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MMD > Archives > March 2000 > 2000.03.19 > 05Prev  Next

Davis Steam Calliope
By Arthur Davis

-- forwarded message, please reply to sender and MMD --

Jody,  This is in response to a web site that I just encountered
which references the "Davis Steam Calliope".  The web page is at:

I am Davis.  I have never worked at Boeing.  I am not dead.  I was
working at the University of Washington at the time that I build my
Calliopes and I have since returned there.  I still have my patterns
and tools and sometimes think about building another Calliope.  If
people are interested in having a new Calliope built they can contact
me at (206) 522-5386 or at

Alas, the portable Calliope shown on the web page was sold to a Pizza
company in Portland, Oregon around 1984 - 85 and I have lost track of
it.  It was a prototype and my later whistle design and valves were
much improved. We had a lot of fun with that one doing many parades,
birthday parties, grand openings, fund raisers, etc.  Probably the best
sounding and most refined Calliope that I built was commissioned for
the "General Jackson" Steamboat built and operated at that time by

By the way, where did you find the drawings of the whistles and where
did you obtain the photograph from?  Just interested.

Anyway, it was a great thrill to see one of my "children" up there
on your web site.


Arthur E. Davis
Davis Calliope Works
8511 27th Avenue N.E.
Seattle, WA  98115

 [ Arthur,  It's great to hear from you.  The photo was taken by me
 [ while visiting a park near Issaquah, probably in August of 1982 (or
 [ possibly 1983).  I had just purchased the camera and was having fun
 [ taking pictures of anything that looked interesting.  I think there
 [ was also a steam locomotive in the park.
 [ I spoke at some length with someone who was with the instrument at
 [ the park.  I am going to assume it was you.  Most of my friends in
 [ Seattle worked at Boeing.  After 15 years I could believe that
 [ I changed you from someone that worked at one technical institution
 [ (U of W) to another technical institution (Boeing).
 [ I became very interested in self-playing musical instruments some
 [ time after seeing and hearing your instrument.  It wasn't until I'd
 [ attended several band organ rallies that I started to appreciate how
 [ unusual what I'd seen that day was.
 [ As the Web has become more and more broad in scope, I've done
 [ repeated searches looking for more information about your instrument.
 [ I found a used book vendor that had a catalog of your product for
 [ sale.  I bought the catalog, and the drawings were obtained from it.
 [ I don't recall now if Robbie "cleaned them up" or used them verbatim.
 [ The drawings don't exactly match the pictures I took but they seemed
 [ worthwhile.
 [ There does seem to be a lot of interest in these instruments and I
 [ hope that it is acceptable to you that these drawings were posted to
 [ our web site.  If you have time and interest, we'd love to post have
 [ your participation either in an exchange of e-mail postings or in the
 [ form of longer articles posted to the web site.  There's been a lot
 [ of questions raised about steam requirements, valve and whistle
 [ design, safety, etc.  Our editor, Robbie Rhodes, has played calliope
 [ professionally and has a good idea what arrangements work musically.
 [ I did have an opportunity to inspect the installation drawings and
 [ instructions for a calliope of yours that was installed on a
 [ steamboat based in New Orleans.  I did not have a chance to hear or
 [ see the installation.  I hope the invitation to see it still stands
 [ the next time I'm in the area.
 [ I'd like to ask that you let me publish this message from you.  I
 [ think that there are others who would like to correspond with you.
 [ When time permits, I'd like to write again or call.
 [ Thanks for writing.
 [ Jody

 [[ Note:  Permission to publish the message from Arthur was received
 [[ on 18 Mar 00.

(Message sent Tue 8 Feb 2000, 17:17:35 GMT, from time zone GMT-0800.)

Key Words in Subject:  Calliope, Davis, Steam

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