Your Guide to Keeping Your Train Horn System Pristine and
Troubleshooting Issues That May Arise After Years of Use

While ensuring our horn kits and onboard air systems come with the highest-quality components is a top priority for us here at HornBlasters, eventually everything wears down over time. Although we try to set our customers up for success by providing the best parts on the market, how well the kits are taken care of after they leave our warehouse is a huge factor in their longevity and even with the best components and best maintenance practices, eventually, you may need to replace some minor parts.

At the time of this blog, we have been manufacturing and selling horn kits and onboard air systems for 16 years. Many of our first customers still have the original kits that they purchased more than 10 years ago and still use their kits on a daily basis. With this troubleshooting guide, you can overcome minor issues that may come up and make sure that your kit is blasting loud and proud years down the road.

First Things First  

So you have your kit all set up and ready to go. Hopefully, you got a chance to check out our blog about proper installation and maintenance. If not, stop reading and go check it out because the best way to ensure your kit lasts as long or longer than the vehicle it's installed on is to make sure that it is installed properly and maintained as prescribed.  

We can’t stress this enough, because water and rust are the number one killer for anything that is installed underneath the vehicle. Most of the common issues that you will see us cover in this blog can be easily avoided just by keeping your electrical components as dry as possible and draining your tank.

The Usual Suspects

All of our components are designed to last as long as possible, but some components are known to fail before others do. We have put together a list of some issues that may come up years down the road for normal use and how to troubleshoot and get your kit good as new. 

Compressor Not Turning On/ Not Turning Off

If your compressor won’t turn on, first check your wiring. You could have just blown a fuse or have a weak ground. If you have recently installed your kit, it's more likely that something just isn’t working right, so ensure you double-check the wiring using our instructions and wiring diagram to make sure all of your connections are good. This includes checking your in-line fuse to make sure that it didn’t blow. If all of your wiring is correct, the next step is to verify if it is your pressure switch or compressor that failed.

Your pressure switch is responsible for turning on your compressor when your air pressure is too low and turning your compressor off when your air tank has reached the designated pressure. Naturally, when your pressure switch fails it will either not turn your compressor on or not turn your compressor off.  

While the pressure switch is much more likely to fail than your compressor, rarely the issue could be the compressor itself, so before replacing your pressure switch make sure that your compressor isn’t the problem. This can be done by simply bypassing the pressure switch and running power and ground directly to the compressor. If direct power turns you compressor on, you know the pressure switch is the culprit. If it doesn’t, unfortunately, the issue may be your compressor. If your compressor powers on when wired to direct power, the issue lies in your pressure switch.

If your compressor will not shut off and your pressure gets high enough to activate your safety blow-off, the very first thing you want to do is disconnect the compressor from power. Your compressor not turning off is much worse than not turning on, because if left running you could blow your fuse or even permanently damage your compressor because it is being forced to work much harder than it was designed to, therefore pulling much more power from your battery. Once you disconnect the battery, the next and final step would be to replace your pressure switch. Fortunately, replacing your pressure switch is easy and doesn’t cost very much. Below are some of the common pressure switches that are direct replacements for the ones we use in our horn kits and onboard air systems.  

Tank Will Not Hold Pressure

If you notice that your tank is not holding or losing pressure, the most common cause is, of course, a leak. So, the first thing you want to do is a soapy water test. What is a soapy water test? If you have a small leak, you may not be able to see or hear where it is coming from. The best way to find the leak is to fill a spray bottle with water and a little bit of soap and spray down your system.

Anywhere that you see bubbles start to appear will be the location that your leak is coming from. Make sure you spray around any and all connections, such as the ports on your tank and where your air line connects. Also, make sure your drain cock is closed (you may have just forgot to tighten it back up after the last time you drained your tank).

If you don’t find any leaks on your system, the leak may be coming from your compressor (which you wouldn’t be able to detect with a soapy water test). Check the near the filter of your compressor to see if you can feel any air coming out of the filter. Air is supposed to be sucked in, not blown out of the filter area, so if you notice any blowback, that is a good indication that either your compressor or check valve needs to be replaced

The check valve on your system is a fitting attached to the end of the metal hose (called the leader hose) that is attached to your compressor. It plumbs into your tank and is responsible for ensuring that air goes into your air tank and not back through your compressor. While it is much more common for you to over-torque your check valve and break it during installation, they may have to be replaced after a long period of time due to wear and tear. The easiest way to check to see if your check valve needs to be replaced is to blow in it. Seriously, if your check valve is broken it will let you blow air back into the leader hose. If it works, it won’t let any air through in that direction. If you check valve is working fine and you are still seeing blow-back from the compressor, unfortunately it may be time to replace the compressor.

Horns Aren't Sounding Right

Every air horn and train horn we sell is going to be a little different from the others, but there is some general troubleshooting that you can do if your horns don’t sound quite right.

The most common cause of horns not sounding right is moisture in the horns. If you hear them emit a higher pitch sound or a squeaking sound, usually it is just some moisture in the diaphragm. This can be easily rectified by simply blasting your horn! It may take you laying on it a little more than you would normally, but the best way to get water out of your horn is to blast it out! Other than that, just make sure your tank is drained as water could be getting to the horns through moisture in the air tank.

Horns still not sounding right? You could have something restricting your airflow. Make sure you check your air lines for kinks or leaks. Also, check to make sure your the valve for your horn is free of debris

Some horns, like the actual locomotive horns such as the Nathan AirChime Train Horns, have parts that are actually designed to be replaced over time. While they are made to withstand all kinds of inclement weather for decades, real train horns do need new diaphragms and cushions after years of use to keep them sounding brand new. We carry replacements for these parts if you happen to need them, so don’t worry if you do.

Lifetime Tech Support

Just remember that these tips are just in case you have any issues. You may never run across any of the issues we covered here, but if you do, just remember that in many cases its a quick easy fix and nothing to stress about. Your kit was built to last, so just like any automotive system, you may need to swap out your pressure switch eventually just like a fuel filter for your truck, but that's all part of long-term maintenance.

If you do happen to run across any issue that we didn’t cover in this blog, we are always happy to lend a hand! We can be reached by phone, email, and our online chat to answer any questions you may have and help you troubleshoot to fix any issues that you may come across.

HornBlasters Toll Free Number: 877-209-8179

HornBlasters Email: Support@Hornblasters.com