Non-rail vehicles (Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends)

From TrainSpottingWorld, for Rail fans everywhere

The television series Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends is well known for its anthropomorphic railway engines. However, there have also been many characters over the years who are not rail-based. These are often rivals to the engines, but several become friends to the railway.

Non-Rail Characters

Terence the Tractor

Terence the Tractor

Terence is an orange tractor fitted with caterpillar tracks. These allow him to go anywhere, and make him very useful when it comes to pulling other vehicles out of a jam. When Thomas first encountered Terence, he insulted Terence’s caterpillars, but later discovered their usefulness when Terence pulled him out of a snowdrift.

Terence is a friendly sort of tractor, and when he is not needed for rescues, he works on a farm by Thomas’ branch line. Terence made his first appearance on television in 1984, and he made cameos in the 6th and 7th seasons between 2002 and 2003.

Terence first appeared in season 1, but has not been seen since season 7. He does however make an appearance in the season 10 intermissions.

Bertie the Bus

Bertie the Bus

Bertie is an excitable bus who loves nothing more than a chance to show his speed on the roads of Sodor. He famously raced Thomas and, though he lost, the two have been firm friends ever since. He often helps the engines, and sometimes they can even help him.

Trevor the Traction Engine

Trevor the Traction Engine

Discovered by Edward in a scrapyard, Trevor the Traction engine was due to be broken up before he was saved by the Vicar of Wellsworth. He now lives in the Vicarage Orchard.

Although he is old fashioned and slow, he has lots of uses from sawing logs to helping with construction work. His favorite activity of all is giving rides to children.

Harold the Helicoptor

Harold the Helicopter

Harold is a helicopter who patrols the skies of Sodor. Nicknamed “whirlybird” by the engines, he enjoys a good-natured rivalry with them.

Bulgy the Vegetable Bus


Bulgy is a big red [now green] and cream double-decker bus who works on the Island of Sodor. He hated railways, and believed that some day they would all be replaced by roads. He even carried a poster on his side telling people to "JOIN THE ANTI-RAIL LEAGUE". His favourite phrase is "Free the roads!"

When he first arrived, he tried to steal Duck’s and Oliver's passengers by pretending to be a railway bus. Bulgy was determined to get the passengers to the Big Station before Duck, but was stopped when he became stuck under a low bridge. His lies were exposed, and soon nobody would believe his destination boards. Eventually he was turned into a henhouse.

Many years later, he was brought back to the road to help with passengers, but the chickens caused trouble. He was then turned into a green mobile vegetable stand, where he enjoys his work delivering fruit and vegetables around the Island.

Bulgy was only featured in two episodes, 'Bulgy' in Season 3 and 'Bulgy Rides Again' in Season 7. He also made cameos in Seasons 4, 7, 10 and 12.

George the Steamroller


George is a grumpy old steamroller who hates the engines. He can often be heard chanting, "Railways are no good; turn 'em into roads! Pull 'em up! Turn 'em into roads!" However, he rarely comes out on top, as his enthusiasm for beating the railways can make him careless.

George made his first appearance in the Season 4 episode 'Steamroller' and also appeared in the season 5 episodes "Bye George" and "Lady Hatt's Birthday Party" as well as the special feature Calling All Engines. He has made a number of cameo and background appearances.

George first appeared in The Railway Series - see: George the Steamroller (Railway Series)

Caroline the Old Car


Caroline is an elderly car used by the Cricketers on the Island of Sodor. She does not like high speeds as these wear her out, overheating her motor. However, she does have a softer side, and she appreciates the engines after Stepney helped her back to the field in the Season 4 episode 'Train Stops Play'. This episode was the first to feature Caroline, and she has appeared in several episodes since.

