The Horn

We probably don’t need to tell you what a horn does, but getting familiar with how it works and what makes the horns sound different from each other will help you in choosing the right horn for you.

There are two main types of horns in our kits: train horns and air horns. Train horns are classified by their low and deep harmonic tone as well as their typically higher volume. They also will always consist of at least 3 notes. Air horns, on the other hand, are generally higher in pitch and not quite as loud as some of our train horns get. Air horns can still be incredibly loud and some can be louder than some train horns, so it really comes down to personal preference on the tone to determine which one is better for you.

There are many factors that determine how a horn will sound, such as the shape and length of the bell, the material and components that it is made out of, as well as the amount of air pressure it is receiving. Many horns have multiple bells and are tuned to form a specific chord. Generally, the larger the horn and the more bells it has, the louder it will be. There are exceptions to the rule, such as our Shocker XL Horns that are compact but provide the volume of huge cast-metal train horns. This mainly comes down to the design of the sound chamber and the use of stainless steel internals. That's why it is imperative to get a horn made with quality materials and components.

The horns themselves are generally maintenance-free, but keeping your air system free of moisture and debris will ensure your horn maintains the intended pitch and volume. No matter what you do, your air tank is going to develop moisture, so draining your air tank on a regular basis will ensure that your horn sounds right every time you honk it.

The Air Compressor

The muscle of the air system. The more powerful your air compressor, the more capabilities your kit is going to offer. One of the biggest decisions other than the horns is choosing what compressor to get. Knowing how they work and how to keep them maintained is probably the most important part of understanding your kit as a whole.

The air compressor draws air in through the air intake then filters it and forces it into your air tank. Therefore making this a key component to any onboard air system. All of our air horns and train horns will require an air system to function and the louder horns require more air and higher pressure, so it is important to have an air compressor that is rated for your air tank size and intended operating pressure.

Generally, there are two main types of air compressors: Fast-Fill and Constant/Heavy Duty. Fast-Fill air compressors do exactly what it sounds like: fill your tank up quickly. Fast-Fill air compressors sacrifice duty cycle for speed. So kits with Fast-Fill air compressors are best suited for people that only want to honk their horns a lot and often, and want to make sure there is air in the tank ready to honk again as soon as possible. Systems utilizing a Fast-Fill air compressor are recommended to be used for honking only and no onboard air use such as airing up tires or using air tools. Now, this doesn't mean it can't be used in an emergency situation to fill a tire, it is however not recommended to fill multiple tires on a regular basis.

On the other hand, Constant/Heavy-Duty air compressors sacrifice speed for a longer duty cycle. An air compressor’s duty cycle determines how long the compressor can run continuously without having to stop to cool off. If you are going to be doing any regular pneumatic tasks, such as tire inflation(use of air tools) or air suspension, you will want a compressor with a higher duty cycle.

The Air Tank

The size of your air tank determines how much air you will have to work with. Being familiar with your air tank is important in determining the right size for your application. As well as making sure that it is properly maintained to ensure your system lasts as long as your ride does.

Just as important as choosing the right compressor and horns, the size of your air tank determines what capabilities your system will have. For example, you probably aren't going to have enough air to power a set of Nathan Air Chime train horns with a 1-gallon air tank. Having more air is always better than having less, but there are some things to consider when deciding what size air tank to go with.

The biggest determining factor is how much space you have available on your vehicle. We offer tanks as big as 20 gallons, but it probably won't fit on your Saturn. Also, keep in mind that most air compressors are only rated for up to 5-gallons each, meaning you will need an additional air compressor for every 5 gallons of air that you have. For example, our 8-Gallon kits run dual air compressors.

If you only plan on using your system to honk the horns, the size of the air tank you need really comes down to how long you want to honk your horns continuously. For most horns, each gallon of air is going to give you about 2 seconds of honk time. One of our 2-Gallon kits, for example, will give you roughly 4-5 seconds of honk time that you can honk the horn continuously.

The most important way to maintain, not just the air tank, but the entire system is to drain your air tank of moisture regularly. One of the number one causes of issues with a horn kit is due to moisture build-up in the components from not draining the tank of moisture. Something that takes less than 2 minutes to do every once in a while can add years of longevity to your system and possibly save you hundreds of dollars in new parts. The drain should be installed on the bottom part of the air tank where the water collects and you use it by simply turning it counter-clockwise until air and moisture start coming out. Make sure you tighten it back up before you fill the tank back up with air and that is it! You have drained the air tank of moisture!