Introduction

One day, when taking and also old steam boat ~ above a lake, I witnessed a nice heavy steam whistle set up on height of the main stack. One has to say that vapor whistles seldom go unnoticed. A quite black-painted chime whistle created by two simple organ-pipe resonators that make such a common sound in a cloud of heavy steam (pictures below). Wow, ns said, I want to develop one the those, simply for fun.

You are watching: How to make a steam whistle

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The following day I developed a prototype through PVC pipe and also some corks based on the very same principle of the body organ flue pipes; there room some minor differences with whistles, favor the shape of the mouth that the mounting the the resonator, however the principle is the same and also was good enough for me.

How it works

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The figure over shows how it works: the gas (steam or air) beginning the foot is compelled though the windway whereby it accelerates due come the small cross-section. The jet that gas the cross the mouth and also impinges on the lip where disturbance occurs. This turbulence excites the tower of gas in the resonator and makes the oscillate.

Building a basic whistle

Since it to be actually rather easy to acquire the PVC whistle come work, I made decision to go for a steel version.Copper tube is easy to find in basic hardware stores, can be conveniently soldered, has actually a pretty color and don"t acquire rusted.

Instead of heavy steam I determined to use compressed air which is much easier to find at home. Yet this whistle will work-related fine likewise with steam, if you space lucky sufficient to have a boiler. Just keep in mental that steam has a lower thickness than air and will produce a higher pitch.

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A directly 22mm (outer diameter) copper pipe renders the foot and the resonator split by a cap play the function of the languid. Constant plumbing copper tube has a wall surface thickness of 1mm and also an inner diameter that 20mm. An 18mm tube cap has actually an within diameter of 18mm and also an external diameter of 20mm and also works perfectly for the languid. Ns just had actually to slightly adjust its external diameter by rubbing v sandpaper to make it slide inside the 22mm pipe.

The mouth and also the windway are cut in the main pipe. Simply a rectangle-shaped hole around 20mm large and 45mm high go the job. The lip is filed come an edge of about 30°. The languid is propelled inside the pipe and also positioned around 20mm below the lip and soldered leave a mouth opening of about 20×20mm2. Store in mind the tin-lead solder has actually a melting allude of about 180°C: this is fine for compressed air and also regular steam, yet for superheated steam (more 보다 100°C) girlfriend should consider silver brazing rather of soldering.

To create the windway, a 22mm junction is fitted approximately the main pipe. This junctions have actually an inner diameter that 22mm and also fit perfect on the pipe yet usually have a small punch in the center that requirements to be filed off. Position the junction aligned come the languid: it must cover the rest of the rectangular hole reduced in the key pipe. Solder the in this position yet be careful and use as little solder as feasible since there is a danger of clogging the windway.

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Dimensions room not critical: greater mouth requires more pressure; a more comprehensive mouth makes a enlarge sound yet requires a greater flow. The size of the foot have actually no influence on the whistle. The size of the resonator gives the pitch and can in which method be changed by slide the optimal cap before soldering it right into place. That course, the horn will also work through a top finish open, but closing it will create a much reduced frequency saving an are and copper. Tuning the horn is not easy: the pitch depends a lot of on the pressure and the note is not clean a as sine wave. Through the cap on, a resonator size D that 210mm will produce a keep in mind at about 400Hz once running top top compressed air.

Building a chime whistle

A chime horn is a whistle created by 2 or much more resonators playing a chord. The easiest chord is composed by 2 notes through a 3/2 frequency ratio and also this was the choice for my whistle. Two straightforward whistles as described above were constructed, one v a resonator size D of 210mm and also the other one through a resonator of only 140mm (3/2 ratio, frequency roughly 600Hz). The same pipe diameter was provided to keep things simple. Your feet to be connected along with a T-junction and also fed with a regulate valve constructed from hardware save parts. The figure below shows just how the horn looks like.

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Usually one should tune the resonators so that the frequency proportion is exactly 3/2 yet I uncovered this procedure quite challenging because the pitch relies on countless factors, and also primarily on the push of the gas. I lastly soldered the lid of the 2nd resonator in the position it produce the nicest sound to mine ear, without being certain if this coincides to the best tuning.

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Under and also over-blowing

In bespeak to make the horn work, a minimum pressure is required. Listed below this press the air will certainly go v the windway without producing any kind of sound (except the noise of the flowing air). Above this threshold, boosting the pressure will rise the sound level and also will also slightly rise the pitch. However there is a maximum push that, when exceeded, will certainly make the an essential frequency disappear and the pitch run to a much higher frequency. The whistle is said to it is in over-blown.

The whistle explained here has a minimum working pressure roughly 0.5bar and overblows at about 6.5bars. It uses about 2l/s of air at 6bars and also produces a sound level that 116dBA in ~ a distance of 1m.

Listen come this chime whistle: chimewhistle.wav (1,981,348 bytes).

A genuine train whistle

I confirmed my homebrew chime vapor whistle come a girlfriend of mine who works for the Swiss railways and is a actual train enthusiast: the was really interested called me the should have actually a real one somewhere. He came back a few weeks later on with the one confirmed in the snapshot below.

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It"s a compressed waiting whistle an installed on electric locomotives. It"s made through brass: casted, machined and than polished.It"s about 20cm high and also weight around 2.7kg: a really nice piece. It deserve to disassembled in 4 parts as displayed in the photos below.

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The windway is circular and also the mouth occupies the totality circumference. The resonator is short and also wide, is sphere shaped and is organized in place by a rod in its axis as usual in numerous many whistles. Follow to my friend, the press of the compressed air supply on these type of locomotive is something about 8 come 10bars, yet when connected to a small compressor we couldn"t make it work at the an initial try. Every we got was simply the start of a very weak whistle followed by the noise the the escaping air. The problem with these devices is that they require a an extremely high airflow. The diameter of the feed pipe (3/4") offers an idea of what type of air supply was set up on the locomotive. When fed with a tiny hobby compressor which together a small diameter output connection, as shortly the air begin to flow the pressure drops and the sound vanishes. In bespeak to do it work, the was vital to download a large diameter ball-valve directly on the tank. 1/2" to be the preferably we might fit. With this we might make that whistle, however the 24 liters that air in ~ 8bar are just sufficient for a fifty percent a 2nd tone... The measure up sound level to be 120dB(A) in ~ 1m distance.

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Watch the movie: steamwhistle.mp4 (515,205 bytes, 12s, H264, 640x360, 24fps).