Leslie S-5T

S-5T is a shorthand designation for any Leslie 5-chime Supertyfon horn that uses the #25, 31, 37, 44, and 55 bells (the "T" chord). The actual model designation of a given horn may have additional prefixes and suffixes as follows.


R=improved horn bells with spiked back caps


O=some bells have swapped locations on manifold
     relative to the standard arrangement
F=full openings in orifice dowel pins
R=one bell reversed (turned backward)
RR=two bells reversed

The horn pictured is an S-5T-RRO, with the #31 and 55 bells reversed. Left to right, the bells are #37, 55, 25, 44, and 31. The standard arrangement (i.e. an S-5T-R) would have the bells in exactly the opposite order. Another common arrangement has the #44 and #55 bells reversed. For the sake of simplicity, a horn with reversed bells is generally referred to as an S-5T-R.

Rear view of the S-5T-RRO.

The S-5T was introduced in the early 1950's as a replacement for the S-5D, and competition for the Nathan M5. As with the S-3L, the earliest S-5T's featured bronze power chambers and two-piece bells. The S-5T was a popular horn on Kansas City Southern, Illinois Central, MKT, Norfolk & Western, Frisco, and Chessie System. Santa Fe used the S-5T on most of its passenger diesels. Horn and photo courtesy Brent Lee.

Front and rear views of an all-bells-forward RS-5T. The RS power chambers with spiked back caps came about in the 1970's with the goal of making the horns less susceptable to fouling. RS-5T's tend to sound harsher and less musical than earlier S-5T's. Horn and photos courtesy Brent Lee.

Prime Manufacturing Corp. of Oak Creek, WI offered a horn identical to the S-5T, which they called the PM-929. No PM-929's are known to have been produced, however.

Factory tuning was: 255, 311, 370, 440, and 554 Hz (approximately C,D#,F#,A,C#).

No large railroads have purchased the S-5T in recent years, but examples may still be found on older Illinois Central, CSX, and KCS locomotives. Norfolk Southern may have a few S-5T's left on former Norfolk & Western units. Union Pacific's E-units #949 and 951 had RS-5T's as of mid-2000.

S-5T sound samples:

Norfolk & Western, various locomotives:
Sample 1...232kB...10 seconds
Sample 2...392kB...18 seconds
Sample 3...424kB...19 seconds
Sample 4...136kB...6 seconds
Sample 5...295kB...13 seconds

Union Pacific E-units:
Sample 1...157kB...7 seconds
Sample 2...399kB...18 seconds
Sample 3...324kB...15 seconds

CSX, various locomotives:
Sample 1...340kB...15 seconds
Sample 2...318kB...14 seconds
Sample 3...256kB...11 seconds
Sample 4...476kB...22 seconds
Sample 5...625kB...29 seconds
Sample 6...356kB...16 seconds

When bad things happen to good horns:

As with all Supertyfons, early S-5T's tended to get fouled easily due to dirty/oily supply air or from foreign matter entering the horn. This resulted in bells going silent or harmonically overblowing (squealing). Squealing was also common for horns whose bells had the largest available orifice (0.125 inches) - horns with the "F" suffix in their designation. N&W's horns were generally of this type. The "RS" design modifications around 1980 alleviated this problem to an extent, although the horn's sound became somewhat harsher as a result. Even the redesigned horns manage to get fouled occasionally. Below are examples of S-5T's with various problems.

Horns with several bells fouled:
Sample 1...341kB...15 seconds
Sample 2...316kB...14 seconds

Horns with squealing bells:
Sample 1...213kB...9 seconds
Sample 2...464kB...21 seconds
Sample 3...507kB...23 seconds
Sample 4...318kB...14 seconds

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