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Material Contributed by Ron Chamberlain

Santa Fe Steam Whistles

Updated 10-10-11

The earliest known documented (shop drawing 14-127) common standard whistle type the Santa Fe used was a brass three tone chime (manufacture unknown) which was employed on all classes beginning in the late 1800’s and through the first decade of the twentieth century. The whistle was similar in size and sound to the then popular CROSBY brass three chime whistle. Surviving examples can be found on 0-4-0 No. 5, “Little Buttercup,” and 2-8-0 No.1, the “Cyrus K. Holliday" exhibition engines.

The Santa Fe in 1910 began to phase out the “old” brass standard with the introduction of two iron five chime types from steam locomotive appliance supplier LFM or Locomotive Finished Material Co. of Atchison, KS. They were the type LM-191 five chime for passenger applications and the LM-192 five chime for switcher and freight applications (shop dwg. 11-539). The new styles were to be applied to all new locomotives and those requiring retrofits due to wear or damage beyond repair. Notable LM-192 survivors are with the 3751(original whistle), and 3759.

According to Santa Fe locomotive service folio 94a, the LM-191 five chime and new valve became the common standard for all classes in the early twenties. The position of the whistle in relationship to the steam or auxiliary dome is also mentioned. Not mentioned in folio 94a, however, is the right hand (engineers side) location, a standard for all Santa Fe whistle applications whether it on the steam dome or near the stack. Many survive on display engines including the 940, 1050 and 1880.

The LM-191 remained the stay until the summer of 1931 (folio 94a) when a new common standard, the six chime LM-540, was adopted. Like those standards before, the LM-540 was to be supplied by LFM and applied to all new classes, and retrofits. This included all locomotives built after 1931 with the exception of the MADAM QUEEN which may have been retrofitted with the first LM-540. Interestingly enough the LM-540 was applied to most if not all of the 4-6-2 3400 class rebuilds as well. The 3415, 3416, and 3423 are surviving examples. A few Prairie types also received six chime retrofits, notably the 1010.

According to Santa Fe steam locomotive engineer, author, and photographer James Burke, the oldest style whistles had been purged from the ranks with few exceptions going into the twilight years of steam.

Most Santa Fe steam whistles were built by manufacturer/supplier LFM and can be identified by the following features but not limited to.  Railroad initials, manufacturer initials and pattern number embossed(cast) in the whistle top. For example Santa Fe's six chime: ATSF LM540.   However,  whistles built "in house" or  Santa Fe shops can be identified by embossed railroad initials and pattern number cast into the whistle top. For example the Santa Fe shop built six chime whistle:  AT&SF   LB5501.

I wish to thank the following in preparation for this article: Craig Ordner: archivest the Temple Archives, Monty Cunningham, Stan Kistler, James Burke, Matt Ritchie, Dave Decker, Mike Daughtery and a special thanks to Eric Larson: publisher of the Horn and Whistle Journal for making available the Lloyd Burr Santa Fe shop dwg. collection.

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