Electric manual valve?

I have seen plenty of electric horn solenoids and I am currently using the Shocker XL valve. They work great but they only have two settings: ON or OFF so you can’t duplicate that real train sound with variable blasts. I have seen a lot of manual valves which will allow you to duplicate the variable tones but these all require the main air line plus a return line to be run inside the truck cab and I won’t do that in my custom truck.

So I am looking for a manual valve which can be operated by an electric control. Something that has a knob or slider which I turn from inside the cab and it operates the manual valve underneath the truck. It has to allow a full range of air flows from FULL ON to OFF and anywhere in between, and it must respond very quickly to each adjustment of the control knob in the cab. Does something like this exist?

I have thought of making one by rigging up a small motor and gears to a manual valve but this would take too many hours for experimentation and construction. I am hoping something is out there…

hmm thats a good idea…i think if they are around itd be expensive to have servos or something strong enough to open a valve like that

I think Amtrak uses a manual style solenoid valve. I’ll do some checking for ya and get back to you on it.

what about a valve used for air brakes? i havent done much looking or know much about air brakes but im guessing they dont use a manual valve and im also guessing they dont just use an on or off switch


okay ive been looking online now and cant find anything
so i was thinking could you rig it to almost work like a light switch dimmer?

or if the solenoid opens at a certain speed with a certain amount of power…if you reduced the power would it open slower?

I could even live with a pull-chain style valve because I could run the chain into the cab through a series of pulleys and eye-hooks or I could replace the chain with a brake or shifter cable from a bicycle. But all of the pull-chain valves I have seen are 1/4" or smaller and plastic, and I need them to be 1/2" and preferably metal.

but you pull the chain that doesnt seem like you have much control over how much the valve is opening

I haven’t checked the internals on solenoid valves but I assume they are built with a spring holding them in the closed position and the motor has to overcome the spring force to open the valve. If so then the range of power is probably pretty high to overcome the spring tension so it would have a pretty narrow window for partial operation of the valve, and even if you could fine tune the voltage or current to fluctuate within this window then it would likely place a strain on the motor and eventually burn out the coils. I think the valve would have to be built that way to begin with.

I think the pull-chain types allow you to control how much the valve opens. You can feel it and have at least 1" or more of movement before you get to the full open position. So my assumption is a pull-chain valve might work, and I might even be able to connect a simple motor to wind the chain up and release it, but I can’t find a cheap 1/2" ID pull-chain valve.

yeah thats true
but that maybe how one trns out to be…something like a light switch dimmer
been searching online for one of these cant seem to come up with anything
theres a company hear in ohio im going to call tommorow to see what they say

im not sure what a pull chain valve is…like the kind semis have?
if so ive never noticed any flucuation in the sound it seems either on or off


seems to list any type of valve imaginable just need someone to decipher speak i do not understand

Okay so I’ve figured it out thanks to another forum I’m on and a guy named Nick there.

He says you need to set it up like Amtrak has their horns. It can blow soft or loud using a two-position push-button like this one…http://www.electriciansupplies.com/product.cfm/p/80522/.htm Same kind as used on Amtrak I believe. Also you will need two 1/2 inch 12 volt valves, one regulated with a gate valve for “half valve pressure”.

And this again, is not my info… got it from Nick on hwboard.

Hope this helps!

It took some time to figure it out but i got mine to run into my truckon the GW clone valve…

page 2 has the horn info / valve pictures

Yeah but he said he didn’t want to have to run air line into the truck

i realize that… i also didnt want to run the airlines in my truck either but couldnt find any other way to have full control…

And now that i did run it all in, i wish i would have just done it sooner…

I just finally put horns on my car (wish it could have been one of my real horns but I drive a Honda Accord). Anyways, I put my GW valve in there… very happy with it and wouldn’t have done it any other way.

Great research aobafmty, keep digging! We might find something out there, I just know it has to exist. It might be made for water lines and not air, or maybe some other special application but it could work fine on the air line. If we can’t find it then we can make it. I already know how to make it but I just don’t want to sink the time and money into it if I can buy one for less.

Honda / Silvy: I have seen a bunch of pics of people which ran GW valves or similar inside their vehicles. I think it is cool that you have the manual valves and I am sure the train horns sound killer. How fun it must be to drive down the road and control a blast just like a real train or a fine musical instrument! But in my case I have a highly customized truck, one which cost over $42K when new and that now has more than 55 custom modifications. Despite all this work I have been able to avoid any permanent modifications to the vehicle and every mod is either 100% hidden or it blends in so well that it looks factory. It even fools the dealership when I take it in for service. So I am not about to go drilling holes for airlines and installing a huge plumbing valve inside. Even if I could find a way to run the air lines without drilling I would still not want to have excess air line between the valve and the horns.

And to complicate matters I am almost done upgrading my setup yet again to use two different horn sets which will each have their own valves and switches so I can fire them individually or both together. This would complicate the install of a manual valve so I am looking for an electric valve which allows manual gradient control. It make take a while but I am not giving up yet. I probably have more than 200 hours invested in my train horn project going back to my first kit from HB almost 2 years ago so I am persistent and hope to find a solution.

Did you not see my post about the 2 stage push button and the 2 solenoid valves? It will work like that…

Yeah, I read that, but it sounds lke it will only allow two settings: half or full. That is better than no variation but I want to be able to manually control the full range of sound / pressure from off to full on and anywhere in between. Exactly like a manual valve but with an electronic control instead of the manual valve in the cab.

http://hornwhistleboard.com/download.php?id=2897&f=2 listen to that sound recording from Josh at HW board. The vehicle used in that recording was using the setup I mentioned.

Pretty nice audio clip. Definitely just like a real train. I wonder if the valve allowed them to taper off the audio at the end of the clip, or if it was due to the air running low or the vehicle passing by the microphone. If the setup you mention allows you to taper the air from full-on to off and anywhere in between then I will pursue it. But for most of the recording you can only hear 2 sound levels, full-on and half-on, so I suspect that the tapering at the end was caused by one of the other variables. Can you supply the link to the thread which shows the details of the install?