Robert Swanson founded Airchime Ltd out of his British Columbia home making custom steam whistles.
There are a ton of horns that claim to be train horns out there, but there is no other horn out there that has the history, the size and the VOLUME of a Nathan Airchime Train Horn. The Train Horn of choice by railroad companies for decades, trusted to keep their conductors and their haul safe, is now available to install on your ride!
Nathan AirChime Train Horns have been ruling the rails for longer than most of us have been alive. In 1953, Canadian manufacturer Airchime Ltd refined its Nathan Truck Horn to be used on locomotives. The end result was the very first P-style Train Horns, also known as “The President’s Whistle”. The Nathan AirChime P-Horn took the rails by storm with its incredible volume, lower manufacturing cost, and little-to-no maintenance. The P-Horn has gone through many different changes over the years, with the three-chime P3 and the five-chime P5 being the most commonly seen today.
Shortly after the P-Horn’s introduction, the K- series horns made their debut in 1954. The K-Horn originally had a higher pitch than the P-horns and came in three chimes and five chime versions named the K3H and the K5H, respectively.
Back then, the “H” stood for “High Pitch”, though nowadays the “H” stands for “High Bracket” with the K5L having the ‘L” designator to indicate a “Low Bracket” style. Robert Swanson, who had designed both horns believed the K-Horn to be the superior horn, the P-Horn being the cheaper alternative.
In the 1970s, Amtrak wanted to bring the classic K-Horn to America's rails. While they loved the overall sound, they decided they wanted American train horns to be lower in pitch, altering the K5H from it’s original D# minor 6th chord to a much brighter and cheerier B Major 6th. Around the same time, AirChime had designed a new low profile bracket to mount the horns on. With the new tuning and lower bracket, the K5LA was born, the “L” standing for “Low Bracket” and the “A” to designate American tuning. By the 1980s, the K5LA was the most popular horn used around the world and remains so to this day.