Archive for The Unofficial Mamod and Other Steam ForumThe Original Toy Steam Forum Established 2006 The biggest, most popular global steam forum around! Accept NO imitations! We have a growing community of regular posting members who chat about all aspects of toy and model steam.
Kenneth showed us the nice brass whistle he just made, and I thought I would show a quick construction
sequence showing a couple of things that may help others in building their own.
I've only made metal whistles up 'til now. I did this one up quick (about 15 minutes) to show how they are
made. A wooden one seemed easier to do a simplified construction just as a guide, since it has larger, easy
to see parts, and I don't have to show it on a lathe where tooling and such gets in the way.
The metal ones I've made were all patterned off existing types, since when I'm asked to make something like
this, it is usually as a replacement part.
This starts with a piece of dowel 1/2" diameter and 2.75" long. A 1/4" diameter hole is drilled down the center
just shy of where it would break through the other end. For brass, you can use a piece of tube and cap one end.
Next, the mouth is cut in. On this one, the bottom of it is cut half way through the dowel, and the slanted bit
is then cut in. The bottom lip is 1/2" from the part of the whistle you would blow into. Metal whistles for
toy boilers usually have a smaller mouth in proportion to this. The bottom lip doesn't always go quite so far
into the main body since the wall thickness of a metal type is much thinner.
Since I was just knocking this one out free hand, I mistakenly made the mouth too large. Simple fix. Just cut
a slice out of the mouth and glued it back together.
This thing, called the languid, is a piece of dowel the same size as the hole that was drilled into the
main body. For a wood whistle, about 1/3 of the diameter is filed off flat. For a metal whistle that is to
work on steam or air of a higher pressure, you only need to file away about 15-20% of the diameter.
The piece goes into the hole in the end in this orientation.
It's glued in flush with the bottom lip.
Then the end where you blow is cut off flush.
That's about it. Metal whistles are made using the same construction, but the end with the hole has to be longer
so you can drill a cross hole for the valve and put threads on it for screwing into a boiler or pipe fitting.
You might wonder if it works...
One last thing; Don't use glue if you're making a brass whistle. Solder would be considerably better.
Great Tutorial I tried making a whistle a while back, but now I realized i made the languid wrong.
great tutorial thanks Dean
In the summer i spend a lot of time in the woods selecting thumb sticks which we mark out early winter and cut them when grown into the right shape and while we are having our lunch break in the woods we very often whittle away making whistles and even the type where you push the engine in and out to alter the tune.
nicely done Dean.
Layfield light rly
nice wooden whistle mate!!!
Nice, simple and easily followed.
Now can you tell me how you work out what size to make a whistle for a certain note?
Would it have been easier to have made a square section wooden whistle? witih an Oak block and cap and pine body? Are you going to nick the languid? Ify ou want to lower the note you could always leather the upper lip or stopper it or half stop it. Or make it harmonic The windway looks rather large...but thats an organ builder speaking.
Thanks for explaining that in dept Dean, i made mine slightly different but i can see the principle is the same.
Do you have any similar guides on how to make a whistle valve? i am going to attempt making one this weekend.
Would it have been easier to have made a square section wooden whistle?
I can't imagine how it could possibly be easier than drilling one hole in a dowel. This thing took all of 15 minutes to make.
How much easier do you need?
Kenneth, I don't have anything on making a valve. I often do that kind of thing in my shop, but forget to
take pictures. Probably the easiest valve for one like yours would be the spring type as on Empire engines.
That amounts to a shaft in a cross hole, with a small air/steam passageway drilled through the shaft.
On the outside, a spring over the shaft keeps it pulled to one side, keeping the small air passage hole off
center from the center of the whistle. When you push the shaft in, the hole in the shaft and the center hole in
the whistle line up, and it blows.
If you have an Empire, Jensen, or Mamod whistle, study them for making your valve. They are all different,
yet accomplish the same result. The Jensen would probably be hardest to make since it has an internal and
external taper. Other than that, it is similar to the Mamod type. Mamod has a straight shaft cross way through
the whistle body, below the languine. It has a hole drilled through it, which is held in line with the whistle center
line. When the shaft is rotated, the hole either enters the central bore of the whistle, or is perpendicular to it,
turning it on and off.
Using a piece of dowl is easy but changing to hard wood for the languid etc would be tricky, I know e.g. Shultze used turned wood flutes but they were singularly fragile. ok if not easier, more precise. was that a hard wood dowel? Four lengths of strip soft wood and some hard wood for the block and cap. You really need a hard wood languid and cap to get a crisp, sharp edge to the languid and the inner surface of the lower lip. Soft wood makes a very variable, not very crisp, very soft edge and whilst being good for resonators isnt good for blocks and caps as you can get the finish and hasnt got the recquired resonating properties.
What pressure is that whistle on as the cut up is massively high which suggests a really staggeringly high pressure and that it will be aright "hooter" (organ terminology for something akin a to a fog horn in tone). With such a wide mouth are you going to put any ears on it to stabilise and direct the wind flow? (it will also strengthen the pipe at that point too).
If only pipe metal were so soft Id have made a steam whistle by now. The thought of using copper is scary.
Has anyone experimented using reeds?
William Hill during the 1830s developed a high pressure reed for the London & Birmingham railway as a loco hooter, but the effect was apparently "so grand" that people went to see the source of the sound and not get out of the way. The high pressure reed was later devleoped into an organ stop, the Grand Ophicliede at Birmingham Town Hall in 1836.
Sap, I get the feeling you missed the point of this thread. I'm not teaching people how to make wooden whistles!
As I already said in the first post, I used wood because I can show the construction points of a whistle easily.
This has nothing to do with making flutes, slab sided pipes hard wood pipes, etc. It's just to show the
components and construction so others can make their own whistle.
And, it's made of soft wood, since you asked.
What pressure is that whistle on as the cut up is massively high which suggests a really staggeringly high pressure
I was blowing on it with my mouth. Did you listen to it?
William Hill during the 1830s developed a high pressure reed for the London & Birmingham railway as a loco hooter, but the effect was apparently "so grand" that people went to see the source of the sound and not get out of the way.
As an engine driver, I've got to say the idea of a whistle that attracts rather than repels people is quite alarming!
I love all the background history though!
Dean W, I have been searching the internet for months trying to find out how whistles are made and more importantly a tutorial. Your thread here is just what I have been needing to find. Thank you for doing this!
Thank You for the info . I too have searched the internet for a basic whistle design , and you explanation was perfect. In a very short time last night , with my new Taig lathe and you instructions , I had a working whistle. Thank's again. Barry
Tonight I made a test whistle, from your design. I used a small scrap of brass tube about 3/16" diameter and about 3/4" long. I cut a languid from a piece of dowel. I cut the mouth in the pipe with a razor saw. I then CA'd the languid in place. And for the cap I just put a piece of tape on top. I just wanted to see if it would work.
Wow! This little thing WHISTLES!! And loud!! It takes a good lungful of air I discovered, but still.
I have seen steam whistle patent drawings, looked at photos of parts, read descriptions that only a physicist could understand, etc. lol...
You broke it down to it's most basic parts, and it WORKS. Thank you for this. You are a genius!
Click to see full size image
What's the PSI rating for good lungful of air?
Good one Kmot!
I don't know the PSI, but it's whole lotta hot air!!
Great stuff Dean. I made a similar one for my Weeden 672, more by guesswork than knowledge, and it surprised me by working quite well.
Well, to further experiment I made a larger whistle today. It is made from 1/2" PVC sprinkler pipe. It sounds off easily when I blow into it by mouth. But when I hit it with compressed air from my garage compressor, holy cow!!!