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James and the Tar Wagons is the thirteenth story of volume three.

James and the Tar Wagons
Season X, Episode 63
Air date 6 June 2021
Written by MainLineEngines
Directed by MainLineEngines
Episode guide
The Milk and the Post
Jessie and the Coaches


One morning, James met Toby at the Junction.

"You will not believe what job I have next," said James.

"Hmm, most likely a goods train since you're complaining," replied Toby.

"More specifically, a train of tar wagons and I'm not complaining for no reason," replied James.


"Yeah. You see, I have noticed that whenever I take the tar wagons, things tend to go wrong," explained James.

"I see," murmured Toby, "and who could forget your spectacular crash into the tar wagons!"

"You didn't need to bring that up! However, it does prove my point that for me, tar can only mean trouble."

"Nonsense James. Just don't get too superstitious."

"I suppose you're right. I'll probably be done with the job in no time at all!"

Then James puffed away. As he puffed along the line, he began to feel better.

"Toby's right. I shouldn't worry too much about the tar wagons. Sure I've had a few incidents but I just need to relax," thought James. "Besides, the sun is shining and the rails are dry."

At the end of the line, he left his coaches and then went to collect the tar wagons in the yard.

Dark clouds were looming overhead now. It seemed like it could rain.

Diesel was in the yard with the tar wagons.

"Are you here to collect the tar wagons?" asked Diesel.

"Yes I am."

"Okay then."

Diesel shunted them into place for James.

"Man, all of a sudden, it seems like it might rain. If it does, you should take extra care especially considering it's tar and given your experiences, you know better than anyone else that tar can be a big mess," called Diesel.

"Thank you for the warning. I'll take care," replied James.

"You better," laughed Diesel.

James just ignored Diesel. Soon, it was time for him to leave.

As he passed the Works station, he felt rain-drops on his boiler. Before he knew it, the rain was pelting down.

They stopped at the next station and the Fireman lit James's lamps. Then they set off again. They rumbled over the Viaduct and approached the top of Gordon's Hill. The rails were very slippery and James had to stop.

However, James's wheels slipped on the rails and before he knew it, he was gathering speed down the line.

"Oh dear," groaned James.

The Fireman sanded the rails so James could get a better grip and the Driver applied the brakes.

"I've got to stop. I've got to stop," panted James.

He could see Edward's station up ahead. He slowed down to a stop in the yard where Jenna was waiting.

"Hullo James," said Jenna. "Interesting weather, isn't it?"

"I suppose," grumbled James.

"I know, I know. It was bright and sunny and then all of sudden it began to rain," continued Jenna.

"And right when I was pulling the tar wagons," said James. "That's why I slipped down the hill."

"I always find it strange when it just happens to rain all of a sudden," said Jenna.

"At least she's not teasing me," James thought. "Jenna," he called. "Can you please take away the tar wagons?"

"Oh, of course James. We have to keep working whatever the weather, don't we," replied Jenna, and she took the wagons into a siding.

Then Edward bustled in.

"Hullo Edward."

"Hullo James. I see you just brought in the tar wagons."

"I did. The funny thing is that it started to rain just as I collect the tar wagons."

"Well, there was a slight possibility it would rain," said Edward.

"I wish someone had told me," grumbled Jenna, as she pushed some trucks around the yard.

"I thought I did!" chuckled Edward.

"Anyways," said James. "It just seems like every time I have to pull tar wagons, something always goes wrong. And this rain appeared out of literally nowhere."

"I suppose that is an interesting coincidence," said Edward, thoughtfully. "I wouldn't worry though. Rain always makes work difficult for us."

"I suppose so," grumbled James.

Later, he was back at Tidmouth sheds. By now, the rain had ceased. The Fat Controller came to see him.

"Hullo James. You did well with your morning jobs," said the Fat Controller. "Now listen, a road is being mended at Arlesburgh. I need you to collect tar wagons at Vicarstown after your morning train for the next two days and bring them here for Donald and Douglas to take to Arlesburgh."

"Er, uh, tar wagons, you say?" stammered James.

"Yes indeed."

"What for again?"

"A road is being mended."

"Oh, I was just making sure. You see, tar wagons isn't exactly my favourite job but I will do my best."

"I knew I could count on you," finished the Fat Controller. Then he walked away.

"Now I'm stuck with tar wagons again," grumbled James.

"What's so bad about that?" asked Bear.

"Well it seems like I always have trouble when pulling tar wagons," explained James.

"Are you sure about that?" asked Henry.

"Yeah. Just this morning, I slipped down Gordon's Hill with tar wagons due to the rain that just happened to appear when I collected the tar. Fortunately, Jenna was too concerned with other matters to tease me."

"Eh, you're overthinking things," replied Henry. "Honestly, you do your jobs better when you concentrate on doing a good job."

"He's got a point," put in Bear. "You shouldn't worry too much. Just go about it as you with all your other jobs and things should be all right."

James was unsure but he knew that he wanted to do a good job.

"In that case, I'm going to fill up with water now before my next train," said James and he puffed away.

"Bother. I wanted to go first," grumbled Henry.

James chuckled to himself.

That evening, he saw Toby at the Junction.

