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000 Introduction – Whistle Parts

SpotlightResearch > 000

To start with on whistles, it helps tremendously to know what goes into them, not a college degree, but just to be able to communicate about the parts and references to such when going about trying to date them. So let's look at some 'innards' and see what makes them different and also what makes them alike. First up, let's look into a beaufort whistle. Easy to see that it is conical shaped, but what makes it different inside is the diaphragm. It is a wedge instead of what you regularly see today in tube shaped whistles – a flat disc. (Occasionally it is a flat diaphragm like the regular tube shaped ones we will also look into –and that can throw you.) The sharp part of the wedge faces the hole where air is blown into the cone shaped barrel, thereby splitting the air out the two holes on the cone — exiting and also at the correct angle to cause a shrill air over metal sound. Wedges do come in different shapes and can help to identify makers, but with difficulty.Dating is difficlut because the same wedges were used for many years. The top is the knop where the chain or lanyard is attached and is also sometimes identifiable.


Now as we look inside the whistle so you can see where the top is soldered, but also allows access down to the separating piece called the partition which fits into the groove of the wedge.


looking into the cone and down you see the wedge still intact, then pulled out you can see the wedge shape.

And finally the parts as they should be installed…

Next we look at the more common general service whistle ( GSW ) and  you can see right away in the tube shaped design that the parts can be installed from two different directions when manufacturing. The top cap is soldered on as well as the mouthpiece. The mouthpiece was cast in early whistles which was labor intensive and later was machined and 'rolled' at the edge to cut costs. The seam to the tube section could be (up and down) between the windows or even through them. — Eventually there would be seamless tube stock as well as even cheaper designs that eliminated the mouthpieces in a unibody type whistle. The diaphragms or even sometimes a simple disc reveals tremendously the secrets of the makers, much like a fingerprint. In More Whistles by Martyn Gilchrist there are great pictures of whistle diaphragm parts dating to the earliest ones made by Hudson and forward. They went from cast to stamped and each stage of development helps in dating the whistle as well as the way it is inserted. — See also Collecting Police Whistles ( Gilchrist ) pages 88-99

The tines are the long pieces at the disc here and faced down towards the mouthpiece. Later they would be split and fit upwards away from the mouthpiece and straddle the partition. There are many types of tine arrangements. Next is a close look at a machined mouthpiece with the front edged 'rolled' around the edge to make it smooth. Compare that to a fully machined one out of the USA that was made from one solid piece of brass on a lathe. Then compare a cast one still attached to a whistle. Cast — 1884 and earlier —  sometimes later if a maker used up old parts.

Always remember that guidelines are not rules as to what a manufacturerer used and when they used thier parts.  
?Cast — pre 1884-5  
Rolled- 1885 to present
Lathe – 1930 and on


Here are a couple pix thrown in. One with a partition that has a disc already attached, no separate diaphragm needed. Then a unibody that eliminates the need for a separate mouthpiece.


Hope this helps to kick off things for you. Looking at round whistles is pretty obvious how they work. The same can be said for escargot whistles too. It's easy to see inside them. There are quite a few construction techniques that evolved over the years of manufacturing,  but for the most part they are all easy to see inside as the windows are pretty large. You may want to get a small flashlight though. Some handy things to acquire are: 1) flashlight 2) magnet 3) calipers 4) scale 5) brushes 6) magnifying glasses 7) picks ( we like dental ) 8) polishing cloths 9) pliers ( flat smooth ) Just keep going and as you get into it you will find what works for you…. Best wishes from The Whistle Gallery crew.


Posted November 11, 2012

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