Narrow Gauge Engines

The Narrow Gauge Engines

Working under the instruction of The Thin Controller, they may be smaller, but they're just as useful - they are the Narrow Gauge Engines!

Awdry's Engines

Skarloey

Skarloey

A rather unco-operative start in 1864

Skarloey is the oldest working engine on the Island of Sodor.  Built in 1864 at Fletcher-Jennings Works in Whitehaven, he was delivered to Sodor to help build the Skarloey Railway.  But Skarloey was far more interested in pulling coaches of passengers than the trucks needed in the Quarry.  He was very awkward with the workmen and refused to co-operate.  The Manager didn’t take kindly to his attitude and called him a “Crosspatch” – and he stayed covered up for several days as punishment before Mr Bobbie, the man who helped build him in England, came to nurse him through the difficult early stages.

Returning from England with rear wheels and cab

Skarloey was chosen to haul the Director’s Train when the railway first opened, and thought it a great honour.  So much so that the pride went straight to his smokebox and made him conceited. Rheneas warned Skarloey to be careful, he had awful ‘bucks and bounces’ as a result of his rear-overhang.  On the journey back, the coaches bumped Skarloey and knocked the Manager from his footplate, causing him to land in the bushes.  Skarloey thought he was in disgrace, but the Inspector knew it wasn’t his fault, and recommended a pair of trailing wheels for Skarloey which improved his motion.  Skarloey returned from England again with a pair of trailing wheels and a new cab, which provided a source of comfort for the crews driving him – and he became the more favoured engine for running.

Old Faithful is told of his repairs at last!

But by the 1940s, Skarloey was beginning to weary, and by 1945, his boiler and firebox were in such a poor state that he could only be steamed in times of dire emergency.  Rheneas became the mainstay of the railway until 1951, when the two ex-Mid Sodor engines were acquired.  Following this, Rheneas was sent off for heavy repair, whilst Skarloey stood in the sheds.  The old engine soon received his turn for repair when Sir Handel broke down, and Peter Sam was unavailable.  He courageously took over the running of a train in Sir Handel’s place and despite his numerous defects, made a valiant effort to run the train to the end of the line and back again.  ‘Old Faithful’ was sent for repairs and came back in 1958 feeling revitalised again.

Skarloey tricks Sir Handel into challenging George

Skarloey has always been keen to show an example to the younger engines, particularly Duncan, who continues to be difficult.  But at times, the old engine can still have a mischievous side.  He once tricked Sir Handel into racing George the Steamroller to teach them both some sense when all Sir Handel would do was boast about his new broad wheels!  Culdee, Rheneas and he also spooked Duncan and Sir Handel into becoming better engines when Culdee told them the story of Godred’s fall from grace.

In peril on the old bridge

But Skarloey can have moments of fear and distress.  When the old trestle bridge collapsed underneath him, he was so frightened he wouldn’t cross it again.  Skarloey was made to shunt trucks in the yard, whilst Rheneas did Skarloey’s work as well his own.  But it wasn’t until Rheneas found himself stranded on the bridge with a very long train of trucks, that Skarloey had to pluck up the courage and venture out to help his old friend.  This is not to say that Skarloey cannot still have moments where he is unsure of himself, but he knows in himself that in the face of any struggle he is faced with, he can and will overcome it with grit and determination.

Skarloey tells stories in Blue Mountain Quarry

To this day, Skarloey is a wise old sage and continues to guide the other narrow gauge engines in times of trouble or strife.  Even though he is nearing 150 years old, he is still an integral part of the Skarloey Railway, running regular passenger services and working hard with slate trucks in the Blue Mountain Quarry alongside the other little engines.  He has a twin called Talyllyn, who was built at the same time as him in England, who lives at the Talyllyn Railway in Mid-Wales.

Click here to meet the real life engine!

Rheneas

Rheneas

Rheneas disapproved of young Skarloey's attitude

Rheneas arrived after Skarloey in 1866, but was always the more mature and reliable engine of the two.  He was never as excitable or bouncy as Skarloey, and worked without hurry or fuss.  However, even he had his moments, and the two engines had a falling out early on during their time working together.  But they soon settled their differences when Rheneas rescued Skarloey after he ran into a mudslide.  They have been firm friends ever since.

