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“I heard tell about an engine and some tar wagons!"
"Shut up! It's not funny!”
―Douglas and James

Break Van, retitled Donald and Douglas in American releases, is the sixteenth episode of the second season. It aired in the US on the Shining Time Station episode, Sweet and Sour in 1991.


Two black twin engines named Donald and Douglas have arrived from Scotland and arrived on the Island of Sodor to help out; however, the Fat Controller had only sent for one engine. While the twins mean well, their identical appearance causes confusion and the Fat Controller has numbers painted on them; Donald is 9 and Douglas is 10. However, the Fat Controller still intends to send one of the engines back home.

In the yard, a Spiteful Brake Van takes a dislike to Douglas and does his best to make things go wrong whenever Douglas takes it out. As a result, Douglas' trains are late and he is subsequently blamed. Donald is angry at his twin's unfair treatment and bumps the brake van hard before threatening it. The Spiteful Brake Van starts behaving better afterward.

Things start to go wrong, however, when Donald reverses onto some slippery rails and, while unable to stop, unintentionally crashes his tender into a signal box. The Fat Controller is very cross at Donald and informs him that he had decided to keep him and send Douglas back before this incident. Now Donald needs to have his tender mended and James will have to do his work, which the Fat Controller knows James will not like.


I am disappointed, Donald. I did not expect such, um... clumsiness from you.

The Fat Controller is right and James is very grumpy about the extra work. Douglas jokes about James' incident with the tar wagons, making his bad mood worse. He takes a train of trucks which includes the Spiteful Brake Van, who decides to make life difficult for James and has the trucks hold back, quickly tiring James out.

Meeting Douglas at Wellsworth, James offers his assistance climbing up Gordon's Hill, who agrees. The two engines work as hard as they can to climb the hill, however, James starts losing steam and Douglas accidentally destroys the Spiteful Brake Van while struggling. The Fat Controller arrives with Edward, who came to help clear the mess and is angry that Douglas has also caused trouble. Edward stands up for Douglas, having heard what happened and tells the Fat Controller of all the hard work Douglas did. The Fat Controller feels that Douglas went too far, but understands Douglas had good intentions and was only trying to help. The Fat Controller is left unsure about what to do with Donald and Douglas, but that is another story.




  • This episode is based on the story of the same name from The Railway Series book, The Twin Engines.
  • This episode marks the first time an engine, rolling stock, or vehicle suffers physical injury to their face, with the second being Horrid Lorry.
  • Either a PECO or Märklin sleeper can be seen upside down beside the tracks when James and Douglas leave the station. More sleepers are seen beside Douglas in a deleted shot.
  • This episode was filmed at the same time as Thomas Comes to Breakfast, as in the latter episode, Donald's tender is seen merged into the signal box behind Percy in one shot.
  • The rag used to wipe down Douglas' tender is blu-tack.
  • A reference to the first season episode, Dirty Objects and a foreshadow to The Deputation are made.
  • There are a few differences between the original and restored versions:
    • The scenes of Edward and Douglas is zoomed out, though part of Douglas' funnel is cropped in the first shot.
    • Douglas has his nameplate when he went up Gordon's Hill and smashed the Spiteful Brake Van.
  • When originally broadcast, compiled with the second season episode, Better Late Than Never, the end credits mentioned Christopher Awdry's episode, though later separate versions (most notably on VHS and Cartoon Network), still had the episode listed in the end credits.
  • In the Japanese version, James gains an extra line as he does Donald's work.
  • The opening shot is taken from the cancelled episode The Missing Coach.
  • The title is a pun on "brake van" which breaks in this episode.
  • Events of this episode were referenced in the twenty-first season episode, Emily in the Middle.


  • At the beginning, blu-tack is used to hold Donald's face.
  • In the wide-screen version of the first clip, Douglas' number has been painted on.
  • The right front tyre on the Fat Controller's blue car is slightly above the ground.
  • Donald's confrontation with the brake van takes place in the yard, but in the close-ups of Donald, he is at the station.
  • When Donald hits the signal box, the alarm bell and its walls are bumped, but when the Fat Controller arrives, the walls and the alarm bell are undamaged.
  • When Donald bumps the Spiteful Brake Van, the sound of him bumping him is late by a second.
  • The "M" is partly rubbed off on the sign on the signal box that Donald crashes into.
  • When James backs down next to Douglas, his eyes are wonky.
  • When James leaves the yard, the van coupled to him tips and Gordon's eyes are wonky.
  • When Donald approaches the Spiteful Brake Van, his lamp iron disappears.
  • The Spiteful Brake Van turns brown after Douglas crushes him.
  • When Douglas crushes the Spiteful Brake Van, his wheels are bluish-grey. This is due to the fluid in the model that generates the smoke effects. An extended shot shown in a postcard shows that not only are his tender axle-boxes in the same bluish-grey, but his driver's head is also backwards.
  • In a deleted photograph, Douglas' face is falling off when he is coupled behind the Spiteful Brake Van.
  • Douglas is smiling when he breaks the Spiteful Brake Van and when the Fat Controller speaks angrily to him.
  • When the Fat Controller says "I don't know..." Douglas' face mask moves.
  • When the Fat Controller says "I might have known it would be Douglas," Douglas' face is clean and his nameplate is fine, but when Edward says "I heard him from my yard," his face becomes dirty and his nameplate is crooked and crushed.
  • Douglas mistakenly has his nameplate during the last part of the episode (after Douglas starts helping James up the hill). In the shot where Douglas crushes the Spiteful Brake Van, the original version of this episode had the nameplate covered with a black censor bar with other shots zoomed in to keep it out-of-frame, however, these were missing from the restored episode and the nameplate can be seen clearly.
  • When James passes Suddery Castle, the Spiteful Brake Van does not have a face.


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Trading Cards

Name Released Discontinued Highlights Photo
Donald & Douglas 2002 Unknown

My Thomas Story Library

Name Published Publisher Highlights Photo
Donald and Douglas 2003 Egmont Publishing
  • My Thomas Story Library book

In Other Languages

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Language Title
Brazilian Portuguese Os Gêmeos Escoceses
Chinese 破烂的手车
Croatian Slomljeni Teretnih Vagona
Czech Spojovací Vagón
Danish Donald og Douglas
Dutch De Remwagen
Finnish Jarruvaunu
German Der Bremswagen
Hungarian A Fékezőkocsi
Italian Le Locomotive Gemelle
Japanese ふたごのきかんしゃ
Korean 쌍둥이 기관차
Norwegian Den Trassige Godsvogna
Polish Wagon Służbowy
Romanian Vagonul cu Frână
Russian Вагончик с тормозом
Serbian Polomljeni Vagon
Slovak Spojovací Vagón
Slovenian Vagon z Zavoro
Spanish Donald y Douglas
Swedish Den Trassiga Godsvagnen
Thai หัวรถจักรฝาแฝดคู่ใหม่
Ukrainian Гальмівний вагон

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