ERS 198 - The Trouble with Donald

ERS 198 - The Trouble With Donald - Christopher

With the Extended Railway Series amidst the mid 2010s at this point, the ERS Team decided to take advantage of this with a series of mini-arcs based upon how Sodor’s economy would hold up against the Credit Crunch at about the same time. This was one of the ideas that was suggested and developed upon...

Donald is feeling unwell, clanking and wheezing more than usual – something which Dick teases him about. But Donald struggles hard with a loaded ballast train one day, and keeps losing his footing on Gordon’s Hill. He makes it over regardless and arrives at Barrow late but safely. It is revealed why Donald couldn’t get a grip on the hill; the latch on his sandbox door had broken and he had lost all his sand back at Tidmouth...

Donald’s sandbox is easily repaired, but it’s enough to draw the Fat Controller’s attention. He decides to put Donald on shunting duties in the yard until the Works can find time to give him a proper overhaul. Donald feels bored after a time, and is missing working alongside Douglas. To cheer him up one day, Ted offers his next “empty stock” movement to Donald – a row of coaches to be brought to Thomas’ Juncion. But Donald is so excited to stretch his wheels again, he does a “Thomas” and leaves the train behind...not realising until they reach the Junction that they haven’t been puling anything at all!
In spite of the “Thomas’s Train” influence, the incident that inspired this story took place near Bromsgrove in 1950 – where a goods engine stopped for water during a goods run, and its crew forget to recouple the train after they set off again...


Dick finds Donald’s mishap very amusing, and he becomes more big-headed than usual, boasting about his “modern efficiency” to Donald and Douglas. But one day, Dick gets above himself when he is asked to pull Winston’s ballast train – he mistreats the trucks, who pay him back by bursting a brakepipe and forcing the train to stop on a level crossing. Dick is left very embarrassed as he causes a huge traffic jam, and has to wait for Bear to come and rescue him.
This story was inspired by a similar incident near Lincolnshire in 2012, where a pair of Class 47 Diesels both failed whilst running an empty stock, with the last four coaches blocking a level crossing.

Some weeks later, the Fat Controller brings more news for Donald – the Works still aren’t ready for him, but he’s needed there anyway to help with shunting, as Bad Bob needs important repairs himself (which was already foreshadowed in ERS #196). But on his way to the Works Station, Donald proves that he’s far from “past it” when he has to help Jinty to bank Gordon up the slippery hill. Needless to say, this gives Dick a lot to think about...
This was inspired by another incident at Shap when a Fairburn tank engine was sent to bank a Peak Diesel-hauled passenger train...but the banker couldn’t move the train by itself, so they allowed the next train behind (another Peak) to come and help push.