DP Supplies steam-sound enhancement pipe

A chuff pipe for Accucraft's Emma locomotive
Marc Horovitz
Steam-sound enhancement pipe
DP Supplies
Unit 19
Jubilee Enterprise Centre
Jubilee Close, Weymouth
Website: www.summerlands-chuffer.co.uk  
Available in the US from:
The Train Department
Price: $45, postpaid
Website: www.thetraindepartment.com  

Steam-sound enhancement pipe (#SCAC18) for Accucraft Emma; copper and brass construction; 5½" long; replaces engine’s original exhaust pipe; instruction sheet provided

Pros: Well-made unit; silver-soldered construction to withstand heat; audible augmentation of exhaust sound; easy installation

Cons: Chuff note rather high pitched (see text)
A Summerlands Chuffer for an Accucraft Shay was reviewed in the February 2010 issue of Garden Railways. The one reviewed here is for Accucraft’s 7/8"-scale Emma.

The purpose of the chuffer, or chuff pipe, is to enhance the sound of the steam exhaust. Many of our small-scale live steamers don’t have very loud exhausts. Physics will prevent any little steamer from having the same deep-throated exhaust note of a full-size engine, but a chuff pipe will amplify the exhaust sounds that a small engine does make.

The product reviewed here is constructed of copper tubing and machined-brass components, silver-soldered together to withstand the high temperatures inside a locomotive’s smokebox. The bottom end is furnished with a thread that matches the one in Emma’s exhaust pipe. The top, or business, end has a machined brass resonator. As the steam is exhausted from the cylinders, it travels up the pipe and is released through a machined port in the side of the resonator. The resonating chamber above this port provides the sound enhancement. A slot is cut into the top of the resonator in which a screwdriver may be engaged to tighten the chuff pipe in place.  

The Summerlands Chuffer comes with a complete, well-written instruction sheet. The installation process is simple—unscrew the existing exhaust pipe and screw in the chuffer. Suggestions are provided in the instructions to facilitate the installation of the unit.

To remove the original exhaust pipe, I used a pair of needle-nose pliers to grip it through the front of the smokebox. I could unscrew it a few degrees this way. By continuing the process, I was eventually able to remove it. Lining up the chuff pipe with the hole beneath the smokebox was a little tricky but, once aligned, the chuffer screwed in easily, using a screwdriver down the top of the stack. You need to make sure the orifice in the chuff pipe is not hard against the side of the stack. This is covered in the instructions.

The chuff pipe in no way changes the operation or performance of the locomotive—only its sound. To test the effectiveness of the chuffer, I first fired up Emma with its original exhaust pipe. The exhaust sound was a kind of gentle hiss, almost drowned out by the burner. I then swapped that with the new chuff pipe. The difference was marked. The exhaust was much louder and I could hear the engine from any point on the railway, even when it was hidden from view. At slow speeds, every beat was clearly audible. This is great for outdoor running but, if you’re running at an indoor venue, you might feel the exhaust is a little too loud, especially if several engines with chuff pipes are running simultaneously.

My one criticism is that, given the diameter of Emma’s stack, perhaps a larger-diameter resonator might be employed, one that would give a deeper, more prototypical tone to the chuff.

In short, this product does what it’s advertised to do, which is to dramatically increase the volume of the exhaust sounds made by your live-steam locomotive.


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