Part 1: Mounting the Horns
The Hornblasters.com set comes
with 4 horns tuned for different
pitches, much like train locomotive
horns. The pitch of a horn is
determined by its length - in this
case, the longest horn is the
lowest pitch and the shortest horn
is the highest. Sizes range from 12
inches to 20 inches.
For a Chevy Blazer, the most
effective mounting location is
behind the grille, which assumes
you want them concealed. You
can always mount them on the
roof rack but what fun is that? The
element of surprise will be key to
your enjoyment of these horns -
you don't want to give yourself
away by mounting the horns in a
clearly visible location now, do
you? Didn't think so. Pickup truck
guys have the option of mounting
their horns under the bed, but the
2-door, short-wheelbase Blazers
just don't have enough room if you
want to conceal the air tank and
compressor underneath, as I did
(more on that later).
So get ready for the trial-and-error
method of mounting the horns.
Minor Horn Modification
The first task at hand is to modify
the air intake of each horn. The
intake is a 1/4" NPT male
connector which is about 1/2"
longer than it needs to be, so I
trimmed it down. This modification
became immediately necessary
when I mocked up the first horn
bracket and tried to push the grille
back on. Once the 90-degree
female connector goes on the end
(adding another 3/4" to the total
length), it pushes all the way up
against the radiator and still makes
the horn stick out too far to get the
grille fitted properly.
The trim job solved this, although
a thread repair tool or NPT die
would have been very handy. After
the trimming, the 90-degree
female connector wouldn't thread
back on. I'd left my tap and die set
at home and couldn't find the right
size die in my dad's stash of tools.
Instead, I un-threaded the entire
intake connector and simply
reversed it - the cutoff end was
threaded back inside the horn. The
downside of this is that the air
intake thingie doesn't thread into
the horn as tightly (it's just a
plastic housing) and I had to be
careful when tightening the
support nut and the 90-degree
connector (the whole thing wanted
It really doesn't take more than
about 3/4" of thread protruding
from the horn to make these fit on
the mounting brackets I used. I left
enough space for the metal
bracket that supports the horn
(1/8" inch) and for the support nut
(with washer) that threads onto the
air intake on the other side of the
bracket (another 1/8" or so).
The horns are pointed downward,
as recommended by
|That extra 1/2 inch was a lifesaver.
|With the 90-degree fitting attached.
|Duct tape and zip ties: man's best
friend for mock-ups
|Take a bite out of the hood latch
frame and all is good.
|One line in, four lines out
|One of the most important little
gadgets in the whole system. Blue
wire is power; brown wire is grounded
to the frame. I had to reverse the
valve bracket to get the air output
side of the valve to point in the proper
direction. The valve must be mounted
upright, as shown here.
|The components of a compression
|Air line compressed, fitting tightened
up and we're ready to go.
Hornblasters.com. This means metal brackets must be fabricated, but
it's fairly easy. I bought some 48" lengths of 1" wide (roughly) steel at
Home Depot. The whole job could have been done with just the one
piece but I ended up using a bit of the second length of steel
because I re-cut one of the brackets. Each bracket spans the gap
from one side of the radiator to the middle support down the center.
To get access to the center support, the hood latch frame had to go
(three 13mm bolts - pretty easy). Once I had a general idea of where
each bracket needed to be, I marked where the bolt holes on each
end of the bracket would line up with the radiator supports. But to get
to that point, I had to also consider the mounting position of the other
ends of the horns.
Skid Plate Mounts
On the "horn" end of each horn is a bolt for securing to whatever it is
you'd like it fastened to. The later model ZR-2's came with a carbon
fiber skid plate with an inch-or-so lip that is perfect for connecting the
ends of each horn. In order to keep the skid plate relatively painless
to remove after the horns were mounted, I cut a slot in the lip of the
plate for each horn-end bolt. The brackets secure the horns pretty
well by themselves; all the horn-end bolts need to do is keep the
horns from flopping side to side at their ends. A cutting tool was the
key here, but even more importantly, I needed to know the final
mounting location before cutting. You'll see later, I miscalculated
slightly on one of the horns and ended up with a horn that wasn't
straight. Not that big of a deal because everything still fit fine and
nobody sees the horns anyway, but it still bugs me a little.
