Train Horn Guide

 

Some Words of Advice about Train Horn Kits

Here at HornBlasters, we are proud of the train horn kits we sell. We pay a lot of attention to detail and have created some of the most powerful train horn kits ever made.

Buying a train horn can be very confusing these days as there are a lot of websites lacking important and sometimes accurate information. We want to help take away this confusion by bringing up some key issues. (In parenthesis, we will note which topics are specific to some of the websites you have visited.)

Key Features of HornBlasters Horns

  • HornBlasters train horns are of the finest quality. On top of being virtually indestructible, they are covered with an amazing limited lifetime warranty.
  • They also feature stainless-steel diaphragms which not only resist the elements but endure the harshest of high-pressure conditions.
  • The tuning of our horns is musically accurate. Each horn is tuned to a specific note and is accurate to 1 Hz. Our horn kits play easily recognizable, authentic locomotive chords.
  • Our horns must all pass inspection in an anechoic chamber before leaving our factory. 
  • HornBlasters Shocker XL Train Horns are hand-tuned using a set-screw on the back of each bell to insure musical accuracy.
  • All HornBlasters kits feature DOT/SAE J10/ASME spec. air line and fittings. These rugged American safety standards not only ensure your safety but also reflect the durability of these kits.
  • Our kits feature standard pipe threading and line sizes. This means you won’t have any trouble finding parts at any American hardware store. All ports and fittings are standard National Pipe Thread(NPT) sizes. We don’t use Asian or proprietary standards.
  • The air valves and air compressors we use are brand name and of the highest quality. We don’t need to use any kind of boiler-plate advertising to tell you that the Viair air compressors used in our kits are the industry-leading onboard air compressor or that the valves we use are simply overkill for use with train horns or that Air Zenith compressors carry the best warranty in their industry. There are many more, but you get the point: the brands do it for us.
  • We do not use any generic parts in our kits. Everything used is both of the highest quality and hand-selected to be used in our kit. We won’t swap any parts for cheap, generic alternatives.
  • Our train horn kits are satisfaction guaranteed and covered by warranty. We cover both the horns and the air system.

We recommend reading this page before you buy, but if you want a quick summary (TL;DR if you want to call it that) then jump to the independent third party train horn decibel tests below;

About HornBlasters

Our company was founded to design, produce, and sell the best train horn kits possible. This is exactly what we do. Our company started in Tampa Bay, Florida and has been providing quality train horn kits with first-class customer service since 2003.

We are not a fly-by-night company. We have been around for years and have focused our time and attention on building the highest quality, best performing, and most satisfying products possible. (We also provide the best customer service we possibly can!)

We are the industry leader of train horn kits and are proud to use our years of experience, research and development to bring you the best train horn kits available today.

Imitation Train Horns

Most train horns available on the internet, and indeed some that we carry (some of our value Outlaw product line), are not much more than glorified air horns.

If you’re looking for something authentic and properly tuned, we recommend looking at our Shocker and Nathan product lines. This product line features American-made authentic train horns from HornBlasters and Nathan AirChime.

These horns are authentic and superior to all Chinese made air horns for many reasons.

Typically a generic train horn is coated in chrome. In fact, there are no real train horns with a chrome finish. This telltale sign warns you that you’re looking at an imported, normally low-quality, horn.

These horns normally feature plastic diaphragms which easily warp, bend, and even crack after limited use. Without the strength of stainless steel diaphragms, these horns will go out of tune (not that they were exactly in tune, to begin with) and have a short lifespan.

Generic air horns are also normally very inefficient on air. This means you’ll waste your tank in no time and for only nominal noise.

Claims to Greatness

If you’ve been looking around on the internet for train horns, you’ve probably noticed people saying that they have "the loudest train horn ever made" or something along the lines of that. If these individuals aren’t even selling real train horns, but generic Chinese imported horns, then it shouldn’t take you long to deduce that they lie as much as politicians.

