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For other uses, see Trucks (disambiguation).

“Give up, give up! You can't pull us! You can't, you can't!"
"I can and I will, I can and I will.”
―The Troublesome Trucks and James

Troublesome Trucks, retitled Foolish Freight Cars in American releases, is the ninth episode of the first series. It is based on the story of the same name from the Railway Series book James the Red Engine.


It has been several days since James damaged one of his coaches, and since then has been shut up in the shed as punishment. Being left alone and not even allowed out to shunt, James begins to cry, thinking that no one will ever see his red paint again, but the Fat Controller finally returns, telling James that he hopes that he will be a better engine as his actions have caused great embarrassment for the railway. James sincerely apologises and promises to behave. The Fat Controller accepts his apology and assigns him to pull some trucks. James is delighted to be let out and eagerly goes to work.

At the station, Thomas brings James his trucks and teases him about bootlaces before leaving, much to his annoyance. James couples himself to the troublesome trucks, who tease him for his red paint; James just ignores them and despite their protest, firmly sets off with them. During the journey, the trucks make several attempts to hold James back but each time his crew manages to correct the problems, and then he continues on. The trucks then begin shouting at James to give up, but it is no use as James is determined to prove himself a better engine.

Finally the train reaches Gordon's Hill and James tries to pull the trucks up as fast as he can, which is initially tricky. Then halfway up, the pulling suddenly gets easier, but his driver stops him and points out that the brake van and the last four trucks have broken away due to a snapped coupling and are running back down the hill. Fortunately, the guard manages to bring them to a stop at the bottom, and gets out to warn oncoming engines.

James reverses downhill to retrieve the end of his train, while Edward has just been stopped behind it. Edward offers to help, but James politely declines, determined to do it himself. Edward obliges and encourages James as he makes his way up the hill. Pulling with every ounce of his strength, James finally reaches the top of the hill and safely continues to the destined station. Later as James rests, Edward arrives with the Fat Controller. James worries that the Fat Controller will be cross with him again. This time, however, the Fat Controller is happy with James, having seen everything from aboard Edward's train. Since James managed to make the trucks behave, the Fat Controller allows him to keep his red paint.




  • This episode marks the first occurrences of several things:
    • The first episode not to have an engine's name in the title.
    • The first instance in the television series in which an engine, in this case, James, is seen crying.
    • The first episode along with introduced by Bonnie Langford on her first day of Children's ITV.
    • The first episode featuring Edward up to the seventh series to end with his second nameboard in Japan.
  • Stock footage from Thomas and the Trucks is used.
  • In George Carlin's dub, on Thomas and His Friends Help Out, the line "After that performance, you deserve to keep your red coat," is cut. The uncut scene was added on Thomas and Friends - Vol. 1, but only for a limited time. It is now available on Thomas & Friends Classic Volume 1.
  • In the restored version, an extended close-up shot of James at Maron is used.
  • This episode was cut out on the Nick Jr. version of the Shining Time Station episode, The Mayor Runs for Re-Election.


  • When the Fat Controller first speaks to James, his head is turned away from him.
  • Thomas and James' eyes are wonky in the opening scene and James' right eye (viewers' left) moves on its own.
  • James' tender is derailed while Thomas arranges his train. Also, the siding that James is on has no buffers.
  • When Thomas says "Have you got some bootlaces ready?" there is blu-tak under his lantern. Knapford is also missing in that scene.
  • When Thomas puffs off, James' eyes briefly jitter.
  • When James puffs out of the yard, the truck at the front loses its face and regains it as James pulls the trucks up Gordon's Hill the first time. Also, the train next to James on a siding has a brake van in the middle of it.
  • When Thomas puffs away laughing, all the trucks are coupled to each other. But when James backs onto the trucks, one at the front is uncoupled.
  • When the trucks get to the bottom of Gordon's Hill, one disappears. However, it reappears in the first shot of James pulling the trucks up the hill the second time.
  • When James goes up Gordon's Hill the second time, a wire can be seen pulling him up.
  • James' puffing noise is not in sync with his speed.
  • When the narrator says the line "and sometimes their axles would run hot", a crew member's shadow is seen in the bottom left corner of the screen.
  • When Edward is first shown at the bottom of Gordon's Hill, he has no train. When James backs down and couples to the lost trucks, if inspected closely, Edward has at least one truck behind him.
  • In the close-up of James at Maron, the water tower next to him disappears.
  • In the last close-up of James going up Gordon's Hill, his driving wheels are not moving and when they start to move, they are going backwards.
  • When James couples up to his train, he is outside the station, but when he starts moving off, he is inside it.
  • The Fat Controller tells James that he was aboard Edward's train and saw his performance on Gordon's Hill, but Edward is seen pulling a goods train instead of passenger coaches.
  • When Edward is at Maron, his tender is not seated properly on its chassis.
  • When the trucks roll down the hill, a piece of stone falls out from one of them.

In Other Languages

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Language Title
Brazilian Portuguese Vagões de Carga
Chinese Mandarin 煤矿货车厢
Croatian Razigrani Teretni Vagoni
Czech Neposlušné Vagóny
Danish Besværlige Vogne
Dutch Lastige Goederen Wagons
Finnish Rettelöivät Tavaravaunut
French Les Vilains Wagons-Bennes
German Die Güterwagen machen Ärger
Greek Ένα Απίθανο Δρομολόγιο
Hebrew קרונות המסע המרגיזים
Hungarian Rakoncátlan Teherkoscik
Italian Un Treno Merci Combinaguai
Japanese やっかいなかしゃたち
Korean 빨간 멋쟁이, 제임스
Latin American Spanish Los Vagones de Carga Tontos
Norwegian Vanskelige Vogner
Polish Kłopotliwe Wagony
Romanian Vagoane Bucolaşe
Romansh Chars Stentus
Russian Заговор в товарном составе
Serbian Nezgodni Vagoni
Slovak Problémové Vagóny
Slovenian Poredni Tovorni Vagoni
Swedish Dom Vresliga Vagnarna
Turkish Sersem Yük Arabaları
Welsh Tryciau Trafferthus


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Name Published Publisher Highlights Photo
James 2003 Egmont
James 2016 Egmont

Home Media Releases


DVD Boxsets



  • James Learns a Lesson and Other Stories (Ringo Starr's dub)
  • Thomas and His Friends Help Out (George Carlin's dub)
  • The Early Years (UK dub)



DVD Boxsets






  • Troublesome Trucks and 8 Other Stories





DVD Packs







  • Thomas the Tank Engine 1








  • Thomas and Friends Season 1-4