Giving a gallant effort to keep running

But despite his reliability, Rheneas was often the overlooked engine of the two.  As Skarloey had a cab early on, the men would choose to work with him more often.  When Skarloey became worn out by the 1940s, Rheneas took over the lion’s share of the work and became the railway’s sole working engine.  It was a great responsibility, as he knew if he failed, the railway would ultimately close.  Throughout this time, he performed great feats to keep the railway running.  On one very notable occasion, he ran a train on one cylinder, bringing his train and his passengers home safely.

Running a roller-coaster run for the children!

Rheneas was sent off for a very long repair in 1952, when Sir Handel and Peter Sam arrived on the railway, returning in 1961.  Since then, he’s served with great pride on the railway and worked very hard to please the Thin Controller.  But like many engines, his efforts don’t always go according to plan.  When he took the children on a day out in the hills, he couldn’t think of a way to make their day special enough.  But when he puffed onto a bumpy line that was under repair, he soon found himself shooting down the track like a rollercoaster – which gave the children a trip to remember!

Rheneas thought the two trains were too heavy!

Once, he tried to take Skarloey’s coal trucks on the end of his slate train to give him a rest, but found both trains were too heavy to manage together.  He left the coal trucks in a siding and caused a lot of confusion when they disappeared.  When he later found that Peter Sam had moved them, he told Skarloey and the Thin Controller it had been a surprise. The Thin Controller was pleased with Rheneas and agreed to let him take the trucks.

Rheneas fetches Victor for Peter Sam

Like Skarloey, Rheneas is a constant source of guidance to the younger engines.  When Peter Sam was left in charge of the railway for the day whilst the Thin Controller was busy, Rheneas tried hard to keep him informed of problems, which Peter Sam brushed off foolishly before he himself ran into problems.  Rheneas kindly agreed to fetch Victor on Peter Sam’s orders in order to set things right.

Click here to meet the real life engine!

Sir Handel

Sir Handel

Falcon gets off to a flying start

Sir Handel was originally bought for the Mid-Sodor Railway in 1904, and named Falcon, to replace an engine who had been scrapped.  He grew up under Duke’s watchful eye and like many young engines, thought he knew better than anyone else.  This led to trouble when he and Duke navigated the Mountain Road for the first time.  Falcon’s wheels came off the line, and he was left teetering over the edge, with Duke holding onto him for dear life.  Thankfully, he was saved and continued the journey with little fuss.  However, he continued to remain stubborn and self-important.

Derailed by the coaches for being rude

When the Mid-Sodor closed in 1947, he was sold to the Sodor Aluminium Works for construction duties.  When the work was done, he (and Stuart) was sold on again to the Skarloey Railway where he was renamed Sir Handel, after the railway’s owner.  But he did little to live up to the owner’s good name as his behaviour was, and often can be, rather questionable.  On his first run with the coaches, he proved very difficult – calling them ‘Cattle Trucks’ and giving them no respect at all.  He then slid between the rails at the Quarry, refusing to take the trucks he had been instructed to collect.  Sir Handel was placed in disgrace following the incident, and the coaches bumped him on their next run together – meaning Skarloey, who had been lying out of use for some time, had to be steamed instead.

The Thin Controller scolds him for lying

Although Sir Handel respected and admired Skarloey’s determination to work despite his own difficulties, he didn’t apply the ethos to his own working practices.  He is well-known for feigning illness, which has been known to backfire on him.  When a television crew came to visit the railway, Sir Handel didn’t want to appear on screen and pretended to be ill, the Thin Controller recommended he stay in the shed – and be taken apart by his crew!  But his pretending once caused trouble for Peter Sam when he had to do Sir Handel’s work for him instead – the trucks, keen to pay Sir Handel out, ran down the incline and battered into him – damaging his funnel.

Sir Handel and George end up in a jam!

But Sir Handel can be determined in his own way, particularly if it means he has an opportunity to show off!  After a war of words between George the Steamroller and the railway, he took him on in a race!  There was a bit of an accident which did neither side any good, but Sir Handel thought he had won and made George leave.  In fact, the job George had been involved with had been completed, but Sir Handel thought differently and boasted tremendously – before being put in his place by some school children who claimed the “Steamroller nearly beat him!”