We actually stock real train horns, used on locomotives, and any of these authentic horns will blow imitation horns out of the water.

We’ve seen some claim that their horns are louder because they have bigger flares or a larger valve. These claims are as garbage as the horns the competition is selling. Take our Shocker XL Train Horns which have "only a 6" flare" and they don’t just dominate over Chinese horns, they straight up destroy them. Why? Because the flare and length of a horn decide how deep the horn is, not how loud it is. The longer and wider a horn is, the deeper; the shorter and narrower, the more high pitched. That said, Shocker horns are designed in length to sound deep just like an AirChime P3. (Oh and our Shocker XL kits use 1/2" valves, not 1/4".)

MISLEADING MEDIA

lot of websites are posting videos of train horns now. The only thing is, most of them: a) aren’t made by the people selling horns (we can presume that fly-by-night companies don’t want to invest time and money into video production, so it’s easier to steal other people’s videos) and b) aren’t even of the same products they’re trying to sell!

This is a sad state of affairs! This is why we publish our own series of videos and only reference ones from customers. Our videos are heavily branded to prevent thievery from companies who don’t sell our horns and we take copyright infringement seriously.

We’ve been around for a long time and seen companies come and go, and lies morph and morph. Be careful with any sound clip or video you watch. If it doesn’t come from a reliable source or isn’t even of the same product, you might be getting played.

Generic Air Compressors

Some air systems sold online are about as durable as a cupcake in a blender. These systems usually feature no-name air pumps that are notoriously loud, awkwardly slow, and prone to failure.

These pumps normally don’t include any kind of warranty which is a huge indication of their quality. These pumps are usually poorly balanced resulting in excess vibration and extremely loud operation. Also, they normally lack a check valve, placing excess strain on the piston. These both heavily attribute to the lifespan of the pump.

These pumps also do not normally include any kind of voltage protection and draw an unsafe amount of current at voltage spikes or shortages. This coupled with their inefficient, and thus excessively hot motors, make for a very hazardous piece of electrical equipment which could possibly cause damage to your vehicle and potentially void your factory warranty. Trying to save money by buying an inexpensive air horn kit can potentially cost you thousands.

Generic Air Valves

It seems that air valves receive the most buzzwords of any part of a train horn kit. A lot of people like to boast about how their in-house brand valve is better than a generic ‘knock-off’. We’d like to point out that it’s very unlikely that someone would make a ‘knock-off’ of a no-name brand.

In-store brands are rarely anything of quality. This is why we stick to name brand valves that are used in the most strenuous pneumatic applications. Our valves, Air Lift, SMC, and E-air have been tried and tested by the air suspension community and are complete overkill.

High Pitch Horns

At least one other site you looked at is selling very small, high pitched air horns as “train horns”. These horns can be quite loud, but they won’t produce the bass note that is reminiscent of a real train. Some sellers even pride these horns on the bass they produce which is very misleading.

We advertise these types of horns as “Air Horns” as they should be.

Low-Volume Air Systems

Some sellers offer extremely low-volume air setups with their horns. These setups can be so limited that the horn dies down almost immediately. The sellers of these types of systems often use liters instead of gallons to mislead their customers into thinking they are getting more than they actually are.

Inaccurate Frequency Ratings

Inaccurate frequency ratings are also common on the internet. A typical bass train horn is in the range of 277-494hz (C# (3rd)–B (4th)).

The Nathan AirChime K-series (most popular authentic train horns) are in the range of 311-622hz. Most high-pitch small size horns are in the 740-1975hz range. Claims of extra-low hertz ratings like 150hz should be taken with a grain of salt. A sound at 150hz isn’t even a musical note, which clearly shows the horn is not tuned or the rating is inaccurate (probably both).

Inaccurate Decibel Ratings

Inaccurate decibel ratings are a sore subject among train horn buyers and sellers. That said we won’t dabble much in the matter other than to point out the obvious. The loudest train horns you can buy are actual train horns used on locomotives. These horns are made by Nathan AirChime, Leslie, and formerly Wabco, Hancock, and Prime.

