Top 10 Train Horn Questions Answered! September 30, 2013
Any modification to your truck can be nerve-wracking if you’re new to the customization world, but installing something made for a train can sound almost impossible! It might seem this way but in reality this can’t be farther from the truth. There are some basics you need to know when using a train horn on your truck and some common questions that usually come up. Below is a list of the top ten questions people have about installing, upgrading, and using train horns. 10. What is the Best PSI to Run a Train Horn At? This depends on a few elements. First, you need to know what PSI rating the horns you are using operate at. The standard PSI is normally 120-150 PSI. Any more pressure and the tone of the horn will change and can possibly even be quieter! The important thing here is to follow the ratings on the equipment you have and don’t go over the rating of any individual piece of your setup. 9. What is the Best Tank Size? This depends on the number of horns and PSI rating of the horns. For a standard three-horn setup, a 1.5-gallon tank will suffice, but ideally 2-gallon tanks are the best. This gives you enough air to give a few good blasts before the tank starts to refill. If you’re using true train horns like a Nathan or a Leslie, you want to look in the 5-gallon tank size range or larger. These are the big boys of the horn world and need a LOT of air to function correctly. For the standard kit you will buy and install yourself, 1.5-2 gallons is just fine. 8. What do Duty Cycle and CFM mean? Duty cycle refers to the percentage of run time in a full cycle. If you add up rest time to run time of a compressor, you get its full cycle. For a train horn compressor you really don’t need anything above 30%, as you don’t drive around blasting the horn constantly. CFM is an abbreviation that stands for Cubic Feet per Minute. This refers to the amount of air produced by the compressor at a specific PSI (Pound per Square Inch). 7. Is There a Break-In Period For New Compressors? There is no need to break-in a new compressor. Ideally when you first turn a compressor on you should turn it up to the PSI you want it to run at regularly and allow it to fill the tank up. This way, you can immediately check for leaks and faults. 6. Can I Mount A Compressor Sideways? You can mount a compressor in basically any direction except for upside-down, and even that is only due to heat rising and causing problems. Compressors are made to run in any direction, so don’t worry about the way it is facing. 5. What About Leaks? Just like with anything pressurized, leaks happen. The best way to check for leaks in a pressurized air system is with lightly soapy water. Mix up some dish soap in a bowl of water and use a towel to cover fittings with the liquid. If it bubbles and grows larger bubbles, you know you have a leak. No growing bubbles mean you’re good to go. 4. Where Can I Mount My Compressor? This really depends on the vehicle you are using and on the compressor itself. You need to make sure it is mounted in a safe place that has airflow and that it is secure. The other factor here is whether the compressor is sealed or not. A sealed compressor can withstand dust and moisture where a non-sealed compressor cannot. Check the instruction manual and with the manufacturer to find out if your compressor is sealed or not. This is vital to the longevity of your train horn system. Also, a note is is that mounting the compressor outside and violate the manufacturers warranty. 3. Should I Use Metal or Plastic Horns? There is little to no sound difference between quality metal and ABS horns. ABS horns are better if you’re mounting under a vehicle since they are impervious to salt, but if you’re mounting the horns in plain sight, metal are definitely the best mainly because they look better. Either way, it’s all a matter of preference. 2. Where Should The Horns Be Mounted? The most common place for mounting train horns in a truck is under the truck on the frame. This allows for a clean looking install and a secure place to mount the horns. Make sure you mount the horns slightly downward, facing backwards so any water accumulation drains out. Depending on the size of your truck, these can be mounted behind a grille as well, or even on the roof. Roof mounting can cause issues with leakage, however, so it is the most difficult to get right. 1. Can I keep My Old Horn? You can 100% keep your original horn installed and in fact, it is usually recommended. You don’t want to use a train horn to let a little old lady know she needs to stop backing up, but if you get stuck somewhere the train horn is perfect to let your friends find you. Both horns serve a purpose and should both stay installed if at all possible. Train horn kits come with activation buttons you can install on your dash so activating the train horn is just as simple as hitting your factory horn. Wrap-Up That’s just a sampling of the questions that come up in regard to train horns. These can be fun and life-saving additions to an off-road or custom truck and are not as hard to install and use, as you would imagine. With video tips and detailed instructions, getting a pre-made kit is the best option possible to get you going with a train horn for your truck.