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No railway would be complete without coaches and trucks, and those appearing in the children's television series Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends are no exception. Coaches carry passengers, and trucks carry freight. In many episodes, coaches and/or trucks are key to the episode's plot line.
The engines prefer coaches, which are smooth-running and well-behaved. The trucks, on the other hand, are nothing but trouble. In the words of Rev. W. Awdry:
|“||...trucks are silly and noisy. They talk a lot and don't attend to what they are doing... ...And, I'm sorry to say, they play tricks on an engine who is not used to them.||”|
A large number of different trucks and coaches have appeared in the TV series over the years. This article concentrates on the items of rolling stock that have appeared in, and contributed to the plot line of, several episodes of the TV series.
Coaches are the rolling stock which are pulled by engines, to transport people (passengers) from one station to another.
Annie & Clarabel
Annie and Clarabel are two coaches who work with Thomas the Tank Engine on his branch line. Although they are old-fashioned, Thomas loves them very much and the three of them are quite inseparable. The coaches often ofter advice to Thomas been more experienced than he is. Although the coaches are usually pulled by Thomas other characters have been seen pulling them including Percy, Toby, Duck, Neville and Emily. Usually this upsets Thomas as he becomes very worried for the coaches safety.
- See also: Henrietta (Railway Series character)
Henrietta is Toby's faithful coach. She worked with Toby the Tram Engine on their old railway, and when that line closed Toby could not bear to leave her behind. The stationmaster had wanted to turn her into a henhouse, but The Fat Controller agreed that "that would never do." The two are absolutely inseparable, and whenever they are apart they worry about each other. She carries passengers and is used to bring quarrymen to and from work. She has even been used as Sir Topham Hatt's private coach. Henrietta was originally the only named character not to have a face. However, she seems to express her feelings in a way. She now has a small rectangular face on her door.
Henrietta is based on a Wisbech and Upwell Tramway four-wheeled coach.
Old Slowcoach is an elderly express coach who has seen better days. She was found in a scrapyard by Thomas and Percy, and was later refurbished to be used as a workman's hut. She wears the "chocolate and cream" paintwork of the Great Western Railway, upon which she was based before coming to Sodor.
She was also a part of a special train for Mrs Kyndley's daughter's wedding, as the "Something Old" of "Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue".
She appears to be based on the Great Western Railway's clerestory coach stock.
Season 5 is the only season (to date) to feature Old Slowcoach.
These form all the fastest and most important passenger trains on Sodor, and are normally pulled by Gordon, James or Henry, although these are by no means the only engines that have taken them. There are two liveries worn by these coaches. They either wear green and cream paintwork, or maroon and cream. Similar, but different coaches have been seen in some programmes, including the episode where Duck takes an injured person to hospital.
After saving Oliver, these coaches were given to Emily. She'd always wanted coaches of her own.
These red coaches are usually pulled by Duck & Oliver on their Branch Line. Others to be them were Percy, James, Thomas and Edward,and also seen occasionaly pulled by Henry.
Sodor Mail Coaches
These coaches carry all the letters and parcels around Sodor. They usually run at night in the charge of Thomas or Percy, as seen in Season 3's "Thomas, Percy and the Post Train." However, in more recent seasons, they are sometimes seen in broad daylight, and Percy is almost always in charge by himself.
For extra special visitors, there are two maroon coaches. These are very luxurious, and are pulled by express engines like Gordon, Henry or James. Spencer pulled one of them as the Duke and Duchess of Boxford's private train.
Coaches are of Passenger, School Children or Sodor Brass Band
These green and cream coaches are used on slower trains due to their age. They had not been seen since Season 1. Though Emily's New Coaches bear a resemblance. There are estimated to be Four of them though a Fourth one has never been seen.
In addition to these, there are a number of orange four-wheeled coaches used on secondary and branch line services. They however had not been seen since Season 2.
Narrow Gauge Coaches
To carry the visitors to the narrow gauge railway, there are a number of four-wheeled coaches. They carry either a red livery, or blue and white. For more sunny days, there are some green and white coaches with open sides.
The coaches on the Island of Sodor have many different designs throughout the series. Within the episodes themselves, coaches are rarely referred to specifically (unless specifying the engine who is pulling them, eg. "Emily's coaches").
