The Ultimate Air Horn Customizing
Customizing, or personalizing, your motor home can take many shapes, sizes and sounds. If you’re adding air horns it may deliver all three. But the emphasis is on the sound if you are thinking of the ultimate train horns. They are so loud they will mask even a pair of Hadley air horns. So loud that you will need an override switch to disconnect them under some circumstances. They can be added to an existing diesel pusher’s air horn system or to a gas powered rig with the addition of a stand-alone air compressor.
So where do you get them? Though I’m sure there are several suppliers of these three horn bad boys, I got mine at The Great American Chrome Shop, in Florida. The units come complete with securing hardware and a 12 volt solenoid controlled air valve.
Newmar, and perhaps other coach builders, are installing the two normally roof mounted Hadley air horns behind the generator slide out in the front of their high line coaches. This is being done on their high line models from 2008 forward. I’m not sure why they moved them from the roof as I thought they looked pretty cool there. So this is the place that I installed the new additional set and they fit perfectly. I mounted them pointing down and slightly forward. That way the sound would have a clear path beneath the slide face to the pavement below the front cap. This was done on the left, or driver side, of the generator. This position happens to be directly in front of the standard fitted electric horn set and the pneumatic solenoid valve that supplies the roof mounted units.
For ease of installation, I choose to plumb the air valve with an air line plugged into the forward quick disconnect. This would also allow me to instantly disable the entire unit should the valve fail in any way. The Newmar diesel pushers are equipped with a dash switch that is wired to by-pass the roof mounted air horns if needed. Therefore in the standard factory wiring configuration, the automotive type electric horns are the default with the roof air horns selectable to operate in addition. For this I choose to disconnect the electric horns and reconnect those to the terminals on the roof horn actuation valve. To do this I had already removed the wires that originally went to the roof horn valve and routed them to the valve that operates the train horns. Now the dash switch could be used to enable or disable the train horn set and the new default would be the Hadley roof mounted horns.
Well, then came the test. I first blew the horn with the air horn by-pass switch in the off position. It worked in the manner I had set it up, only the roof mounted Hadley’s droned out their deep throated blast. Now, with the switch on, I again activated the horn. Wow! In a deafening tri-tone blast, the train horns masked even the Hadley’s, which were also trumpeting to the best of their ability. It was then that I realized the by-pass switch was a must as these were far too loud to use on any city or town street. They were definitely so loud one would only attempt to use them out on the highway. I had heard a rumor that some states had banned the use of these “Bad Boys”, and I certainly could believe it. If you ever pulled the trigger when near a railroad crossing, the traffic would surely slam their brakes on and look bewildered.
Well, never mind the law. Believe it or not, my dog will not allow me to use them. At least without getting so frightened that she will shake for an hour or so and will not get back in the coach. Now that is really saying something. Mysty, our Wire Haired Fox Terrier, is not afraid of anything. Whether it is loud thunder, high cranked volume of surround sound or just about anything else, she is not disturbed. There are only two sounds she can not deal with, loud motorcycles and now, the train horns.
So, anyway, that’s the story on the train horn project. It was fun planning it, it was fun installing them, and it was super fun testing them. If you’re looking for an add-on project for your coach, go for it. And just remember where you HEARD IT!
Just Blowing My Own Horn, - Lug_Nut - Peter Mercer