Returning from the Stone Quarry

Sir Handel has also spent some time away from the railway, firstly visiting the Talyllyn Railway to stand in for another engine, where he hit a tree at Nant Gwernol and had to be given a bandage to cover his eye.  Later, he was sent to work at the Slate Quarry for a while, where he returned a more mature and responsible engine.  However, this didn’t stop him from trying to hide a problem he had when going up hills, he thought the Thin Controller would send him back to the Stone Quarry, but instead he seen to getting Sir Handel repaired.  Now, he is as reliable and useful as any other engine on the railway.

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Peter Sam / Stuart

Peter Sam

Granpuff gets the better of Stuart!

Peter Sam is the youngest of the Thin Controller’s engines.  He was the last engine bought for the old Mid-Sodor Railway, and named Stuart.  Like Sir Handel, he was brought up under the instruction of Duke, and although he was very fond of the old engine – he couldn’t help teasing him like a lot of the other young engines did.  When Duke broke down, Stuart took charge of his train, and couldn’t help but make light of the situation.  Duke waited for the right moment and then roared back into life – pushing the train up the hill and making Stuart look like he had needed help!

The Refreshment Lady tells Peter Sam off!

When he came to work on the Skarloey Railway in 1952, he was much more co-operative and enthusiastic than Sir Handel, which pleased Skarloey and the Thin Controller.  However, his over-eagerness proved problematic when Henry threatened to leave without his passengers if he was late.  Peter Sam was so keen to start back from the lakeside station that he left the Refreshment Lady behind!  He was embarrassed to find later that day that Henry couldn’t have left without Peter Sam’s passengers – as Henry was a guaranteed connection! 

Peter Sam is confused by Duck's story about Dukes

Peter Sam’s naivety has never really gone away, he once believed that the railway and the engines were going to sold when in actual fact, it was men choosing things to film for television!  And when Skarloey and Rheneas’s 100th birthday came around, he thought the Duke coming to visit the railway for the occasion had been scrapped – because Duck had told him so... when Duck actually meant Great Western Engines called ‘Dukes’ – not the men!  And when he was left in charge of the railway for the day, he took the Thin Controller’s warning not to bother Victor too literally!  Despite engines breaking down, and Rheneas’s repeated warnings, Peter Sam didn’t ask for Victor’s help, until he himself needed help too!

Peter Sam's temporary funnel  a Drain!

He was also silly to believe Sir Handel when he pretended to be ill.  Peter Sam went to the Quarry in his place, and suffered a nasty accident, which caused a lot of damage to his old funnel.  It stayed loose and shaky for quite some time, before finally falling off after hitting an icicle hanging in a tunnel.  Poor Peter Sam had to puff home with an old drain pipe wired up as a funnel instead, and the other engines laughed and joked about it.  They laughed even more when Peter Sam’s new special Giesel funnel arrived – it looked like someone had sat on it and flattened it!  However, when they saw how well it worked, they were green with envy.  The other engines didn't dare tease Peter Sam anymore, they wished they had a funnel just like it!

Peter Sam finds an ideal new tea-shop

But despite his faults, Peter Sam is a kindly and useful little engine, and always works hard to help his friends out of trouble.  When the Refreshement Lady was looking for a new place to build a tea-shop, he gave her a grand tour of the railway to find the right place, but she couldn’t find anywhere that was entirely suitable.  It wasn’t until Peter Sam and Rusty found an old coach, which had been used as a shed for many years, blown over in a storm, that he knew what could be done.  He brought it to the yard and Jem Cole repaired it as good as new.

The Talyllyn water disagrees with him...

Like all good engines, Peter Sam likes to be the centre of attention as well.  For ten years, he was a resident engine on the Talyllyn Railway, filling in for one of their own engines.  He returned to the Skarloey Railway for a time in 1996 when Ivo Hugh was being built, but returned soon after, before coming home for good in 2000.  Whilst there, he had a nasty reaction to the tablet the Talyllyn people use in the railway’s water, which amused volunteers, Kathy and Lizzie!  He also had the honour of finding Proteus’ statue for Miss Marvel’s storytelling in the hills.

