News & Reviews Product Reviews Riding the rails with the Lionel Hobo Sound Boxcar

Riding the rails with the Lionel Hobo Sound Boxcar

By Chris Montagna | February 10, 2023

This drifter’s hotel on wheels has lots of detail and plenty of chatter

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It’s time to go riding the rails with the Lionel Hobo Sound Boxcar. Initially offered in the Lionel 2021 Volume II catalog, it was confined to half of page 47. Perhaps uncertain of how the product would be received, the manufacturer only offered it in two road names: Erie (pictured, No. 226010); and Rock Island (No. 226020).

the Lionel hobo sound boxcar side view with figures
Lionel’s Hobo Boxcar starts with a detailed model and adds sounds and figures.

The design is simple: a detailed 40-foot, steam-era boxcar with a door ajar and two traveling vagabonds seated inside. The MSRP for this release is $189.99. subscribers can see (and hear) this boxcar in action.

The Lionel Hobo Sound Boxcar

The description from the catalog describes the sound while the car is stationary as a “hobo camp.” “Freight sounds” take over while the car is in motion, like the sounds we’ve heard on previous sound boxcar releases.

the lionel hobo boxcar underside speaker holes and switches
Sound, louder sound, or no sound, the choice is up to you with the switches on the bottom of the car.

After playing with the car for a few days the “hobo camp” sounds include the playing of a harmonica, and silly dialogue between the two characters on board. The chatter seems to be similar to the sound files from the kitchen cars a few catalogs ago. When you listen closely you can also hear the sounds of birds chirping in the background, a nice addition for any layout scene.

The details

The cars are advertised as coming with two pewter figures, diecast trucks, and operating couplers. The figures are not pewter, they are plastic. One of the selling features of these cars is their 111/4-inch length and ability to navigate O-31 curves.

the lionel hobo car figures sitting in door
A pair of vagabonds is perched in the car, on their way to who knows where?

The boxcars arrived in the fourth quarter of 2022 and were well received by modelers. Lionel seems to be leaning toward putting more sound effects in its rolling stock. These fall into their freight sounds lineup just after the basic boxcars from previous years and before the Vision Line offerings. The latter have ElectroCouplers, sequenced sounds, and controlled loading-unloading sequences triggered by the Cab 2 remote.

The car has a pickup roller on each truck, an off-center speaker, and add on car details that we’ve come to expect from Lionel, including brake wheels and chains, ladders, and roof details.

Sound options

The underside of the car is detailed and there are two switches. “Min/Max” increases or decreases the sounds, and there’s a Sound On/Off switch in case you just want to send the car around the layout in silence. Due to the weight of the speaker, this car comes in at 17.2 ounces and tracks nicely.

Lionel hobo car end ladder and equipment
The “B” end of the car features a brake wheel, chain and rod; ladder; tack board; and grab irons.

If you’re interested in picking one of these cars up but your local hobby shop is sold out, Lionel has already cataloged more road names in its Volume II 2022 catalog. These include Cotton Belt (No.: 2326230), Frisco (No. 2326240), Ann Arbor (No. 2326250), and Western Railway of Alabama (No. 2326260). The MSRP has gone up to $209.99 and they are advertised with plastic, not pewter figures.

Get more O gauge action on the Chris’s Trains & Things channel on YouTube.

One thought on “Riding the rails with the Lionel Hobo Sound Boxcar

  1. OK, sounds nice, pun intended, except for the $209 MSRP. I will have to find my old CNW boxcar with EOT device for the electrical pickup (new car with EOT also too expensive) and add a sound module with a harmonica, talking, and other train like noise in background, easily found on an old train video or other method, and glue in a couple of hobo characters. I imagine this would be a fun car to have but too expensive for this hobo’s budget even discounted.

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