Tea Kettle Whistle Repair




A working tea kettle whistle is a necessity in my house. I put the kettle on the boil and go to do housework or play on the computer and forget that I have water boiling. This is hard on my poor tea kettle and perhaps a hazard to boot. I have a perfectly fine Kitchen Aid tea kettle with a whistle in the lid and it works. But I saw this vintage Duncan Hines copper and stainless kettle and had to have it. For $ 15.00 and some tax it was mine. I brought it home, cleaned it and set it to boil, only to find that the whistle was A.W.O.L. So I began to do research, just as you have, wondering how I can repair my new vintage kettle.

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Step 1: How Does the Tea Kettle Whistle Work?

As steam comes up the kettle’s spout, it meets a hole at the start of the whistle, which is much narrower than the spout itself.

This contracts the flow of steam as it enters the whistle and creates a jet of steam passing through it. The steam jet is naturally unstable, like the jet of water from a garden hose that starts to break into droplets after it has travelled a certain distance. As a result, by the time it reaches the end of the whistle, the jet of steam is no longer a pure column, but slightly disturbed. These instabilities cannot escape perfectly from the whistle and as they hit the second whistle wall, they form a small pressure pulse. This pulse causes the steam to form vortices as it exits the whistle. These vortices produce sound waves, creating the comforting noise that before a forthcoming cup of tea.

The Duncan Hines kettle was missing the first plate! Now that I know how the whistle works and what I need to repair it all i need is a small disk of metal and a way of fastening it to the kettle. That should be easy, I thought but what would I use to cut the disk? and how would it stay in position?

Step 2: Making the Whistle Disk

So as I was pondering how to make the whistle and cleaning up after last night's Pizza and Beer. On the table I found a perfectly round metal disk! A bottle cap from a bottle of Ale.

So with a hammer and some pliers I began to reshape the bottle top into a flatter wider disk. Once I had shaped it into what you see here, I only had to tweak it slightly to wedge it into the lid opening. No glues or screws just friction is holding it in place. I made a mark in the center as guide for drilling a hole. Next I drilled a hole and sanded smooth the rough edges.

And do you know what happened next my eager whistle blowers? This 45 year old vintage Duncan Hines whistling tea kettle blew it's whistle. It sounds clear and strong, perhaps not on key but pleasant just the same.

This is my first Instructable, I had fun making it and I hope it helps you too. Thank for reading.

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    7 Discussions


    Question 10 months ago on Introduction

    Could I drill a hole in this lid
    Or should I put a cap in spout with a drilled hole
    Thanks in advance
    Ps I’m so excited, I may be able to create a whistling kettle


    1 year ago on Step 2

    This is my first time on Instructables, so maybe this is the norm, but I was really pleased that you included the science behind how the whistle works. I love understanding! Thanks!


    2 years ago

    My tea kettle is supposed to have a bird whistle. It's just like the attached photo, just without the bird. Do you have any suggestions on how I could make a replacement whistle?


    4 years ago

    i have just bought a non whistling agaluxe cast iron kettle and annoyed that it doesnt whistle :(

    i see aga sell replacement whistles for whistling kettles, but they just slot onto the spout on those type of kettles, but my kettle has an old fashioned style curved spout. im just wondering if its possible to retro fit one of these whistles to the lid on mine? or does it need to be fitted onto the spout to make it whistle?

    thank you :)


    5 years ago

    I love it, I have lots of bottle caps (always wanting to do something with them) and I happen to have a nice little teapot that never had a voice, a replacement for my now dead teapot but it had no whistle at birth, do you have a suggestion? Do you think I could make one completely from the ground up? Thanks for sharing.

    1 reply

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    I am not sure about how to make a whistle, but I have thoughts. So if the teapot has a lid I think you could duplicate what I have done. If it just has a spout, what about carving a whistle from wood and sticking into the spout. If you put two bottle caps together, one up and one down that would create a whistle, but how would you attach it. I need more pictures, some paper and pencils and a pot of tea! This may be a two pot problem.