The Express coaches are the coaches used most often within the series, and have two separate colour schemes. Other commonly used coaches include the coaches from the mail train.
Trucks (Usually referred to in American releases as Freight Cars) transport goods. There are various designs of trucks, which of course serve various purposes. Open-topped trucks carry most goods, however liquids are carried in tankers, and anything else which needs protection from the elements can be carried in trucks which have a roof.
The trucks in the TV Series are often referred to as the Troublesome Trucks. This is because (as the name suggests) they can be quite troublesome, and love to play tricks on the engines who pull or push them. Not many engines like them, and they have been the cause of many accidents on the railway. Their behaviour could perhaps be best described in the following statement:
- "Every wise engine knows that you cannot trust Trucks."
There have, however, been some cases where the trucks and engines are on the same side, like in the episodes Special Attraction and World's Strongest Engine. Incidents involving the Troublesome Trucks include:
- Making James crash into a field (Thomas and the Breakdown Train)
- Making Henry crash into Break Van. (The Flying Kipper)
- Pushing James into two tar tankers (Dirty Objects)
- Breaking away from Edward. (Cows)
- Pushing Percy into the quay (Percy Takes the Plunge)
- Teasing Diesel by singing a song at him, after refusing to move (Pop Goes the Diesel)
- Making Duck run into a Barber Shop (A Close Shave)
- Pushing Percy into the Break Van (Percy's Predicament)
- Teasing Gordon for being domeless. (Gordon and the Famous Visitor)
- Being pushed into the sea by Diesel (Diesel Does It Again)
- Pushing Toby onto a collapsed bridge (Toby's Tightrope)
- Pushing Oliver into a turntable well (Oliver Owns Up)
- Making Percy crash into a siding, causing him to get covered in fruit. (Percy, James and the Fruitful Day)
- Being pushed through a set of buffers and crashing onto Bulstrode (Special Attraction)
- Pushing Thomas through a barn (Bye George)
- Being pushed by Percy into a mine, causing a rock slide (the script had a misprint) (Put Upon Percy)
- Being pushed into the ravine by Henry (Haunted Henry)
- Being pushed into the turntable well by Oliver. (Oliver's Find)
- Pushing Toad out of control and into a pond (Busy Going Backwards)
- Being pushing them by Percy Crash into Bulgy's Bridge (Harvey to the Rescue)
- Caused Henry to derail (The World's Strongest Engine)
- Holding back when Diesel attempted to pull them, causing the coupling to snap (The World's Strongest Engine)
- Pushing Gordon down the old rails (Gordon Takes a Tumble)
- Pushing Percy down crash into a chocolate factory (Percy's Chocolate Crunch)
- Teasing Bill about Ben’s New buffer. (Buffer Bother)
- Causing Arthur to crash into Duck's goods train (The Spotless Record)
- Getting pushed through a flatbed and onto a cart by Toby (Toby's Windmill)
- Pushing Oliver through a snowman (Snow Engine)
- Being pushed by Emily into a duckpond (Emily's New Route)
- Making Thomas crash into Salty (Fish (Season 8)).
- Making Percy crash into Mavis (Emily Knows Best)
- Pushing Henry down Gordon's Hill and off the track (Big Strong Henry)
Narrow-Gauge incidents involving Troublesome Trucks:
- Breaking the incline cable and crashing into Peter Sam.(Trucks)
- Breaking away from Peter Sam and falling over the Old Iron Bridge, plunging into the ravine. (Duncan Gets Spooked)
- Breaking the incline cable and crashing into the double buffer zone, causing an avalanche. (Snow)
- Pushing Duncan down the Incline and into a muddy ravine (Dunkin Duncan)
- Chasing Skarloey down the Incline (Skarloey the Brave)
- Making Skarloey crash into the buffer.(Wharf and Peace)
In The Book Article of Made-Up Thomas episodes, new and returning faces involving Troublesome Trucks:
- Wide and Large Troublesome Trucks return.
