So, the other day I took a quick trip up to the Niagara Gorge at
Lewiston, and while I was there, I sounded the horns. It was pretty empty while I was there, but there were some people with dogs (who were supposed to be on lead, but weren’t), and a bunch of wildlife, so I didn’t want to go too wild with the horns.
The area is awesome, if you’ve never been there, as the Niagara River has carved the gorge with a constantly ‘advancing’ set of falls, of which our iconic Niagara Falls is only the latest version.
With the dramatic drop of the cut, you can see the whole stratigraphic column of the bedrock exposed.
But at any rate, here’s a clipped version (due to upload size restrictions) of the recording of both the air chimes and the Supertyfon. Enjoy!
The other sounding unit was the air horn. This was a massive cast aluminum fixture with three bells of varying lengths, producing three different notes. While several of the Leslie horns produced nice chords, the combination of horns chosen for the Conrail locomotives in the 1970’s produced a more discordant sound, likely to attract more attention. The Leslie SuperTyfon RS-3L is one of them, the horns producing the C, D#, and A notes.
The ‘S’ is for the SuperTyfon style of horns, the ‘R’ is for the the spike-backed chamber, which helped to make the horns more dependable and durable, the “3” indicates that the horn has three bells on the manfold, and the “L” indicates that the three bell combination for this horn is bells 25, 31, and 44 (C, D#, and A, respectively). Given that the spike-backed chambers were released in 1977, and the ones on this horn indicate that they are amongst the earliest runs or production, I’m guessing a late 1970’s-very early 1980’s construction for this horn.
When I got it from my father, it still retained some of the ‘Conrail blue’ paint, but so much was worn away that it looked rather shabby.
I decided to clean and repaint it, and started with a sand-blasting with the black diamond grit in my little air blaster.
The end result was really nice clean aluminum, and actually exposed the original plate manufacturer’s plate that had been painted over.
Since I was repainting it, I decided to be a little fancier than just giving it one color, deciding on a gloss bright red for the bell interiors and rims, and a gloss black for the rest of the unit. This went pretty well, with only a little crackling of the black paint where it went over the red, but I sanded this and put more coats of black on and minimized it considerably.
Installation here, though was more complex than for the chime, due to the fact that the horn had to be mounted up on the roof behind the first support, which meant that it would be under the metal ceiling and need a 90 degree barb fixture that would have to be put in place before the four bolts holding the manifold down could be put in place. Luckily, I was able to ply a friend with some homebrew and have him stand on the hood of the bus, holding the horn and wrenches in place while I worked from inside to secure things.
(This may sound like I was taking the easier job, but realize that only the front edge of the metal ceiling was loose and the area between it and the roof was full of yellow fiberglass insulation that the ceiling plate kept pushing up while I was trying to work in there. Plenty itchy work.)
Each of the four bolt-holes, as well as the air-line fixture were surrounded with the butyl around each of the holes. Once the barb fitting was in place, the stainless-steel bolts were fixed with a lock-washer and nut and cinched down. The soft air line was run to the horn, and after starting the bus and building pressure in the tank, I gave a very brief voicing of the chimes and the horns, so as not to annoy the neighbors.
Here’s the horn in place, all secured and hooked up inside.
Everything worked nicely, though I found a small leak in the hardline for the chime, so I popped off the soft line, moved the line so that I could remove the pipe from the leaking fitting, replace the Teflon tape on the threads and put it all back together. As of right now, it is working well and holding pressure as it should.