The Fat Controller's Winter Engines
Based on the Original Volume 'Old Fashioned Steam' (2008)
Written by: ThomasZoey3000
Wintertime can be a harsh time of the year, especially when it comes to the engines of the Fat Controller's railway. James learns the hard way that a little snow storm, may very well be more trouble than he had originally thought. Edward does his best to clear the tracks and help BoCo after he gets caught in a snowdrift, then we visit Thomas' branch, where he's complaining more than ever about his snowplough. Then finally Oliver comes to the rescue of a diesel, but I mustn't reveal anymore or I'll spoil the stories.
-James & the Blizzard
-Calls for Snow
-Better Than Orginally Thought
James & the Blizzard
The main line engines could feel the cold wind blow into their sheds early in the morning, the snow hadn't come yet, but it felt as cold as winter's frost.
"Where's the firelighter?" sniffed Gordon, "I'll freeze my wheels off if he doesn't show up."
"Be careful of what you say Gordon," said Henry, "remember what happened when Percy was complaining about the winter's frost? He came back with a queer scraf, remember?"
Gordon subsided into silence.
"Snow doesn't bother me," snorted James, "I could puff my way threw with no trouble at all."
"Thomas used to think that," said Edward, "but now he thinks otherwise."
"Thomas is just a little engine, a spendid red engine like myself would have no trouble when it comes to pushing my way threw the snow. Why, I bet I could puff threw a blizzard and still make it to the yards with no trouble."
The others groaned as they listened in to James' boasting.
At last, the firelighter came and lit their fires, James was the first to leave, the others were quite glad to see him go.
James' boastful attitude disappeared however, when he learned that he had to work with trucks.
"Bother," he snapped, "where are Donald and Douglas?"
"They're collecting trucks from Edward's branch line again," called his Driver, "just be thankful that we're not shunting well wagons."
James only snorted as he buffered up to his trucks and set off for the Other Railway.
"Bothersome trucks," he said crossly.
Soon the long train was moving faster and faster, but the faster they went, the colder the wind felt, as a huge blast of it went blowing into James' face.
"I'll be glad to get some cocoa after work," said the fireman.
"I wouldn't mind sitting by a warm fireplace, if you got an extra cup of that cocoa," chuckled the driver.
The fireman laughed, and thought up warm thoughts as James continued on.
It was dark by the time James had pulled into the yards of the Other Railway, he carefully shunted his trucks into a siding, then started puffing off to the station. When he got there, the stationmaster came out with an important job.
"There's a loaded train that needs to go back to yards of Knapford, can you take the train?"
"Of course we can," said James, who was looking forward to a good rest in the sheds, "we'll be more than glad to take the train."
The Driver and fireman agreed, then the stationmaster told them where to collect the trucks.
After they got the orders, James puffed off to collect the trucks, when another worker came out.
"There's a blizzard warning," he said, "you have to call that engine back!"
By then it was too late, James was coupled up to the trucks and he puffed away for the bridge to Sodor.
He was soon over the bridge, and puffing along on the main line. Signals showed green as he passed.
"What luck," he smiled, "we'll be home sooner than expected!"
As soon as he said that, the snow started to come down lightly, this was starting to worry the driver and fireman, but James thought this would be a perfect chance to show the other engines how strong he is aganist snow.
"There's no need to worry," he puffed, "snow is silly soft stuff, should it come on the tracks, then I'll push it away!"
"Not without a plow, you silly engine," said the Driver.
"I have a strong feeling that this is only the start of a blizzard," said the fireman worringly.
"You worry yourselves too much," sniffed James, "we'll be back at the yards in no time!"
Sadly, they weren't, by the time they passed by Wellsworth, the snow was falling harder than before and now, it was a full blown blizzard.
"It's so hard to see," grumbled James.
"We should probably stop, James!" called his Driver.
"We're going to can make it!" he huffed.
The signal up ahead however wasn't going to allow them to do that, as it was red. James had to stop by the platform, the Driver and fireman dropped the fire, then went to join the signalman in the singalbox for warmth.
They stayed over night, both the driver and the fireman were feeling toasty warm. When they came out next morning, they found that James was feeling cold all over. His face had turned blue from the cold, and snow had blown in his cab.