- Regular, Wide and Large Troublesome Trucks appear, using returning variations of the Regular (Upset from Season 2-7, Shock from Season 2-7, Angry from Season 3-7, Grin 2 from Season 6-7, Upset 2 from Season 8), Wide (Shock from Season 2-7, Sad from Season 2-7, Angry from Season 3-7, Shock 2 from Season 3-7 and Smirk from Season 9) and Large (Laughing from Season 2-7, Threatening from Season 3-5, Angry from Season 3-5 and Shock from Season 5) Faces.
- Two of the Troublesome Trucks have new Laughing, In Pain, Sad, Cross, Bruised, Angry, Shock and Shut Eyes faces with really big round eyes, each with three eyelashes, two prominent front teeth, three freckles on each cheeks and dimples.
- All narrow gauge trucks have Regular and Wide faces. Their new Regular faces are Upset, Shock, Grinning, Angry and Nervous (first seen in Smudger Returns) and new Wide faces are Shock, Sad, Angry and Smirk (first seen in Stanley).
- The Troublesome Trucks's New Regular Smiling and Threatening faces, New Wide Smiling, Threatening, Angry 2 and Grin faces, New Large Angry 2, Shock 2 and Scared faces are used on them.
- Other Character' Faces Used On Trucks return (Bulstrode's Shock (S4) from Season 8-10.
- Two of Troublesome Truck Vans have Splatter and Dodge (Splodge) (Magic Railroad Only)'s Shock and Cross faces, Max/Monty's square Cross faces (the same faces as Max and Monty from the Pack) and Diesel's 10 Shocked faces.
S.C.Ruffey (pronounced ‘Scruffy’) is a Private-Owner ballast truck, and is regarded as one of the leaders of the Troublesome Trucks. After Oliver had been pushed down a turntable well, S.C.Ruffey led the trucks in singing rude songs about the accident. However, Oliver was able to pull S.C.Ruffey apart, effectively quelling his bad behaviour. S.C.Ruffey was rebuilt with a new body in the TV Series, but scrapped as a pile of broken pieces in the Railway Series his construction being rotten from the start.
S.C.Ruffey appeared in one episode in Season 4, 'Toad Stands By'. S.C.Ruffey's face has also been seen on other troublesome trucks, namely in 'Put Upon Percy' and briefly in 'Double Teething Troubles'.
The unusual spelling of his name is unique to the television series and related merchandise - in the original story in which he appears, his name is spelt as pronounced.
Troublesome VansTroublesome Vans are enclosed boxcar wagons that are seen throughout the railway and are used to haul items that cannot be exposed to the outside world and as such are essential to the various operations carried throughout the railway. They come in all shapes and sizes (depending on their purpose) and are just as troublesome as any other truck and the engines are well aware of this when it is time to take them out. They can be seen in many episodes, most famously: "Pop Goes The Diesel", "Diesel's Devious Deed", and "A Close Shave For Duck".
These are used to carry cows and other animals around Sodor. Some of them even carry more exotic animals for the circus. A train of these was at the centre of some trouble in the episode 'Cows' when a herd of cows ran across the line, breaking a coupling and causing some of the cattle trucks to be left behind. Sir Handel has been known to insult his coaches by referring to them as "Cattle Trucks".
Narrow gauge and standard gauge trucks are used to carry slabs of slate from the quarries. On more than one occasion they have “broken away”, causing accidents.
James' New Trucks
James got his trucks before the Fat Controller gave Thomas his new ones. James' trucks are all blue-colored.
Thomas' New Trucks
Thomas got his trucks after James got his new ones. Thomas' trucks are all green-colored.
Flatbeds, well wagons and bolster wagons
These trucks are used for transporting special loads. Flatbeds and well wagons (also known as low loaders), carry large items such as cars and heavy machinery. One of these carried the rock crusher for Bill and Ben’s quarry, another took Caroline to the cricket field, and another carried the 'Queen of Sodor' Barge. Bolster wagons carry long loads, like logs, steel girders and pipes. Wagons such as these are generally used whenever there is a special load.
These trucks transport large amounts of liquids. Tankers have been seen in the series designated to carry milk (Season 1), tar (Season 1), fuel (Season 3) and oil (Season 3), as well as cream (Season 8), jam (Season 9) and toffee (Season 10) later in the series. The trucks are usually faceless but have been seen with faces in Season 4. On the narrow gauge railway their tankers are used to carry Gunpowder (Season 4).
