- “Did you say two engines, Inspector?"
"Then send the other back at once!"
"Certainly, sir. But which?”
- ―The Fat Controller and the Inspector
The Twin Engines is the fifteenth book of the Railway Series.
The Fat Controller has just been having a disturbing time! He ordered one goods engine from Scotland and was surprised to receive two!
They had both lost their numbers and no one knew which was which. So he didn't know which engine to keep.
The engines, dragged down by the amount of work they have, are pleased to hear a goods engine is arriving from Scotland. However, two engines arrive, a surprised Sir Topham Hatt goes to meet the engine, attempting to sort the matter, but only manages to discover they have "lost their numbers", as they put it, and they have since named themselves Donald and Douglas. The Fat Controller orders for them to have numbers painted on them and puts them to work, but is determined to find out which engine should not be here and send him back.
Donald and Douglas (now #9 and #10 respectively), before setting off to being shown around the yard by Duck, realise they have only numbers painted on their tenders. After such, one afternoon, Douglas is shunting in the Yard and worries about being sent away (thus indicating that he is not the engine that was supposed to come here and that Donald was), unfortunately forgetting to shunt Thomas' Special Coach. To evade the angry complaints of the passengers, the twins decide to swap tenders so as to convince the Fat Controller that Donald has taken his goods train, but to no avail, the Fat Controller, not being fooled, reprimands Douglas severely.
Under the threat of one of the twins being sent away, the twins behave fairly well, until a spiteful brake van causes trouble for Douglas. Donald soon puts the van right, until Donald crashes backwards into a signal box in a siding. The Fat Controller scolds him, despite deciding to send Douglas back and keep him, having upset his arrangements again; assigning his goods work to James in the meantime. With the brake van and the trucks sensing James' fury, they give him a hard time pulling his train. Eventually, Douglas has to help James up Gordon's Hill as a banker. The brake van holds back again, but gets its comeuppance after Douglas, while straining up the hill, accidentally crushes it. The Fat Controller comes to supervise the clean-up, and has mixed feelings about Douglas staying.
Winter comes early, and Donald and Douglas ask to help clear the line. They manage to rescue Henry from a snowdrift, but they are still worried as its now looking like both of them will be sent back. The engines, upset over the possibility of the twins being sent back, under Edward's advice to Percy, organize a deputation, assigning Percy as their representative. Percy pleads with the Fat Controller, telling them that Donald and Douglas will be scrapped if they return to Scotland, but the Fat Controller has already made up his mind: he gives the twins a new coat of paint and nameplates, allowing them both to stay. The news is met with thunderous whistles and cheers of joy between the engines.
- Donald and Douglas
- The Spiteful Brake Van
- The Fat Controller
- Annie and Clarabel (do not speak)
- The Foreign Gentlemen (do not speak)
- The Fat Controller's line "Now, which one of you is 57646?" is a subtle joke as, in reality, the 812 class' numbers only went up to 57645.
- Gordon references Tugboat Annie, a 1933 MGM film about a tough old widow who captains a tugboat.
- A TV series adaptation of "The Missing Coach" along with Break Van and The Deputation was planned for the second series, confirmed by David Mitton in 1985. However, Britt Allcroft scrapped the idea halfway through production, citing that the plot would be too complicated for young viewers. Donald and Douglas switching tenders was clearly the convolution Allcroft was referring to. As a result, the production crew had to make a whole new episode, "Thomas, Percy & The Coal," in order to stop the series being short of an episode.
- The illustration on the front cover shows one of the twins with British Railways' cycling logo.
- The title of the third story, "Break Van" is a pun on the word brake van, as in the story, the van breaks.
- The events of this book take place in 1959.
- When Percy, Gordon, and Henry mix up the pronunciation of "deputation", Edward is visible in the shed; however, he does not correct them. Furthermore, it is mentioned that Percy ran back to the shed quickly, implying that he went immediately back. Edward was previously seen with some coaches, so if he had to take a train or shunt the coaches, then Percy should have arrived at the shed long before he did. In addition, one of the twins is missing in the scene.
- In the fifth illustration of "Break Van" the Spiteful Brake Van is facing forwards, but in the next illustration, he is facing backwards. Also in this illustration, James' black lining, along his wheel arches are gone, and his cab roof is red.
- In the fifth illustration, James does not have a light engine lamp.
- In the fourth illustration of "The Missing Coach" Clarabel is longer than Annie.
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