• Loudness of horns

  • General discussion about railroad operations, related facilities, maps, and other resources.
General discussion about railroad operations, related facilities, maps, and other resources.

Moderator: Robert Paniagua

  by dummy
does anyone know if the air horns on locomotives are all around the same dbs? it seems some are louder than others. i know some are a different pitch. are all of them even air powered? some electric?
  by Otto Vondrak
This question is not specific to New York State, moved to Railroad Operations and Facilities Forum
  by DutchRailnut
Horns normally produce a sound level exceeding the minimum set by the FRA



Subpart C_Safety Requirements

Sec. 229.129 Locomotive horn.

(a) Each lead locomotive shall be equipped with a locomotive horn
that produces a minimum sound level of 96 dB(A) and a maximum sound
level of 110 dB(A) at 100 feet forward of the locomotive in its
direction of travel. The locomotive horn shall be arranged so that it
can be conveniently operated from the engineer's usual position during
operation of the locomotive.
(b)(1) Each locomotive built on or after September 18, 2006 shall be
tested in accordance with this section to ensure that the horn installed
on such locomotive is in compliance with paragraph (a) of this section.
Locomotives built on or after September 18, 2006 may, however, be tested
in accordance with an acceptance sampling scheme such that there is a
probability of .05 or less of rejecting a lot with a proportion of
defectives equal to an AQL of 1% or less, as set forth in 7 CFR part 43.
  by roadster
many factors cause a simular horn to sound differently, glogged feed line, glogged or partially pluged horn bells, worn/danaged reeds and so forth. RR's which have over the years merged with other companys with different equipment integrated into the fleet, changing suppliers over the years, upgraded manufactorers specs as newer equipment becomes available.
  by NYCRRson
Funny RR Horn story, My dad was called in the wintertime for an eastbound freight out of Frontier Yard (Buffalo, NY). Before departing he tests the horn on the lead unit, nothing!! He sends the fireman out to see if it was stuffed with snow (could happen in a WNY blizzard). The report, no horn exists on the lead unit.

So he reports the facts to the dispatcher, what's the solution? Callout another Engineer to ride in the second unit to be a whistle blower for the trip !! Apparently they thought that was quicker/cheaper than turning the units for the trip ? The fireman is not allowed to blow the whistle (at least back then when they still had firemen).

Cheers, Kevin
  by locobill
The FRA has standards for db levels. Something like 100 db measured 100 feet in front of the loco in the center of the track 3 feet above the ground.
I know from experience, that horns on industrial locos such as in steel mills, etc. vary greatly. They usually use whatever is available if a horn needs to be replaced, usually air powered. One place I worked got constant complaints from the houses next door about the engines idling and the horns. Then why did they move next to a steel mill ?
The houses are only about 80 feet from the steel mill property.
  by 2nd trick op
I'm not sure if there's a reason behind this, or if I'm imagining things, but air horns of the present day seem a lot more fine-tuned as far the direction of the blast; that is, they don't seem as loud if you're not directly in front of the train (or at least on a very narrow angle from it. I don't remember that as the case when I was a youngster,

And having spent three years living very close to a couple of graded crossings on an NS main line, I've gotten plenty of exposure.
  by Gadfly
Charlotte, NC has a transit system that has horns. and very loud. Funny thing is, they sound like a WHISTLE instead of a horn! They 'trail off" like the old steam whistles did. They do the job, but it's just unusual to hear one sound like that these days. I wonder if some railbuff in charge of things caused that. :wink:

  by JBlaisdell
I long for the days of a Hancock Air Whistle on an FL-9 as it blew for the crossing at Chelsea, a couple miles south of New Hamburg on the Hudson River. I would sometimes hang out at the draw bridge over Wappingers Creek for the evening commuter rush. First you'd hear the wistle, then the train would come into view downriver. Then it would enter the signal block for the bridge interlocking and a warning bell would sound on the tower. The train would round the bend and cross the bridge, brakes smoking, before stopping at the station just beyond. A brief stop, then two quick toots and on to Poughkeepsie.

Hearing the mellow sound of the Hancock floating up the river was always enjoyable.