Get Loud; Installing Kleinn Air Horns' Biggest Train Horn Kit on a Chevrolet Colorado
Make Some Noise
Stock horns on new trucks are adequate at most. Many of them aren’t even loud enough to get a person’s attention—especially if they are preoccupied with something else. Today’s vehicles have super-quiet interiors and numerous electronic distractions, so many drivers don’t even notice exterior noises like honking horns. If they do, few truly pay attention. So when a motorist’s failure to react to a warning honk from the blasé stock horn on our ’16 Chevrolet Colorado nearly resulted in disaster, we knew a change was necessary.
After consulting with a representative from Kleinn Air Horns about the company’s different horn systems, we opted for Kleinn’s Slimline kit for our midsize Colorado.
Upon examining the components in the large box that arrived weeks later, we discovered we received the HK9-Slimline Triple Train Horn kit, which is actually the biggest, loudest locomotive-horn setup Kleinn offers. While calling the horn package “slim” is a bit of a stretch in our opinion, there’s no denying it’s perfect for getting the attention of drivers, pedestrians, and anything else that needs to be aware of your presence. (And, in fairness to Kleinn, bolting this kit on trucks and SUVs smaller than fullsize pickups is exactly what developers had in mind when they named the system).
Now, with that being said, it’s important for you to understand that while train/air horns are “cool,” they really should be used primarily as a warning or alert that will hopefully avert an accident or other malady. We would be remiss if we didn’t note that per the trainhorn.us website, installing and using such systems on passenger vehicles is illegal in various areas of the U.S. and may result in fines or failed vehicle registration. Seriously, blaring any loud horn system irresponsibly—such as to startle senior citizens in crosswalks or awaken quiet neighborhoods in the wee hours of the morning—isn’t funny or cool at all.
Thankfully, shows and events held at venues where blasting train horns isn’t just condoned, it’s encouraged, are major elements of the diesel-truck scene (there may even be loudness competitions for the accessories). All we want to stress is that it’s important to use good judgment with your train horns, as not doing so could end up being embarrassing…and expensive…even hazardous.
While we acknowledge the rules, we still loaded everything into the back of the Colorado and took a drive to Gear Driven Automotive in Northridge, California, where Saul “The Surgeon” Gutierrez helped us install the big horns on the small truck. Given the size of the system, we knew it would not be a simple bolt-on procedure. But Saul made it happen, and our 2.8L Duramax-powered Colorado now packs 158.8-decibel train horns that, when used for our primary intention (as a warning signal), will hopefully avert potential disasters that could result from a stock horn that simply wasn’t heard.
Getting a train-horn kit installed on a vehicle with limited space requires test-fitting the trumpets and air tank in a few different locations.
After trying to find a suitable location for the trumpets, Sal determined it’s best the horns be removed from their original mounting bracket and positioned individually about the undercarriage for better fitment. In this photo, Tim “Poppy” Roberts handles the disassembly on the workbench, while Saul works beneath the truck to determine where each trumpet will work the best. From largest to smallest, the HK9 horn kit’s Demon 730 trumpets measure 18.25 inches, 14.75 inches, and 10.5 inches.
For our unconventional Chevrolet Colorado installation, mounting the 3-gallon “slim” air tank requires custom brackets, which Saul fabricates using metal straps.
Once the holes are drilled, Saul measures and fits the tank on the bracket. Threaded bolts are used like studs to secure the tank.
Saul performs a final check to confirm everything fits properly. Concerns about how close the tank is to the exhaust led Saul to modify the bracket to raise the tank away from the heat.
Nutserts are used in the body sheetmetal to create a solid mounting point for two of the trumpets.
The relay’s power wire runs along the frame up into the engine bay. The wire is covered with split loom, attached to a power source, and secured along the firewall for a clean finish. The inline fuse is mounted next to the 12-volt provider for convenience.
All the wiring for the horn button, control valve, and Sniper are spliced together and covered with split loom, then the Sniper’s control box is plugged in and tucked behind the kick panel, out of sight.
Drilling a hole in one of the plastic floor plugs under the carpet allows Saul to cleanly run the wiring for the control valve and relay outside of the vehicle. A rubber grommet is installed in the hole before the wires are passed through to ensure the wires do not get chafed. The hole is then covered with duct tape to seal it.
The horns can be activated two ways. They can be honked with the dash button or triggered any time (within 200 feet of the truck) using the Sniper key fob.