Episode 7: Old Groaner

James complains about getting old, but the other engines just ignore him. An inspector tells him people living nearby are complaining about a groaning noise keeping them awake at night. It turns out James' brake blocks have been rubbing together from shunting. James is pleased to get a rest, but not when he is nicknamed Old Groaner!


  • Henry
  • James
  • Emily
  • Molly (cameo, unnamed)
  • Sir Topham Hatt
  • Thomas (cameo)
  • Edward (cameo)
  • Gordon (cameo)
  • Percy (cameo)
  • Duck (cameo)
  • Donald and Douglas (cameo)
  • Oliver (cameo)
  • Cranky (cameo)
  • Boco (cameo)


Part One

Narrator: James was feeling unusually sorry for himself.

James: {grumbling sadly} I'm getting old! I just can't get about like I used to. It's all right for you younger ones, but my wheels are getting stiff!

Narrator: Thomas and Edward had been on the Island of Sodor longer than James, but they didn't say so. Henry grew tired of James' complaints.

Henry: {sarcastically} Poor Old Groaner! It's no use of you just sitting there and moaning! Why don't you tell Sir Topham Hatt that you're past it?!

Narrator: But James didn't like that idea, especially because of the way Henry had said it. Not all old engines - so he heard - were preserved. Some - so they said - were sold for scrap! James shuddered at the thought, and quickly decided not to take a chance on it.

{Cut to night at Brendam Docks.}

Narrator: As it's name suggested, the Midnight Goods left Brendam Docks at midnight. Usually, Boco pulled it, but he was away being mended. James had to take it instead, and he grumbled like anything!

James: All this extra shunting!

Narrator: Two days later, an inspector came to Tidmouth Sheds.

Inspector: People who live close to the good yard are complaining. They say that there's a groaning noise which keeps them awake at night. Would you gentlemen have anything to know about it?

James' driver: I don't remember hearing anything. We were there until midnight.

Inspector: That's right! That's when they say it stopped.

Emily: It's probably only James moaning and groaning about his extra shunting if you know what I mean!

James: Oh, shut up you Scottish girl! If you had to shunt at night, you'd moan and groan louder than anybody, and I know that from previous experience, Emily!

Narrator: That night, James' driver and fireman listened carefully as they went about their work.

James' driver: It is you James, but not the way Emily thinks. Your brake blocks aren't holding your wheels properly, and when they rub against each other, they make a sort of groaning sound.

Narrator: Sir Topham Hatt acted at once.

Sir Topham Hatt: I cannot have complaints about my railway. We all know that faulty brakes can cause problems, serious ones. Another engine will take the midnight goods until Boco returns. James must have his brakes seen to at once.

Narrator: James was pleased to not have to pull the midnight goods, and a yellow Claud Hamilton from the LNER took the midnight goods until Boco returned. James' nickname of "Old Groaner" stuck for several weeks afterwards. He even began to feel that it might've been better to doing the shunting.


Fun Facts

  • The story originally came from the 1986 Thomas annual.
  • Molly is unnamed, but isn't appropriately introduced until episode 10.

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