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During his first visit to Sodor, Spencer took the Duke and Duchess of Boxford on a trip around Sodor. He ignored Gordon's warnings about taking on water and thus ran out on his hill; however, he blamed the incident on a leaky tank and had to rely on Gordon to take him to Maron.
Upon his next visit, Spencer challenged Edward to a race and maintained a lead for the majority of the race, but vainly fell asleep while the Duke and Duchess stopped to take photos and lost to Edward, after Edward got onto the summer house branch line first.
Spencer has since developed a rivalry with Thomas, with the latter often trying to outshine Spencer - largely without success.
Spencer returned to Sodor to help build a new summer house for the Duke and Duchess of Boxford, much to the annoyance of all the engines. First, he insulted the other steam engines - especially Thomas by calling him a "toy tank engine", which as a result they had a competition of strength. However, Spencer neglected to build the new summer house when he became suspicious about Thomas, thinking he was being a tricky tank engine and ended up getting slate down his funnel at Sodor Slate Quarry. When Spencer discovered Percy's mail vans (thinking that Thomas was hiding them from Percy), he got into trouble with the Fat Controller, who thought that Spencer was hiding the mail coaches all the time. Afterwards, Spencer lost his pride when his owners turned up for their holiday. He then got stuck in the mud when he chased Thomas to Knapford. After being rescued by Hiro, Spencer apologised to Thomas and Hiro and they all worked together to finish the summer house.
Sir Robert Norramby borrowed Spencer as his private engine during the restoration of Ulfstead Castle. He transported the Earl around and much to his embarrassment, had to pull some stones for the job. During that time, he attempted to have races with Gordon, but when the two met Connor and Caitlin during one of their runs, they called off the race. After the restoration was complete, Connor, Caitlin, Gordon and Spencer had another race from Ulfstead's grounds.
Spencer brought a VIP from the Mainland to present the Fat Controller with an award. Due to showing off, he ended up on Edward's Branch Line. Once he finally arrived at Knapford, the Deputy Minister crossly announced that he would not travel back to the Mainland with Spencer. Throughout the day, as the other engines were showing off, Spencer felt sorry for himself and wished he had done his work properly. He learned from his mistake and successfully brought the Deputy Minister back to Sodor the following day.
One day, Spencer was travelling through Henry's Tunnel and almost ran into Thomas, who was hiding in the tunnel pretending to be a made-up engine called Geoffrey, to trick the Fat Controller. At winter, he had to stay on Sodor because the Vicarstown Bridge was blocked with snow. He teased Henry by telling him he might see an abominable snowman. But when the two engines saw something covered in snow walking towards them, Spencer tried to run away, but his valves became blocked. Luckily, it was only the Fat Controller, who had gotten into trouble in the snow. Later, Spencer had to take the Duke and Duchess to Callan Castle, when his valve gear had snapped and broke down, so Thomas, Bertie and Harold had to take the Duke and Duchess to Callan Castle instead.
Spencer would then go on to participate in the Great Railway Show where he served as a UK representative and competed in The Great Race event against Gordon and Flying Scotsman, as well as Axel and Etienne. He came in second place, narrowly losing to Etienne.
On New Year's Eve, Spencer was to take guests to Callan Castle. He decided to take platform 1 and Gordon went on platform 2, but they got the wrong coaches. The passengers got upset and Gordon and Spencer had to take the express passengers to the stations they had missed. They later apologised and watched the fireworks together.
Spencer is very arrogant, snobby, egotistical, bossy and pompous and considers himself to be above doing menial duties such as shunting. He is very proud of his speed. None of the engines particularly like him, especially Thomas and Gordon. When he came to build the summer house, Spencer proved himself to be very nosy, sneaky, disobedient and rather neglectful. Gordon and Spencer have never gotten on very well with each other. This is mainly because of his pompous behaviour, which exceeds even that of Gordon's. His arrogance has also shown that he is not willing to take advice from other engines, which only results in him needing help from those he shrugs off. Despite this, he has shown a kind side when he realised his mistakes, especially when reprimanded by the Duke and Duchess or the Fat Controller for causing trouble. This side once came through when he helped Percy find his way home to Tidmouth Sheds. Despite his pompousness, he also wants to be really useful to like all the other engines.
BasisSpencer is based on a London and North Eastern Railway (LNER) Class A4 Pacific, a type of streamlined 4-6-2 tender locomotive designed by Sir Nigel Gresley and built between 1935 and 1938. The A4s were designed for high-speed, long-distance express services such as the 'Silver Jubilee', and many members of the class set new world speed records for steam locomotives, including Mallard. Originally built with side valences covering their wheels, the A4s later had these removed to improve maintenance, an appearance which Spencer shares. Spencer is also fitted with a corridor tender, which many A4s used for non-stop runs in LNER and British Railways service. Six A4s survive in preservation, including Mallard and Sir Nigel Gresley; the latter named after the class's designer.
In his earlier appearances, Spencer was painted light blue-grey with black lining. From the tenth series onwards, he is painted metallic silver, still with black lining. He has red nameplates with his name in gold letters, each mounted on the sides of his smokebox. His livery may have been inspired by that of the first four A4s, which were painted in a silver grey livery for use on the LNER's 'Silver Jubilee' service. From the nineteenth series onwards, Spencer has also gained permanent lamps on his front.
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- On the Steamies vs. Diesels DVD, Spencer is mistakenly called a diesel, even though he is a steam engine. This is because in the game, Spencer says he does not have a whistle, but has a horn instead. However, his picture clearly shows him having a whistle.
- Spencer's whistle is a stock sound effect of a GWR whistle.
- Even though Spencer's tender wheels are black, most merchandise ranges have them blue-grey/metallic silver.
- Spencer's Hornby model incorrectly features him with black wheels. All other merchandise models have him with correct silver wheels.
- In his The Great Race promotional video, it states he is the holder of the world speed record for steam locomotives. In the actual special, it is stated that he is a former world record holder.
- Spencer is the first steam engine to be the main antagonist in a special, the special being Hero of the Rails.
- At many Day Out with Thomas events, Spencer has Mavis' face.
- In the nineteenth series, he gained two LNER style headlamps.
- Spencer's classic theme is a musical variation of Coronation Scot's theme composed by Vivian Ellis.
- “Who are you!?"
"This is Spencer, he's the fastest engine in the world!"
"Humph!" but secretly Gordon was impressed.
"I'm the Duke and Duchess' private engine. I take them everywhere!”
- ―James introduces Spencer to Gordon, Gordon and Spencer, seventh season
- “Next to him we have Spencer. And just listen to those local crowds go wild!"
"Ha, ha, ha! No, no! Thank you! Ha, ha, ha!"
"He's certainly well known on the Mainland and a former world record holder in his own right.”
- ―The Great Railway Show Announcer talking about Spencer, The Great Race