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The Trouble with Ballast Trucks is the seventeenth story of volume three.

The Trouble with Ballast Trucks
Season X, Episode 67
Air date 8 August 2021
Written by MainLineEngines
Directed by MainLineEngines
Episode guide
The Queue
Station Closing


All the engines know that ballast trucks are the most mischievous trucks. The engines have to work very hard to make them behave. Oliver is the only engine that ballast trucks respect and listen to after he pulled Scruffey apart. Despite that, Oliver prefers his passengers trains down the Little Western with his coaches, Isabel and Dulcie. Usually, Duck and Ryan take in turns to collect ballast that the Small Railway Engines bring down from the mines.

One afternoon, Duck was collecting ballast at Arlesburgh. Rex was shunting the ballast hoppers onto the chute where the ballast would then be transferred to Duck's trucks.

"I have to warn you that the ballast trucks have been more troublesome than ever," said Rex, as he shunted the trucks into place.

"I'll definitely take care," replied Duck. "This ballast needs to get to Vicarstown by sunset."

"You two are just being silly," huffed Mike, who had overheard Rex and Duck's conversation. "Ballast trucks are no trouble at all if you know how to handle them."

"I think we all know how to handle ballast trucks," retorted Rex. "You're not that special, Mikey."

"You're just jealous," continued Mike. "You'll see it tomorrow. I can collect the ballast from the mines, bring it down here, and have the whole lot unloaded before you even say 'ballast trucks'."

"We'll see about that then," chuckled Rex. "In the meantime, off you go Duck, and take care."

"You'll be fine Duck," said Mike. "Let me just give you a quick tip. The way I handle ballast trucks is being stern with them. Just show them who's in charge."

"Hmm, I think I'll be fine Mike, but thanks!" called Duck. Then he puffed away. All seemed to be going well as Duck rattled through Haultraugh. Presently however, he began to feel the heavy weight of the trucks. Duck had to work very hard to keep the train moving.

"Hold back! Hold back!" the trucks clattered to each other.

The journey became very difficult. Finally, the yard was right up ahead. Duck was very relieved.

However, as he stopped, he felt the trucks surge into him. Quickly, Duck's Driver applied the brakes and the train came to a sudden stop!

"That could have been worse," sighed the Driver, wiping his face.

"We might have had a runaway," agreed the Fireman.

"What happened?" asked Jessie, who had come to take the trucks away.

"These ballast trucks are acting up. They held back the entire journey and now they tried to push me onward. Luckily, Driver managed to hold them back," explained Duck.

"Well, I can take them away now," said Jessie. "David is taking them in his goods train to Vicarstown."

"Tell him to be careful with the ballast trucks then. Rex warned me that they were acting up, and it seems like they are," said Duck.

"I will! Now, let's get these trucks moving."

Duck went off to the sheds and Jessie was coupled up to the ballast trucks.

However, the trucks were comfortable and didn't want to move.

"We're always being moved around from place to place!" they grumbled. "We deserve some rest!"

"Oh, come on, don't be silly," laughed Jessie. "Let's get moving."

"We won't!" screamed the trucks. "So there."

The trucks' brakes were hard on. Jessie pulled with all her might but she couldn't make them move. Four shunters had to come and release the brakes so the trucks could be moved but they still grumbled dreadfully.

"Sorry I'm a bit late!" called Jessie, as she finally shunted the trucks onto David's goods train. "Hopefully you can make up for lost time."

"No worries. I'm sure I will," replied David.

Then the Guard's whistle blew.

"Be careful with the ballast trucks though. They're very troublesome!" called Jessie as David puffed away.

David was already puffing away and didn't hear Jessie's warning so he simply whistled in reply.

"I hope he heard me," murmured Jessie.

David found the journey very difficult especially when he reached Gordon's Hill. Luckily, Jenna was there to help.

"These ballast trucks are being very troublesome," said David. "I should've known that Jessie was warning me."

"Never mind David, we'll have these trucks up the hill in no time," replied Jenna, confidently.

She buffered up behind the brake-van.

"All right. Let's get this train moving," she called.

Once again, the ballast trucks started to grumble.

"Who's she to order us around?"

"My wheels hurt so much from all this movement."

"Nonsense," interrupted Jenna. "I'm in charge around here, so you'll get moving with no complaining. Go on!"

David and Jenna pulled and pushed with all their might and forced the unwilling trucks up the hill. It was a lot harder than expected, but finally, they reached the top. At Maron, Jenna stopped whilst David continued on his way to Vicarstown. Fortunately, there were no further incidents, although David was very tired when he finished his journey.

The next day, he saw Duck, Jessie, and the Caledonian Twins in the sheds at the Big Station.

"Hey David, how was your journey yesterday?" asked Jessie.

"Very difficult because of those ballast trucks," replied David. "You tried to warn me, didn't you."

"Yeah, but you were already puffing away."

"I figured."

"So, the ballast trucks have been worse than ever," said Donald.

"Yes, even the Small Railway engines have been having trouble," said Duck.

"Personally, I'm not tae worried. After all, I have Toad and together, we can those wee trucks in order," said Douglas. "No trouble at all."

"Well, if there's someone that can keep trucks in line, it is Toad," murmured Duck in agreement.

"I'm sure he'll be glad to help any of ye with the ballast trucks."

"Thank you Douglas. That would be splendid," said Duck.

Later that day, Duck was back at Arlesburgh. Oliver was just about to leave with his coaches.

"Hullo Duck. How's your day so far?" he asked.

"All is well now," replied Duck, "but the ballast trucks have been worse than ever."

"I've heard about that," said Oliver. "I'm glad I don't have to deal with that. My days dealing with trucks are done."

"Well, wish us luck then."

"Definitely. Toad is in the yard. I'm sure he'd be happy to help."