Once the snow was removed from the cab, the Driver and fireman lit a new fire, and James was able to continue his journey, thankfully Edward was out that morning, he had already cleared the tracks to the yards.
The yard manager wasn't cross with James for being late, he understood it couldn't be helped.
James was unusually quiet when he got to the sheds, much to the relief of the other engines.
"And he said that he could easily puff threw a snowstorm," snickered Gordon.
"Well James has proven one thing," laughed Henry, "that the snow is stronger than he is."
James groaned loudly to himself, he wished he hadn't heard that.
Calls for Snow
After the blizzard, the engines were told to wear their snowploughs, some complained loudly about wearing them, then there were others who didn't as they were focusing hard on doing their jobs.
Edward was hard at work, clearing the snow off the tracks.
"This snow's really thick this year," he said to his Driver.
"I can agree with you there, Edward," he said, "in that case, we better take it nice and easy, we don't want to have an accident, now do we?"
"Certainly not, with snow, trouble's just around the corner."
Soon the old engine arrived at the harbour, where Bill and Ben were slipping and sliding on the icey rails, they were having fun, but not their crews.
"That's enough!" called out Edward, "you two have work to do, this isn't the time to play!"
"We were only having fun Edward," said Bill.
"There's a time for fun, but now isn't that time. Besides that, the ice can be dangerous, one wrong slip could send you sliding off the rails."
"Like Thomas, when he slid into that snowbank?" giggled Ben.
"Or James getting stuck in that blizzard?" asked Bill.
Edward groaned to himself, "listen to me you two, if you don't take care, you might end up in a serious accident."
"Pah!" sniffed the twins.
By nightfall, it was starting to snow, but very lightly as BoCo waited for Bill and Ben to arrive with his train, his Driver was pacing back and forth in front of BoCo.
"Where could they be?" asked the Driver.
"They're probably taking care out there," said BoCo.
The Driver looked over to BoCo, "it's Bill and Ben you're talking about, you know those two."
BoCo said nothing more, for they could hear the twin's whistles blowing as they were coming into the harbour. When they did arrive, they were covered in heavy packed snow.
"We blew our whistles too loudly and started an avalanche," groaned Bill, freezing a little.
"Good thing we have warm boilers to keep us from freezing," added Ben.
Soon BoCo was coupled onto the train and was on his way to Wellsworth.
The journey however was a little tougher than BoCo originally thought, the snow was now starting to come down even harder, making it hard to see.
"We better slow down BoCo," called his Driver, "with poor visibility, we could run into trouble."
Sad to say, they were going to run into trouble. Some points ahead were frozen over, due to some troublemaking boys spilling water on them.
"This should give the engine's a little slip," said the leader of the boys.
They cleared out of the way as BoCo came threw and ran into a siding, filled with heavy packed snow.
"Oh," groaned the Driver, after the jolt, "what was that?"
BoCo had run into the heavy pack snow, it was as high as his buffers.
"Right, let's get going BoCo," called his Driver, he tried to move BoCo out of the way, but found that he couldn't, "what could be the matter now?"
The snow was so thick that it covered BoCo's wheels, now he couldn't move forward or back.
"What should we do?" asked BoCo.
"I'll go phone for help," said the Driver.
In a few minutes, the Driver came back, then Edward could be seen coming towards them with the breakdown train, BoCo's Driver had already placed an emergency light beside the lines.
"Don't worry BoCo, we'll have you out of there in no time!" called Edward.
First, the workmen did what they could to unfreeze the points, one of them had even caught the boys. Then Edward moved the cranes into place, as they lifted BoCo out of the drift, then Edward pulled him back a bit.
"Thank you my friend," said BoCo.
"No worries," smiled Edward, "I'm just glad to help. Now this should set a good example to Bill and Ben."
When Bill and Ben heard about BoCo's accident, they promised to be more careful on icey rails. Shortly afterwords, the Fat Controller decided that all sidings were to have extra snowbanks at the end of them to prevent runaways.
"Well BoCo," smiled Edward, "thanks to you, now we have a safer way to stop a runaway."