Mock It Up
After playing around with various mounting positions, it became clear
that the longest two horns need to be on the outside and shorter ones
on the inside. In the pictures, you can see I positioned the 20" horn
on the left side, out of the way of the steering pump metal line. The
short horns fit pretty well next to the hood latch frame, with a small
amount of grinding (see photo). The smallest horn goes on the left
side of the frame (as looking straight at it; it's actually the passenger
side). The two mid-sized horns work well on the right side, in between
the metal lines. They can both be mounted on the same bracket,
while the horns on the left require separate brackets. This becomes
more clear as you see how the horn-ends need to fit into the skid
As I experimented with various horn positions, I had to take into
account the shape of the grille. There are certain positions that work,
and others that don't. It's a trial and error game, simple as that. The
good news was the grille being so easy to take on and off. The
bumper stayed put, mostly because there was adequate clearance to
grind slots for the horn-end bolts and position the ends appropriately.
Now, the moment of truth. All holes were drilled, bolts tightened,
connectors connected, and it all fit perfectly. I used a combination of
machine screws and nuts where possible, and sheet metal screws for
the rest. Drilling near the radiator was a bit of an adventure, one that
required a steady hand and a bit of patience. In the end, it doesn't
look like it should take that long, but it does - probably half my time
on the project was spent mocking up the horns.
Getting the Air to the Horns
Next up is attaching the air lines to the horns, and this is where 5/16"
outside diameter air line is a bit annoying. The Hornblasters.com kit
comes with 20 feet of line, which ended up being the perfect length of
hose for my application. But if you need more, plan on ordering it
from McMaster-Carr or similar sources because your local NAPA
probably won't have any. And if you want to do anything special like
teeing off the air line (as I did), you'll need extra 5/16" compression
fittings. These are also difficult to locate.
But if all you want is really loud horns, the Hornblasters.com kit has it
covered. An air line distributor takes the source of air and splits it into
four separate lines, each connected to a horn. Compression fittings
link it all up. Each of the 4 lines should be the same length so that
the air will reach each horn at the same time and they all produce
sound at once. About 14 inches was just the right length for
connecting the horns furthest from the air line distributor, which I zip
tied behind the hood latch frame. The air line is nylon, which feels like
plastic and has a limited curve radius, so that must also be taken into
consideration with positioning the air distributor.
A solenoid-activated air valve activates the horns. The kit assumes
you'll use the existing auto horn to activate the solenoid. Presumably,
a wire is run from the auto horn and whenever you push on the center
of the steering wheel, the air horns make noise. I didn't want this,
mostly because the activation points on the steering wheel are less
than precise. I needed the kind of control a separate button provides.
Also, I wanted to preserve the auto horn for those occasions when I
only wanted to remind someone of something, like a green light or
turn arrow. The air horns would be reserved for acts of retardation on
the street or patterns of annoying behavior. Another consideration
was keyless entry - remember the sound that comes when you hit the
lock button on the key fob twice? That would be the horn. I didn't
want the train horns going off every time I locked my Blazer.
It is definitely simpler to use the auto horn to engage the air horns. A
separate horn button requires locating an ignition wire and running it
from the solenoid, through the firewall and into the cab to wherever
the button is mounted. And to do it right, I wanted a dash-mounted
button, which added more work. But oh, it is so worth it.
I placed the air valve as close to the air line distributor as possible, as
recommended by Hornblasters.com. Since the compressor and air
tank would be mounted on the drivers side, I chose a valve mounting
location next to the drivers side headlight.
Now, let's mount the air compressor and tank.....