Selecting the Right Sound for your Diesel Locomotive

If you don’t know the particular prime mover and proper airhorn(s) for a specific locomotive, the task of choosing the correct diesel Tsunami2 can seem confusing. While we cannot tell you exactly which horn was used on a given locomotive on a particular day in history, we can help narrow your choices to those that were most commonly used by a particular road. Keep in mind that many of our prime movers are available in multiple decoder formats.

Selecting the Airhorn

The most distinctive sound heard on a diesel locomotive is the airhorn. Railroads used airhorns to warn vehicles and pedestrians, as well as to communicate to other trains, yard personnel and trainmen.

One of the great features of Digital Sound Decoders and DCC is the ability to incorporate prototypical horn signals, just like the real thing! Tsunami2 and Econami decoders have functions for both a long horn blast and a short horn toot, making crisp and accurate signals possible. Both decoders also come with the ability to set up automatic signals such as forward, reverse, a public grade-crossing, and brakes applied.

To make your selection easier and more fun, each diesel Tsunami2 Digital Sound Decoder comes with 42 airhorns that were most commonly heard for the era and prototype. Each Econami Digital Sound Decoder comes pre-loaded with 16 of the most common airhorn choices used with the prime mover options in the decoder. Many railroads used more than one type of airhorn. Since Tsunami2 and Econami offer so many different airhorns in each decoder, you donít have to permanently commit to any one. Remember this is your railroad -- so donít hesitate to select the horn you enjoy hearing the most. If you are interested in sticking closely to prototype practice, you can read more information on which airhorn is appropriate for a specific road using the Locomotive Airhorn Usage page.