The DHR Air Horn History

The DHR Air Horn History

The development of air horns started when a salesman of one of our wholesalers tipped us about a small producer of air horns in Holland. During the early fifties, a Dutch nobleman in reduced circumstances who liked recreational boating was dissatisfied with the current air horns available on the market.

As clever as he was, he started developing his own horns and compressor and named them after the business he owned, Burto N.V. The Burtone air horn became famous for his clear sound and was widely used by inland navigation vessels.

When he died in 1986, the original blue prints (shown on the right) and some tools were sold to the water sports firm Argos, where the just deceased inventor worked in their basement. In the late eighties/early nineties Den Haan Rotterdam bought the tools and blue prints from Argos, which were moved to the factory at the Wijnhaven in Rotterdam. Two years passed before anything happened. The head of R&D was send on a course to gain knowledge about acoustics and a production line was created. Now DHR became a reliable source of air horns in the Netherlands and Europe.

In France there was the firm Matexon, located on the edge of Paris, a chrome plating company  which had started producing the  famous “Sonabel” train and truck horns. They filed for bankruptcy several times in the eighties and nineties. Around ’96 Mr. Den Haan decided to visit their completely abandoned Matexon factory where tooling, machinery, products and equipment are scattered around. At that moment DHR decided it was time to purchase the production line of the TDE- and P-series air horns. The design of the original horns was updated in order to be conform the Quality standards of DHR and ready for marine use. Nowadays these horns are known as the DHR H100 and H200 series.

Around 2010 the successful three tone horn became not mandatory anymore for ships on the Donau river. However, it is still used on ships for its sound characteristics and good looks.
In addition, the German authority stated that all vessels travelling across the Seeschifffahrtsstraßen where obliged to use a certified air horn for ships up to 75 meters in length. Therefore DHR started to develop the DHRH400 Air horn in the beginning of 2011. Halfway 2014 it became available for the market and was certified according to ColReg ’72.


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