listing for "steamwhistle2.zip"


[This message has been edited by Evan (edited 09-01-2004).]

09-01-2004, 02:44 PM
On this page click the "Just click to hear" link. Beautiful, sends a shiver down my neck.


charlie coghill
09-01-2004, 08:45 PM
Guy Lautard has a lunkenhimer drawing in I believe his first book "The Machinest's Bedside Reader".

09-01-2004, 11:21 PM
Here is a Lautard Lunkenheimer that I built a couple of years ago.

I have only blown it on air (either from a compressor or lung power) but it has a nice pitch to it. It will split your eardrums at about 50 psig. Probably wouldn't be so shrill on steam.


[This message has been edited by 3jaw (edited 09-01-2004).]

09-02-2004, 12:14 PM
BillH, EMD and GE(and other builders of the past) out-source their air horns. The attached site has a ton of information on 5 chime air horns(including some sound clips)



[This message has been edited by Carl (edited 09-02-2004).]

charlie coghill
09-02-2004, 07:55 PM
I have the twin to your whistle. I mounted it on my 1/4 case steam tractor. Sounds pretty good. I also scaled the whistle down to 1/2. The small one is very schrill. If I had left the bell longer the sound would have been deeper.

09-02-2004, 08:48 PM
As Andy Pullen and others in the Live steam hobby can tell you, Physics do not scale down with our locomotives.
To get that sound, you need a big whistle, not that big of a problem on larger stuff, even if it means hiding the whistle underneath the long running board.
Somewhere around here, I have audio clip of a whistle off a Pennsy K4 pacific a guy hooked up to his steam boat boiler. The thing is music to the ears.

09-02-2004, 08:52 PM
3jaw, by any chance, do you have some drawings in digital format of that whistle? I suddenly find myself wanting to build one.

09-02-2004, 10:01 PM

I don't have the drawings in digital format. They are a copy of a copy, etc. E-mail me offline with your snail mail address and I will send you a copy.


Steve Stube
09-02-2004, 10:49 PM
I'll take a little embarrassment if it will save someone's hearing. I picked up a whistle at a flea market and immediately tried it out when I got home. My compressor was set at about 80 psi and I piped that thru a blow gun valve to the whistle. I'm sure you all are smarter than I was in that split second when I depressed the blow gun button. I heard a loud whistle alright but only for a nanosecond then all was quiet and I mean quiet - I couldn't hear anything for the next 5 minutes or so and was very happy when my hearing came back. Do be careful or it might be the last thing you hear.

09-03-2004, 07:45 AM
I've got an old passenger car whistle mounted on my 1 1/2" scale steamer. It's about an inch in diameter and 3" long. One chamber in the bell and on 125psi of steam it's LOUD!!

I was running at Railfest in Altoona last fall and I was able to confound the sound check of the band that was setting up outside!

Model whistles don't match the sound of full size whistles as Bill H said. You can get a sound that's not too far off in tone by careful tuning, but it will never match a full size whistle.

N&W #1218 has a whistle on it that will wake the dead. It's about 6" or 7" in diameter and around 18" long. That locomotive ran with 300psi steam and standing too close will deafen you for more than 5 minutes.

Andy Pullen

09-03-2004, 03:50 PM
i have 2 drawings that i can scan and email to you if you want.

daryl bane
09-04-2004, 11:56 PM
Funny story. We pulled a steam whistle off the roof of a abandoned factory years ago. It was about four inches in dia and about 18 to 20 inches tall.It was made by the Crane plumbing co. Same bunch that makes faucets today. I worked at a sandblasting yard
then and hooked in up to the big I-R compressor. I think the fitting was about 2 to 3 in. pipe. Well it held the pressure and I pulled the lever. Next thing I knew, I was on the ground, and everybody around had hit the dirt. It was so loud, it broke some of the windows in the office about 50 yards away.The Kleenex that I had put in the ears was the only thing that saved my hearing. I still have it, might fire it up some day.

[This message has been edited by daryl bane (edited 09-05-2004).]

09-05-2004, 02:03 AM
I happen to have a fondness for noise makers. I have a submarine dive klaxon, a bank alarm bell, a 12 volt police air siren, and an air horn, among others. Not just any air horn. On shop air this horn can be heard for at least two miles. I know because the next ridge across the valley is a mile away and I can easily hear the echo from this horn. Some day I really must polish it up, it's all brass.


09-05-2004, 11:12 AM
air does not equal steam

Hmm, a Submarine dive klaxon, that would be interesting.

09-05-2004, 01:54 PM
Air <> Steam

09-05-2004, 06:38 PM
a friend has a similar horn on his boat- came off a ww2 ship - runs it off 150 psi air - oh man what a honk-starts of with a squeak then turns to a roar that you can feel in your chest-oh the pain.........

so what does the inside of the horn look i like- how do you make one?

charlie coghill
09-05-2004, 07:28 PM
If 3jaw does not have the drawing I will scan mine and send it to you. Mine is the same as 3jaws.

charlie coghill
09-05-2004, 07:31 PM
If any one has a junk trombone that the bell is still good( not bent or damaged) and you would like to despose of, I would like to talk with you about it.

charlie coghill
09-05-2004, 07:49 PM
Just looked through my notes and I have the following info. Live Steam Mag. June 1991 the artical is titled Fools Dive in Where Angles Know Better, Also LS Nov/Dec 1992 Whistle Clinic, and LS Oct 1984 Tuscarora part 25.

This will keep you busy and out of your wife's hair for a while http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif