top of page

Book 17 - Gallant Old Engine - 1962

Summaries by R Healy


The final book to be illustrated by John T Kenney, and the third to follow the adventures of the Skarloey Railway.  The book follows up two previous storylines, Peter Sam's incident with the slate trucks which sees his funnel coming loose and being replaced with a new one, and the return of Rheneas, and why he merited the repairs he so sorely needed and how his efforts allowed the Railway to continue on.

Special Funnel
Peter Sam's funnel has been shaky since his accident with the slate trucks in Book 14.  The Thin Controller has promised him a special new funnel for some time, but it has yet to materialise, and is becoming a great joke among the other engines.  However, when Peter Sam runs into trouble with an icicle hanging in the tunnel, the after-effects of the previous accident catch up with Peter Sam, and his funnel comes off!  The only viable alternative to get them home is a drain-pipe found by the side of the line to replace his funnel, and Peter Sam becomes a laughing stock again.  The new funnel soon arrives, and it's flatter and thinner than the usual funnels the engines use, Peter Sam suggests that someone's squashed it!  But despite the teasing, the new funnel proves to be the envy of the others when Peter Sam shows them it's advantages over their own!
Steam Roller

Sir Handel is teased about his big broad tyres, or as the others call them "Steam Roller Wheels!", but defends them by saying he can go faster than any of the others.  Skarloey takes advantage of Sir Handel's defensive mood and tells him he would be the ideal engine to challenge George the Steam Roller, who is found to deplore railways.  Sir Handel and George meet and exchange insults, which results in something of a small race later, where both of them are competing for space on a very narrow road, where both of them should be taking care and showing more courtesy.  As a result, an accident occurs which sees trucks being hit and derailing!  A clear up soon ensues after a Policeman comes to stop the arguing, and soon after, George leaves.  Sir Handel believes he was the reason why George has left, but his victory is shortlived when some children come to the sheds and take note that the Steam Roller nearly beat him!
Passengers & Polish

Duncan feels under-appreciated when he sees Skarloey being polished by Nancy who hasn't got time to do him too.  Following an incident, Skarloey loses some of his rear coaches and Duncan has to collect them.  He doesn't agree with this and makes an issue of the whole thing, up until the point when he comes to a halt in the middle of a viaduct and refuses to move.  Skarloey has to move Duncan and the coaches to the station, and there is an uproar with the passengers when they arrive.  Duncan is remined that evening by the Thin Controller that "No passengers, means no polish", but in Duncan's mind, it's "No polish, means no passengers!"
Gallant Old Engine

Skarloey scolds Duncan's selfish attitude and reminds him that passengers are the lifeblood of the railway, and hopes that Rheneas would have a positive influence on him on his return.  He then goes on to tell Duncan and Peter Sam the story of how Rheneas went on to save the Railway through his determination.  When Skarloey was on his last legs, Rheneas took over all services, and on one fateful journey, ends up stopping in the loneliest part of the line.  Rheneas drags himself to complete the journey, knowing that the Railway would close if he cannot make the effort and help the passengers home.  But with much grit and determination he brings the train home, to the praise of the passengers and the promise from his crew that they'll mend him ready for tomorrow!  Rheneas is welcomed back with a huge fan-fare the following day, and returned to his rightful place among the engines again.

Gallant Old Engine

Audiobook - Read By Willie Rushton

Favourite Railway Series Books Blogs

bottom of page