Really Useful Engines
Really Useful Engines
Author Christopher Awdry
Illustrator Clive Spong
Publication date 1983-Present
Publication Order
Preceded by
Tramway Engines
Followed by
James and the Diesel Engines
Really Useful Engines is the twenty-seventh book of the Railway Series.


Dear Friends,

I am happy to say that Thomas and his friends are still at work, trying hard as ever to prove themselves to be Really Useful Engines. Sadly my father is no longer able to be involved with the Region's affairs, but it is with grateful thanks that I would like to dedicate this book to him, the person who began it all.

The Author


Stop Thief!Edit

The guard tells Thomas' driver and fireman that the stationmaster's house was burgled the pervious night and the thieves must've made a home invasion to rob the stationmaster. The new car and gardening trophies were stolen and when Thomas sees a car much like the stationmaster's, he warns his crew and identify the driver and passenger as the two thieves. At the next signal box, they throw the fireman's lunch box with a note inside for the signalman to read. Thomas' crew shouted at the top of their voices to call the "POLICE!", but the thieves were far away from Thomas. The signalman telephones the police and when the thieves were arrested, the trophies and car were undamaged at the scene. The Fat Controller arrives at Ffarquhar to congratulate Thomas and his crew.

Mind That BikeEdit

The postman, Tom Tipper suddenly falls ill and when he recovers, his van was replaced by a bicycle. When he's at Ffarquhar, he carelessly props it against Percy and is asked inside to fill in papers he needs to do. A boy comes along and hijacks the bike as Percy sets off. The boy falls off and is able to move, but the bike is crushed and beyond repair. Tom Tipper is given his old van back instead of a bicycle.


The Flying Kipper needs to transport more fish as the fishermen made their greatest catch out at sea. The only vans, Sir Topham Hatt said were rusty and were available for use. At Wellsworth, Henry asks Duck to help him up the hill with his train. The tail-lamp at the end of the train falls off and Duck falls behind. Henry slows down and with the train getting heavy, Duck smashes into the vans denting both his boiler and funnel. Henry stops on the hill and has to wait until the next morning with the breakdown crew clearing up the mess.

Triple HeaderEdit

Gordon feels tried after pulling the express and Thomas replies he should become a tank engine. Later, it is discovered that Gordon needs new tubes. Henry pulls the express so well that he too becomes ill one day and can't get to the station. Sir Topham Hatt despite an inspector's plea has Thomas, Percy and Duck to take the train to Vicarstown. Percy runs out of steam on Gordon's Hill, but the engines must struggle to Crovans Gate. Duck breaks down and Thomas is unable to haul the train. Another engine takes the express and Gordon makes heavy breathing noises at Thomas before winking at him for taking the express.



  • "Triple Header" was the first story of the four to be written. It is based on an incident at the Nene Valey Railway involving an 0-6-0 named "Thomas".
  • Wilbert Awdry by coincidence said he will name the book "Really Useful Engines".
  • The first two illustrations of "Triple Header" were based on previous works of the Railway Series. Reginald Payne's first illustration in Thomas and Gordon and C. Reginald Dalby's second illustration in Edward, Gordon and Henry.
  • Sir Topham Hatt sports a moustache.


  • Thomas' valence is curved again.
  • Clarabel is the front during the chase between Thomas and the thieves when she should be at the back of the train.
  • In the sixth illustration of "Triple Header", no platform for the Skarloey Railway is visible.
  • A Brakevan should be used at the end of the Flying Kipper in the first place.