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Old Iron is the fifth episode of the second series. It is based on the story of the same name from the Railway Series book Edward the Blue Engine.


James is forced to wait at Wellsworth station for Edward to arrive with his train. James is infuriated by this and grumbles about Edward being late again. Edward finds it funny while James leaves to continue his work. That evening, James is still grumbling when he puffs back to the shed. He complains to Thomas and Percy that Edward is always making the other engines wait and he clanks about like a lot of "Old Iron". Thomas and Percy - who both have a great deal of respect for Edward - are outraged at this remark, with Thomas telling James that Edward could beat him in a race any day, to which James sarcastically says he would like to see.

The next day, James' driver suddenly falls ill while at work and is sent home. With only his fireman on duty, James is relegated to shunting for the day, to his annoyance. The fireman leaves to get ready for the day's work when the signalman spots James leaving without anyone aboard. He quickly sets the signals at "danger" to halt traffic down the line and speaks with the fireman. It turns out that two boys were seen on James' footplate fiddling with his controls, only to run when James started. The signalman's phone rings, with an engine inspector on the other end. After finishing the call, the signalman tells James' fireman that the inspector is coming at once and that he wants the fireman to quickly get a shunter's pole and a coil of wire rope.

The inspector soon arrives in Edward and the fireman is ready with the items requested. With James' fireman and the inspector riding along with his own crew, Edward sets off, determined to catch up to the runaway engine.

Meanwhile, James happily sails along the line oblivious that anything is wrong and simply glad to be free from shunting. Before long, his joy turns to horror as he finds himself starting to go faster while realising that none of his crew are aboard and starts to call for help. By now Edward is racing out of Knapford and heading down the line as fast as he can in order to catch up to James. Soon the two are almost neck and neck with Edward giving it everything he can to keep up. Edward's driver does his best to keep Edward steadily aligned while the inspector climbs outside and makes it to Edward's front with a noose of the rope hanging from the shunting pole and tries to slip the rope over James' right buffer. It is difficult for the inspector, but he finally manages to catch the buffer and tie it to Edward's. James' fireman scrambles over to his engine and takes control, allowing both engines to finally slow down.

As the two tired engines approach Crosby station, James apologizes for his insult earlier, which Edward accepts. Waiting for them on the platform is the Fat Controller. He congratulates the crew on a fine rescue and then tells James that he can rest before he takes his next train, while Edward is rewarded with a trip to the Works to get his worn-out parts mended. Edward is delighted, remarking how nice it will be to run without clanking.




  • When Edward arrives at the Sodor Shipping Company, a first series-styled truck can be seen in the goods train next to him.
  • In the restored version, the fade effect when Edward says "So the 'Old Iron' caught you after all," is removed and in the close-up of the Fat Controller, the background is blacked out.
  • In a rare picture, James is smiling while he is at the sheds with Thomas and Percy.
  • At one point, James and Edward pass Mrs. Kyndley's Cottage.
  • The road bridge where Edward almost catches up with James is actually one of the Knapford Harbour Bridges.
  • In the original story by Wilbert Awdry, the police arrested the boys, who were then "walloped" by their fathers. The scene was omitted in the adaptation to censor references to child abuse and because of its time limit of four minute and thirty seconds.
  • The close-up of James' bufferbeam where the rope is swaying across James' right buffer (viewers' left) is actually Thomas', but with his headlamp removed.
  • This episode was aired alongside Wrong Road on Storytime with Thomas.
  • The script change of "The Fat Controller was waiting," to "Sir Topham Hatt was waiting," makes this episode the only one of Starr's US Narrations to have him re-narrate just one line.
  • The Korean title of this episode shares the same name on JEI TV and DVD Academy.
  • This episode is based on a real event that took place when an Alco S2 locomotive ran away from a yard in Alton, Illinois. The incident was nearly identical to the episode.


  • Despite James' runaway mishap starting in the morning, the signalman's clock has its hands set at 1:20 as if it was afternoon.
  • When James starts again next to the signal box, the trucks have disappeared.
  • Edward is missing his eyebrows when he picks up James' fireman.
  • When James says "What shall I do?! I can't stop!" the line ahead ends right at the trees.
  • After the rope is attached between Edward and James, Edward's body is very off centre, and his tender is tilted.
  • The wire used to change one of the signals is visible.
  • After Edward catches James they pass the water column, but in the next scene they pass the same water column again. This is due to alternate footage of the former fading into the latter the wrong way.
  • While the inspector tries to catch James, Edward and James appear to pass under the same bridge twice.
  • When James says "Really?" his face is crooked and his eyes are misaligned.
  • Studio equipment is visible in the top-right corner when Edward catches up with James.
  • A piece of blu-tak can be seen on the signalman's hand to hold the telephone.
  • Edward's close-up model tender has a large size and a different shape. This is because Gordon's tender is reused.
  • When the inspector is walking towards the front of Edward, James' tender starts to derail.
  • Henry's eyes are misaligned when Edward races through Knapford station.
  • When Edward is chasing after James, the tracks behind him end in the bushes.
  • In a rare picture, James' ill driver is standing inside of Henry's cab.
  • In the Japanese dub, as James reverses into Tidmouth sheds after he was done arguing with Thomas and Percy, Starr's narration can be faintly heard in the background.
  • In the early Swedish dub, Percy's whistle can be heard at the end and Edward does not whistle. This is because the audio at the end was taken from the second series episode, Percy and the Signal.
  • In the Swedish redub version, Percy is referred to as Toby.
  • In the beginning, there is a gap between the faceplate and the eyes and a crumb found on James' footplate. Thomas also has a gap in between the eyes and the faceplate.
  • When Thomas is at Tidmouth, the shadow by Thomas changes despite no one moving at all.
  • When James reverses into his shed, the track is off centre.
  • During the chase sequence, the track layout which Edward and James run along has point work in various places, but all of the points lead to nowhere.
  • Despite both engines arriving side by side at Crosby station, they first pass it separately: James, before the close up of his wheels, and Edward after he rushes through Knapford.
  • When Edward tries to get close enough to James both the inside of their funnels are white instead of black.
  • In the close up of the Fat Controller, the background is black.