Click here to meet the real life engine!

Rusty

Rusty

Rusty repaired the Skarloey Railway as good as new

Rusty is the only Diesel engine on the Thin Controller’s Railway.  And unlike most other Diesels on the Island of Sodor, Rusty is very kind, hardworking and caring – he’s a true hero among engines and friend to everyone he meets.  He first arrived on the Skarloey Railway whilst Skarloey was away being repaired in England, and took over the duties of repairing the line.  He did such a good job that when Skarloey came back, he almost thought he was on a different railway!  But whilst Sir Handel and Peter Sam had accepted Rusty, Duncan, who had arrived not long after, was suspicious of him.  He didn’t like nor trust Diesels, and called Rusty names.  But when Duncan suffered a derailment, and Rusty came to his rescue, Duncan thought differently and accepted Rusty as well.

Rusty enlists the help of Elizabeth

Aside from helping Mr Hugh and the men mend the line, Rusty has the distinction of being one of Sodor’s greatest heroes. He saved Skarloey and Rheneas’s railway from closure when mending their line began to take up too much of Rusty’s time.  It was only through sly manipulation that he was able to get Elizabeth the Vintage Steam Lorry involved in the restoration project, and used her to help mend the line and make it as good as new.  He also suspected the giant boulder in the mountain quarry, which went on to cause untold destruction across the railway.  Unfortunately, no-one listened to Rusty that time.

Rusty rescues Duncan from the old bridge

He has also had to perform his fair share of rescues.  When Duncan stopped whilst crossing a dangerous bridge after failing to take on enough coal, Rusty came to his rescue and pulled him across just in time.  And when runaway trucks ran out of control down the railway and toward the Transfer Yards, it was Rusty’s quick thinking and tooting of his horn, which saved a nasty accident.  The Thin Controller praised Rusty and thought he was very brave indeed!

Rusty finds the campers in the Quarry!

However, even Rusty can have lapses of judgement at times.  Once, he was taking the workmen to put up new signposts for the woodland trails in the hills, but he also had to return to the Wharf to collect the Fat Controller and his family for a special trip into the hills, so he made the men rush, and they put up the wrong signs for the wrong places – which caused a lot of confusion!  And when taking the Brass Band on a tour of the railway, he ran out of fuel whilst going round the lake.  Fortunately, Rusty knew what to do, and he and the Brass Band made enough noise using their instruments and his horn to attract the help of the other engines and the Thin Controller.

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Duncan

Duncan

Duncan's "rock and roll" got him stuck in a tunnel

Duncan was brought in as a spare engine after Peter Sam’s accident with the slate trucks at the Quarry.  He was bouncy, rude and bad-tempered, all of the ingredients required for a disaster.  His tendency to ‘rock and roll’ caused him to have an accident in one of the tunnels on the Skarloey Railway when he first arrived.  Duncan complained that the tunnel wasn’t big enough, but the Driver protested that it was Duncan’s own fault for being so boisterous.  His behaviour improved very little afterward and he came off the track again at a rough patch, which Rusty had warned him about, but Duncan dismissed because “he didn’t need smelly Diesels telling him what to do.”

Duncan stopped in the middle of a viaduct!

Duncan learned sense for a little while and began to respect Rusty, but as soon as the ‘pressure’ became too much again, Duncan slipped back into his old ways.  Once, he felt so ‘overworked’ that he took a defiant stand against his Driver, Fireman and Passengers, where he stopped right in the middle of the viaduct and refused to move.  Skarloey had to move him and haul his train down the line again – where the passengers complained furiously to the crew.  Skarloey then told Duncan about Rheneas and how he saved the railway – reminding him firmly that the passengers were important and they were vital to the survival of the line.  Duncan was full of admiration and promised to be a better engine again.

