Help Testing and Hooking up Horns

Discussion in 'The Bench' started by Philip66, Aug 12, 2019.

  1. Philip66

    Philip66 Well-Known Member

    I guess I'm starting to experience a senior moment. I can't remember or even figure out how to test a pair of electric horns from a 72 LeSabre. I'm planning on using them in a non-Buick project so I'm starting from scratch. I'll probably use a button mounted under the dash instead of a steering wheel button because the wheel I have doesn't have a horn button.

    I know they ground through the mounting bracket but after that I'm drawing a blank.

    They came from a junkyard car so I'm not sure whether they even work or not. I tried grounding them and running a line from a battery but I got nothing. Do they need a relay?


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  2. 1972Mach1

    1972Mach1 Just some M.M.O.G. guy.....

    You should be able to hook any loose 12V battery up to them by hooking a jumper from the "-" to the bracket, and the "+" to the terminal. Make sure the bracket where you hook the ground and the terminal are clean. That should make them beep.
  3. Waterboy

    Waterboy Mullet Mafia since 6/20

    Hey Philip, I recently got 2 horns for my truck out of the junkyard. I put a female spade on a piece of wire, attached it to the male spade on the horn. Clamp the other end of the wire to the positive side of a car battery. Then I touched the horn bracket to the negative side of the battery.
    1st horn did nothing. No sound, no spark. Tried the second horn. Scared the sheet out of me! I got a big spark, and a loud blast in my ear!!!
    As far as a relay, someone more knowledgeable will have to answer that. I just put it in my truck, put the hot wire to it, and it worked great.
  4. Philip66

    Philip66 Well-Known Member

    Thanks Lucas!

    I didn't even think about cleaning the rust off the brackets. They're not terrible but probably just bad enough to prevent good contact.
  5. Philip66

    Philip66 Well-Known Member

    I'm gonna clean em up and try exactly that.
    Thanks John

    I'm sure it's possible but I wouldn't think both horns would be bad or go bad just from sitting. Car was clean and dry, hood was latched shut too.
  6. WQ59B

    WQ59B Well-Known Member

    That's an adjustment screw near the bracket- sometimes fiddling with that helps.
  7. BuickV8Mike

    BuickV8Mike SD Buick Fan

    Once they work on the bench. The real question becomes how to rehab the ground strap within the rag joint so the horn button can complete the ground circuit for the horn.
  8. yachtsmanbill

    yachtsmanbill Well-Known Member

    That adjusting screw is like 7/32" 12 point (box wrench), and tight as can be. Probably find one in that ignition wrench set you been moving for 40 years and never used. The horns are assembled with peined over aluminum studs (like riveting) so once they are off, broken or drilled out youll need to complete the hole for a screw and nut.

    Once inside, theres a coil and a set of points. The adjusting screw tensions the the points arm. The points are probably corroded from stray current. If they still dont work the coil is probably a gonner.

    The horn wire (green) is a hot wire from the relay. The horn ring on the wheel makes a ground (you dont want a hot 12V wire up the column!) which grounds the relay to close the + points blowing the horn. They should work with a hot wire and clamped in a vise for a good ground(mandatory).

    I had two bad horns and a bad unobtanium relay that I changed to a conventional unit for my '64. Its more akin to a post 1967 and up style relay.

    When all is said and done, I'd buy a set of know to be good used jobs, OR new ones. OEM GM horns had a variety of notes. Mine were an A and a C for a nice chord. Others used a HIGH and LOW toned for dodge results.

    Its hard to tell from your pics, but I believe the circles are the "notes" and the squares denote H or L, possibly nothing. Look around for some 4 note Electra or caddy trumpets. Sounds like a freight train coming! ws





    Last edited: Aug 12, 2019
  9. yachtsmanbill

    yachtsmanbill Well-Known Member

    So... Here is what they look like inside. One shows the innards with the solenoid coil circled. One shows the adjusting screw tensioning the bridge for the points and the first installed set is a crisp clear set on my 64 LOUD E&D notes, the disassembled ones WERE on the 64 A&G notes, and the last is Unknown Delcos on my 72 (unknown or illegible notes) that sound like a sick cow in distress. ws






  10. John Codman

    John Codman Platinum Level Contributor

    The only reason for the relay is to avoid having to run two fairly large wires up the steering column to a heavy-duty horn switch. Mechanical horns draw a lot of current. The single wire running up the column carries very little current, as all it does is ground the horn relay which is the heavy-duty switch; the steering column horn switch can be light-duty. There was one foreign car that made the steering column jacket live, and the horn button directly fed the single small horn. Any guesses what car?
  11. copperheadgs1

    copperheadgs1 copperheadgs1

    The touch and spark method is all you need.
  12. Luxus

    Luxus Gold Level Contributor

    Something British perhaps?
  13. yachtsmanbill

    yachtsmanbill Well-Known Member

    VW with a positive ground... ws
  14. copperheadgs1

    copperheadgs1 copperheadgs1

    I don’t think the Germans would do something that stupid?
  15. yachtsmanbill

    yachtsmanbill Well-Known Member

    Model T Fords "almost" did that with a hot and return to the horn system with two wires up a tube. Cloth covered, natural rubber casing wire, no fuses, and installed in a Detroit vibrator. ws
  16. Philip66

    Philip66 Well-Known Member

    I really appreciate all of the responses and troubleshooting help. It's kind of nice knowing that the gray matter isn't completely fried. Even with the brackets cleaned to bare metal and 14.1 volts I've got nothing!

    I have $5.00 in the pair so I'm not likely to spend much time or money on getting them to work.

    Bill I've already got the freight train sound covered, I was looking for more of a city horn. :D:D:D

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    1972Mach1 likes this.
  17. yachtsmanbill

    yachtsmanbill Well-Known Member

    Those are some nice Leslies'. I run a pair of Kahlenberg D-2s on my boat... 1902 models and they were made 3 blocks from here. American Strombos are pretty sweet too. Is that a B model cab??? ws

    Interactive website... play the horns! LOUD!!! Especially the riverboat steam units.

  18. Philip66

    Philip66 Well-Known Member

    That's a pretty good eye there yachtsmanbill!:D

    1956 Mack B-61 I mounted on a 2005 GMC 2500 HD. Duramax, Allison, 4 wheel disc brakes, independent front suspension, anti-lock brakes, and a whole lot more cool stuff a 56 Mack never even dreamed about!:cool::cool::cool:

    I need some current pics, this one doesn't have the Leslie's mounted yet...

    1972Mach1 likes this.
  19. yachtsmanbill

    yachtsmanbill Well-Known Member

    ;);) I recognized it as friend had one just like it. He built a flat bed welding service unit out of it. His had an Econodyne 6 with a 5 speed and he built a Maxidyne 235 (turbo'd) with a triplex for it. Overkill but neat! Nice project! ws
    Philip66 likes this.
  20. John Codman

    John Codman Platinum Level Contributor


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