While some folks have posted various ways to illuminate the fire on Lionel's disappearing hobo car, has anyone created a way to flip the hobo module on that car remotely? I think that car would be more popular and greater fun for children if the hobo could be made to "disappear" by remote control while the train was moving rather than having to stop the train and then manually flip the hobo module over to make him disappear.
That project is going to take some engineering. I would start with the mechanism used in Lionel's operating brakeman car and see where that takes you.
It's surprising considering the popularity of Lionel's Polar Express for both forum and nonforum members that no one has yet taken up this challenge. Seeing the various mods folks here have done to their trains, it seems making the hobo piece flip over remotely would have been successfully tackled. Is it that challenging and difficult for somebody with mechanical and electronic expertise to accomplish this mod? Lacking such ability, I haven't attempted it but was hoping someone more capable would have already figured it out. I wonder why hasn't Lionel done this? Perhaps the P.E. disappearing hobo car isn't that big a seller in Lionel's lineup of Polar Express addon accessories?
I don't think the Brakeman mechanism would flip it far enough, but a good thought. Maybe this: a 2 position reverse unit powering the solenoid and gears from an old style 027 switch (ratchet gear on the plunger turning the small gear attached to the pivet point of the Hobo) and activated by a sliding shoe on one of the trucks, which in turn would be activated by the Brakeman track clip or UCS/RCS.
Or there could be just some sort of mechanical option using a trip to spin the Hobo (and I'll leave that to someone else's imagination).