Bulstrode the Barge


Bulstrode is a barge who worked at the harbour on the Island of Sodor. He was used to carry cargo like coal and stone, but always complained about not being loaded fast enough. This annoyed the trucks, but Bulstrode ended up getting what he deserved, when Percy accidentally pushed trucks off a dock and into his hull, causing damage to him and the trucks. He was then towed to Knapford Beach, where he was turned into a children's playground. He remains there today, still grumbling.

Bulstrode was only featured in the Season 4 story 'Special Attraction', which was originally written by Christopher Awdry for the Railway Series. In the books he had a light yellow face and two holds, and was never featured again.

His model was dismantled, although the cabin may be seen in the episode 'Happy Ever After' in Season 5.

Cranky the Crane

Cranky the Crane

Cranky, as his name suggests, is always cranky. He is a tower crane who works at the harbour loading and unloading ships. He finds the engines tiresome, particularly the smaller ones, and enjoys teasing them. However, the engines usually find ways of getting back at him if he goes too far.

Cranky cannot move on his own, but he can be dismantled and rebuilt in other locations if necessary.

Horrid Lorries

Horrid Lorries

These three were, as their name suggests, unpleasant characters. They came to Sodor to replace the engines, but were sent away following a series of accidents.

All three are painted red, and the only way of differentiating between them is by their numberplates, which read "LOR 1", "LOR 2" and "LOR 3". They do not have names as such, and are simply known as Lorry 1, Lorry 2 and Lorry 3, though Thomas christened them "The Brothers Grim: Smashed, Broken & Sunk" after their accidents. According to the official series website, they consider themselves brothers and were all built at the same time for the Sodor Construction Company.

They appeared in one Season 5 episode, 'Horrid Lorry' and have not returned since. However, their models have been reused as background props in several episodes. One horrid Lorry also appeared in the computer game "Trouble On The Tracks".

Butch the Breakdown Vehicle, No.BRK 03


Butch is a yellow and blue breakdown vehicle who works on the Island of Sodor. He keeps busy on the Island helping clear rubble and haul broken down cars and lorries. He also helps out on accident scenes, and pulls his low loader trailer to help out stranded vehicles. His number plate is 'BRK 03', and is also known as the 'Sodor Heavy Recovery Unit'.

Until the fifteenth season, Butch's only speaking role was in a Leap Pad book called, Thomas the Really Useful Engine.

Tiger Moth the Bi-Plane

Tiger Moth in the episode Sir Topham Hatt's Holiday

A yellow and red bi-plane who enjoys daring stunts in the skies over Sodor. Sometimes these stunts verge on the dangerous, and was once grounded for this.

Tiger Moth is based on a real model of bi-plane, the De Havilland Tiger Moth.

Thumper the Drilling Machine


Thumper is a red quarry machine, who was bought for loosening rocks. He was designed to "thump" rock faces. He proved useful, but often went out of control, which caused a huge boulder to run loose and chase the narrow-gauge engines down the line. These days he is mainly used for slate mining.

Thumper has had no real personality, although he has been said to act as a 'cool man'. He only featured in one Season 5 story, 'Rusty and the Boulder', with no dialogue.

He is not based upon any particular type of quarry machine - indeed, a machine of that sort would be positively dangerous to those around.

Elizabeth the Sentinel Steam Lorry

Elizabeth is a vintage Sentinel steam lorry. She does not like laziness or rudeness, and will respond to both in the strongest terms. Although she believes roads are superior to rails, she often helps the engines out.

She was also the only person able to insult the Fat Controller without getting into trouble, as she was the first lorry he ever drove.

Jeremy the Jet Plane

Jeremy the jet plane

Jeremy is a jet plane who is rather conceited and believes that jet planes are better than trains. In his debut episode ("Thomas & The Jet Plane" of Season 10), this concerns Thomas until a hurricane is spotted. He then gets to take the children to the picnic.

