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- “You and Percy make a fine pair. He had the porridge, and you had the milk.”
- ―Thomas to Wilbert
Wilbert the Forest Engine is the thirty-eighth book of the Railway Series.
Wilbert works in Gloucestershire, on the Dean Forest Railway. He kept asking if he could meet Thomas, and at last the Fat Controller managed to arrange it. The visit was not without its mishaps, but I know that Wilbert enjoyed himself. We hope that you will enjoy the stories of his adventures on the Island of Sodor as much as he and the other engines did.
Donald and Douglas are exhausted, so the Fat Controller arranges to borrow an engine, Wilbert, from the Dean Forest Railway. Percy is disappointed to hear Wilbert may not come to Thomas' Branch Line, but forgets it when the weather becomes cold and wet. One day at Elsbridge, the stationmaster and a porter are stacking poorly-sealed sacks of oatmeal on the platform. When Percy comes in, some sacks fall on the ground, scattering oatmeal everywhere. Percy runs into the sacks and is covered in the resulting glop, and Wilbert is quickly re-routed to Thomas' branch line to take Percy's place.
Cab Over Wheels
Wilbert's first job is at the lead mines. Thomas warns him to follow the rules, but Wilbert, who once worked in a colliery, knows what to do and proceeds to tell the engines the story of Sixteen, a bored engine who worked at a steelworks taking trucks of slag to a place called the "tip". Sixteen wanted to go past a "danger" board and, despite several warnings not to, managed to do so one wet day, attributing it to the trucks. Sixteen's fireman was told to shunt him back, but it was too late: some unsafe rails tilted and Sixteen landed on his side on the ground. He was sent to the shed in disgrace, but, luckily for him, he was bought and now works in the Midlands.
Foaming at the Funnel
There is a dairy at Toryreck. Wilbert is given the job of taking milk tankers to Knapford each morning. One day, he spends too much time talking to James at Knapford, and has to take on water at the dairy. Unfortunately, he stops at the wrong hosepipe and instead of water being poured into his tank, milk flows in. Thomas takes him back to Ffarquhar, and Wilbert's tank is emptied out.
Percy returns and Wilbert is sent to the Little Western, where Duck, Oliver and the small engines make him welcome. One day, Wilbert is taking some ballast trucks to Tidmouth when the coupling gear on a truck falls off. Thinking quickly, Wilbert borrows a coil of wire and has it looped around the hole and his coupling. Wilbert gets home safely, and when it is time for Wilbert to return to the Dean Forest Railway the Fat Controller has no doubts about him.
- The Fat Controller
- Duck (does not speak)
- Donald and Douglas (do not speak)
- Oliver (does not speak)
- Daisy (does not speak)
- Mike (does not speak)
- Jock (does not speak)
- Sixteen's Friends (not seen)
- Annie and Clarabel (cameo)
- Henrietta (cameo)
- Rex (mentioned)
- The Austerity Engine (mentioned)
- Percy's Porridge was written as an exercise in creative writing by a class at Abingdon School, and therefore the book is dedicated to them.
- This was the last book of a few things:
- Cab Over Wheels bears some resemblance to Down the Mine and Percy Takes the Plunge. Also, Thomas makes a reference to the former when he warns Wilbert about the Danger notice.
- In Wired Up, Bert makes a reference to Sticking Power.
- The events of this book took place in 1993.
- Sixteen's story takes place sometime after 1943.
- This is Wilbert's only appearance to date.
- This book was a request by the Dean Forest Railway, of which Wilbert Awdry was then President.
- Foaming at the Funnel was based on a story that George Awdry told to Chistopher Awdry.
- In the fourth illustration of "Foaming at the Funnel", Wilbert has milk tankers behind him and empty trucks in front of him. In the previous page, Wilbert said he would leave the empty trucks in the dairy siding.
- In the second illustration of "Wired-up" Oliver appears with his siderods continuing past his second pair of wheels, implying that he is not an 0-4-2 but an 0-6-0. In the same illustration, Oliver's wheel splashers are blocks and not curved and Duck appears to be smaller than Oliver.
- In Foaming at the Funnel, it mentions that the dairy is at Toryreck, but it is at Elsbridge.