It is currently Sat Aug 20, 2016 9:00 pm

All times are UTC - 6 hours




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 6 posts ] 
Author Message
 Post subject: Horn: Wolo 419 "Bad Boy"
PostPosted: Sun May 18, 2014 9:25 pm 
Offline
Forum Administrator

Joined: Jul 25, 2003
Motorcycle: 98 Valkyrie
Rebel: 250
Country: USA
State/Province: GA
City: Vidalia
Here's something we haven't done for a while: product review.

Some time back (measured in years), one of my brothers installed a Stebel Nautilus on his bike. From what I have been told (he lives in California), the difference in sound volume and quality was astounding. Shortly after this, I noticed people everywhere making this swap-out. Personally, if I upgraded a horn on a bike, it was always just to put a car horn on it: simple swap, reasonable fitment, vast improvement in audio presence, etc. And relatively inexpensive.

A few members on this board have done the Nautilus and the Nautilus compact swap as well, and reported on it. Almost all were extremely pleased with the result.

There were also a lot of folks who picked up something called the Wolo Bad Boy, or Wolo 419 for considerably less than the Nautilus was selling for at that time (they're a lot cheaper now; I just finished looking). Given their identical structure, it made sense that these things were likely a knock-off from the same facility that ultimately produced the Stebel, right?

I can't say. I've never heard a Stebel Nautilus in person. Video? Yes. Via phone? Yes. The word "HOOOONK!" written in all-caps on this very site? Yes. But I've never actually laid ear to one for a deep, personal experience.

I can tell you that almost all the members who did the Wolo swap-out bragged on their horn as well, and all seemed well pleased by the earth-shattering violence unleashed when they pressed the button. If I were to go by nothing but the old bandwagon scale, I'd say that this was likely identical to the Nautilus (which I've never head) and money well-spent (assuming you're into the air-horns on a motorcycle thing).


My brother, some months after he bought his Stebel, was visiting this way (not on his bike, however) and stumbled across a Wolo Bad Boy in a local parts store and blessed me with it. It's been kicking around my "I'm sure there'll be a use for this one day" bin ever since.

Skip ahead a decade or so, and I have the Leviathan. The horn on the Leviathan has been intermittent since I bought it. Today I undertook to repair that. I found the issue (previous owner had apparently wired in some sort of auxiliary horn, and when removing it, did a shoddy job replacing the wiring back to stock) and corrected it. Now the horn sounds every time I lean on it, regardless of weather, road conditions, or what-have-you. I am well pleased.

While I was under the truck (I want to congratulate the individual engineer who placed the horns where he did. I'd just like to smile, pat him on the back, and shake his throat), it occurred to me that I still had that Wolo horn kicking around, and a tailor-made situation for testing the Wolo bad Boy air horn against the factory hooters that came on my truck.

For those unfamiliar with my qualifications, I would offer checking with those who have known me or my work: when it comes to DC electrical, I am quite likely one of the most qualified people you will ever meet. I have not only made my living doing this stuff, I was half-owner of a business dedicated to doing it for many years. I can plot, design, and install a properly metered, scaled, and rated harness; it's a no-brainer. I'm not one of those "then we'll jam a screw into the battery terminal" types. I know what I'm doing.

I gathered my materials and set to work. I didn't just want to hear the horn. Well, at first I did: I used my test harness (a set of 30-amp clamps on 10g SJ cord, running through switches on positive and negative (sometimes you want to trigger on the ground, for various reasons) leads, terminating with the more common spade and bullet connectors) and wired it directly to the battery.

Initial "bench test" impressions:

Very short lag time while the tiny compressor spooled up. The compressor jumped hard as soon as power was applied. Very grunty sort of thing, which made me question the sanity of the single-bolt, non-fully-caged mounting system. But hey, I guess there's money to be made when these things hit the highway, too. The tone was a bit higher (not shrill or squeaky) than what one thinks when one thinks "air horn," but not unpleasant. In fact, two of them together might almost be pleasing as opposed to ominous. Odd thing for a horn, but hey-- at it's root, and air horn is the end result of several hundred years of musical instruments, so I reckon that makes a kind of sense, too. :lol:

Loud. Now granted, I was holding it in my hand, so that's a given. But yeah-- LOUD. All-caps. Not loud enough for bold, and too melodious for italics, but definitely all-caps-worthy, at least when applied directly to the face.

