As I was working on our review of sound signaling devices in our August 2016 issue, I took a look on the web for homemade foghorns. I found quite a number of websites and videos that showed how to make foghorns and train horns out of common plastic pipe and fittings. A trip to the hardware store for some 1/2″ PVC pipe and fittings, and 30 or 40 minutes of puttering in the shop was all it took to come up with a few configurations that made a sound that I liked.The core of the horn is a 1″ x 1″ x 1/2″ T fitting and two 1″ to 1/2″ reducers. One reducer gets shortened up with a hacksaw. (Don’t try using a bandsaw—cylinders like plastic pipe do dangerous things in one.) The cut then gets sanded flat. The other reducer needs to have the stop inside removed so that 1/2″ pipe will slip through. The short reducer is inserted into one end of the T with a piece of freezer bag. The other reducer goes into the other end of the T, and a piece of 1/2″ pipe slips through until it comes in contact with the freezer-bag membrane. You blow through the small hole in the side of the T and adjust the 1/2″ pipe to get a tone. You can change the mouthpiece angle with pipe and angled joints. The length of the pipe slipped through the reducer will determine the horn’s pitch. You can use a long pipe or a short length of pipe—about 6″ so you can still get a grip on it to adjust it—and, if you like, connect a funnel to the pipe. The sound I liked best came from a 24″ length of pipe. It had a deep, resonant, rattling tone.
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