Wednesday, November 20, 2013

3818 Makes Noise

While I am a fan of German engineering, I am lucky my PSM 38 only required a decoder and not a boiler. This was the easiest DCC install so far. The beauty of these locomotives is that the chassis is not live, nor the tender. The driving wheels have separate electrical pick ups and the tender bogies are insulated from tender and eachother. All that was required was to add a few connectors, throw the speaker in the boiler, wire up the power pack and off she goes.

I love Zimo sugar cube speakers however when I received the last couple in the mail they looked different. The quality was not as good as usual. I have since ordered some more from another supplier so I can see if there is a quality issue or they have in fact changed them a little.

Once installed the speaker didn't seem to sound as good as usual. I don't know if the large boiler makes it sound different as all my steam installs so far have been in little locos. If the new batch of speakers look like the previous lot I will swap it out.

Another factor which is probably more likely the problem is that I created the sound file. I used 38 class chuff, whistle and relief valve sound recordings and manipulated them in Audacity. The 30 something wav files I was left with were transferred into my favourite ESU project file. I have not run 3818 on a layout yet so have not heard it having a proper go. I am quite happy with the cylinder beat sound however the whistle still sounds funny. Whistles are horrible things to do! At this early stage in my DCC sound interest, whistle editing just doesn't seem to work. I have listened to so many 38 class whistle recordings. What I came to realise is that it has the worst sounding whistle of all NSWGR locomotives. It is however very distinctive and that means it has to be right. It seems when being recorded the sharp blasting noise effects recording systems all very differently.

I am a little chuffed (ha ha I know, I crack myself up) with my sound file. It's not the best but its cool to hear your efforts playing along in a loco. I have learnt a lot about the individual ESU driving sound files by doing this. I took the Lokprogrammer software into work the other day to show one of our Avionics Design Engineers. I think he was amazed at the level of programming flexibility when It came to adding sound to toy trains.

As you all know I buy locomotives to use. This brass pacific is sure to rack up a few miles now. Sound makes it more fun. You would not have heard me say anything like that in regards to sound this time last year! All this fan dangle electrical gibbers.

Here is another really bad video. I need a radio cab ha ha.


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks Jon. I will bring it up to the club in the next couple of weeks. I still have my uncles R cars so I am looking forward to giving it a run.

  2. Finally I hear a model 38cl that actually has a correct sounding whistle well done Linton. Now to see if the correct pump & injectors are available.

    I also think you have it with the sound of the beat also, so do not worry too much about the speakers that are in it. Look at in the way that whatever speaker you use for one locomotive type, may not necessarily produce the right sounds for another loco, unless the decoder has some form of graphic equaliser/audio adjustment in the program to adjust the sounds.

    1. Thanks Col. I actually used 38 class recordings for the chuff, whistle and safety valve however I don't think that always guarantees a good sounding model. I would say the sound is not as refined as the ESU downloadable sound files. The good thing about the 38 is that we still have a couple that can be heard and recorded along with already recorded more modern audio and video.

      I was talking to a mate this afternoon and he mentioned the possibility of 3801 having a different sounding whistle to the other 38s. I spent an hour this afternoon looking at video footage and can't pick a difference directly. The problem is that the whistles sound slightly different, even the same loco can sound different sometimes. Do you have any recollections of this?

      Good to hear from you,


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  4. Linton

    Few 38cl whistles sounded the same in my time on the job, although in the main the variation was slight. I did my B firing trials on 3809 in 64 & when blowing the whistle using the cord for other than a short blow, at the start it was "typically classic" 38cl chime, but at the end cut off the tone changed to sound more like a 36cl 5chime. When the driver used the air control valve on his side cab wall, the end did not have a change in the sound.

    What I found was there was a slight variation between the sounds of whistle depending on the cord or valve use. As an air operated whistle with the valve it had to be depressed fully, to allow the air port to open & release steam through a spring choke valve for the steam to blow, much more direct than the cord. Using the cord also had to be pulled down fairly hard as I imagine it too opened the air port.