I figured I'd try a couple of different installs, given that I planned to post the results to a motorcycle-specific board, particularly one geared at novice riders and wrenches. So first up is the "I don't really have a lot of experience, but I'm trying really hard" method:

using factory wiring.

Before you scold me, believe me: I _know_ that this is bad. Given the power requirements of the little compressor, and the power delivery of the factory horn wiring, if it works at all, it's still going to be both anemic and actively damaging to the horn. But I chose to do it this way because of the number of people out there who don't know any better, and who do and likely will continue to do this very sort of thing.

The Leviathan features dual horns, a high tone and low tone, one behind each headlight bank. I removed the "controlling" side harness (the power to the passenger side horn is pulled from the driver's side horn), thereby disabling the factory horns. Additionally, the Leviathan doesn't use time-tested spade connectors, but a hard-plastic plug-type connector (you know: the type that has been proven for twenty years now to be a massive pain in the butt, prone to breaking, and when it does, you have to replace far more than you bargained for to put it back to stock). For the sake of our test, I simply tapped in a bit above the connectors and ran leads of the same gauge wire to the freshly-mounted Wolo Bad Boy (mounted under the radiator chair, dead-center of the truck's front end).

I hit the horn, and the Wolo waited -- well, I didn't time it, but it wasn't long. Half-a-second, at the very most-- a moment and FWAAAAANNNPPPed to life. Noticeable, and again, almost pleasingly musical (not quite, but almost). However, it was nowhere _near_ as loud as the factory horns. Again, given the power requirements and the power I could feed it with the factory system, I really didn't expect that it would be. In all honesty, I was rather surprised I hadn't blow the fuse.

Curious, I plugged the factory honkers back in and hit the button again, leaving the Wolo wired up via jumper.

For a glorious three seconds, I had three horns sounding. I think. I don't know. I couldn't hear the Wolo very well. The factory heralds completely overpowered it, and not by just a little bit, either. I really had to listen to hear it, and even when I found it, was more by noticing "something breath-y" in the tone than hearing the horn itself. Then the fuse blew.

I replaced the fuse, and prepared for two more installs. Both of the next installs would be identical, with two variables:

I would run two separate circuits for the Wolo, one in 14g wire and one in 10g wire, to ensure both adequate and more-than-adequate available power.

I would run each of these circuits initially as push-button, independent circuits, and again with a relay that used the factory horn for triggering only. This second set-up allowed me to do a literal simultaneous play of the Wolo versus the stockers for comparison.

For what it's worth, my neighbors hate me right now.

Moving on to the results:

14 gauge wire seems to have provided plenty of current to make the Wolo happy. It was much, _much_ louder than when wired to factory horn wires (remember that, folks), and was more in line with the face-flapping noise of the initial test blat straight off the battery.

The side-by-side, however, was disappointing. The stock alarms were louder. Not as overwhelming as when all three horns were on stock wiring, but there was no room for doubt, either: the factory shriekers were _clearly_ louder. They didn't drown out the Wolo they way the did when everything ran across the factory wiring, but they were louder. A _lot_ louder. I mean as in "it wasn't even close" louder. Further, they didn't have that half-second lag waiting for the compressor (which, really, we all knew was coming, and so I didn't hold it against he air horns).

Now as I said, they were easily heard in the din of horns; they weren't overpowered, but they were unarguably outmatched.

I got my meter and probed amp draw. The Wolo spiked at 12.7-something, dropping back down almost instantly to 7.4 amps. 14g should be enough for this, but what if the horn really wants more than that? What if it's still limited by the wiring (shouldn't be, given the specs that came with it, but I want to be fair to this thing; it's a review, after all. I know: it's an internet review, but I want to be more like a _real_ review, as opposed to "it sucks because I wanted something else" -type nonsense you see passed off as reviews these days.

