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“Have a good washout, then you'll feel a different engine.”

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 gets fed up with being given advice by other engines such as Duck and James while taking on coal and water and claims that big engines have big needs and little engines are just annoying. Later, Gordon is impressed when he sees a visitor with two tenders and believes that he would not need to stop as often or be teased if he had two tenders. However, he becomes depressed when Diesel gloats the diesels' victory over steam engines on the mainland.

His mood worsens when Duck and Henry tease him about boiler-ache the next day, but perks up when he is told by the Fat Controller that he will never be scrapped on his railway and that the visitor had two tenders due to the lack of coal and water in between stations on the Mainland, but while Gordon feels much better, Henry is cross and grumbles that he deserves two tenders for his work.

Duck, planning a trick, coerces Henry into pulling some spare tenders. Henry is initially delighted, but is less than thrilled when he finds out that they are dirty, old and filled with boiler sludge, much to the other engines' amusement. As Henry grudgingly pulls them through the station, he is teased back by Gordon with the same jokes used earlier.




  • This episode marks the first appearance of Edward's cross/annoyed face.
  • A photograph from this episode was released as a Royal Mail stamp in 2011 to mark the Reverend W. Awdry's Centenary.
  • 2nd June 1992 (its UK air date) has been adopted by fans of the show as "Educating Gordon Day," referencing the episode.
  • 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. As a result, Flying Scotsman was rewritten as a stranger to Gordon rather than his brother. This was the only production until the The Great Race where the Flying Scotsman appears, but in the aforementioned movie, he is given proper recognition as Gordon's brother.
  • This episode marks the only appearance of the Flying Scotsman before The Great Race.
  • This is the first episode where Donald appears without Douglas, as 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,' instead of referring to him as having two tenders.
  • Big Mickey, the fire station, a grey building, a large brown building, the steel company and steel rig from TUGS appear in the episode.
  • On the Japanese ending, a pre-filmed image of Thomas appears in the sixth series episode, The World's Strongest Engine before it was aired.


  • 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.
  • 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 Polish and Hungarian 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.


  • 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. Your boiler must be full of sludge. Have a good washout, then you'll feel a different engine. (Last two sentences are switched around in the US dub.)
  • 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 two 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

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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

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