    Listening to your whistle sounds on your model, the first blow has a funny cut off, whilst the 2nd more typically correct for the short blow. The first was longer & should have a straight finish like the 2nd, that's the only thing I noticed.

    2 38cl had a definite difference in the sounds, 02 & 14, rather than the normal type of chime, they both had a whistle more like a squark, I loved the sound but others hate it. The interesting thing is that I have heard other 38's with a similar sound but not as intense, & I put that down to blocked chime ports, or some other affect in the chimes.

    One of the unique sounds for the 38cl is the air compressor as it was a fast charge cross compound, also the 38's were fitted with a high & low pressure setting for the main reservoir, what that meant was under normal working the main reservoir was charged & maintained at 100-105PSI constant same as all other steam locomotives. However when the driver applied the train brakes no matter with the automatic minimum reduction, or heavier the high pressure port was opened & that allowed a high pressure secondary reservoir to be charged to 125psi, to provide for more air to recharge all reservoirs quicker on the train.

    What that meant was you could always tell when the brakes were applied coming into a station as you would hear the pump start up with the fast charge rate for the high pressure setting.

    With most sound decoders now providing more options & features especially brake squeal with a function button setting, I would love to see that added for the 38cl rather than or in addition to brake squeal.

    re the whistle on 3801. There was a story going round that 01 had been fitted with a 36cl whistle for a while, I know that there was a time that 01's whistle did not sound much like a typical 38cl, even allowing for the variations.

    The other aspect is that garratts also had a different sounding 5chime whistle also, & was mostly consistent across them all, but there were some that were more typical 36cl. Looking at those 3 classes with the style & shape of the whistles, they were very similar to each other, yet each sounded different, could 01 have ended up with a whistle of a garratt at that time?

    Apologies for long answer.

  5. Love the long response! I didn't know the 38 class whistle was air operated! That explains why I have never heard the 38 class whistle 'played' like other locomotives. Your right it just cracks open and cuts straight off.

    Another thing your right about is the first whistle quivering at the end. This was due to the whistle looping on its self a little. I held it a little too long. I still have some refining to do on it. I originally had an alternate whistle ending which tapered off however as I had not actually heard it do this I got rid of it.

    Thanks heaps for your response. Much appreciated Col.


  6. 38's were not the only engines that had the air operated whistles, 57 & 58's did also, the 57 had a hand operated whistle valve on both firemans & drivers side, along with the roof cord, from what all the old big engine crews spoke of they would isolate the firemans side control handle via the small gate valve on it owing to the amount of water build up in them, if they were both turned on, & the valve depressed, the person on the other side would cop a spray of water out of his side valve.

    Maybe a reason only one was installed on the 38's not sure about the 58cl

    1. Just had a read in the 38 class book by Thompson. It has a good spiel about the whistle within the anatomy section. I was just sent a youtube video of 3801 and 3830 heading up through Dombarton. There is a district difference in pitch in that 01s is a higher pitch and sounds terrible.

      The recording for my project is the best I can find at this point. I think it sits somewhere in the middle, although playing it through a decoder and a tiny speaker mounted in a brass can will have some negative affect also.


  7. Hi Linton have a watch of the movie Film night "abundance of power" 3 black 38s on tour and all three have a different whistle note .I reckon it could be caused by different boiler pressures at the time.
    cheers Peter aka anzac1959

    1. Hi Peter,

      I have not seen that video. I will try and find it. Yeah I had thought that boiler pressure may have made a slight pitch change to the whistle. I thought this may have applied particularly to 3801 as preserved due to its lower maximum operating pressure.

      I think the main difference in pitch comes from whistle assembly differences and adjustment. I am lead to believe that the whistle is built up with shim type stacks. I guess depending on how the whistle is reassembled may result in differing pitch whistle sounds. It makes it a bugger to get your model sounding right! Thanks for the video tip.