ERS 174 - Temporary Little Engines

ERS 174 - Temporary Little Engines - 01Salty
This volume is a glimpse back at various points of the early years of the Skarloey Railway. It helps 'fill the gaps' with elements of history mentioned by Awdry but not featured in stories. For example, Natalie the Vertical-Boiler Engine is one of the "borrowed engines" mentioned in TIOS: Its People, History and Engines, as well as the notion of 'Chapel trains'. Flivvy is another parallel between the Skarloey Railway and the Talyllyn Railway. He is inspired by the Talyllyn's former No. 5 "The Lawnmower".

Not long after Sir Handel and Peter Sam arrived on the Skarloey Railway, Skarloey tells them a story about one of the engines that was borrowed to help run the line. Her name was Natalie, and when she arrived the Manager found out she was not the engine he asked for. It was decided to keep her anyway, but because of her slower speed Natalie found she had to work twice as hard to remain on time. Because of her love for the peaceful and scenic railway, she decides it's best to exert herself over getting sent back to her unpleasant home. This attitude ends up causing quite a predicament...


Every Sunday the Skarloey Railway has 'Chapel trains' to the church at Glennock. One morning, when Rheneas and Natalie were to run the trains, Natalie becomes particularly impatient. They get to the chapel without fuss, but when the service is over Natalie becomes agitated, determined to not be late. She goes to move over a set of points that were not fully switched, and ends up derailing between the two tracks. After some strenuous re-railing work and a scolding from the Owner, Natalie eventually takes her train home. Skarloey finishes his story by adding that Natalie was eventually sent home, but on good terms, and a hard-working attitude that would rival any following engine.


Sir Handel and Peter Sam regale what happened whilst Skarloey and Rheneas were away, and before Rusty arrived. The railway management decided to experiment with an engine run on petrol, so instead of buying an engine they bought an old car to convert it to run on rails. The car was called Flivvy, an unpleasant individual who became incredibly incensed when he learned of the rebuild. When the conversion was complete Flivvy started working on the railway, but his attitude did not improve, and Sir Handel and Peter Sam wondered how long they could put up with him. Turns out it wasn't that long at all.


After the completing of the new slate quarry Flivvy is relegated to works trains and occasional passengers. But he keeps complaining and bickering, and getting on the nerves of the other engines. On the way back home from a maintenance job, Flivvy's gearbox starts making odd noises, and at the level crossing north of Cros-Ny-Cuirn he breaks down and comes to a stop directly over the road. This causes a huge amount of delay, and Sir Handel is quickly brought up to bring the train back home. Flivvy's conditional is revealed to be quite severe, and it's decided to not bother repairing him and he ends being dismantled.