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IC School Bus Air Horn Installation


The video proves how lame the factory electric air horn sounds. I was shocked when I first heard it. It would be the perfect device for an Austin Mini perhaps but not a 40 foot school bus. There are other buses that we have installed regular high and low tone electric horns to get that punch that a horn needs to get someone’s attention. If your back was turned and the horn sounded the first thought would be an import vehicle driving up on your back side.

As the video shows we found a battery source easily since these buses come with extra auxiliary circuits. I prefer a direct (fused) battery source so it activates with key on or off. You never know when you might need it to get someone’s attention. We took an old horn and solenoid off a retired bus going to auction so parts were free. The switch triggers the solenoid that is supplied air from the air brake system and voila! It’s just that easy to get that real trucking air horn sound that everyone is so familiar with.

There are a few buses running around with the original horns and we will do something about that if the driver requests it. If not we save on time and parts. In this case it’s the squeaky wheel that get’s the horn upgrade. In some cases an improvement or upgrade on an accessory causes a viral situation. I remember when we added fog lights to one bus and suddenly several of the drivers were asking for fog lights on their buses as well. There’s talk around the coffee room and news travels fast.

Lights are an ongoing thing like headlights that develop sandblasted damage on the lenses. Polishing the scratches off was one way to improve the finish but eventually we started buying aftermarket assemblies from ‘Automann’. The complete headlight housing for a Thomas C2 conventional bus is $154.00 before tax. That is considered to be a bargain in the school bus market so we lean towards aftermarket parts because of the huge cost difference. We’re talking about hundreds of dollars when comparing aftermarket prices to OEM prices.

Aftermarket parts look the same and fits the same but does not cost the same which makes it a simple choice for me to hunt down these good samaritans helping us end users save money. I’ve found deals on diesel particulate filters, injection system parts, LED lighting and engine parts saving thousands of dollars in the process. You have to cut corners on cost without sacrificing quality which we have never had a problem with.