Get Loud; Installing Kleinn Air Horns' Biggest Train Horn Kit on a Chevrolet Colorado

Make Some Noise

John Lehenbauer
Apr 17, 2018
Photographers: John Lehenbauer
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.
Photo 2/42   |   Saul “The Surgeon” Gutierrez of Gear Driven Automotive mounts our ’16 Chevrolet Colorado on a twin-post hoist for easy access to the truck’s chassis, where Kleinn Air Horns’ train-horn system is being installed.
Photo 3/42   |   Kleinn’s HK9-Slimline Triple Train Horn Kit is laid out on the workbench to make sure all the needed parts are present. The HK9-Slimline setup is universal and includes the Demon Model 730 Triple Train Horn set, a high-performance air valve, 150-psi submersible air compressor (that’s right, it’s waterproof), 3-gallon slim-design air tank (the standard HK9 set comes with a 5-gallon tank), pressure switch, nylon tubing, brass fittings, and a horn button. A tire-inflation kit with a 35-foot coiled air hose, chuck, and connectors is also part of the package. Our kit includes the optional “Sniper,” a remote-control actuator for the horns.
Photo 4/42   |   The midsize Colorado definitely does not have many clear-cut areas for mounting large XCR 2.0 spun-steel trumpets, an air tank, and compressor. The air-tank’s slim design offers more mounting options on small and midsize rigs.
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.
Photo 10/42   |   After figuring out where to mount the horns, Tim gets to work mounting them. He starts by drilling and tapping the framerail for the medium-length (14.75-inch) trumpet.
For our unconventional Chevrolet Colorado installation, mounting the 3-gallon “slim” air tank requires custom brackets, which Saul fabricates using metal straps.
Photo 13/42   |   The air-tank bracket is positioned and index marks (for holes that will be drilled to mount the assembly) are made in the appropriate locations on the crossmember.
Once the holes are drilled, Saul measures and fits the tank on the bracket. Threaded bolts are used like studs to secure the tank.
Photo 16/42   |   Kleinn Air Horns HK9 Slimeline Drill Crossmember
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.
Photo 19/42   |   Kleinn Air Horns HK9 Slimeline Painted Tank Bracket
Photo 20/42   |   Kleinn Air Horns HK9 Slimeline Tank Mounting Sal
Nutserts are used in the body sheetmetal to create a solid mounting point for two of the trumpets.
Photo 23/42   |   It’s a tight fit, but the big trumpets are mounted solidly.
Photo 24/42   |   The Colorado’s passenger-side framerail is a good location for mounting the Kleinn system’s air compressor. Keeping the unit out of water’s path isn’t a concern, as it’s fully immersible.
Photo 25/42   |   Placing the compressor next to the tank makes plumbing them together easy. Saul installs the pressure switch, blow-off valve, and fittings in the tank and starts routing the plastic air line.
Photo 26/42   |   The air valve’s electronic actuator is disassembled and Saul installs two wires to ground the valve and connect it to the horn button. He also installs the compression fittings for the plastic tube.
Photo 27/42   |   The air valve was plumbed and mounted to the framerail. One of the plastic lines attached to the valve goes to the tank, the other to the horns.
Photo 28/42   |   With the valve secured, Saul starts wiring the train-horn system. The relay next to the valve uses the air tank’s pressure switch in conjunction with a keyed 12-volt source to supply power to the compressor.
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.
Photo 31/42   |   Saul removes the lower dash panel to find a good spot for the horn button.
Photo 32/42   |   The low-profile button is mounted in the lower-left corner of the panel before being wired.
Photo 33/42   |   A circuit tester is used to find the ignition-hot and continuous 12 volts needed for the Sniper remote-activation system, which is an option for Kleinn horn systems that makes blasting the trumpets from up to 200 feet away possible. The Sniper’s two separate power sources allow it to be programmed to activate the horns any time or only when the ignition is on. We chose to allow the horn to be used whenever desired (as long as there is air in the tank).
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.
Photo 38/42   |   After the wires are fed through the floor, they are routed along the frame and connected to the air valve and relay.
Photo 39/42   |   Once all the wiring is completed, all the interior panels are reinstalled.
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.
Photo 42/42   |   The Kleinn Air Horns HK9-Slimline Triple Train Horn system is definitely loud. Our ears were ringing for a long time after testing the horns inside the shop.

Sources

Kleinn Automotive Air Horns
Tucson, AZ 85752
520-579-1531
http://www.kleinn.com
Gear Driven Automotive
818-678-6500
www.geardrivenautomotive.com

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