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Explosion Whistle
Nov. 2, 2008

explosion whistle explosion whistle
Two views of the explosion whistle installed on Bugsby. Click here to listen to the SOUND of the explosion whistle.

Lynn installed a vacuum wolf whistle on Penny and it usually gets a good reaction from spectators when he uses it at car shows. Hoping to repeat the success, Lynn is looking for a period correct add-on whistle or horn for Bugsby.

Aermore ad
Aermore exhaust whistle
Aermore exhaust whistles were a common add-on in the 1920s.

Lynn initially looks for a good exhaust whistle for Bugsby. Most often, exhaust whistles were connected to an exhaust "cut-out." A cable or chain from the passenger compartment opens the cut-out, diverting exhaust gasses to the whistle. When operated, the exhaust whistle sounds like the horn on a steam locomotive giving a multi-note "toot." Exhaust whistles were also popular on antique tractors and stationary power plants.

Buell explosion whistle ad 1919
Buell explosion whistle ad 1920
Buell explosion whistle ads from 1919 and 1920.

Besides the complication of cutting into the exhaust system, Lynn hears that cut-outs are now illegal in many states. As a consequence, his attention switches to looking for an "explosion whistle," which is connected directly to the combustion chamber of the engine. After some months of watching and bidding, Lynn finally manages to snag an explosion whistle on ebay.

In some explosion whistle installations, an adapter creates a "Y" connection so both the spark plug and the whistle can be connected to an existing spark-plug hole. Lynn suspects that this arrangement seriously compromise the performance of the cylinder.

Another installation method attaches the explosion whistle to an existing primer cup hole. This is the technique that Lynn uses on Bugsby to mount the explosion whistle to cylinder #4. A universal cable control is mounted under the instrument panel to control the whistle.

Lynn suspects that he'd be happier with the sound of an exhaust whistle. Who knows, maybe Bugsby will get one some day.

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Copyright © 2018 Lynn Kissel
Last updated: May 24, 2009