Airchime K5H

The picture illustrates a common arrangement of the horn bells, with the #2 and #4 bells reversed. In this configuration, the horn is designated a K5HR24. The "H" indicates the use of a high-profile manifold. The manifold places three horn bells over two, making the horn look somewhat top-heavy compared to the two-over-three configuration used on the M5 and P5. The K5H horn bells can also be mounted on a low-profile "L" manifold to give a K5L (see the K5LA for a picture of an "L" manifold). The sound is the same.

Side view of the K5HR24.

Front and rear views of an all-bells-forward K5H, courtesy Brent Lee. The K-series horns were introduced in 1954 as low-maintenance alternatives to the M-series, with a somewhat more pleasant tone than the brassy P-series. The K's were sold exclusively in Canada until the mid-1970's, when the K5's chord was modified to produce the K5LA for Amtrak. The optional "L" manifold was introduced at the same time, and horns with the older, high-profile manifold were redesignated K5H.

The K5H and K5L are used primarily by BC Rail in Canada. They were extremely rare on American railroads until the mid-1980's, when railroads such as CSX, Norfolk Southern, Southern Pacific, Chicago & North Western, and New York Susquehanna & Western received the K5H on a few orders of GE locomotives. The horns on the SP and CNW GE's have largely been replaced with three-chime horns. A few K5L horns have shown up on Amtrak locomotives.

Original factory tuning was: D# minor 6th (D#,F#,A#,C,D#).
Later horns tend to sound more of a half major/half minor chord.

Although the K5H and K5L are not common today on US railroads, they are still in common use in Canada and can still be purchased from Airchime.

K5H and K5L sound samples:

CSX Dash 8-40C and Dash 8-40CW:
Sample 1...157kB...7 seconds
Sample 2...291kB...13 seconds
Sample 3...606kB...28 seconds

Norfolk Southern Dash 8-32B:
Sample 1...655kB...30 seconds
Sample 2...560kB...26 seconds

Southern Pacific, various locomotives:
Sample 1...401kB...18 seconds
Sample 2...473kB...21 seconds

When bad things happen to good horns:

K5H with one bell squealing:
Sample 1...205kB...9 seconds

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