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Now comes the real fun, the mechanism. I decided that a moving picture would be worth a lot more than dozens of paragraphs. Please note that this image is not moving at actual speed, but it does show very well how the two motor system behaves. The motor at bottom center is the ubiquitous Dayton 1MBF5 from Electric Motor Warehouse, which runs at 6 RPM.  (At the bottom of the order page are other speed options.) Under Ezra's right arm is the small 6 RPM motor from Chancs via You can find both by clicking the buttons below:

You can probably get away with using a 12 RPM main motor for a faster animation, but be aware that I have not tried this. Also, if you are saying to yourself, 'I have this old rotisserie motor...' then beware. I have had numerous e-mails from people who used these under-powered motors and burned them out in prop driving use. Most are not capable of handling duty like this! The Dayton will last you a lifetime, so spend the hundred buck ticket price. And no, we are not a Dayton sponsored site.

The Dayton has an 8mm shaft, and I used this shaft coupling to attach the crank arm to it:

For the small Chancs motor you will need this version for 7mm:


There are numerous things to note in these images. The extra holes, spaced about 1" apart, allow for experimentation and adjustment. I always build for modification. For example, crank throw can be easily increased or decreased as needed, and figure positions moved.

The black wheels on the left and right of the Dayton motor take the torque load on the main pivots for the parallelogram rack that shifts the bodies of the figures left and right. They are ordinary fixed caster wheels.

The little green circuit board below the Chancs motor holds the simple run capacitor circuit required for it. Instructions for wiring come with the motor, and it may be run either clockwise or counter-clockwise as you prefer.


With a bit of cleverness, one could place a limit switch at the extreme of left-right shift, and have the hitcher run a cycle only when the rack reaches a limit. Or, left and right both. The rack could be stopped and only the hitcher run for a cycle... you know, more like an animatronic animation would. Arduino, anyone? Or Raspberry Pi? I did think about these possibilities last year, but I was so satisfied with the simple version I quit fiddling. I also remembered my golden rule: eschew complexity!

Each cutout section based on foam core board has a flat wooden 'spine' glued to it along its longest dimension. This makes a good solid attachment point for the required bracket. The whole thing ended up being quite sturdy and will last indefinitely.

The uprights (painted black) are made from 2" aluminum L-channel held up with Stanley corner brackets, the same ones used in the original Hitcher. You can substitute 2x4's for the aluminum pieces - or any other replacement that suits your needs.

The left foot of each figure is held stationary by wire, as shown in the lower photos. The right feet of Ezra and Gus just dangle, and Phineas' right leg has a driver wire that is attached to the rod that makes his hand move. I tried to get as much variety as I could from the two drive systems.


What isn't working well are the heads of Phineas and Ezra, which I make move using uprights connecting springs to the levers on the head bracket assemblies. You can barely see the motion, and I will fix that this year, and show my revision in the video I am making to accompany this write-up.

My system for locking the pivoting pieces in place is detailed in the .pdf for the first Hitcher:

Yes, I used no bearings in this mechanism, other than those in the motors, since it moves very slowly. Nearly 30 years of these gadgets of mine are still working fine without them! Frustrated engineers are invited to purchase and install all the bearings they wish in their versions. :-)

This will conclude the document for now.



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