Okay, let's step up the power supply. On to the 10 gauge set-up.

I have to admit that I was a bit surprised at the results of this test:

First, my amp probe showed no further amperage going to the horn, even with the bigger wire. Evidently, the 14g could carry everything that the little horn could eat (I don't remember now, but it seems like the spike was just a bit under 13amps, dropping immediately to 7.4 amps). I had hoped, given the rave reviews of this horn, that it would gobble up the juice and really pump out some sound, but it didn't.

And with the same amount of power going in....

well, it was the same amount of noise coming out, too. Unfortunately for my hopes (I say hopes, because honestly, this really fell right into my expectations), the same amount of noise was coming from the factory-equipped bleaters, and the comparison was the same:

The Wolo came out well behind the stock horns. They gave a good show, and were certainly loud enough to serve the purpose of screaming "LOOK OUT!" to whoever needed to have "LOOK OUT" screamed at them, but at the end of the day, other than their slightly-more-melodious tone, they were quite inferior to the factory set-up.

Now that being said, I would like to go on record as saying that they are _way_ louder than a stock motorcycle horn; there's no question about that. But they aren't as loud as the stock horns on an '02 Silverado. They just aren't. They can't even pretend that their _close_ to the volume of the stock horns on an '02 Silverado.

No; i didn't come here to break anyone's heart; I came here to do a product review. Overall, I find this product to be most unsatisfying, and for several reasons:

There are two basic reasons to upgrade a horn:

1) safety

2) general obnoxiousness

As a safety upgrade, this thing does what you want it to do:

it gives you a horn that is much louder than stock.

The cost of that, however, is more than just the money. There is the money (I don't know what these things go for today, but it seems like this one was in the 50-something dollar neighborhood when my brother picked it up for me, and he felt it was a steal next to what the Stebel was going for at that time (though I know you can get them much cheaper now)).

There is also the design:

It's surprisingly heavy, clunky, and massive. It mounts with a single bolt that is not fully-caged, and that bolt runs through a pot metal bracket. This will never really satisfy me as any kind of appropriate give the weight involved, and the surprisingly-strong torque surge when the compressor kicks on.

The size makes this thing a real nuisance to find a suitable mounting place for, and like any other bell-type horn, an eye must be turned for dirt and water penetration: can't let that get into the horn, or the horn is wrecked. This further limits your mounting options, making this thing best suited for someone who rides only on pavement and only on pretty days and who wants the whole world to see just what a massive horn he has mounted to his bike, because he's never going to hide it on anything but the most panel-covered of motorcycles, and even then, the dirt-and-water issues will still cut into his options.


As far as obnoxious:

It's a total failure there. The stock horn was louder. Further, the air horn takes away completely the quick "bip-bip-bip" tapping the horn to _politely_ get the attention of someone. The compressor lag makes this impossible. Even when timing your pulses to get the compressor to _just_ spool, there's not enough air volume to get any kind of sound unless you're holding the horn down for a good two-second blatt. Essentially, you're left with a horn that _must_ be used wide-open (obnoxious mode only), but is sadly hampered by being less obnoxious than the horn the truck came with.



I'm actually sort of glad I did this, if only for these reasons:

I confirmed for myself that what I've always done has been the better (and far less expensive) option: get a car horn and throw it on there. It's louder, cheaper, and doesn't usually require anything but the stock wiring, particularly if you avoid the actual "horn" style horns. The oversized "buzzer" type horns really do the job.

I opted to leave the air horn where it is for now, with the factory horns controlling the switching. This gives me the friendly bip-bip-bip using the factory horns, and the quieter, almost musical sound of the *ahem* "Bad Boy" actually reduce the obnoxiousness of the factory horns a bit: I've made a more pedestrian-friendly truck. :lol:


If you really want to get a louder horn for your bike, my recommendation remains the same as it always has been:

Get a good loud car horn from a junk yard. Weather resistant, inexpensive, low power draw.