The most notable incident involving tankers was in the Season 1 episode Dirty Objects, in which James crashed into two tar tankers. Another incident involving tankers was the Season 9 episode "Respect for Gordon" in which Gordon crashs into two jam tankers.
Tidmouth Milk Tankers
These trucks transport milk around Sodor. One of them is usually taken with Thomas’ first branch line train. This caused a problem when Daisy the diesel railcar arrived, as she refused to pull it, and made Percy pull it in his train and make a special stop.
Tar is needed for building and mending roads, and to transport this messy stuff there are special trucks. James once had an accident with these when trying to stop a runaway goods train, and he ended up covered in tar. Another tar tanker was mistakenly left at Edward’s station once, when it was vitally needed to repair the roads, causing no end of bother for Bertie the Bus. Their last appearance was in Season 5 but Returned in Season 10. They had seemed to be replaced by the Oil Tankers which appeared in Season 6.
Sodor Fuel Tankers
The Sodor Fuel Tankers are used to transport fuel around the Island Of Sodor. They are yellow with pictures of fires in red diamonds and say 'SODOR FUEL' in big black letters. They were not seen very often anymore as fuel was now mostly carried in plain black tankers.
There are many different types of oil, from petrol to power cars right down to thin oil for lubricating machinery. The Sodor Fuel tankers and the black oil tankers take it wherever it is necessary. There are also a number of older, dirtier oil tankers that can be seen around Sodor. The utmost care must be taken with these in case of fire, as James once found out when his tankers caught fire one day. These seem to have replaced the tar tankers in the more recent series.
D Fusit Gunpowder Vans
These oddly-shaped trucks transport gunpowder around the narrow gauge railway. Because gunpowder is so dangerous, engines must be extra careful when shunting it. Gunpowder vans are usually shunted into the middle of trains just in case. Luckily, there have been no accidents yet.
The Flying Kipper
This is the nickname for an early morning fish train, usually pulled by Henry. It is a fast train made up of various different vans. It has been at the centre of a number of events, the most famous of which is the occasion in which Henry crashed while pulling it in the first season, and had to be rebuilt. The Flying Kipper has featured a number of times since.
Hector is a black hopper wagon with HECTOR written on it in white, and is introduced in Season 11. He roars "KEEP AWAY!" at Thomas and Rosie, the two tank engines at the coal yards, scaring off Rosie. He feels scared to be loaded with coal and after Thomas shows him how fun it is, Hector lets him load him and arrange him into trains for James and Edward.
The trucks are commonly known as the “Troublesome Trucks”, because they are indeed extremely troublesome. However, without them, there would be none of the goods trains that are so essential to the railway’s well-being. Trucks are designed for many purposes. Anything that can be transported in the open air is taken in open wagons. Anything that needs protecting is transported in closed vans. Liquids are transported in tankers.
The brake van is an important part of a goods train. It carries the guard and is equipped with a strong brake to assist with slowing and stopping the train. From here, the guard can keep an eye on the train in case of problems. In one season, some brake vans have faces.
The Spiteful Brakevan appeared in a single episode of Season 2, "Brake Van". He had taken a dislike to Douglas and delayed his trains until Donald told him off. Later, he held James's train back and Douglas had to help the train up the hill. However, whilst pushing the train from behind, Douglas crushed the brake van, whom was squashed in between Douglas and the heavy trucks. It is seen that he survived the accident, but was never rebuilt we can only assume he was scrapped.
The Spiteful Brakevan is based on a standard LNER 20 ton brake van, and has been released in ERTL model. In the Railway Series he has a different guise (grey paint and 'NW' painted on his side), and this guise was released in LC Wooden Toy.
Toad is Oliver's brake van, who was saved from scrap along with Oliver. He comes from the Great Western Railway, and has the greatest respect for engines. He is also one of the few well-behaved trucks on the railway. His last appearance was in Season 7 (to date) but was seen being pulled along with a long circus train by Thomas in a Season 8 episode, "Thomas & the Circus." However, his front cannot be seen, so only his back side is seen.
