Thomas the Tank Engine Wiki
Advertisement
Main Page

“We won't shunt like common tank engines. We are important tender engines. You fetch our coaches and we will pull them. Tender engines don't shunt.”
― Gordon addressing the Fat Controller

Troublesome Engines is the fifth book of The Railway Series.

Foreword

Dear Friends,
News from the Main Line has not been good. The Fat Controller has been having trouble. A short while ago, he gave Henry a coat of green paint, but as soon as he got his old colour back again, Henry became conceited. Gordon and James, too, have been getting above themselves.

I am glad to say, however, that the Fat Controller has, quite kindly but very firmly, put them in their place. And now the trains are running as usual.

I hope you will like meeting Percy. We shall be hearing more of him later.
The Author

Stories

Henry and the Elephant

After Thomas leaves to run his branch line, the bigger engines are now obliged to fetch their own coaches. A circus comes to town, and shunting the special trucks lifts Gordon and Henry's spirits, at least until James is chosen to take the circus' train away. Later, Henry is called out to clear a blockage in a tunnel on the main line, but when he goes in, the block pushes him back out. It turns out to be an elephant which escaped from the circus. The workmen calm the elephant by giving it some food and water, but Henry surprises the elephant by letting off steam and it sprays him with water, much to his anger.

Tenders and Turntables

Gordon is in a bad mood and cannot fit on the turntable, forcing him to take his next train backwards. Thomas and James tease him, but when James goes on the turntable himself, a strong wind spins him around and makes him dizzy. That night, the big engines decide they have had enough and devise a plan.

Trouble in the Shed

The big engines go on strike by refusing to fetch their own coaches, so Edward shunts for them. Edward's strike-breaking is met with much hostility, prompting the Fat Controller to buy a saddle tank engine, whom he dubs Percy. Despite Percy's attempts to accommodate the big engines, they still misbehave, so the Fat Controller shuts them up in the sheds and brings Thomas to work with Edward on the main line, while Percy runs the Ffarquhar Branch Line.

Percy Runs Away

After several days in the shed, the big engines finally see sense and agree to work again, so the Fat Controller lets Thomas, Edward and Percy work together on the Branch Line. Thomas takes Annie and Clarabel for a run and Edward takes some trucks to the quarry, leaving Percy alone. He strays onto the points while forgetting Edward's advice to whistle to the signalman to inform him where he is, and Gordon frightens him when he rushes into the junction. Percy flees backwards, and eventually, exhausted, runs into a sandbank. Gordon later commends him for preventing an accident and Percy becomes the new station pilot at Tidmouth.

Characters

Henry and the Elephant

Tenders and Turntables

Trouble in the Shed

  • Thomas
  • Edward
  • Gordon
  • Percy
  • Sir Topham Hatt I
  • Henry (does not speak)
  • James (does not speak)
  • Workshop Engines (do not speak)
  • Orange-Brown Non-Corridor Coaches (cameos)
  • Annie and Clarabel (mentioned)

Percy Runs Away

Locations

Henry and the Elephant

Tenders and Turntables

Trouble in the Shed

Percy Runs Away

Trivia

  • According to Daily News London, Awdry had finished writing the book in December 1949.
  • In Henry and the Elephant:
    • The elephant is Asian, as the story was based on a real incident that occurred in India where a wild elephant blocked a tunnel. In the television series, the elephant is African.
    • Henry's incident contributes to the strike, although it does not involve his tender.
    • This is the only story not to be adapted into the first series of the television series, although it was later adapted into the fourth series. The adapted version is set long after the events of the other stories and their adaptations, as Percy and Duck appear, and Henry also appears in his new shape.
  • The central theme of this book reflects that, at the time of publishing, there were labour difficulties on the British railways.
  • In Tenders and Turntables:
    • C. Reginald Dalby and his daughter can be seen in the fifth illustration: Dalby is the man on the bench with the luggage, while his daughter is holding a dog on a leash.
    • An additional illustration was also painted by Clive Spong for the 1983 Island of Sodor Map.
    • James' incident with the turntable is inspired by an event that occurred in 1900 at a railway station in Garsdale Head, Cumbria, England.
  • The engines saying Edward has black wheels is a play on the word "blackleg," which is a slang term for someone who continues to work amidst a strike. However, the insult might seem odd coming from the big engines, as James actually has black wheels.
  • In Percy Runs Away:
    • The Rev. W. Awdry, his wife Margaret and his children Christopher, Hilary and Veronica can be seen on the platform waving to Percy in the third illustration.
    • Based on a real event that occured on Christmas Eve 1910 at Hawes Junction.
  • A 70th Anniversary print was released on 16th April 2015.
  • The 1994 edition of this book has a silhouette of Wilbert on the back cover.
  • This was the last retranslated book of The Railway Series by Adongmoonhak in South Korea.
  • The Korean title of this book shares the same name on Jung Ang Educational Foundation Inc. and Adongmoonhak.
  • Percy's introduction in this book created confusion in the timeline. In The Island of Sodor: Its People, History and Railways, it states that Percy was made the station pilot at Tidmouth in 1949, somewhat implying that he arrived on Sodor in that year. However, Henry would be rebuilt in 1935 and Percy makes several appearances before Henry's overhaul. This suggests that either Henry was rebuilt later on or that Percy arrived before 1935. A post on SiF states that Christopher Awdry affirmed the arrival date in Its People, History and Railways to be incorrect and that Percy came to Sodor before 1935.

Goofs

  • On the cover of early editions, the printed silhouette portrays Edward with a 4-6-0 wheel arrangement.
  • In Henry and the Elephant:
    • Henry has Gordon's buffers and blue paint in the second illustration. In the same illustration, James' wheel arches are also missing the black lining.
    • The flowers by Henry's Tunnel keep disappearing and reappearing.
    • Henry is missing his trailing wheels.
  • In Tenders and Turntables:
    • The stripe on Thomas' splasher disappears, and he also does not have the "Ordinary Passenger"/"Branch Line Passenger" head code in the second illustration.
    • Gordon is missing his handrails in the sixth illustration.
  • In Trouble in the Shed:
    • Gordon is incorrectly depicted as a 4-6-0 in the second illustration.
    • Gordon has round buffers on the back of his tender and a fully enclosed cab in the fourth illustration.
    • The engines in the workshop are said to be tank engines, but a few are actually tender engines.
    • Thomas has a straight valance.
    • Thomas and Edward have no headlamps/codes for their passenger trains in the final illustration. Also in the same illustration, Thomas is missing his cab window and yellow lining. His side tank also does not extend to his smokebox and ends on a red lining before his dome.
  • In Percy Runs Away:
    • James appears to be taller than Gordon in the first illustration, also, the latter is missing his steam pipes.
    • Part of Edward's tender is painted a lighter shade of blue in the second illustration.
    • A fire hydrant appears between two the lines in the fourth illustration, additionally, while difficult to see, Gordon does not have headlamps/codes.
    • Gordon is missing the red lining on his cab and tender and the yellow lining around his cab windows in the fifth illustration.
    • Percy's position on the points changes between the fourth and fifth illustrations.
    • The sea can be seen on Percy's right in the sixth and seventh illustrations, not his left as maps of Sodor indicate would be the case.
    • Gordon's steam pipes are black instead of blue in the fifth and final illustrations.

In Other Languages

Language Title
Chinese Mandarin 爱闯祸的小火车
Japanese やっかいな機関車
Korean 말썽꾸러기 기관차들
Norwegian Thomas og de andre lager bråk

Advertisement