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 Post subject: Fighting horn and whistle theft
PostPosted: Sun May 19, 2013 9:34 pm 

Joined: Sat Aug 28, 2004 3:25 am
Posts: 1025
The main discussion board has a thread on thieves stealing horns from diesel locomotives. Many museums have taken to welding steel collars aroung the mounting bolts, keeping the engines indoors, etc. This story goes back to the 1960s:

By 1965, when SP absorbed the Pacific Electric, there wasn't much left of the Red Car system west of downtown LA. The remaining tracks were served by local frieghts powered by EMD switchers. One legacy of the interurban days was the special instruction requiring locomotives on these lines to use "trombone whistles" rather than the standard air horns. The PE-style warning devices were part of the modified franchise agreement with the City of Los Angeles, and possibly with Beverly Hills. The SP shops had a supply of PE whistles, but from time to time, one would be, stolen from a switcher by a sticky-fingered railfan. After a few of these incidents, the air specialists started making whistles out of steel pipe; they sounded the same, but had no collector value. As a long time PE fan, I remembered the mournful toot of the whistles, and here was my chance to re-create the call of the Big Red Cars. I took measurements from a car at Orange Empire, and, at my workplace, found some electrical conduit and a piece of aluminum rod. Some vigorous hacksaw work, a trip to the hardware store for a reducer fitting, and voila! A trombone whistle!

This one has even been on the radio--I took it to the KMET studio for Railroad Night on the Dr. Demento show, and tooted it for the assembled Dementites out in Radioland.


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Bob Davis
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