"Even though I found out the hard way," he said, "oh well, it is better to be safe than sorry."
Edward could only agree with him.
Better Than Originally Thought
As any engine on Thomas' branch line knows, Thomas the Tank Engine hates wearing his snowplough and will often complain about it.
"I don't know why I need that silly thing on my buffers," he grumbled, "I can manage just fine."
"Really?" asked Percy in a cheeky way, "what about the time you got stuck in the snowdrift and Terence had to pull you out?"
Thomas didn't say anything for a while.
"We all need the snowploughs to keep ourselves safe out on the rails," said Toby.
"That's easy for you to say Toby, you have your cowcathers. They work just as well as a snowplough, I bet they're not heavy."
"Maybe so, but..."
Before Toby could say anymore, Thomas had puffed on out of the sheds to collect Annie and Clarabel.
"I would like to have cowcatchers," Thomas said to his Driver.
"What did you say?" his Driver asked in surprise, "next thing you know, you'll be asking for sideplates like what Mavis and Toby have."
"Why would you want cowcatchers Thomas?" asked the fireman.
"Well why not? With cowcatchers on my front end, then I wouldn't need to wear that heavy old snowplough."
"I think the cold weather has gotten to you Thomas," said the Driver, "you can't have cowcatchers, not without having sideplates added on."
"Bother," he groaned, "I wonder if other engines have this problem."
Soon they were puffing along down the branch line. The cold wind blew across Thomas' funnel, which made him shiver.
"At least it's not a blizzard," he thought to himself, as he remembered what he heard about James.
He soon reached the station before Mrs. Kindley's cottage. While his passengers started to board the train, the Driver and fireman got out the snowplough and placed it on Thomas' buffer beams.
"You know I hate wearing this silly thing," he groaned.
"We know, but it's either this or you can explain to the Fat Controller why you don't want to work."
Thomas said no more, but he still grumbled under his breath.
Once out on the countryside, Thomas began to feel a little better. He didn't even notice his snowplough this time, he was enjoying himself.
"I guess snow isn't that bad," he puffed to himself.
Before long, he came upon the Kindley's cottage and there was Mrs. Kindley waving from the upstairs window again.
"I wonder if anything is wrong," said the fireman as they brought Thomas to a stop, "we better go see."
Thomas' Driver and fireman walked down the line to the cottage, they soon found the problem. They returned to Thomas and told him.
"That's what she was trying to tell us," sighed the Driver, "Daisy is just up ahead and by the looks of it, she's stuck in a huge snowpile. It'll probably take us a long time to dig her out."
"Couldn't we pull her out?" asked Thomas, "that would save alot of time."
"Good thinking Thomas!"
Thomas puffed on slowly to where Daisy was, but first there was matter of some snow to clear out of the way. Thomas pushed on with all his might, wheel turn by wheel turn until at last he had reached Daisy.
The Driver brought out a long chain and coupled the engines up.
With a shrill blast of his whistle, Thomas pulled and pulled. Daisy however was stuck fast, it took longer than Thomas thought, but at last she popped out of the snowpile like a cork out of a bottle.
"Thank...you...Thomas," shivered Daisy.
"Not a problem," he smiled, then he had another idea, "if we go back up the line, we can shunt Daisy to the back to the train and get both of our passengers to the end of the line."
"That's a spendid idea Thomas," smiled his Driver, "you sure are clever today."
The guards told all the passengers that they were going to back down the tracks for a little re-arrangment of the trains. Thomas was coupled to Daisy and pulled her along, then he carefully buffered up to Annie and Clarabel, then they set off back up the line.
Thomas carefully shunted Daisy to the back, behind Clarabel. Then he returned to the front of the train, and pulled the coaches and the diesel rail-car along smoothly.
Once they got back to the drifts, Thomas slowed down and attacked the drifts until they were finally through.
The train had arrived late to the station, but the passengers weren't cross for the delay, instead they thanked Thomas for getting them to the station on time.
"I guess you were right Driver," he said, "maybe this horrible old snowplough isn't as bad as I had thought. Maybe I don't need cowcatchers after all, this is just as useful."