Madge the Snub-Nose Lorry

Madge is a snub-nosed white and light green truck with a three-wheeled cab and a flatbed trailer. What she lacks in elegance, she makes up for in strength and personality. She is the prime organizer of the little engines but she can be playful and loves a joke. Her first appearance was in the episode Cool Truckings in Season 11's special narrow-gauge DVD.

Madge is based on a Scammell Scarab lorry, many of which were used by British Railways, and were extraordinarily manoueverable and designed to operate in the confined spaces of a railway station yard.

Colin the Crane

Colin is a crane who works at the wharf. He is fixed in one place. He and Freddie are best friends. Colin first appeared in the Season 12 episode, The Party Surprise.


Kevin is a yellow four-wheeled crane. In his initial appearance in Hero of the Rails, Kevin worked at the Steamworks with Victor, offering Thomas help whenever possible. When Spencer was sent to the Steamworks after getting slate in his funnel, Kevin distracted him by dropping parts all around him while Thomas took engine parts to Hiro. He would later participate in Hiro's official restoration.

Kevin is kind-hearted and eager to give a helping hook for anyone. He lives at the Sodor Steamworks with Victor (whom he calls "boss"). He has a terrible habit of dropping parts and falling over, and his catchphrase "It was a slip of the hook!" has become so well-known by the engines that they can usually finish the line for him. He drives Victor mad, but always tries his best.

Kevin is based on a Ransome and Rapier 6 ton crane with an added enclosed cab. Just like Kevin, these cranes were known to be clumsy and cumbersome.


Captain is a brave wooden lifeboat. He is part of the Search and Rescue Team.

Captain is very confident and is always in control when faced with emergency situations. He is willing to help anybody.

Captain is based on an Ex-Royal National Lifeboat institution (RNLI) Liverpool Class Lifeboat.

Captain is painted yellow, blue, and red with white lining.


Flynn is a new fire engine who will officially join the Search and Rescue Team in Day of the Diesels.

Flynn resembles a 1964 Oshkosh W800 4X4 aircraft rescue fire engine.

The Pack

In Season 6, a new set of characters was introduced called ‘The Pack’. This was a gang of construction machines owned by Miss Jenny. The characters were devised by then-producer Phil Fehrle with the intention of being turned into a spin-off series, possibly as a rival to Bob the Builder. This series never materialised, and prior to 2006, the Pack only ever appeared in the episodes ‘Jack Jumps In’ and ‘A Friend In Need’. However, they have recently been featured with 4 new characters in a new DVD entitled On Site with Thomas; though whether the episodes on this DVD form part of the official Thomas canon or not is debatable.

The Pack consists of:

Nelson the Transport Lorry, No.10

Nelson the Transporter

Nelson is an intelligent ballast tractor who's job is to haul construction workers to and from work. As the barer of such weighty loads, he often feels overworked, but will never complain. He is proud of his paint job and is happiest when he looks his best. He wears the number 10.

Jack the Front Loader, No.11

Jack the Front Loader

A friendly and enthusiastic front loader. Jack was first seen in the episode ‘Jack Jumps In’ when he joined the Pack. Despite a couple of accidents, he was able to prove himself when he saved Thomas from disaster, and is now part of the team. Jack has the number 11 painted on him. Jack didn't have a accident in On Site With Thomas, but he did have one in Jack Jumps In from season 6.

Alfie the Small Excavator, No.12

Alfie the Excavator

Alfie is an excavator and a fast worker whose motto is, “More help means more dirt; more dirt means more fun!” He loves working hard, and handles even the toughest of jobs with ease. He has the number 12 painted on his sides and on the back of his cab. Alfie's accident first happened in A Happy Day For Percy. [It was getting stuck in the mud].

