ERS 160 - Ted the New Pilot Engine

ERS 160 - Ted the New Pilot Engine - Christopher & Fox

This volume – co-written by myself and Doug – has become one of the most notable throughout the ERS Library for a few reasons; it was one of the last volumes to be approved, penned and competed in time for the Overhaul's deadline, and features expansive character development for Ted, prior to his new position from ERS No.152. The inspiration for Ted's development from a “surfer dude” manner to a more mature engine is inspired by the great singer Meatloaf, whose songs also serve as story titles throughout.

As mentioned by Ted himself, he finally came full-circle. Most Class 14 shunters started out as Station Pilots when first introduced, until they were later surpassed to requirements and eventually bought out by private companies for quarry or aggregate trains; some who at least escaped the cutter's torch this way. In Ted's case, ironically, he went the complete opposite as he bids farewell to the Ffarquhar Branch Line before beginning his new life at Tidmouth. Duck warns him not to let Gordon, Henry and James push him around, recalling his first day in the yard. But Ted misinterprets this and causes a kafuffle with James about who has the right of way to the station...!

Ted begins to settle into his new workplace, trying to remember all the lessons Jinty had taught him before. But his “cool manner” doesn't suit everyone, and his daydream-like state causes a mix-up when he tries to prepare three trains at once...and winds up delaying Edward's arrival when he shunts some coaches into his platform by mistake. As Gordon dryly quotes: “Two out of three isn't bad.”

Ted tries to make up for his mistakes, especially after an officious Visiting Diesel makes rude remarks on his class. So Ted is scheduled to run a Worker's Train along the Main Line, where he happens to be lumbered with Croc, the Maniacal Flat Wagon, who Henry had dealt with once before. All goes well until Ted frantically slips whilst entering the station, where the trucks force him into the buffer stop at the end...

A badly damaged Ted is hauled to the Works in disgrace where Warrior is loaned from the Vicarstown Museum to work in his place. Ted is feeling depressed but Mr Yeoman, the Diesel Engineer, is sure that the accident hadn't been Ted's fault and launches a full-out investigation. He discovers the oily patch where Ted had slipped up, realising that it was the Visitor who had leaked on that platform, not Ted. And after finding out about Croc, Ted is proven innocent and the Workmen promise to give him a complete rebuilt to erase all faults for good.

True to his word, Mr Yeoman has Ted completely overhauled with a new coat of paint to match. He returns to Tidmouth a far wiser and organised engine where, after putting Croc in his place, resumes his position once more, much to the delight of the Big Engines. And later that evening, Ted manages to do one more good deed when he helps a stranded passenger back to Tidmouth to meet his waiting sweetheart at the station...