Duncan gets spooked by a 'ghost' on an iron bridge

But, Duncan will be Duncan, and he will play up, and he’ll suffer the consequences of it.  When he teased Peter Sam for losing his trucks on a hill, the Drivers and Firemen played a trick on Duncan – making him think that the Old Iron Bridge crossing the swamps was haunted, after Rusty told him a spooky story.  At first, Duncan didn’t believe it, but when he saw some strange things on the track ahead of him and heard a loud splash below, he didn’t know what to think!  Sometimes, he’ll land in trouble of his own making.  Like the time he got his coupling caught on some trucks going up the incline and flew backward into the mud, or the time he lost his whistle in a field and had to carry on with the Headmaster using his pipe-organ as a temporary replacement!

Duncan tries to get rid of a hot air balloon

His trickery and deceit can also cause trouble for other engines, like the time he told Thomas of a short-cut to get back to the Wharf, which meant going over Rolling River Bridge.  The old bridge was dangerous, and nearly collapsed underneath Thomas when he tried to cross it.  Fortunately, he backed off just in time.  Duncan usually takes the Thin Controller’s children on a tour of the railway for their birthday each year, but one year, he decided to give them a trip in a hot air balloon instead – which Duncan did everything he could to get rid of, until it floated away and struck the Thin Controller’s weather vane, ripping the material.  However, Duncan was good enough to offer up his flag to let the balloon repair man mend it, and let the children get their balloon ride after all.

Duncan helps the Scouts

Despite his faults, Duncan can be quite resourceful at times.  When the Scouts camping near the railway had run out of juice, and everyone was getting thirsty, Duncan and his crew went to the Refreshment Lady at the station by the lake to fetch them some drinks, bringing them back up on his passenger train.  And when Duncan became lost in an old coal mine in the mountains, he pushed his way along the mine and found his way out, along with some coal trucks which had been lying down there out of sight and forgotten about.  In light of his good behaviour, he was been sent to represent Sodor on the Talyllyn Railway, and has been a special guest there since 2001.

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Duke

Duke

Duke with Stuart and Falcon

Duke was brought to Sodor for the opening of the old Mid-Sodor Railway in 1880, and became the longest serving engine on the line – and then some...!  Duke was built by the Ffestiniog Railway in North Wales to a design by George England, running with a saddletank to carry his water, and a tender to carry his coal.  Throughout his working life, Duke used his experience and knowledge to guide the younger engines who served the railway.  This included Stuart (Peter Sam) and Falcon (Sir Handel), who became the last two engines to serve on the line with him prior to closure.  Despite their teasing ways, he was very fond of the two younger engines, who had given him the affectionate nickname, ‘Granpuff’, which has stuck with him for many years!

The old shed disappears under the soil

When the Mid-Sodor Railway closed in 1947, the Manager could not find a buyer for Duke.  Feeling that the old engine deserved a better fate than scrap, the crew were instructed to shed him until a buyer could be found.  Unfortunately, no-one was forthcoming and as the years wore on, Duke remained locked up in the old shed whilst the landscape around him and his shed changed dramatically.  The shed became buried by landslides, and the yard was overgrown.  Duke became something of a legend, and no-one really knew the truth about what had happened to him in the intervening years.

Duke is rediscovered

Then in 1970, a rescue expedition was mounted to find him and make him useful again.  The Thin and Small Controllers set to work with the Fat and Thin Clergymen, trying to track Duke down.  The search took some time, and then, quite by accident, the Fat Clergyman found Duke when he put his foot in the right place and crashed through the shed roof, which had become buried in soil!  Duke was brought back out of the shed and delivered to the Thin Controller’s Railway, where he was subject to a long overhaul which got him back to working order once again.

Back to being Granpuff!

Now the old engine is as happy as can be, puffing up and down the Skarloey Railway with Sir Handel and Peter Sam.  He’s become a great friend of Skarloey and Rheneas, as well as ‘Granpuff’ to Rusty, Duncan, Mighty Mac and Ivo Hugh as well, guiding them all as he did with the other young engines who were once under his care.  The engines on the Fat Controller’s Railway, who all know Duke’s story, are all keen admirers of the old engine – and a portrait of him hangs in Tidmouth Sheds as a testament to his heroism and bravery. Duke was registered as Skarloey Engine number 8, however he doesn't wear the number for reasons best known to the Railway Management or to the Rev Awdry himself!

