1965 AirChime KB123

"Sea Commander"

The only known history, tagged Airchime KB-123 in a private collection. The AirChime KB-123 was introduced in the early 1960's as a marine horn with corrosion proof bronze power chambers. This particular model was installed on Gulf of Georgia's Gulf Joan tugboat in 1965. When Gulf of Georgia towing was bought out by Seaspan, she was renamed Seaspan Commander, and eventually Sea Commander.

This horn desperately needed repairs to it when I bought it in winter of 2020. I took delivery of it and noted that the manifold foot was cracked, all threaded connections were corroded out, and the power chamber bolts were rusted through. I sent the horn to Michael Muha of South Bay Horn Works, and he started repairs in the Spring of 2020.

Michael Muha expertly welded the power chamber mounting flanges and installed helicoil thread inserts where the original threads had corroded out. He also welded the foot of the 1L bell where it had cracked. The manifold was also repaired, welding about one quarter of it to creating a good mounting point. In addition, he removed six broken bolts and cleaned up the threads in the manifold for mounting the bells.

For the bell-power chamber connection, I went with 1 inch fasteners with a stainless steel nut on the end as per the original. Users of this horn had saltwater-aluminum corrosion problems- the steel fasteners attaching the power chambers to the bells would rust through and the power chamber would end up in Davey Jones' locker. In order to fix that, end users used longer than normal bolts to attach the power chambers to the bells, and added a nut to attempt to save the power chamber if the bolt rusted through.

I have replaced the original bell gaskets to the manifold, and used new old stock power chamber-bell cork gaskets. New stainless steel bolts with anti-seize have been used for bell mounting.

I ended up not polishing up the chambers to a mirror finish because I want to keep some of the history on this horn. I am not going to repaint it either.

In the video, the 1L is blowing louder than the other two. I suspect this is due to a larger air inlet in the foot. Since the horn was configured with the 1L facing backwards, I believe that the larger air inlet was for a wider sound area. I have configured the horn all bells forward (ABF) to help with storage.