- “Help! I'm not a truck!”
- ―Percy on the coal tipper (UK narration)
Middle Engine is the fourteenth episode of the sixth series.
One day, Percy is collecting coal trucks from the Smelters Yard to take to the coaling plant, but 'Arry and Bert play a trick on him by shunting trucks in front of him, making him a "middle engine." Percy has to go slowly between the rakes of trucks and James teases him by calling him a "slowcoach." Percy has to shunt the front trucks onto the tipper for the coal to be dumped.
Percy knows it is against the rules for an engine to go on the tipper's loading ramp while it is operating, but when his driver and fireman leave, Henry arrives to collect some coal trucks, unaware that Percy is there and accidentally bumps him onto the loading ramp, where he is lifted up and brought back down with his coal dumped out. The yard manager is cross with Percy for causing confusion and delay and reports the accident to Sir Topham Hatt.
That night at the sheds, Sir Topham Hatt is also cross with Percy and scolds him for going onto the loading ramp. Percy tries to explain that it wasn't his fault, as 'Arry and Bert made him a "middle engine," but Sir Topham Hatt does not care and sends him to work in the yard until the incident is sorted out. James claims that he can handle 'Arry and Bert, so Sir Topham Hatt sends him to the smelters yard to do Percy's work the next day.
The next morning, James meets 'Arry and Bert at the Smelters and tells them to shunt his trucks for him. When James happily collects his trucks, he is sure he has put 'Arry and Bert in their place, but they play the same trick they played on Percy. James says he is not a "middle engine" and refuses to move, so Percy has to pull James to the docks. Percy then jokes that James is learning to be a "middle engine." leaving James angry and embarrassed.
- 'Arry and Bert
- Sir Topham Hatt
- The Coaling Plant Manager
- Thomas (does not speak)
- Henry (does not speak)
- Gordon (does not speak)
- Duck (cameo)
- Annie and Clarabel (cameo)
- Farmer Trotter (cameo)
- Big Mickey (faceless, cameo)
- This episode is based on a real event where a steam engine was wedged between two coaches at a railway station somewhere in England.
- The Coaling Plant manager has a Bronx accent in the American narration.
- Scrap models of Thomas, Gordon, James, Toad, City of Truro, Lorry 2 and Donald or Douglas are seen.
- This episode marks two firsts, one each for 'Arry and Bert:
- The first time 'Arry is referred to by name.
- Bert's first speaking role.
- This is the second episode where a character says "confusion and delay" after the fifth series episode, Oliver's Find, but the fourth episode where the phrase is used overall. In the fifth series episode, Cranky Bugs and the sixth series episode, The World's Strongest Engine, it was said by the narrator.
- In the US narration, the same singular recording of the line "coal" is used throughout the episode. This is most noticeable when Percy is approaching the tipper.
- The line "I'm not a truck!" is omitted from the American narration.
- In the first close-ups of 'Arry and Bert in widescreen, James is standing in between them; this is because footage from later into the episode is used. James cannot be seen next to Bert on 4:3 centre-cut prints of this scene.
- In the shot after Percy gets stuck in the middle, 'Arry's eyes are wonky.
- In the shot after Henry arrives, Percy is pushed onto the ramp. In the next shot, he is pushed onto the ramp again.
- When Percy gets pushed onto the ramp, he is not tethered to it, but he is in the next scene.
- Percy's side rods immediately change position when he is on the loading ramp.
- When 'Arry and Bert roll alongside James, James and Bert's eyes are wonky.
- Percy's steam platform is visible when he leaves with James and the trucks.
- In a close-up of Percy being tipped over, the rails underneath him disappear.
- In some of the scenes of Percy being lifted, his wheels do not have counterweights.
- James said he would not move, but in the shots when Percy is pulling him and the trucks, steam is coming out of James' funnel as if he was moving.
- In a rare photo, Henry has two coal trucks behind him instead of three.
- Percy: Oh bother!
- 'Arry: Little green piggy in the middle!
- 'Arry: Little red piggy in the middle!
- Bert: Just like Percy!
- James: I am NOT like Percy. I am not a middle engine and I'm not moving!
- Narrator: And he didn't.
- Manager: Right on time! But what is that big red engine doing in the middle?
- Percy: Learning.
- Manager: Learning what?
- Percy: Learning to be a middle engine!
In Other Languages