Factual Q on Thomas Trains

Do the engines represent real types of locomotives…including Toby? Also, what is meant by “shunting” cars? …just dropping them onto sidings, I assume?

Thomas was similar LB & SCR E2
Toby was similar to a GER Class C53
Gordon was similar an LNER A3

Yes, or rearranging carriages, splitting a train to insert a buffet carriage in the middle, moving goods carriages from one place in a depot to another - that sort of thing.

Just to add–“shunting” is the British version of what we’d call “switching” in the US. Putting trains together or taking them apart in a yard is the most common version of that.

The technical use of “shunting” in rail parlance seems to be the shifting of individual cars by their own momentum, using either a slight downgrade or ‘humping’ a car (pushing it to the top of a ‘hump’ in the trackage), saving on the extent to which switching engines are needed in train rearrangement – savig both time and fuel.

Yeah, all that talk of “humping cars” in a kid’s show may raise some eyebrows, I wager!

That’s gravitation shunting. There’s also momentum shunting (AKA loose shunting), where you give the car(s) a push with locomotive, uncouple, and let them roll to where you want them. Then there’s locomotive shunting, where the cars stay attached to the locomotive throughout the manoeuvre.

I looked for a definition of “Shunting”, and the one I found that best does it for me is this:

“(of a locomotive with rolling stock) to move from track to track or from point to point, as in a railroad yard; switch.”

If you attach or detach a car or locomotive, involving changing tracks, you are shunting.

While we are here, is there any significance to the colors of the trains? I know James makes a big fuss of being red and Thomas once wanted to be red. Or is just because red is pretty?

In the slave culture that is the Island of Sodor rail system, some of the slaves are shown greater favor than others. Hence, engines may perceive one color as showing higher status i.e. greater favor from The Fat Controller than another.

Just in case anyone thinks that Scumpup is giving a silly answer in GQ, I will back up his assertion

Yes, that’s from a real book :eek:

Did Sir Toppenhat outlawed engine discrimination? I haven’t seen “The Fat Controller” on the Thomas cartoons my 4 year nephew watches…

The German WW2 version of Thomas is … disturbing.

Dude, I’m not even Jewish and I have to call “too soon” on this one.

Well, I am Jewish, but then, I’m neither Roma nor gay. I hope they’ll forgive. :wink:

[Moderator Note]

While jokes are permitted in GQ, I think that one is such poor taste that it is likely to provoke a hijack. Let’s stick to the questions in the OP.

General Questions Moderator

Hey no problem. I apologize for my lame gallows humour. I can only plead in mitigation countless hours of being compelled to watch Thomas!

Feel free to delete it if you like.

The intro to my copy of the collection of Thomas stories has some interesting background… Audry’s father was a clergyman but was also very knowledgeable about railroads and when Audry was young they spent a lot of time around the train yards. It was while Audry was young, listening to the train sounds at night, that he first imagined trains as having personalities - and this was the central thing that later sparked the stories.

The intro said that, aside from the personification of the trains, Audry made sure that everything else was accurate. His favorite fan mail was from railroad men who appreciated the accuracy (many saying that they cringed to read most train stories to their kids because of the mistakes in train facts.)

Something that most of us rail buffs get a kick out of is displaying a nice “Do Not Hump” sign–often in the bedroom.

Some cars, like some automobile carriers, cannot be humped in the yard, so they get those signs. I’ve probably answered the “Do Not Hump” question more than “how does a steam engine work?” question.