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Rusty is a narrow gauge diesel engine who does maintenance work and odd jobs on the Skarloey Railway.
Rusty was built by Ruston and Hornsby Ltd. in Lincoln, England. He was bought by Sir Handel Brown direct from the builders in 1957 to assist Sir Handel and Peter Sam. A generally reliable engine, Rusty is used for track maintenance and breakdowns. Rusty is also occasionally used in emergency for light passenger traffic.
When Sir Handel pretended to be ill, Rusty was asked to assist Peter Sam with the slate trucks and later that day had to perform a rescue operation at the quarry when Peter Sam had an accident on the incline.
Following the return of Skarloey, Rusty was put back on maintenance duties, but had an argument with Duncan about taking care on a "bad bit" of track south of Cros-ny-Cuirn. While initially refusing to help the conceited Duncan when he derailed, Skarloey reminded Rusty of his responsibility towards the passengers and he set out at once, later making up the quarrel with Duncan. Later that year, Rusty and Mr. Hugh were chosen to demonstrate to a television crew how they maintained the line at Quarry Siding.
In 1961, Rusty and Mr. Hugh discovered a washed out section of track south of the tunnel and the railway was closed temporarily while he and the workmen repaired the line. He was later present when Rheneas finally returned home.
In 1964, the Lakeside loop line extension was opened in a grand ceremony at Quarry Siding. Rusty was asked to bring visitors to celebrate the occasion.
In 1984, Rusty was in charge of carrying away tree branches and other cuttings, which were being trimmed from the line so that passengers could get a better view.
In 1995, Rusty was put in charge of the weedkiller train, a job he disliked because it required slow speeds. The weedkiller later created trouble for Rheneas, who could not get a firm grip on the wet, greasy rails. He later had to take Sir Handel's trains after Sir Handel had caused his firebars to collapse.
Rusty's initial depiction in the TV series was with a much more determined and brave personality. In the fourth series, Rusty helped saved Stepney, who was stranded on a siding in a scrapyard on the Other Railway, from scrap. When a Boulder went loose at the Quarry, Rusty narrowly escaped destruction after being chased by the giant stone. Along with Skarloey, Rheneas, and Elizabeth, Rusty saved the Skarloey Railway from abandonment. Rusty once saved Duncan from falling into a river from an old bridge.
One Christmas, when Duncan began complaining more than ever, Rusty had the idea of telling the Thin Controller, who devised a plan. Rusty later saw Duncan lose his temper with Luke, who was blocking the track in front of him. But when Duncan felt sorry and helped Luke carry on his way, Rusty saw this too and told the Thin Controller.
He is currently working at the Skarloey Railway, along with the other narrow gauge engines.
Rusty is a trusty, tame, friendly little diesel. He is a dedicated worker, often maintaining the line, while understanding and respecting the importance of his duties. He also has a rather distinctive two-tone horn. Rusty is quick to remind others with regards to proper conduct, particularly Duncan, who was initially very suspicious of the little diesel. But despite their arguments they both seem to make amends in the end, because of how kind and tolerant Rusty is. He has a good working relationship with both Skarloey and Peter Sam in particular. Caring, calm, and quick-thinking, Rusty is modestly a credit to the Skarloey Railway.
In the Railway Series, Rusty is painted charcoal-black with yellow lining and lettering. In the television series, he is painted orange with yellow lining and white lettering.
- Rusty's name is a portmanteau of his builder Ruston and Hornsby.
- According to a New York Times article from 1995, Britt Allcroft intended to make Rusty gender neutral. Because of this, the episodes Trucks, Home at Last, and Rock 'n' Roll removed or changed any instance of Rusty being referred to in gender-specific pronouns, as the original stories refer to him as male. For example, Duncan's line "Send him packing! Send him packing!" is changed to "Send Rusty packing! Send Rusty packing!" The first two times in the television series that Rusty was referred to in gender-specific pronouns were Tuneful Toots and Duncan and the Old Mine, the US dubs of which referred to Rusty as female. They were edited for their DVD releases, now identifying Rusty as male.
- Rusty's large scale model is currently on display in Japan at the Hara Model Railway Museum (previously on display at Nitrogen Studios).
- In the television series, Rusty is nearly twice the size of his basis. This was so his eye mechanism and motor could be accommodated. When he received a large scale model and later returned in CGI, he was the same larger size for continuity reasons.
- Nitrogen Studios went to the Talyllyn Railway and took measurements of Rusty's basis in order to accurately render him in CGI. This was also the case with Skarloey, Rheneas, Sir Handel, and Peter Sam.
- Matt Wilkinson gives Rusty a West Country accent.
- Rusty was called Rooky in the French dub from series 4 to 7.
- Rusty has been through some modifications in the television series. These include:
- Series 5 (large scale model only):
- Larger face.
- His grey buffers became silver.
- Part of his radiation cap became black.
- Series 6:
- His silver buffers became black.
- Series 9:
- He receives a two tone horn, which is almost similar to Brum's from the TV show of the same name.
- He gains a tail lamp.
- Series 12:
- His face went back to its series 4 size.
- Blue Mountain Mystery:
- Face went back to its series 5 size.
- Added air vents and starter outlets on his sides.
- Rivet detailing on his cab.
- More accurate chassis to his basis.
- A slightly altered version of his new horn.
- Series 5 (large scale model only):
- ERTL (normal and metallic; discontinued)
- Wooden Railway (reissued in three-pack; separate; discontinued)
- Take Along (three-pack and Faulty Whistles four-pack; discontinued)
- Take-n-Play (discontinued)
- Motor Road and Rail (discontinued)
- TrackMaster (discontinued)
- Bachmann (coming soon)
- My First Thomas (discontinued)
- Thomas Engine Collection Series (discontinued)
- Thomas Town (discontinued)
- Trading Cards (discontinued)
- De Agostini (discontinued)
- Brio (discontinued)
- Nakayoshi (discontinued)
- Capsule Plarail
- Pocket Fantasy (discontinued)
- Mega Bloks (discontinued)
- Hobidas (Day Out with Thomas)