A Collection of Airhorns

Hancock Air Whistle

Hancock 4700 Air whistle. Although a diesel appliance, built like a steam whistle, sounding the chord of E, A, C#. The class one railroads that used them phased them out because they weren't loud enough, although many were found on short lines and industrial locomotives.

Hancock Air Whistle audio

Leslie Controls

Ed Kaspriske at Steamtown, Scranton, Pa. Holding on to a Leslie A-200 156, that he just rebuilt for the Nickel Plate Road GP-9 # 514 in the background.

Leslie A-200 audio

This RS-3L was modified by sectioning down the #25 bell to 19and a half inches to sound C. The #31 bell was sectioned down to 16 inches to sound D#, and the #44 bell has spacer pitch ring added to sound G#. Final chord: C, D#, G#.

Leslie RS-3L audio

Leslie S-3bj This is a rarely used application of Leslie, I remember seeing some on PRR. General Electric U series diesel's of the 1960's. sounding the chord of F#, A, C#. A high pitched minor triad. Some used the now obsolete "J" manifold, such as this one, also the diaphragm housings and back caps on this one are brass.

Leslie S-3BJ audio with Ed's naration

The Leslie S-3L once was the most common horn in North America. The chord,  B, D#, A. while not too pretty, got the job done as well as being a familiar sound on most railroad's in the United States.

Leslie S-3L audio

Leslie's answer to the Nathan M-5, the originals sounded the Nathan M-5 chord, later on Leslie settled on a Major B9th. chord, B, D#, F#, A, C#.

Leslie S-5T audio

Two "A" horns, This combination of a Leslie A-200 which sounds low D, and a Leslie A-125 which sounds A#, this combination was used on some of the first generation diesel locomotives as sort of a chime horn back in the 1930's and 1940's, before Robert Swanson invented the Airchime. Final chord: Low D, and A#.

Leslie AA audio


K-5h Airchime's original five chime "K-horn", tuned in the Canadian minor chord of D#, F#, A#, C, D#. This one is on the original "high mount" manifold.

Airchime K5H audio

K-5la Airchimes best seller, the most common horn in North America, sounding the chord of D#, F#, G#, B, D#. found on NS. CSX. Amtrak, most regional passenger lines locomotives.

Airchime K5LA audio

The Burnett M-5 was built in Canada, some what unique because it sounds the chord of C#, D#, F#, A#, C#.

Burnett M-5 audio

This variation of the M-3 has a modified #1 bell, used mainly by some of the eastern roads on their Alco RS-3 models, mounted on a shelf at the front of the cab roof to lower the horn for clearance restrictions. The #1 bell was tilted 10 degrees to clear the top of the cab roof and project the sound to the rear. Same chord as the M-3 C#, E, A. This variation also found its way on other locomotives as well.

Nathan M-3RT1 audio (same as Nathan M-3)

M-3 My very first horn acquired back in 1968 from a Pennsylvania RR. Baldwin S-12. The M-3's A Major chord, a mellow C#, E, A. has always been my favorite!

Nathan M-3 audio

M-3h Canadian version of the M-3 chord D#, F#, A#. Built and marketed by Burnett or Holden.

Nathan M-3H audio

Nathan M-5 This one sounds the chord of C#, E, G, A, C#. A 7th. Major chord.

Nathan M-5 audio

This P-5 was created by using a standard high mount (gull wing) manifold, using a 1st generation #1 bell (C#), a 2nd. generation #2 bell (F), a 3rd. generation #3 bell (G#), A 4a bell, available from Nathan (A#), and a 1st. generation #5 bell (C#) Final chord: C#, F, G#, A#, C#.

Nathan P-5M audio

Here is the Third Generation Nathan P-5. This horn has a known reputation for being the black sheep of all locomotive horns. Norfolk Southern used horns like this extensively before switching to the K5LA. The web master uses this horn every Halloween night to summon the dead from the local cemetary. It plays these notes: D, F, G#, A, C, the G#, and the A are at war with each other!

Before listening to the audio, make sure you point your speakers AWAY from the china cabinet, locate the nearest bathroom, and DON'T turn your speakers too far up! Ok, now you may push tha button.


Nathan P-7x, A standard first generation Nathan P-5 which plays the chord C#, E, G, A, C#. This has been modified by adding a 0 Bell, available from Nathan, which plays low A. Modifying a third generation #5 bell by removing on quarter inch from the bell to make it sound high E. Lastly, the #3 bell was modified by reaming out the diaphragm housing to make it sound F#. The manifold was also modified to accept the two additional bells. Final chord: A, C#, E, F#, A, C#, E.

Nathan P-7X audio


Prime 990 The Prime horn was sort of a direct copy of Leslie's products, although much sturdier built (my opinion) They are no longer manufactured, The Union Pacific, and the Burlington Northern used a lot of them. This one sounds the chord of D#, F#, A#.

Prime 990 audio


WABCO E2-B1 Westinghouse Airbrake CO. Entry into the chime horn. The center "E" series, along with two outer "B" series horns mounted on a plate (manifold) make up the chord of E, A, C. A deep rich steamboat sound! I remember them best on some of the Pennsylvania Railroad's first generation diesel power, and their experimental electrics from the 1950's.

Wabco E2-B1 audio

Note: This is only a small example of Ed Kaspriske's collection. Many more, as well as others, from other diesel air horn collectors can be found in Ed's videos, and audios.