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This article is about the episode. You may be looking for the colouring book or the Buzz Book.

“That Henry is too big for his wheels! Imagine, speaking to me like that! Me, who has never had an accident!"
"Aren't jammed whistles and burst safety valves accidents?"
"No, indeed! High spirits! Might happen to any engine. But to come off the rails like Henry did, well, I ask you, is it right? Is it decent?”
―Gordon and Percy

Off the Rails, retitled Gordon Takes a Dip in American releases, is the twenty-fourth episode of the first series. It is based on the story of the same name from the Railway Series book Gordon the Big Engine.


One morning, Gordon is resting in a siding while noting to himself that being an important engine can sometimes be very tiring. Henry suddenly pulls up, rudely waking Gordon with his whistle. Gordon is very cross, believing that an engine like him who has never had an accident should be respected. Then Percy comes and asks Gordon if jammed whistles and burst safety valves count as accidents. Gordon denies it, saying that those things could happen to any engine, unlike Henry who came off the rails.

It is Henry's day to take the Express and as he prepares to leave, Gordon warns him not to come off the rails, much to his annoyance. After Henry leaves, Gordon tries to go back to sleep, but is soon awakened by his driver who tells him that there is a special train coming which they are to pull. Gordon is cross when he learns it is trucks.

Gordon's fire is unable to burn right away, so Edward has to push him to the turntable to be turned around. Gordon complains the whole way and Edward rebukes him as they reach the turntable. The movement has gotten Gordon's fire burning nicely and making steam. As the turntable rotates, Gordon is so cross that he is willing to do anything to get out of taking the special, regardless of the consequences. When the table is halfway round, he moves forward in an attempt to jam it like last time, but is unable to stop and slides down some old rails into a marshy ditch. Gordon is horrified and shouts for someone to get him out, but his crew sternly refuse, telling him that he is stuck.

"You're stuck, you silly great engine; don't you understand that?"

In his office, the Fat Controller receives a phone call from Gordon's crew who tell him all that has happened. Seeing Gordon from his window, he orders to have Edward to take the special train instead and leave Gordon where he is for now. Meanwhile, some little boys come by, see Gordon's predicament and tease him with a rhyme, leaving him humiliated.

Gordon stays in the ditch for hours, until late at night when a rescue team finally comes. After extensive work removing his tender and preparing a road of sleepers to keep his wheels out of the mud, cables are hooked behind him and then he is pulled out by James and Henry. Afterwards, a filthy and disgraced Gordon crawls back to the shed, much sadder and wiser for his experience.




  • During the scene where the Fat Controller is talking on the phone, the phone chatter heard on the other end is actually sped-up dialogue from Thomas in Trouble.
  • According to the boys' song, the events of this episode take place on a Monday.
  • In the US, this episode aired before Whistles and Sneezes, so American viewers would not understand the "jammed whistles" line until George Carlin narrated the aforementioned episode in 1991.
  • A scrap model of Thomas can be seen beside the ditch.
  • When Gordon is shown being lifted from the ditch, an engine's lights can be seen passing to the left; this is the unspecified Märklin engine.
  • In George Carlin's narration, the boys' song "Silly Old Gordon Fell in the Ditch" has the same tune as the Mother Goose rhyme "Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush". The song is sung in the same way in the Railway Stories audio version of the original book, which was narrated by Johnny Morris. In both of Ringo Starr's narration, however, the song uses a different tune.
  • In its original UK 1985 broadcast, this episode was paired up with Down the Mine. However, early VHS releases had it paired up with Dirty Objects, as do Norwegian and Swedish broadcasts.
  • This episode marks the last appearance of Knapford Sheds until the seventh series episode Something Fishy.
    • It is also the final appearance of Knapford Sheds in its original roundhouse design.


  • In the opening scene, Gordon's front bogie wheels are misaligned and his buffers are crooked.
  • In the close-up of Percy, his coupling chain is up, but in the next shot it is suddenly dangling downwards.
  • When Henry pulls up to Gordon with his goods train, Gordon's right trailing wheel is derailed.
  • Gordon's tender is derailed when Percy puffs up to him.
  • When Henry is getting ready to take the express, Gordon's driver has Blu Tack on his feet.
  • When Henry leaves with the express, Gordon can be seen on the siding besides him, but in the very next scene, Gordon suddenly changes position to the goods platform where Henry left.
  • When Gordon says "Trucks? Pah!", a piece of hair is visible by his right eye.
  • When Edward is pushing Gordon to the turntable, there is steam coming out of his funnel, even though it is said that his fire was slow to start.
  • In the close-up of Gordon on the turntable, a large gap is visible through his left eye.
  • When the boys tease Gordon, the camera shakes.
  • It is said that James and Henry helped to rescue Gordon, but only James is present.
  • In the long shots of James during Gordon's rescue, he has the rescue cable Gordon uses in Percy Runs Away and Down the Mine attached to his middle lamp iron, but in a close-up, he has a chain attached to his front coupling hook instead.
  • When Gordon is being pulled out of the ditch, his buffer beam hits a wooden post.
  • In the final shot of Gordon, the lighting makes it look like daytime, even though the scene takes place at night.


In Other Languages

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Language Title
Albanian Jashtë shinavë
Brazilian Portuguese Gordon, o Sabotador
Chinese Mandarin 脱轨
Croatian Izvan Tračnica
Czech Mimo Koleje
Danish Den Store Afsporing
Dutch Van de Rails Af
Finnish Kiskot Putoaminen
French Le Déraillement
German Entgleist
Hebrew מחוץ למסילה
Hungarian A Vonatsilkás
Italian La Locomotiva Brontolona
Japanese ゴードンみぞにはまる
Korean 도랑에 빠진 고든
Latin American Spanish El Plan de Gordon
Norwegian Ut av Sporet
Polish Wypadek (Original)
Wykolejenie (Alternate)
Romanian Pe Langă Linie
Romansh Gordi fa il bogn
Russian Падение Гордона (Original)
Крушение поезда (Alternate)
Serbian Van Šina
Slovak Mimo Koľaj
Slovenian Gorazd Iztiri
Swedish Ur Spår
Ukrainian Зійшов з рейок
Welsh Cadw ar y Cledrau

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