Ballast is the second episode of the first season of Small Railway Adventures.

Season 1, Episode 2
Air date July 22nd, 2013
Written by Rev. W. Awdry
Directed by MainLineEngines
Episode guide
Transfer to Sodor
Tit for Tat


The Fat Controller's Railway has a new look. From end to end they are clearing old ballast from the track and packing the sleepers with fresh stones. The gangers are pleased. "Weeds don't grow in it." they say; and even James has stopped grumbling about dirty sidings!

Donald and Douglas disappeared regularly behind the Big Station, along a line on which none of the others had ever gone. They returned with loaded ballast trains, and were most mysterious about it.

"Verra wee engines bring the ballast doun fra the hills," was all they would say.

Soon the engines could talk of nothing else. James and Henry thought the "Verra wee engines" must be some kind of magic.

"I don't believe it," said Gordon. "Donald and Douglas have pulled our wheels before."

But Duck wanted to see for himself, so he asked permission to take some trucks. When he arrived, he was told to push them under the "chute". This was like a tunnel made of steel girders. On top of it stood some queer-looking trucks.

"What d'you think of our 'chute'?" said a voice. "Good, isn't it."

Duck blinked. Standing beside him was a small green engine.

"Where did you spring from?" asked Duck.

"I've been here all the time," smiled the small engine. "I'm Rex, and you I'm sure, are Duck."

"How did you know?"

"That's easy; there's only one Great Western engine in these parts."

There was a sudden rattling and roaring. Duck's whole train shuddered.

"Wh-what was that?" he asked, startled.

"That was our 'chute'. The bottoms of those wagons slide out, and the stones fall through the chute into your trucks. We may be small, but we're quite efficient."

Duck puffed away much impressed.

Next time, there were three Small Engines. Rex introduced Duck to Bert and Mike. "As you can see," he went on, "the Small Controller's given us different coats."

"Silly nonsense," grumbled Mike.

"I like being blue," protested Bert.

"It's all right for you," fumed Mike, "but not for me. Passengers'll say I look like a pillarbox!"

"Shocking!" said Rex, and winked at Duck. "Consider my feelings. When we were both green, passengers kept calling me Mike!"

"You . . . you . . ." spluttered Mike.

"Stow it you two," said Bert. "Duck," he went on, "have you seen our coaches?"

"Where are they?" asked Duck.

"Over there," said Bert.

"But they're tru . . . I mean they're not like ours," he finished lamely.

Rex smiled. "I agree. They are like trucks, but they behave surprisingly well."

"Says you," put in Mike rudely.

"They're all right," said Bert, "if you treat 'em right. Besides, passengers like 'em. They won't use 'covereds' on a fine day. It's scenery - you know trees, mountains and such - can't understand it myself; bu then, passengers are queer."

"You're right there," said Mike. "Give me goods trains every time."

"Do you like trucks?" Duck was surprised.

"Not all of them," smiled Mike, "but our big ballast hoppers are different. They run on bogies as sweetly as any coach. We take them to the old mines, fill them up, and run them down here to the chute. The men pull some levers, and the whole lot's unloaded before you can say 'Small Controller'. No trouble at all."

"How about hot axleboxes?" put in Rex.

"We soon cured that nonsense."

"You mean the Small Controller did!"

"Same thing," grinned Mike.

Duck chuckled delightedly. Rex and Mike loved teasing each other.

"I can't understand," said Duck, "why I've never heard about you before."

The Small Engines all answered at once.

"We've only just come . . ."

" . . . from our Railway in England which closed."

". . . Your Fat Controller asked us to come and fetch ballast for him . . ."

". . . and he said he'd bring us plenty of passengers too."

"Haven't you had passengers before?" asked Duck.

"Only in England. It's our first season here."

"Oh!" promised Duck. "Then I'll bring you lots. Goodbye! Goodbye!" and he puffed excitedly away to see about it.


  • Gordon
  • Duck
  • Douglas
  • Rex
  • Mike
  • Bert
  • Henry (non-speaking role)
  • James (non-speaking role)
  • Donald (non-speaking role)
  • Sir Topham Hatt (mentioned)
  • The Small Controller (mentioned)


  • This episode is based off the story of the same name from 'Small Railway Engines' by the Rev. W, Awdry.
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