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- “Take care. You might stick too."
"No fear. I'm not so fat as you.”
- ―Gordon and James
Tenders and Turntables is the fifteenth episode of the first series.
Life has been harder at the yard since Thomas left to run his branch line. With no tank engine to shunt or fetch coaches for them, Henry, James, and Gordon must shunt in the sidings and fetch their own coaches which they do not like at all. The three engines' behavior and complaining embarrasses the railway and causes the Fat Controller a great deal of trouble. In addition, while Thomas, being a tank engine, does not need a turntable, the larger tender engines do, as it is dangerous for them to go fast backwards.
One windy afternoon after lamenting to Thomas about the recent work, Gordon arrives at the other end of the line with his train and heads for the turntable. The turntable is by the sea, so the wind is very strong and unless an engine is perfectly balanced on the turntable, it becomes difficult to turn. Gordon is in a bad mood and is unable to get perfectly balanced, and neither his driver nor fireman can get him to cooperate. After several attempts, they give up and he is forced to pull his next train tender first.
When Gordon arrives at the junction, a group of boys joke around and taunt him for his humiliating situation by calling him a tank engine. Thomas, who is waiting at the junction, laughs and suggests that Gordon should scrap his tender and get a nice bunker. Gordon says nothing. James passes by with his train and laughs as well. Gordon warns James that he may also stick on the turntable, but James claims that will not happen because he is not so fat as him.
When James gets to the sheds; he carefully lines up on the turntable, allowing it to move very easily. But the strong wind has other ideas and begins to spin James around like a top. Gordon arrives just in time to see the whole thing. When the turntable finally stops spinning, Gordon asks James if he is playing "Roundabouts". James says nothing and backs into the shed feeling dizzy and completely humiliated.
That night, Gordon, James, and Henry hold an indignation meeting. They decide it would be best, after the day's events, to go on strike.
- The Little Boys
- The Stone-dropping Boys
- Annie and Clarabel (do not speak)
- Sir Topham Hatt (does not speak)
- Bertie (cameo)
- Märklin Engine (deleted scene cameo)
- This episode is based on the story of the same name from The Railway Series book, Troublesome Engines. Much of the exposition at the episode's start is from the story Henry and the Elephant from the same book.
- James' whistle while puffing onto the turntable and after being spun is absent in both Ringo Starr versions, but can be heard in all other versions.
- Despite aiming to avoid using this term in the American script, this episode is one of the few instances to use the word "fat" in the US dub.
- Two freeze frames are used when Thomas talks to Gordon about pulling his train backwards and when James is in the shed by himself.
- A behind the scenes photo from this episode shows that the Märklin engine was used.
- James' mishap with the turntable is based on an event that occurred in 1900 at a railway station in Garsdale Head, Cumbria, England.
- This episode marks the only appearance of Vicarstown Goods Yard before Journey Beyond Sodor which was released thirty-three years later.
- When the engines say "We get no rest! We get no rest!" Henry has no crew in his cab.
- When the narrator says "The big stations at both ends of the line..." Henry is shunting the same coaches as he was when James came past shunting his and the first coach behind Henry seems to have a dented roof.
- The narrator says "The fireman tried to turn the handle..." but there is a workman stationed at the turntable booth instead.
- James' brake coach is backwards when he rushes through Elsbridge.
- In the close-up of James spinning on the turntable, a crew member's face and arm are reflected in his paintwork and his dome is scratched. Also the wires between James and his tender are visible.
- When the turntable stops spinning, it connects to the last berth on the right, but when James reverses, the turntable leads to the middle line.
- When Thomas and Gordon are at Elsbridge, Clarabel is facing forwards, Gordon's left buffer is wonky and both of their puffing noises are heard before they start to move.
- When James puffs onto the turntable, he is facing towards the sheds, but in the close-up of him as the turntable turns, he is facing away from the sheds.
- In the close-up of the Fat Controller looking mad, his hat's brim has two chips on it.
- In Gordon's close-up, his buffers are crooked.
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