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“That's what I need! Now if I had two tenders I wouldn't have to stop so often, and I wouldn't have to listen to silly little engines!"
"Those tenders belong to a visitor”
―Gordon and his driver

Tender Engines is the twentieth episode of the third series. It is based on the story Tenders for Henry from the Railway Series book Enterprising Engines.


Gordon grows agitated when James and Duck criticise him for taking on too much coal and water. He claims that big engines have big needs and little engines are just annoying. Gordon is impressed when he sees a visitor with two tenders, but soon becomes depressed when Diesel gloats about the diesels' victory over steam engines on the Mainland.

Gordon's mood worsens when Duck and Henry tease him about boiler-ache the next day, but he perks up when the Fat Controller assures him that steam engines will never become obsolete on his railway. The Fat Controller also mentions that the visitor had two tenders due to the lack of coal and water in between stations on the Mainland; while Gordon feels much better after hearing this, Henry is cross and says that he deserves two tenders for his hard work.

Duck decides to play a trick on Henry with Donald's help and coerces Henry into pulling some spare tenders. Henry is initially delighted, but when he comes to claim them at the end of the day, he finds out that they are old, dirty and filled with boiler sludge. As the other engines watch Henry grudgingly pull his tenders through the station, Gordon teases him with the same joke Henry used earlier.




  • In the United Kingdom, a photograph from this episode was released as a Royal Mail stamp in 2011 to mark the Reverend W. Awdry's centenary.
  • Most of Henry's old tenders have "NE" on the sides, indicating that they are North Eastern Railway 4,200 gallon tenders.
  • Flying Scotsman was originally intended to have a larger role in this episode, but due to budgetary constraints, the entire locomotive model could not be constructed and never appears. As a result, Flying Scotsman was rewritten oddly as a stranger to Gordon rather than his brother. Flying Scotsman would later appear in The Great Race, where he is properly established as Gordon's brother.
  • This is the first episode where Donald appears without Douglas, and well as the first episode where either of the Scottish twins appears without the other.
  • The modern television description refers to Flying Scotsman as "a two-engine."
  • Big Mickey, the fire station, a grey building, a large brown building, the steel company and steel rig from TUGS appear in the episode.
  • The JEI TV version of the Korean dub added subtitles to inform viewers what tenders are.
  • This episode was never released on DVD in South Korea.


  • When James first arrives at the coal chute to speak to Gordon, his pony truck is derailed. But when James leaves the coal loader, his face and eyes are both misaligned.
  • The scene where Gordon sees the Flying Scotsman and is demoralised by Diesel takes place at Brendam, but the narrator states that "Gordon steamed into the yard at the big station."
  • Flying Scotsman's second tender is a standard LNER corridor tender when it should be an auxiliary water tender.
  • When Henry bangs the trucks, one bounces upwards.
  • Henry's face is loose when he complains about always working hard enough for two tenders.
  • When Henry apologises to Duck, his left eye (viewers' right) moves on it's own a couple times.
  • Before Henry comes out with the tenders, James' first wheel is crooked.
  • Henry passes Thomas twice while pulling the tenders.
  • In the restored version, a tripod camera is seen when Gordon says "Don't be vulgar!"
  • Studio equipment can be seen when Gordon leaves Tidmouth.
  • In the Hungarian and Polish dubs, Duck is referred to as Diesel when he says, "I know. It's boiler-ache."
  • When Duck passes the water tower, his bunker handrail is loose.
  • When Gordon talks to Duck, at one point his eyes jolt, and Duck's eyes are wonky.
  • In some scenes throughout:
    • Gordon's buffer and lamp irons are crooked.
    • Duck's face is loose.


  • James: That's the third load of coal you've had today, Gordon. Some might say you're being rather greedy.
  • Gordon: I'm an important engine. Important engines need plenty of coal, but I doubt if you would understand that, James.


[Duck catches Gordon taking on water from an ordinary stand pipe, as the water tower is under repair]
  • Duck: I wouldn't drink too much of that water if I were you, Gordon. It might give you boiler-ache.
  • Gordon: Pah! What's this? Educating Gordon Day? First James, and now you, Duck. Big engines have big needs. Little engines are just annoying.
  • Duck: Don't say I didn't warn you.


  • Diesel: Everyone knows that tenders are a mark of distinction, but I'm afraid that no amount of tenders will save you in the end. We diesels are taking over, and we don't need tenders to make us important, not even one.


  • Gordon: [disappointed after hearing Diesel's remark the day before] I'm not happy.
  • Duck: I know. It's boiler-ache.
  • Gordon: It's not boiler-ache. It's...
  • Henry: Of course, it is. That water's bad.
    • [UK dub] Your boiler must be full of sludge. Have a good washout, then you'll feel a different engine.
    • [US dub] Have a good washout, then you'll feel a different engine. Your boiler must be full of sludge.
  • Gordon: Don't be vulgar.


  • The Fat Controller: Cheer up, Gordon.
  • Gordon: I can't, Sir. Is it true what Diesel says, Sir?
  • The Fat Controller: What does he say?
  • Gordon: That diesels are taking over!
  • The Fat Controller: Don't worry, Gordon, that will never happen on my railway.
  • Gordon: And one more thing, Sir. Why did the visitor have 2 tenders?
  • The Fat Controller: Because he lives on a railway with long distances between coaling depots.


  • Henry: I always work hard enough for two. I deserve another tender.
  • Duck: [plans a trick with Donald] Henry, would you like my tenders?
  • Henry: Yours? What have you got to do with tenders?
  • Duck: Alright, the deal's off. Would you like them, Donald?
  • Donald: I wouldna deprive ye of the honour.
  • Duck: It is a great honour, but I'm only a tank engine. Perhaps James might–
  • Henry: I'm sorry I was rude. How many tenders have you and when can I have them?
  • Duck: Ah, hmmm... I have six and you can have them this evening.
  • Henry: Six lovely tenders! What a splendid sight I'll be!


In Other Languages

View content
Language Title
Brazilian Portuguese Nem Sempre mais é Melhor
Chinese Mandarin 煤水车
Czech Tendry
Danish Kulvogn Eller Ej
Dutch Kolenwagens
Finnish Hiiltynyt Veturi
German Lokomotiven mit Kohlewagen
Greek Το μέλλον των σιδηροδρόμων
Hungarian Szerkocsis Mozdonyok
Italian Locomotive Bisbetiche
Japanese たんすいしゃがほしい
Korean 탄수차 때문에 생긴 일
Norwegian Kullvogner
Polish Wagony z Węglem
Romanian Locomotive Tender
Russian Нежные паровозы
Serbian Tenderi i Lokomotive
Slovenian Lokomotive s Prikolicami
Spanish A cada uno lo suyo
Swedish Kolvagnar
Turkish Olgun Lokomotifler
Ukrainian Тендерні паровози
Welsh Gwagenni Glo

Home Media Releases


DVD Boxsets




  • Daisy and Other Thomas Stories
  • Best of Gordon

DVD Boxsets


DVD Boxsets

  • Complete Series 1-10
  • Classic Collection
  • Series Three and Series Four Double Pack



DVD Boxsets



DVD Boxsets










  • Thomas and Friends Season 1-4