Warning About RealTrainHorns

I purchased a horn from RealTrainHorns back in April, asking for a K5LA, preferably of earlier heritage. I was in touch with Larry Jackson, and he told me about a 1977 Corker K5LA they had. After asking if it was all original (which he confirmed), I ordered it. Was about $1850. After a few months of shipping issues, I finally got it.

Well… Let’s just say, it was definitely not original, and the internals had been painted. After doing a test blast, I discovered the horn was very flat sounding and lacked harmonics. It also was using far more air than a K5LA typically should. Felt like I was running an M5. Which lead me to open the back caps to find all the internals painted up. The manifold had been replaced, so the tag was long gone too.

After asking Larry for an explanation, he told me that the manifold and bell setup was the way he received the horn from the late Ken Lanovich (apparently to him that means original). To his credit, they are indeed cork feet bells, which are indeed quite rare. The powder coating on the internals was justified with “you knew the horn was powder coated” by Larry.

I was quite frustrated, and asked for a refund, as per their refund policy. Larry refused to refund my money. So I talked to Luke, and apparently I was sold one of Larry’s personal horns, which I was completely unaware of. I was dealing with the company phone number, and even received an RTH box, yet got a horn not sold within the company, which is why Larry refused a refund. I sent Luke all my texts, and he seemed willing to listen. However, after two weeks of him mostly relaying more banter from Larry, and him failing to show up for a meeting Luke had scheduled for the two to discuss the issue, I gave up.

Simply putting out there that if you plan to buy stuff from RTH, be very careful. I would especially try to avoid Larry at all costs. Most if not all of their horns have been parted together, and based the painted internals, they have a tendency to ruin them as well.

This is the SoundCloud file of the horn. Based on the bore dimensions of each bell, and the five bell being a big bore, this should sound like an early Amtrak F40PH K5LA. Sorry about the microphone issue, but as you can tell, the sound is quite flat. The tank was only 5 gallons, but the air consumption was ridiculous still.


I’ve heard a few negative stories about RTH, but never expected this. I’m currently in the process of stripping the internals of this K5LA. I’ll post a new recording after the paint stripping is taken care of.

20160715_123716 by CN8815, on Flickr

Dang … not a good tale. There’s always been some mixed stories of RTH. I’ve had both good and bad experiences with them.

I’m still pretty confident Luke’s side of the business is much more smooth, even though my last email to him was very angry. I would certainly suggest any customers to make sure they’re dealing with Luke, and not Larry. However, I would never deal with them again.

I apologize as I realize now I should have put this in the reviews section.

Anyways, this is the progress I’ve made so far. I’ve seen a video of a fellow horn collector who stripped a K5LA completely in four hours. However, the internals weren’t painted, and it wasn’t powder coated. It’s taken me twice that time to get as far as I have, and I still have the back caps to finish up.

If all goes well, I’d imagine a horn test will occur tomorrow night.

20160804_030357- by CN8815, on Flickr


Sorry you got the run around with these people. Your K5LA has the potential to sound orgasmic, pure, plaintive and with the rare harmonica timbre. You will want to use a 1/4" restrictor in the base, like I suggested in the other forum. Your #2 bell has the correct seat-bore to ensure a perfect minor third. Once you have the bells all clean, and a nice manifold, just get a 3/8" brass hex-socket pipe plug and drill a 1/4" hole in its center, then thread it into the base of the bracket, there will be a 3/8" female section about 3" up into the bracket to thread in the plug/restrictor. Blow this on 105PSI for the optimum sound. I know that they sold the original big tag bracket, but you have the most important parts, the rare, perfectly tuned bells.