Oliver the Big Excavator, No.14

Oliver the Excavator

Oliver is a wise old excavator, larger than Alfie, who keeps an eye on the other members of the Pack. He has the number 14 painted on his cab. He should not be confused with the steam engine Oliver. Oliver is also capable of switching between different tools, including a chisel and wrecking ball. Oliver accident first happened in Thomas' Trusty Friends. [by getting hit by bricks]

Max & Monty the Dump Truck Twins, Nos.15 & 16

Max and Monty the dump truck twins

Max and Monty are the devious and troublesome Dump Truck twins. They're known to cause trouble for the Pack Members and also the engines; but are sternly scolded by Miss Jenny when they're found out! Despite being unruly at times with dangerous stunts, they have a good side in them—somewhere!—and still do the work like everyone else. They have the numbers 15 and 16 respectively. There first accident happened in The Tortoise and The Hare (By crashing into a Bull's Meadow).

Kelly the Crane, No.17

Kelly the Crane

Kelly is a dark blue - purple crane truck (with yellow crane arm) and the oldest member of the Pack, having originally belonged to Miss Jenny's father. He is good friends with Isabella and seems to trust Jack. He seems to be good at heart and to get on with everyone (except perhaps the dump truck twins). He has the number 17 painted on the sides of his cab. Kelly's accident first happened in Kelly's Windy Day. [By getting blown down over the wind].

Byron the Bulldozer, No.18

Byron the Bulldozer

Byron is a boisterous yellow bulldozer with a big blade. He is a bit up on himself, but likes to be useful like the rest of the Pack. He has the number 18 painted on his sides. As of the DVD special On Site With Thomas, Byron is the only member of The Pack, (Other than Buster and Nelson) to not have an accident.

Ned the Steam Shovel, No.19

Ned the Steam Shovel

Ned is an old steam shovel. He means well, but he can sometimes be clumsy. Indeed, he once nearly caused a terrible accident by knocking out the keystone of a railway bridge when Thomas was due to cross with a goods train. He has the number 19 painted on his cab as well as 'Packard and Co.'. Ned's accident first happened in Thomas' Trusty Friends. [By crashing in to a building].

Isabella the Sentinel Steam Lorry, No.22

Isabella the Steam Lorry

Isabella is a vintage lorry who looks almost identical to Elizabeth, apart from her bright yellow paintwork. She is a hard worker, but does not like getting dirty. She has the number 22 painted on her sides. Isabella's accident first happened in Kelly's Windy Day. [by coming off the road].

Patrick the Cement Mixer, No.23

Patrick the cement mixer

Patrick was found to be quite a boastful soul in his first appearance. He knows all there is to know about cement and thinks it's one of the essential means of keeping the building site running! Patrick is older than a lot of the other machines and has a lot of experience in construction, he means well despite his pride and boastfulness, and likes to help the younger less experienced machines. Patrick's first accident happened in the episode On Site with Thomas (Avoiding crashing into Max and Monty but lands in cement)

Buster the Steamroller


Buster is a simple steamroller who goes about his job with glee and pride knowing all is right with the world. What Buster lacks in imagination, he makes up for in heart, commitment and hard work and is liked by all the machines in the yard. He has no number.

Other Vehicles

There are several vehicles that appear in various episodes as props. They do not have faces and do not speak. However, some fans class them as characters nonetheless. The Ertl range of die cast models featured a number of them, partly to ensure that they could keep up the numbers of new “characters” released in the years between seasons. For a time, the official Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends website included some of these vehicles in their character section, but they have since been deleted. The Ertl range named a number of these “characters” for ease of identification (such as the Dyson Low Loader and the Sodor Soft-Side Truck), and these names are still used by fans.

From Season 3 onwards, a number of the background vehicles were used from the defunct television series TUGS. These mainly consisted of boats, but a number of cars, lorries and cranes from that source also made their way into the series.

Other characters from the TV Series

The world of Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends
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Book series: The Railway Series
TV Series: Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends
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Movie and spin-off releases: Thomas and the Magic RailroadCalling All EnginesOn Site with ThomasThe Great DiscoveryHero of the RailsMisty Island RescueDay of the DieselsBlue Mountain MysteryKing of the Railway

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