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Train Horn Chords ~

Train pictures from the rail yard at The Railroad Museum of Oklahoima ~ 702 N. Washington ~ Enid, Oklahoma

Nathan H5 train horn Frisco 1519 ~ Railroad Museum of Oklahoma

In case you want to play Chatanooga ChooChoo or something like it ~ you never know when you'll need some reference on what chords make a good train horn, so here you go ~

The Hexatone H6 was developed in 1948 and 1949 by Robert E Swanson ~ sounded C D# F# A C and D#, designed by Swanson
using ancient Chinese musical theory

The H5 was the first horn ever built in any large production number by AirChime, and also holds the distinction of the world's first 5-chime horn. It has five bells, and Swanson's original tuning was C# D# F# A andC#. Basically a five-note version of an H6. As on the H6, the bell lengths on the H5 could be adjusted to change the pitch of each bell, fixed in place with a bronze lock nut.

Some common chords produced by H5s were A Major 6th (C# E F# A C#), A7 (C# E G A C#),
C# dim7 (C# E G A# C#), and others N3 and M3, plays the same chord - C# E and A


J3 Snowplow Whistle ~ was a short-lived model ~ designed for use on Canadian snow plows.
It blows a D# minor chord

Some early model Leslie ~ Tyfon horn combinations ~
B, C#, F
C#, F, A
A#, C#, F
D#, B, F
B, C#, F, A
B, C#, D#, F, A
D#, B, C#, F, A
A#, C#, D#, F, A
In 1976, Deane Ellsworth, who was working with Amtrak at the time, worked with Nathan to produce a new model of P horn. This horn became known as the P5a, with the 'a' for Amtrak tuning. The original P5 blew A7 (C# E G A C#), whereas the new P5a blew C# dim7 (C# E G A# C#).

In 1977, a major change hit the P-series horn line. Nathan contracted out to at least two other foundries to cast their P horn bells. When this was done, new castings were created for the P horns, which unfortunately did not remain true to the AirChime specs. The new bells had different throat lengths and flares, and so the pitches on the bells were different, even though the lengths of the bells are identical! The 1, 2, and 3 bell sound approximately a half-step too high, and the 5 bell sounds a half step too low. The rest of the bells remain unchanged in pitch. The resulting "new cast" P5s play D F G# A C, which is no distinguishable musical chord.

That's enough ~ enjoy ~ David
excerpts from ~ trainhorns.net ~ various pages
Visit the make/model links on the left to find audio clips on the respective pages