Horn & Whistle - Issue 28

This article originally appeared in Horn & Whistle Magazine, Issue #28, Jul./Aug. 1988.
Reprinted here courtesy of Horn & Whistle Magazine.


by Harry Barry

I was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pa. We lived in Mt. Washington, a southern suburb. Sometime during the early or mid 1950's a Chrysler Air Raid Siren was installed on the roof of Prospect Jr. High. I attended that school for grades 7-9 during 1960-1962.

I remember first hearing the siren when attending grade school. I grew up to its mighty roar. I didn't realize that the siren was a Chrysler for sure until I visited my old school last year and went on the roof to see it up close.

For the past several years I had guessed the siren was a Chrysler judging from my memories of what it looked like from a distance. Then a year or so ago, Rick, our publisher, sent me a tape recording of a Chrysler siren recorded in Los Angeles, CA by fellow member Jim Carruthers. After I heard the recording I was 99% sure that the Pittsburgh siren was a Chrysler.

The sound is unique and unmistakable, a deep, rotating roar of high character. After seeing it last year I knew for sure it was a Chrysler.

I am presently going through the channels to purchase the siren. The main obstacle might be the expense involved for removal. It is on the rooftop of a four story school. I will have to hire a construction crane to remove it.

The siren has sentimental value to me and also I would be delighted to have the most powerful sound signal ever made.

Its sound is awesome - an enormous sound wave of 138 dB at 100 feet, at least twice as powerful as the loudest siren offered today the 50 HP ACA Penetrator 50. (possibly even more, due to the Chrysler's smaller horn size and wider dispersion)

The Chrysler is powered by a 180 HP industrial Chrysler hemi headed V-8 gas engine. I remember the big, big sound of the Pittsburgh siren as a kid growing up.

It was easily heard at our house and all over the city for miles. The siren was wisely located on the school roof in Mt. Washington, probably the highest location in the city, for which the sound could really reach out far.

I would like to purchase the siren, bring it up home here and restore it-then mount it on a trailer for moving around. It weighs 5,543 pounds.

A few months ago, I wrote a request to Chrysler Marine and Industrial Engine Division in Trenton, Michigan for any information on the siren. The siren has, of course, been out of production for many years. I was delighted to receive from Chrysler a terrific old original siren operating and owner's manual. It has everything in it about the siren, even all the part numbers!

The power of the Chrysler is tremendous - more powerful than any other warning siren, horn or whistle ever made to this date, including the big Tyfon 425 and 575 steam ship's horns.

This warning is given in the owner's manual in big capital letters, "UNDER NO CONDITIONS SHOULD THE OPERATOR OR ANY OBSERVERS COME IN DIRECT CONTACT WITH THE BLAST FROM THE SIREN HORNS WHILE THE SIGNAL IS BEING GIVEN". Our bodies are a large percentage of water, and according to our siren expert Jim Carruthers, the Chrysler's sound wave could be very harmful if not Fatal.

This is the first article I've ever written for Horn & Whistle that was not about steam whistles.

I hope that the Pittsburgh siren has not been damaged by the 20+ years of inactivity and exposure to the weather. I believe it was in use until maybe 1965.


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