|Small Railway Engines|
|Illustrator||Peter and Gunvor Edwards|
|Published by|| Edmund Ward|
| Preceded by|
Main Line Engines
| Followed by|
Some leadmines up in the hills have been long closed, but their waste-heaps still spoil a lovely valley.
The Fat Controller has now found that this waste is good weed-killing railway ballast. He talked to the Owner and the Thin Controller of the Skarloey Railway, and other important people. They "went shares" and built a Small Railway to fetch it away.
The Small Engines are managed by a Controller. They call him the Small Controller; but that is only in fun. He is bigger than either of the others!
Harold Wilson, the British Prime Minister said that ballast will keep the rails on Sodor very laid down. Donald and Douglas, the Scottish twins are to collect it on a line starting from Tidmouth but they say that some "verra wee engines" do this. Both Henry and James are skeptical and Gordon doesn't believe it. Duck went for himself to find out what's going on, but meets Rex at the chute where ballast trucks get the ballast into the NWR goods and take them anywhere across the NWR. Later, Bert and Mike are introduced with much freight traffic explained and tourist traffic downgraded. The Small Railway engines said that they used to work on an old line in England before it was closed down by the country's Prime Minister. Duck chuffs off to tell the big news to the other engines in Tidmouth Sheds.
Tit for TatEdit
At the sheds, Bert thinks that two clergymen are coming to the railway to put this into a book. They meet the engine and shook hands with Bert's driver. The train goes smoothly until Bert tries to investigate on his own about the two men taking pictures from the station. A small road was seen with no fence and the car that the Reverends drove in splashed Bert all over his face. He was to get revenge on the clergymen when he pays Edwin Boston out by showering him with water at Arlesdale Forest. Both parties make up for the situation and the Small Controller says to Bert that he won't have rudeness to visitors and no excuses to the engine who got splashed by the clergymen's purple car.
Duck's whistle breaks down as his crew were cooking eggs for breakfast, but Mike says that if engines like Duck don't whistle, then they aren't engines at all. Rex plans to rid Mike for his whistle to shoot off, but the Small Controller gave freight duties to Bert and Mike has to carry passengers. The whistle Mike tried to shoo a cow off the line suddenly shot off like a rocket and landed in a field. The passengers and crew had to whistle for him on the way back. The Small Controller was cross and with no spare whistles in his office, he sends Mike to work in the quarry where he's back with his friendly trucks for the rest of the day. Meanwhile, Bert and Rex joke about Mike's whistle that night in the sheds at Arlesburgh Bridge.
With his new whistle in place, Mike had trouble with sheep on the line and Rex calls them useful. The Small Controller planned a deal with farmers and the British government to transport wool to the farmers across the Arlesdale Railway. The deal was a success and Rex is chosen to get the first train out and was over-confident. At a bridge, the tractor's spill of wool blocks the line and Willie, the farmer tries to warn Rex but was too late with the Troublesome Trucks saying "ON, ON, ON!!!" and the engine is derailed. The Small Controller tells Willie to clear the mess up and both Bert and Mike took him home after the accident had happened in the afternoon.
- Donald and Douglas (Donald not seen)
- The Small Controller
- Edwin Boston
- Wilbert Awdry
- Gordon (not seen)
- Willie's tractor (does not speak)
- The Fat Controller (does not speak)
- The Ballast Spreader (cameo)
- James (mentioned)
- Henry (mentioned)
- "Mike's Whistle" was loosely adapted for the television series episode "Faulty Whistles" in season six. Peter Sam replaces Duck and Duncan replaces Mike. The narrations are by Alec Baldwin in the US and Michael Angelis in the UK.
- The Reverend acknowledged the help given by members of the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway Preservation Society in the preparation of this book.
- At the end of "Useful Railway", there is a short message about the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway: "If you enjoyed these stories, you will also enjoy a trip to the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway in Cumberland".
- Throughout the book, the engines' faces change colour. Peter and Gunvor Edwards used white, lime, light gold, gold and dark orange to do their faces in each illustration.