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Recap / The Railway Series B 5 Troublesome Engines

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Troublesome Engines is the fifth book of The Railway Series published in 1950. This contains four stories:

  • Henry and the Elephant: Henry is called out to clear a blockage in his tunnel, but when he goes in, an elephant pushes him back out of the tunnel! The workmen give the elephant some water, but Henry surprises it by letting off steam and it sprays water all over him.
  • Tenders and Turntables: Gordon is in a bad mood and when he goes to be turned around for his next train he unbalances the turntable and has to take the train backwards. Thomas and James tease him, but later James is spun around by the wind on the turntable. The big engines have had enough, and make a plan.
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  • Trouble in the Shed: The big engines refuse to get their coaches and so Edward is brought in to shunt for them. However, poor Edward is met with hostility and so the Fat Controller buys a saddletank engine, which he christens Percy. The big engines refuse to come out, so the Fat Controller shuts them up and brings Thomas to work with Edward while Percy runs his branch line.
  • Percy Runs Away: The big engines finally see sense and agree to get their coaches ready, so the Fat Controller lets Thomas, Edward and Percy play on the branch line. Thomas takes Annie and Clarabel for a run and Edward takes some trucks to the quarry, leaving Percy alone. He strays onto the points, and Gordon scares him when he rushes into the junction. Percy runs away, and eventually, exhausted, runs into a sandbank. Gordon later commends him for preventing an accident and Percy becomes the new station pilot at Tidmouth.

The book contains examples of:

  • Achilles in His Tent: Gordon, Henry, and James start doing this, but The Fat Controller won't let them.
  • Acquired Situational Narcissism: This happens to Henry as he is painted green again.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: The engines discuss their misfortunes in the end of "Tenders and Turntables" - Henry wheeshed by an Elephant, Gordon pulling the coaches backwards, James spinning on the turntable, and all three engines having to shunt in dirty sidings.
  • Bratty Half-Pint: Percy, much to the big engines' annoyance.
  • Bully Hunter: The three tender engines hiss rudely at Edward for interfering with their strike. When Percy arrives, he responds to this by wheeshing loudly at Henry, sending him back into the sheds startled.
  • Circus Episode: "Henry and the Elephant".
  • Creator Cameo: The illustrator, C. Reginald Dalby, briefly appears in "Tenders and Turntables", in the picture where Gordon has to take a train backwards. He's the man with the suitcase, while his daughter is walking a dog.
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  • The Freelance Shame Squad: Thomas and James laugh at Gordon having to pull the Express backwards after the wind prevents him from being turned around on the turntable. Then it's Gordon's turn to laugh at James for spinning around on the turntable due to the wind.
  • Heel Realization: The end of the episode shows Gordon, Henry, and James alone in the sheds realizing how silly they were for going on strike.
  • Hypocrite: James saying that Edward has black wheels; take a look at James' own wheels.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Gordon, who was previously in disgrace after the strike, comes to Percy's aid after his runaway and praises him for preventing the accident.
  • Kick the Dog: The big engines (particularly Gordon) rudely hissed at Edward for interfering with their strike and said he had black wheels.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: The Fat Controller shuts up Gordon, Henry, and James in the sheds for a few days for their bad behavior in going out on a strike as well as mistreating Edward.
  • No Sympathy: In the first story. The coaches showed no concern about the big engines complaining about having to fetch them by themselves:
    Coaches: You're lazy and slack! You're lazy and slack!
    • It was averted in the end of the first story, where Gordon and James sympathized with Henry over his ordeal with the elephant.
  • Oh, Crap!: Both Percy and Gordon when they realize they are on the same line, with Gordon about to charge into Percy.
  • Runaway Train: Percy himself after being frightened of causing an accident.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Gordon believed that he was given a tender to show how important he was.
  • Tempting Fate: Gordon warns James that he will stick on the turntable just like he did, but James assures Gordon that he won't because he isn't as "fat" as Gordon. And James is right, except that turntable spins around too easily thanks to the strong wind and James spins around like a top. Gordon looks on with an amused look on his face.
  • Terrible Trio: Gordon, Henry, and James establish this. There's a reason for the book's title "Troublesome Engines".
  • A Tragedy of Impulsiveness: Percy didn't pay attention to Edward and almost collided with Gordon after forgetting to whistle to the signalman, causing him to panic and reverse without his driver and fireman.
  • Ungrateful Bastards: Edward gets coaches for the big engines, and they thank him by hissing him, and saying he has black wheels.


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