"Of course."

"Now, I better be on my way."

Oliver puffed away and Duck went to rest in the shed.

A little later, Ryan arrived to collect some ballast trucks.

Mike was taking the trucks up to the chute.

"We'll have your trucks loaded in no time," puffed Mike.

But the trucks were up to their old tricks.

"Hold back! Hold back!" they giggled.

Mike had to work harder.

"Now, now, don't you dare play tricks on me," he scowled. But the trucks just laughed, and soon, Mike found that he couldn't move the trucks at all.

"I thought you said you could handle ballast trucks," chuckled Jock, as he steamed into Arlesburgh.

"Shut up and come help me instead," grumbled Mike.

"Easy there," laughed Jock.

"Yeah, the trucks are bound to take advantage of your temper," said Ryan. "That's why I find it best to be nice with the trucks."

"Huh, sometimes you have to show them who's in charge," huffed Mike.

"Regardless, let's get these trucks to the chute," cut in Jock.

Mike and Jock pushed with all their might, and at last, had the trucks on the chute. The ballast was soon unloaded.

"Well, at least you'll have Toad as your brake van," said Jock.

"Really? Hullo Toad!" called Ryan.

"Hullo Mister Ryan. I'm pleased to be your brake van today. Together, we'll get these ballast trucks to the Big Station," said Toad.

Then they puffed away.

Ryan was making excellent time.

"These trucks daren't play tricks with Toad," thought Ryan.

Indeed the trucks were quiet but they still had a trick in their minds. As they neared the Big Station, they began chatter amongst themselves.

Toad quickly heard them.

"Calm down. We're almost at the station, so you must behave and stay in line till the train comes to a complete stop," said Toad.

"Oh, of course Toad. Anything you say," replied the trucks.

Ryan's brakes came on and that was the signal for the trucks. Before the Guard could check them, they surged into Ryan, screaming: "On! On! On! On!" Ryan was diverted into a siding. He hit the buffers with a tremendous bump and came off the rails! Ballast was everywhere but the trucks didn't care. They just laughed and laughed.

"That could have been a little smoother. I'm very sorry for this trouble Mr. Ryan," apologised Toad.

"It wasn't your fault Toad," said Ryan. "These trucks are more troublesome than ever."

"I see," said Toad. "Somehow we have to fix this before someone else gets hurt."

"Somehow," sighed Ryan.

The other engines soon heard of Ryan's accident.

"Stupid trucks!" grumbled Daisy. "That's exactly why I hate trucks. They always cause trouble. Just look at what they did to poor Ryan."

"Even with Toad, it wasn't enough to stop them," sighed Duck.

"In all seriousness, we muist put an end to these dreadful ballast trucks," said Donald. "It wasnae enough with juist Toad. We need another plan."

Then Duck had an idea.

"I think I know just the engine who could show these trucks a thing or two," said Duck.

"Really?" asked the others.

"Of course. Our very own Oliver."

"Ye do ken what happened to him the last time he took trucks," reminded Douglas.

"Yeah, he shunted them in the yard about a week ago," replied Duck.

"Och, ye know what I'm talking aboot!"

"Honestly, do you think he's up for it?" asked Daisy. "The trucks are worse than ever."

"I just have to convince him to do it," replied Duck.

Then Oliver backed into the shed.

"I don't have much time before my next time but who are we trying to convince?" asked Oliver.

"You see Oliver, the ballast trucks are worse than ever," began Duck.

"Yon Ryan juist had an accident," put in Donald.

"Oh dear. Surely something must be done," said Oliver.

"I think you can help us out," said Duck.

"Me? Why me?" asked Oliver.

"Because the trucks respect you," explained Duck.

"I suppose that is true, but I hear they've been worse than ever."

"Well, we have a better chance with you," added Duck.

"Hmm," thought Oliver.

"Ye're our best chance," said Donald.

"And ye'll have Toad with ye," added Douglas.

"All right. I'll do it!"

"Yeah! That's the way!" exclaimed Daisy.

"Driver still has to make arrangements though," reminded Oliver.

"Right, but thanks for helping us out," said Duck, gratefully.

Oliver was glad to help though he felt a bit nervous. The next day, he was still feeling a bit nervous as he headed to Arlesburgh.

"Well Mr. Oliver, we made it Sodor together with Ms. Isabel and Mr. Douglas, so I say there's nothing we can't do," said Toad.

"Except fly perhaps," chuckled Oliver.

"True. But teaching these ballast trucks a lesson should be accessible."

At Arlesburgh, Daisy was there since she was taking over Oliver's regular passenger duties whilst Duck, Donald, and Douglas wanted to see what would happen. Oliver saw his friends and grew in confidence as he shunted Toad into place.

"Be firm now," whispered Toad, as Oliver ran round to the front of the train, ready to pull.

The ballast was loaded and the trucks were rather comfortable.

"All right. Enough slacking, let's go!" called Oliver.

The trucks were about to protest but then they recognised Oliver's voice.

"Wait, is that him?" they asked amongst themselves. "No, no. It can't be! It's Mister Oliver!" cried the trucks.

"Yes it's me. Long time no see by the way," replied Oliver. He started to feel even more confident. "Now I hear you've been causing trouble for my friends and I do not like that at all. Honestly, you should know better since you know what can happen to trucks that misbehave."

"No! No! We're sorry Mr. Oliver. We'll try to be better."

"That's good to hear. Now, let's get going."

Oliver puffed smoothly away whilst his friends cheered him on.

Thanks to Oliver, the ballast trucks were brought back down-to-earth. The other engines had a much easier time making their deliveries of ballast. Oliver was glad to have helped though he still prefers his journeys on the Little Western with his coaches Isabel and Dulcie.




  • The events of Escape and Toad Stands by are referenced.