ERS 61 - Narrow Gauge Problems

ERS 61 - Narrow Gauge Problems - Christopher

This volume serves as a flashback of sorts on the Skarloey Railway – during the time when Peter Sam was still the Talyllyn Railway in Wales and when Ivo Hugh was still being built. In fact, as with “Awdry Tradition”, several stories here had been inspired by actual happenings on the Talyllyn itself.

The Skarloey Engines are overworked with Peter Sam away and Rheneas in the Workshops for overhauls. They cheer up when a Famous Writer comes to visit, although this soon changes when Agnes, one of the old coaches, undergoes a bad day, suffering the worst from the holidaymakers, and finally loses her patience where she deliberately derails herself. Needless to say, she does not escape the wrath of the Thin Controller soon afterward!

Rusty and Fred both suffer a double dilemma during maintenance work up the line. Rusty's gearbox fails, leaving Fred to come to the rescue. But then Fred breaks down himself trying to rescue him, leaving Edwin Richard to rescue them both and keep the line clear. This was based on separate technical faults with the Talyllyn's own diesels, Midlander and Alf, both combined into one story.

Another incident to happen to the Talyllyn's Sir Haydn was put to good use here. Everyone commends on the Famous Writer's works – “words so beautiful they make us weep” – although Sir Handel is far from convinced. Whilst taking a train out to a book reading session, though, Sir Handel weeps in a completely different manner when he develops a leak in his boiler. He is soon mended and returned to service, but not before the others joke about “the engine that wept”!

In August 1999, Rheneas's “Twin” Dolgoch hauled a special train minus her cab where visitors take photographs in open trucks of the beautiful surrounding hills. I thought it was a perfect end to this volume where the Skarloey runs a Camera Train of their own – and Rheneas, having just emerged from the Works, is pressed promptly into service for the next train before his cab can be fitted on. Despite this odd sighting, the day goes without anymore faults and the Writer praises the railway for pulling through in the end.