Other rolling stock
Rocky is the island's fifth named crane (after Cranky, Harvey, Butch, and Kelly from The Pack). He is painted burgundy with yellow hazard stripes, and is used as a rescue and maintenance unit. Although useful in any situation, Rocky can only move when there is an engine available to pull him, as observed by Gordon and Edward. Edward initially shunned Rocky for this reason - branding him 'new fangeled nonsense' - but following his help in the aftermath of an accident, Rocky has become a valued addition to the railway. He is usually the first choice when the lifting is too heavy for Harvey to handle. He is officially introduced in the Season 10 episode Edward Strikes Out, but had a cameo appearance in the earlier episode Big Strong Henry. Rocky also appears in Season 11.
The Breakdown Train
The Breakdown Train consists of flatbeds, rail-mounted cranes and a special coach. It is used for rescue and clear-up operations after accidents, but is also kept busy on maintenance, construction, repair and demolition jobs around the railways. It first appeared in the Season 1 episode Thomas and the Breakdown Train, and was used by Thomas to rescue James after an accident. In more recent seasons, the Breakdown Train has been pulled by Harvey. It is painted olive green.
The Jet Engine
In the Season 6 episode "Thomas and the Jet Engine", this piece of machinery was supposed to be delivered to the airfield. But Cranky the Crane carelessly knocked the "ON" lever with his hook, causing the jet to fire up and Thomas to be shot down the track at high speed. It is mounted on a large white flat truck, which also consisted of a red fuel tank and two large crates covered with tarpaulins.
The Chinese Dragon
The Chinese Dragon A dragon who appeared in the season 3 episode Thomas, Percy and the Dragon. Thomas picked up this dragon at the harbour and scared Percy.
The Chinese Dragon has to date appeared three times within the TV Series - once in Season 3, once in Season 10 and it made a cameo in Season 11. It has also appeared in an Interactive Learning Segment.
These are always popular with the engines. They are made up of colourful open wagons, vans and flatbeds and carry everything a circus needs to get from town to town. One of these contained an elephant that escaped in the episode ‘Henry and the Elephant’. There were also new circus trucks seen in the Season 8 story 'Thomas and the Circus', in which many vans, trucks, and flatbeds were brought to Sodor for a circus. The vans are a lot more colourful, and ther liveries differ slightly between vans. The engines consider it an honour to be chosen to pull these.
The Elephant Statue
For the opening of 'Elephant Park' on the narrow-gauge railway, the Fat Controller told Duncan to pick up an elephant statue, which was tied down on a flat truck (See Above under 'Bolster Wagons'). Duncan, being thoughtless as usual, left without the brakevan, and ended up being pulled out of control by the elephant statue right along the line! Duncan crashed near Elephant Park, and the elephant statue flew up and down into Elephant Pond, where it remains.
Strawberry Grove School was to have an organ delivered to the school, and the narrow-gauge railway was to take it. Headmaster Hastings looked after it, and Duncan took the train. But he blew his whistle too hard, causing it to fly right off. Mr. Hastings had the idea of using the organ as a temporary whistle, and it worked very well. Duncan completed his work whistleless, and the school got its organ.
The Refreshment Lady’s Tea Room
The Refreshment Lady’s Tea Room is Sodor's only mobile tea room, having been made from an old converted coach. Peter Sam was to help The Refreshment Lady find a place for another tea room, and it was his idea to make the mobile teashop, after seeing an old coach swept upon the tracks, and being removed by Rusty and the breakdown train. Peter Sam now takes the 'Teashop Special' and the Refreshment Lady can serve tea and cakes to all her favourite places.
The Rock Crusher
The rock crusher arrived on the Island to help in the quarry. Bill and Ben picked it up from the docks, and took it to the Quarry to get to work. Although the rock crusher is usual for crushing stone and rocks, it makes a very loud noise, and caused a rock slide. Luckily Fergus rescued the twins, but got covered in rocks himself. He was soon rescued. The truck only appeared in one series 7 story, in which it was a grey/brown colour. However, the learning curve wooden model is blue.
The Royal Train
This was made up of express coaches and was pulled by a specially decorated Gordon when the Queen visited Sodor.
The Snow Machine
The Snow Machine is used on the railway when there are huge snowdrifts on the tracks. It mainly consists of a big machine on wheels, which clears and blows snow out of the way. However it can be a nuisance, and Thomas and Gordon found that out when it blew snow all over the place. So far it has only been pushed by Gordon and has been in only one story.