"Hey James. How has your day been?"

"I would say perfect but as it turns out, I have to pull tar wagons for the next two days," replied James.

"You really do have something against tar, don't you," Toby chuckled.

"More like it has something against me," grumbled James. "However, I've decided to relax and just focus on doing a good job."

"I'm glad to hear that," said Toby.

Then James puffed away.

The next morning, James was waiting at Vicarstown for the tar wagons to arrive from the Other Railway. He waited and waited.

"Where could they be?" asked James, anxiously.

"Oh don't tell me you're waiting for tar wagons," said Diesel, as he brought some coaches to the platform.

"I am actually."

"You and the tar. When will it ever end?" he asked jokingly and then chortled away.

"Eh, whatever," murmured James.

Then the Stationmaster came up.

"You're waiting for the tar wagons, aren't you?"

"We are," said James's Driver. "Do you know what's happened?"

"There was a bit of a mix-up," the Stationmaster explained. "The diesel bringing them delivered them to the wrong station. It's just before Barrow and the Other Railway is allowing you on the line to collect the tar."

"In that case, we better take on more coal," said James's Fireman.

James went over to the coal hopper where Molly was taking on coal.

"Hey James. I have to take on coal before making my deliveries," she said.

"That's all right," replied James. "I'm already late anyways."

Finally, James filled up with coal and went to collect the tar. Then he made his way back to Sodor and to the other end of the line.

"Och, there ye are," cried Donald. "I've been waiting for ye."

"Sorry Donald, but there was a slight mishap and I was delayed."

"Dinna fash yersel," chuckled Donald. "I'm glad ye came at last."

Then Donald pulled the tar wagons away.

"It seems like only I have trouble with tar," sighed James, and he puffed back to the sheds. "At least it's only one more day," he thought to himself.

The following day, he waiting at Vicarstown when the diesel rolled in with the tar wagons.

"Ah, so this is Vicarstown," he said.

"Thanks for bringing these. I have to take these to the other end of the line," said James.

"He's sort of an expert at handling tar wagons," put in Diesel.

"I don't know about expert," grumbled James.

"Okay, okay. I lied. He's not," said Diesel.

"Sadly not," put in James.

"At least you're on time right now," said the diesel.

"I just have to complete this run successfully then," said James.

James puffed down the line running easily with the wind whistling past him. He was making good time.

"I just have to concentrate, and everything will be fine," he thought.

James's Driver checked the train's headlong speed.

"Steady James!" he called.

"Right," said James, and he slowed down a bit.

He puffed down Gordon's Hill with ease, past the Junction, and entered into the yard in style.

"Ye're right on time," commented Douglas.

"Just how I like it," said James.

"I can shunt these tar wagons for you Douglas," said Jessie. "James, you can get a good rest."

"I do need a rest," said James and he was uncoupled from the tar wagons. Then he puffed ahead clear of the points so Jessie could push the wagons to Douglas's line.

Jessie buffered up to the brake van and began to push. However, she didn't know that the shunter hadn't switched the points. The wagons were heading towards James.

James's Driver and Fireman looked back and saw the tar wagons heading towards them.

"Stop!" they shouted.

But it was too late. The tar wagons crashed into James's tender and tar flew all over him.

"Disgusting!" groaned James. "And once again it's this stupid tar!"

"I'm very sorry James," apologised Jessie.

"It's not your fault," sighed James.

"Juist that every time he has tae work with tar, somethin' always happens to him it seems," said Douglas.

"Exactly," said James.

The Fat Controller had heard the noise and walked over to the yard to see what had happened. He was surprised to see James covered in tar.

"I accidentally shunted the tar into him," explained Jessie.

"We'll have the mess cleaned up," said the Fat Controller. "And you James, will need a good washdown."

"Thank you Sir," said James, cheering up a bit. "Can I ask you something though?"

"What is it?"

"Can I not work with tar anymore? Every single time I do, I just can't do a perfect job."

"It really does seem like there's something going on there," put in Jessie.

"Aye. I agree," said Douglas. "Perhaps it's best if he stays away from the tarr."

"You should have said something earlier," smiled the Fat Controller. "I know you always want to do a good job no matter what. I'm sure there's plenty of other jobs more suitable for you."

"Thank you Sir," said James. He felt a lot better now.

"Well, now you don't have to worry about tar," chuckled Jessie.

"Thank goodness! These mishaps did me a good turn then. I do hope I can get cleaned up though."

It took a long time to clean James but soon, his red livery was shining again and he was back at work. He backed onto the platform where his coaches were waiting

"It's great to see you again," said Jessie.

"You look better than ever too," said Gordon.

"Thanks," said James. "You know, I have been tasked with oil tankers this time. I'm kind of nervous because it involves wagons but I think it will work out. Besides, me pulling oil wagons would look very nice from an aesthetic point-of-view."

"Well, I wish you the best," said Jessie.

James puffed along the line and finished his journey safely. Later, he collect the oil. He was nervous at first but he was soon puffing along the line very smoothly. He delivered the oil safely.

James enjoyed the job and nowadays, he can often be found transporting oil tankers along the Main Line which he enjoys very much.