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TV Series Engines

Fearless Freddie

Fearless Freddie

Freddie puffs through the mountains

Freddie is an older engine who worked on the narrow gauge line many years ago.  However, when hard times came, he was sold on and sent to work elsewhere.  Later, as work grew again and the need for another engine came, the Thin Controller tracked Freddie down and brought him home to the hills of Sodor again.  Back in the old days, Freddie was better known as ‘Fearless Freddie’, one of the fastest, and most fun, engines in the hills.  He knows more about the hills, valleys, hidden tracks and mountain villages than any other engine, and loves to regale the younger engines with stories of the old days and his adventures on the old tracks in the hills.

Freddie finds Rheneas after his accident

When Skarloey and Rheneas heard about this, they thought he was only being boastful and challenged him to a race to see who was fastest.  But Freddie soon found that he wasn’t as fast as he once was, but he was a lot more knowledgeable of the old tracks than Skarloey and Rheneas were, and he used them to his advantage to outwit and outrun them.  The other engines suspected nothing, and it was only when Rheneas was derailed on a steep bend that Freddie owned up to his deceit.  However, he was good enough to lead a search party in order to put his knowledge to good use.  Thanks to Freddie, Rheneas was found safe and sound and hauled home to the yards.

Freddie, James and the Thin Controller

Despite his knowledge, there are things that even Freddie doesn’t know about.  When the Thin Controller’s new bicycle needed a bell, he searched all over the railway to find one for him.  He tried using a cowbell, bells from Cuffy the Clown and a shiny new school bell.  None of them suited, but when he saw Thomas taking the newly repainted foghorn through the Wharf, it gave him an idea.  When he gave the Thin Controller his new bike, he suggested that he simply used the bell from the old bicycle he had before.  The Thin Controller was delighted and Freddie felt proud of himself.

Freddie tells Colin all about the Christmas Party

But like all the narrow gauge engines, Freddie has a very kind heart as well.  When Colin the Crane was feeling left out of the Christmas Holiday celebrations, Freddie made a plan to hold the annual party at the Wharf instead of the sheds.  The only problem was, Freddie forgot to tell the Thin Controller, and the party was nearly over before it began, when the tree was loaded onto a barge by mistake.  Thankfully, Freddie set things right just in time and everyone had a splendid time at the Wharf Christmas Party, where Colin became the guest of honour.

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Bertram the Old Warrior

Bertram the Old Warrior

Bertram is a little narrow gauge engine. He used to work at the old mines near a forgotten castle, but when the mines closed he was put away in a shed for safety. Toby and the Fat Controller discovered both the mine and castle, and it was decided that both would make fine attractions.

Toby mistakenly thought Bertram was the “Old Warrior” ghost, but discovered it was a nickname for him being so brave. Although rarely seen these days, Bertram works hard carrying visitors around the restored mines he used to work in all those years ago.

Smudger

Smudger

Smudger/Stanley was a complete show-off, as Duke remembered him in the old days of Duke's Railway.  The cocky American engine rode too roughly and often came off the rails as a result.  He also took very little notice when Duke told him what he was doing wrong.  He soon got his comeuppance when the manager decided that he had found a use for him at last...and Smudger was turned into a generator/pumping engine at the back of the old shed.  Having heard what happened to him, it turned the attitudes of Stuart and Falcon around into Really Useful Engines!

Mighty Mac

Mighty

Mac

Mighty Mac are a Double-Fairlie locomotive on the Skarloey Railway, with two boilers and two personalities!  Mighty is the older of the two, while Mac is the younger and more insensible end!  When they arrived on the railway, neither end were able to agree on which way to go when taking passengers into the mountains, both have since learnt sense and have agreed to work together in future.

Luke

Luke is a small green tank engine who was brought to Sodor from Ireland to help work at the Blue Mountain Quarry.  However, whilst he was being unloaded from the boat at Brendam Docks, Luke struck an engine who had been travelling with him, sending him rolling backwards into the sea.  Poor Luke thought he had done something completely unforgivable and that he would be sent away as punishment.  So for a very long time, he hid from view in the tunnels and caverns of the Quarry – protected by his narrow gauge friends.  It wasn’t until Thomas came along that Luke was able to find out that the accident wasn’t his fault at all – and the Thin Controller welcomed him to his railway.