If you want something that really _is_ louder than a factory car horn, get either the Fiamm "Highway Blaster" electric horn (loud, but a very unpleasant sound) or the Hella Supertone Red Grill (again, the buzzer-looking one, not the actual "miniature tuba" looking one).

Either one of these is louder than a factory car horn, yet manages to be both smaller and easier to install than the Wolo, with the added benefit of having no worries about dirt or moisture. The Hella will require upgraded wiring, but has the advantage of being rally-car tested for several years now: you can actually beat it with rocks, sand, and what-have-you and not have to worry about it functioning when you need it.


It's far to late to make a long story short, but I can sum up with this:

If you decide you want to upgrade your horn, get whatever you like. If you decide you want to do it with a bit of practicality, avoid the Wolo; there's no way to justify this as a sensible upgrade.


Have fun!

:)

_________________

Duke
"Skills must be Learned"
------ Herb Christian


"Ask your doctor if medical advice from a television commercial is right for _you_."


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Horn: Wolo 419 "Bad Boy"
PostPosted: Sun May 18, 2014 10:03 pm 
Offline
Forum Moderator

Joined: Feb 23, 2009
Motorcycle: Rebel 250 plus a few others
Rebel: 250
Country: Canada
State/Province: NB
City: Fredericton
Wow...I hadn't thought of that Duke... :D Good writeup!

_________________
2004 Honda Rebel 250
2003 BMW K1200GT
2004 BMW R1200GS
1996 Ducati 900SS
1973 Norton 850 Interstate


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Horn: Wolo 419 "Bad Boy"
PostPosted: Sun May 18, 2014 10:53 pm 
Offline

Joined: Oct 16, 2005
Motorcycle: 2014 CB500XA
Rebel: None
Country: USA
State/Province: AZ
City: Green Valley
Additionally, the Fiamm Highway Blaster can use the bikes stock wiring with no problem.

_________________
John, 2014 CB500XA (Daily Rider), 2009 CRF230L (L'il Red Piglet), 1989 NX250 - sold, 2001 Rebel - sold
Image


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Horn: Wolo 419 "Bad Boy"
PostPosted: Sun May 18, 2014 11:04 pm 
Offline

Joined: Jun 18, 2009
Motorcycle: 1999 Rebel CMX
Rebel: 250
Country: USA
State/Province: FL
City: Summerfield
Great Review Duke.

Plus the additional information about upgrading the stock horn on a motorcycle.

_________________
If you're Waiting on me, you're Late.



1999 Honda Rebel VQR234se
. . . . . 43,000+ Miles . . . . . .


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Horn: Wolo 419 "Bad Boy"
PostPosted: Mon May 19, 2014 1:20 am 
Offline
Forum Administrator

Joined: Jul 25, 2003
Motorcycle: 98 Valkyrie
Rebel: 250
Country: USA
State/Province: GA
City: Vidalia
jsonder wrote:
Additionally, the Fiamm Highway Blaster can use the bikes stock wiring with no problem.


Precisely. I think I mentioned that (if not, I apologize). The Fiamm is really simplest way to go:

remove one bolt and two wires, then reinstall one bolt and two wires.

Done.

And the end result is _far_ more attention-getting than is the Wolo.

_________________

Duke
"Skills must be Learned"
------ Herb Christian


"Ask your doctor if medical advice from a television commercial is right for _you_."


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Horn: Wolo 419 "Bad Boy"
PostPosted: Mon May 19, 2014 4:35 am 
Offline
Forum Moderator

Joined: Sep 9, 2004
Motorcycle: Suzuki Gsf1250
Rebel: 450
Country: Canada
State/Province: NB
City: Rusagonis
...plus, as is your habit, you kept excellent track of your nested brackets!
Brent

_________________
"If you think there's a solution, you're part of the problem" G.Carlin


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 6 posts ] 

All times are UTC - 6 hours


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 0 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to: