Horn & Whistle - Issue 90

This article originally appeared in Horn & Whistle Magazine, Issue #90, Winter 2000-2001.
Reprinted here courtesy of Horn & Whistle Magazine.


by Harry Barry

A few years ago I finally made my Chrysler air raid siren portable by mounting it on a dual axle 7000 lb. gross weight trailer. This year has been my most active year with it.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Chrysler air raid siren, you can refer to Horn & Whistle issues Nos. 10, 28, 37, 49, 68, and 88. They are the largest, heaviest and most powerful warning systems of all time. They are powered by a 180 HP hemi-head Chrysler V-8 gasoline engine, and weigh 5500 lbs. They were developed by the geniuses at Bell Laboratories and built by Chrysler.

This year, in addition to demonstrating the siren for friends, I had taken it to two special events. The first one was the annual Mopar (Chrysler) Show of Erie, Pennsylvania, held on the Albion, PA fairgrounds. This is an enjoyable all-Chrysler show. Chrysler, DeSoto, Plymouth and Dodge cars and trucks from the first year of production to present. Many beautifully restored vehicles from the 1920's through the 1970's, mainly. Muscle cars of the 60's and 70's, including the ultimate muscle car, the 426 cu. in. hemi. This is an all day show with refreshments, good food, auto parts flea markets, and plenty of viewing.

My siren was the first one ever at the shows. I wanted to show the visitors that the Chrysler hemi was not only king of the street, but that the Chrysler hemi siren was king of the sound makers. The siren generated some interest with the crowd. I sounded it only once, at 12:00 noon. I drove it up a road not far from the event and and let it rip, while making one full revolution on its axis.

The next event was a fifty-mile drive one way to the annual Pioneer Steam and Gas Engine Society show at Saegertown, PA. There are many shows like this all over the U.S. and Canada. I am a member of the club. It is a large show on beautiful grounds with shade trees overlooking a valley. There are old steam tractors, old gas tractors, old cars, vehicles, and just about any kind of old equipment there is. They had numerous demonstrations including a sawmill, plywood mill, and new this year was an old earth-moving demo. They had three or four antique bulldozers moving soil into a mound while an old cable drive power shovel was scooping the mound. This shovel is the old style with cables to operate the arm, not hydraulic cylinders like the shovels of today. Refreshments included fresh kettle popcorn, homemade ice cream, burgers, hot dogs, and barbecued chicken. I stayed most of the day.

At noon time they have their whistle blow. All the whistles on the steam-powered devices blew for several seconds. This is when I ran the siren. I drove it out onto a large open field next to the showgrounds. The society owns the field. I ran the siren at full output, long enough to make one complete slow revolution, then shut it down. It was awesome. Two very interested people came over after the run. One of them is the owner of the Waukesha-powered Chrysler siren which appears in Horn & Whistle No. 42 on page 7. For the show I had made up about 50 copies for interested visitors to take. These copies were from Horn & Whistle No. 10, about the Chrysler. I should have made many more copies. They were gone quickly and I needed more.

I don't care to open a can of worms on my story, but you will find this of interest. I had parked the truck with siren on the edge of the showgrounds. Across a divider roadway were many campers and flea markets. Before the blow I had started the siren engine with siren disengaged for warmup. Several interested people gathered and I was answering questions. Then an elderly man from the camper across the road approached. He said to me, "You're not going to run that here, are you?" I answered, "No sir, I'll get permission from the officials; then I'll drive it onto the neighboring field." He said, "I hope so; it will kill my little dog." I then walked to the the P.A. tower to let the officials know, and ask it it was OK with them. They said, "Sure. Give us some information and we'll announce it on the P.A. speakers." When I got back to the truck, as a courtesy, I told the man with the dog what I would be doing. He said, "Well, even out there, aim it the other direction." I didn't care to get nasty with him because we're all there to enjoy the event. I just replied to him, in front of several people, "I can do that if you want me to." He said, "Yes, we don't want to hear that over here." Needless to say, the jackass didn't influence me one bit. This kind of thing disturbs me, but it is to be expected in our unique hobby.

After the run I had several people ask me questions about the siren, which I enjoyed answering. A couple nice guys told me, "Thanks for bringing it. We know it was a lot of work." Indeed it was not only hard work but expensive. My V-10 Dodge Ram really sucks the gas on a 100-mile trip, pulling a 7000 lb. load.

I look forward to this show next year, hopefully without the dog owner type people.

I will mention also that two weeks after the show I called the club president, Todd Zuck, to see if everything was A-OK. He replied, "The siren was great. Bring it next year."

I waited many years to be able to buy a new trailer to make my Chrysler siren portable. For those years while it was stationary, I didn't run it because of a few neighbors' complaints. Now that the siren is mobile, I'm making up for lost time and having a ball.


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