Klaxon is a trademark for a kind of electric horn used as an alerting mechanism on ships, trains and automobiles. The original electro-mechanical klaxon has been gradually replaced with electronic alarms but the penetrating and unique sound of the klaxon has been retained. A klaxon is a type of horn distinct for its “ahooga” sound which is very loud and shrill. Technically the word klaxon refers to a brand name with the company manufacturing horns and other safety devices. In general terms the word klaxon is now used to refer to any loud sound produced to attract attention. Klaxons were traditionally known to have been fitted in submarines and cars of the twentieth century as part of their safety systems.
The word klaxon was coined by the founder, Franklyn Hallett Lovell Jr., taken from the Greek verb Klazo which means ‘to shriek’. In 1908, Miller Reese Hutchison, an American inventor patented the klaxon with the rights being bought later by the Newark company-Lovell-McConnell Manufacturing Co. Soon the klaxon was part of the standard safety equipment used in General Motor cars. . In fact electric klaxons were the first of its kind to be fitted in private cars and vehicles, powered by dry cells. Later by 1911 the six volt dry batteries were replaced by rechargeable cells.
Klaxon is a kind of electro-mechanical horn used on vehicles, ships and trains to alert others of the vehicle’s presence. It was in 1908 that klaxons came to be used in bicycles and automobiles. Hand-powered klaxons were used as alarms during military evacuations and also functioned as sirens in factories. During the World War II klaxons were used as submarine dive alarms by the U.S. navy submarines. An antique hand klaxon in working condition is worth up to $250.00. The unique sound of the klaxon has been used in a musical instrument called the klaxophone.
The klaxon consists of a horn affixed to a diaphragm made of spring-steel and having a rivet in the centre.When repeatedly hit by the wheel, the klaxon is activated to produce its characteristic sound. The horn which is attached to the diaphragm creates a focused field of amplified sound which can be heard at a great distance. The klaxon works on a motor which can be operated by the hand or driven by batteries. Larger klaxons can produce a deafening sound but even the smaller ones are quite effective as a sound producing mechanism.
The traditional klaxon has been largely replaced by the newer versions of electronic horns which produce lesser sound. Though, klaxons can be easily fitted with electrical horns in the new automobiles for special occasions. The klaxon is widely used in the military as alarm systems or to signal evacuation of buildings. However one should realize the significance of horn as a safety device and hence it should be used only in emergency to attract the attention of the people to move out of the hazardous situation.