Neither Thomas' Driver or fireman had told him that his snowplough was a new lightweight snowplough that had just arrived this morning. Still they decided not to say anything.
Work on the Little Western branch has been building for a long time, so the Fat Controller decided to bring in an extra helper for the line.
The engine was named Dan, he was a really small diesel and painted in dark green paint. Despite his size, the little diesel shunter was strong and could handle big loads.
"I used to do that all the time where I came from," he said, "although the trucks were much bigger."
"How big were they?" asked Oliver.
"They were big, big enough to tower over a small engine like myself. In fact they were like four of your ballast trucks all in one."
"That would save a lot of trips if we had those trucks," said Duck.
"Maybe so, but they were heavy trucks, it's better to stick with your trucks."
For some part of the branch line, the line runs along threw the flat countryside, until the engines reached a hill. The hill was the only real difficult part of the journey, as it was very steep.
In the winter, the hill can prove to be real troublesome, as ice would freeze itself on the rails. As a result, the engines will slip until they can't go on anymore and slide back to the bottom.
The soluation to the problem is for the engines to stop before the hill, then the fireman places some of the hot coals from the fire onto some parts of the hill. While the fireman is doing that, the Driver brings the engine slowly up the hill until they reached the top, then the fireman can rejoin the driver for the downhill journey.
Dan the small diesel was worried as he was shunting his trucks.
"If I have to take an extra load of ballast to the station, I might get stuck on the hill. Duck and Oliver have told me how tough it is to climb it."
"I'm sure we'll be okay Dan," said his Driver, "besides I'm sure that the line will be clear for us."
"I sure hope you are right."
Still this didn't make Dan feel better, he was worried what might happen. Since he was a diesel, he doesn't have a fire or a fireman.
"In the meantime, we're to do shunting duties," said his Driver, "I'm sure you'll get your chance to visit the big station in the spring."
Later that day, a snowstorm came. It howled across the line, making it difficult to see anything.
"We'll shunt the last of these trucks into the siding," said his Driver, "then we'll go back to the sheds."
Dan was liking that idea - just then, he heard someone's footsteps coming towards him. It was the stationmaster, he was having trouble seeing in the blizzard and thought the engine shunting was Oliver.
"You need to take this train of ballast to the big station, then stay at the big engine sheds until the storm has passed!"
"Ah...sure, no problem," said a worried Dan.
Dan rolled away with his loaded ballast trucks. The stationmaster heard Dan's diesel motor, he gasped.
"Come back!" he cried, "you'll never get to the big station in this storm."
Dan and his Driver heard nothing as the howling wind blew, so they rolled away.
The stationmaster went back to the platform where the 'real' Oliver was waiting.
"Dan's going off to the big station," said the stationmaster and explained how he mistakened Dan for Oliver.
"We better go see if we can help the little engine," said Oliver's driver.
Wasting no time and with a blast of his whistle, Oliver set off into the storm. He found it hard to see, but he was determined to make it to Dan.
"I sure hope he'll be okay," groaned Oliver, "I'm not sure if his little diesel motor will be able to handle that hill."
Oliver was sadly right. Dan by now had reached the hill - as he started to climb it, he found it difficult to climb, worst still, the trucks were eager for a little fun and were holding back.
"Silly little diesel can't pull us, HOLD BACK!" they cried.
"Come on!" groaned Dan, he struggled on for a while, before his Driver stopped him.
"We can't go on," he sighed, "unless you want to damage your engine."
Dan knew his driver was right, his worries had come to pass - that was until he heard the sound of an engine's whistle.
Oliver came up slowly and buffered to the back of the train.
Oliver's fireman then went in front of Dan, dropping some hot coals on the rails. Dan then pulled with all his might, while Oliver pushed, and before long, the two engines got the entire train up and over the hill and into the big station.
"Thank you for the help," said Dan after they were under the station roof, "I might have been stuck out there, had it not been for you."
"Oh well, that's what we engines do, we help each other out no matter what."
The snowstorm stayed for a while, so Oliver and Dan stayed at the big engine sheds and told stories till they went back to the branch line.
"I'm sure you'll be able to get over that hill alone someday," said Oliver, "I know you can do it."
Dan certainly hoped so too.