There is no such thing as a 160+ decibel horn. There is also no such thing as a train horn kit that increases in decibels when you add a compressor or tank. Some of the information available just doesn’t seem quite right.

2014 Update: Third Party Testing

In 2014 a third party tested the majority of our horns as well as some of our competitors. The findings were not that surprising, but worth taking a look at before you purchase. Below are data graphs of various train horns and their true decibel ratings. The full train horn video review can be found on DJD Labs website.

Decibel ratings at 3ft (click to enlarge)

Decibel ratings at 100ft (click to enlarge)

Lack Of Contact Information

We’ve noticed a lot of people don’t post a public phone number on their website. We consider this a bad thing for many reasons. A few would be that if you have any questions regarding your order, installation, replacement parts, or even just sales advice, you’re going to have a hard time getting a hold of anyone.

Here at HornBlasters, we have a 24-hour contact phone number so you can call and talk to a real person. We employ a friendly staff of experts who can handle any questions you may have.

Complicating Things

Lastly, we have seen a lot of over-complication with air horns.

We’ve read, on numerous sites, some instruction guidelines telling the user to run the compressor only to half pressure before letting it cool down, then to run it again after 15 minutes and repeat the process before using the horn.

This is ridiculous! Quality air systems, like the ones we use, can fill up the included air tank without any rest, and in just minutes. Cutting costs on your air system can take all the fun out of using the horn.

Misleading Photos

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. This might be true, but that doesn’t mean those thousand words you hear aren’t lies. We’ve noticed all over the Internet that some people prefer to fabricate product photos instead of bothering with taking a genuine photo. They simply cut and paste separate photos of the items they sell all into one picture.

Doesn’t sound so bad, right? Wrong! When people do this they ruin the proportions: all of a sudden something measuring 3 inches is as big as something measuring 10 inches. This can be pretty deceiving and we can’t tell you if it's intentional or not, but we can tell you it's definitely happening!

In comparison, our photos are all taken in our studio and every train horn kit we sell is laid out independently so you can see exactly how it will look before you buy.

CO2 Tanks

Do you really love paintballing? Well, you should if you’re the proud owner of a 20lb CO2 tank, but some people like selling them with train horns. Now honestly, it will work but there are some things you should know about it before you buy.

If someone says it is a 1,000 PSI train horn kit: this isn’t exactly true. The tank might hold 1,000 PSI, but it has to be regulated down to 150 PSI or so to be used. So is this going to be any louder than a normal 150 PSI kit? Not really, but you will be able to honk for a little longer to drain from 1,000 PSI to empty.

This could be a viable solution for you, but you also should know that you will have to pay someone to refill your tank up to 1,000 PSI using a CO2 machine (like you would to fill up your paintball tanks or kegerator). If you don’t feel like paying for this every time, then you can refill it with a shop or gas station compressor leaving you with a few gallons of 150 PSI air and having to stop to refill every couple of honks.

PVC Tanks

The first thing that came to mind when I saw this online was a news article a few years ago about a kid getting seriously hurt by a pipe bomb he made and then charged with terrorism. Okay, clearly that isn’t what you’re going to be doing but there’s a reason people use this kind of tubing to make bombs: it's cheap and disposable! PVC tubing is designed to hold water at about 50-70 PSI when plumbed around your house. Do you really trust it to hold up under 120-200 PSI that you need to honk your horns? We wouldn’t.

There’s also a reason air tanks are usually made from thick steel (you know the same material they use in constructing 200 story skyscrapers) and that’s because it’s strong; strong enough to hold not only a stable working pressure but a burst rating much higher. e.g. We sell tanks that are rated to hold 300 PSI stable and a burst of 800 PSI without being damaged. Safety is incredibly important!

Another concern of yours might be the lifespan of your purchase. More than likely these PVC pipe tanks won’t last that long. At least you know you can run to the local hardware store and build yourself another one.