The PT Boat Forum

Forum Category: PT Boats of WWII

Forum Name: PT Boats - General

Topic: Engine sound clip

some time back someone posted a PT start up sound clip from the movie They were Expendable. Only 12-15 sec long. Been searching for it to no avail. Anyone help me out. Thanks


Posted By: sparky51 | Posted on: Jun 30, 2013 - 9:00am
Total Posts: | Joined: Unregistered

Check out this topic post

Posted By: Gary Paulsen | Posted on: Jun 30, 2013 - 9:21am
Total Posts: 245 | Joined: Feb 14, 2009 - 6:31am

Thats it. Thanks much Gary. Now to see if I can make a ring tone out of it.


Posted By: sparky51 | Posted on: Jun 30, 2013 - 9:54am
Total Posts: | Joined: Unregistered

Hello Shipmates,
I just listened to this soundtrack again and it sounds a lot different than the sounds made when we start the 3 V12 Packard Engines on Board the PT658. The throaty roar sounds correct, but the "high pitched whine" sounds wrong. The high pitched whine on the soundtrack is audible just before the engine is started. The only thing is that in real life the starter does not make this high pitched whine. What the Motor Mac is doing is rolling the engine over with the starter and no spark to achieve oil pressure to the bearings before positioning the Magneto Selector Switch to "Both". When the Magneto is selected to "Both" the spark plugs are energized and combustion will occur to start the engine running. If the engines have been previously warmed up, the oil pressure builds up relatively quickly, but if the engines are cold, it takes maybe 10-20 seconds of cranking with the starter before there is any oil pressure visible on the gage. It sounds just like your own car starter sounds when cranking the engine without a spark. You may also hear some bubbling from the mufflers during this time. To start the engines, the Motor Mac must first line up the fuel supply valves to each engine and prime those lines with the hand "Wobble" pump to achieve about 7 psig on the fuel inlet pressure gage to each carburetor before cranking the engine. After the oil pressure is within spec, while cranking over, the Magneto Selector Switch is taken from "Off" position to the "Both" position and the engine will normally start right up. Then, after the first engine is running, it becomes so loud inside the engine room that you cant hear the cranking noises of the other two engines because they are drowned out by the noise of the first running engine. (When I say drowned out, I mean >120 decibels! It is incredibly loud in that engineroom!) After the first engine is started, the pressures and temps are checked and then the Dual Magnetos are tested by first selecting "Intake Only" then "Exhaust Only" and watching for engine RPM's to decrease by about 50rpm. Then take selector back to "Both". Then you adjust the mixture and spark advance on the carburetors, and adjust cooling water flows and ensure the exhaust stacks cooling water is flowing normally (with no air/steam bubble inside cooling jackets) before reporting to the bridge that the engines are ready to answer all bells.

So my main point is that the "high pitched whine" from the soundtrack sounds like a Hollywood addition and not the true sounds of starting the Packards on a real PT Boat. And Yes Frank, I am working on recording these sounds when we put the boat back in the water, I did try recording it already, but Bubba was not being cooperative, so I need to re-record the Engineroom Startup when we start them up again in the near future.

To me, the Hollywood film-makers needed some type of soundtrack that sounded believable, and they added the high pitched whine. It sounds like a blower, like you might find on a diesel engine. Possibly an aircraft engine sounds like that when it starts, but certainly not a PT Boat. The part that really made the inaccuracy stand out for me was the part of the soundtrack where you can hear the high pitched whine on the second and third engines as they are started. You definitely can't hear that starting noise from outside the engineroom, and you cant hear it from inside the engineroom either due to the noise. Also, these were exactly the same engines on both Elco and Higgins PT boats, so the fact that the movie is depicting the startup of an Elco boat does not explain the differences in sound. Elcos did not have a different starter or a different startup procedure, with the exception of exactly which fuel valves to open and the directions to ensure muffler baffles were open. I dont think Elco boats had any type of blower that made that high pitched sound either. Both boat types use a "bilge exhaust blower" you must run for 5 minutes before starting engines to rid the bilges of gasoline fumes, but that blower does not make the high pitched whine, and is running the entire time as opposed to just before the engine starts.

Just my 2 cents.
Jerry PT658

Posted By: Jerry Gilmartin | Posted on: Jun 30, 2013 - 1:11pm
Total Posts: 1275 | Joined: Oct 8, 2006 - 11:16pm

Dick Please delete this extra

Posted By: Jerry Gilmartin | Posted on: Jun 30, 2013 - 1:38pm
Total Posts: 1275 | Joined: Oct 8, 2006 - 11:16pm

Jerry: TWE also had a couple of Huckins boats. Any chance the startup sounds/procedures would be different on them?


Posted By: Will Day | Posted on: Jun 30, 2013 - 1:50pm
Total Posts: 1949 | Joined: Oct 8, 2006 - 4:19pm

Hi Will,
I think the Huckins still used Packards right? I have not seen a startup procedure for the Huckins boats. I have seen one for the Elco and the Higgins, and they are similar. I cant speak from personal experience, but I would be willing to hazard a guess that the Huckins were likely similar. Jerry

Jerry Gilmartin

Posted By: Jerry Gilmartin | Posted on: Jun 30, 2013 - 2:08pm
Total Posts: 1275 | Joined: Oct 8, 2006 - 11:16pm

I always guessed that the "high-pitched whine" was some sort of starter winding up before the engines caught, but I'll obviously defer to our veterans and anyone else who's heard them for real...

Posted By: Drew Cook | Posted on: Jun 30, 2013 - 3:51pm
Total Posts: 1283 | Joined: Oct 19, 2006 - 10:44am

I have almost finished the test stand and hope to start one of our engines soon. It probably will not sound as if it was in the boat but I will tape it.

Posted By: RANDY SMITH | Posted on: Jun 30, 2013 - 7:22pm
Total Posts: 182 | Joined: Jul 16, 2012 - 7:16pm

Hi Jerry,

The only difference I could think of is the position of the exhaust on the two boats, there may be a slight difference in the sound of the engines but this would not explain the whine that is heard, perhaps the Hollywood types wanted to increase the suspense of that scene.

Only my two cents worth of course.



Posted By: David Buck | Posted on: Jun 30, 2013 - 9:54pm
Total Posts: 332 | Joined: May 4, 2008 - 2:59am

Jerry that is a very good explanation of the Packard sounds. I have heard them many times both Elco and Higgins but never in the engine room. Just on deck. I used to love to hear Elcos start with open exhaust. You sure knew when they fired up when tied next to them. The Higgins under water exhaust sound was much more muffled. Not nearly as loud. When an Elco backfired it sounded like a shotgun and would throw a flame of fire out the exhaust. They were responsible for several fuel dock fires. Being a Higgins man, the open exhaust was one of the few things I liked better about the Elcos.

C. J. Willis

Posted By: CJ Willis | Posted on: Jul 7, 2013 - 2:02pm
Total Posts: 464 | Joined: Nov 5, 2006 - 5:02pm