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"Devious" Diesel, as his name implies, is a sinister diesel shunter and the first diesel engine to arrive on Sodor who originates from British Railways. In the television series, Diesel is a permanent resident of Sodor.
When Diesel came on trial to the North Western Railway, Duck was asked to show him around. Duck was unimpressed by Diesel's claims of being "revolutionary" and left him to his own devices. As a result, Diesel was made into a laughing stock by the trucks for trying to pull some rusty old trucks and failing spectacularly and Diesel blamed Duck for not helping him. Diesel swore a vendetta plan and spread rumours that Duck had given the big engines rude nicknames. Duck was sent to Wellsworth pending an inquiry into the matter, but Diesel got too big for his buffers and tried telling lies about Henry. He was found out and sent home in disgrace.
Several years later, Diesel was brought back to help on Thomas' Branch Line whilst Percy was being repaired. Diesel tried to win Thomas and Toby over, without success and after he destroyed several trucks he was to be sent away. However, on his day of departure, Clarabel slipped on oily rails left by Daisy and came off at some points near Dryaw. Diesel, realising that Thomas was blocking his only way home, went to the rescue. Clarabel put in a good word for him and Diesel, although he returned to the Other Railway, is always welcome on Sodor.
Diesel first arrived on Sodor in the same way as he did in the Railway Series and was sent away for telling lies about Duck, but returned when Duck and Percy needed help at Arlesburgh Harbour. Diesel proved to be as bad as ever and was sent away for good after shunting some trucks of china clay into the sea, but he somehow mysteriously sneaked back to give Mavis advice, taunt Gordon about the triumph of diesel power on the Mainland and shunt trucks in the Shunting Yards. It is possible that these events happened during Diesel's stay or that Diesel returned at some point with goods from the Mainland.
When Henry was derailed by some trucks, Diesel was brought back as a last resort to do his goods work, but his attempt to prove his worth resulted in him falling in a barge and he was sent back to the Mainland yet again.
Later on, Diesel returned yet again, this time to assist Fergus at the Sodor Cement Works. Diesel became jealous of Fergus' reputation as the "pride of the Cement Works". He also became cross because of Fergus' deep regard for the rules and always telling him "Do it right". He then concocted a scheme to make Fergus run away. Diesel was partially successful - he managed to make Fergus abandon his post for a time - but was ultimately foiled. Amazingly, Diesel was not sent back this time round and remained on the North Western Railway since the eighth season.
Despite remaining tricky and devious, Diesel learned how useful steam engines can be when Thomas brought fresh diesel fuel for him and the other diesel engines and James pushed him back to the Repair Yard when he broke down. However, he tried to convince Gordon that he was old and clapped out, Ben that there was a monster inside a tunnel and Thomas about the "Curse of the Cliffs" and scared him at Halloween.
But Diesel proved to have a good side inside him when he told Emily about his record he made for shunting lots of trucks in one day than any other diesels and proved to Thomas that he did not ruin the photograph for the billboard on purpose.
Although Diesel made fun of James when he was painted pink, he tried his best to prove himself to be as useful as the steam engines when he took all of the Jobi wood to the Sodor Search and Rescue Centre - only to put himself in danger requiring Thomas to rescue him. However, Diesel tried again to prove how special he is when he took Thomas and Rosie's loads to market and stole James' pigs so that the children could see them. But it was only when Diesel brought the load of slate for the school that he proved himself Really Useful.
Diesel was annoyed when Percy thought he was the Monster of Brendam and later teased Thomas for being a stinky engine and teased Gordon when he was fitted with a yellow and black diesel bufferbeam. When he and Percy collected a calliope, he thought Percy would not be able to make it play, but was surprised when he did.
In the seventeenth season, Diesel was one of the diesels that brought the Christmas decorations to Tidmouth Sheds. Later, he was biffing trucks around even when Edward told him to stop. Diesel spilled the milk in the trucks and when the Fat Controller opened the truck doors, the milk splashed all over his trousers. When Hiro told Diesel, he told Hiro to toughen up with the trucks. But when Hiro would not listen, he coupled himself up on the back of his train and helped the trucks play tricks on Hiro. To make the trucks stop, Hiro braked suddenly before the platform, causing three barrels of cream to splash all over Hiro, Edward and the Fat Controller. Diesel tried to get away, but was blocked off by Thomas. As punishment, Diesel had to learn the proper way of handling trucks by Hiro.
In the eighteenth season, Diesel, along with Sidney, Den and Dart, hid from Paxton at the Dieselworks, which resulted in Paxton going on a wild goose chase to find all of the diesels and ended with Diesel running out of fuel, so Paxton helped him to the next station to get some more. Later, he argued with Thomas over who should be the back engine for a train of trucks heading from Ffarquhar Quarry to Brendam Docks and when he tried to delay Mavis returning to the quarry, Thomas took the train by himself, which resulted in him having an accident. Diesel even tried to blame Mavis for it, but the Fat Controller was wise to his tricks and he let Thomas work with her instead. He later joined the engines at Knapford during the Christmas Holidays and agreed with Sir Topham Hatt that the last train might have to be cancelled. He also teased Samson about how the tank engine got lost when he first came to Sodor.
In the nineteenth season, he covered Paxton in a cloud of black smoke from his engine, leaving Paxton's face covered in black spots.
At Christmas time, Diesel was being very unhelpful with the extra work, so Thomas and the other engines made a plan. On the night before Christmas morning, Thomas, Emily, Salty and Paxton pretended to be ghosts to scare Diesel, scaring him to the point where he flew off the line and derailed. After he was recovered the next day, he learned the true meaning of Christmas. On Christmas morning, Diesel was feeling very merry and he brought the Fat Controller to the Earl's Christmas lunch at Ulfstead Castle.
He later tricked Percy into going to an old quarry so that he could do Percy's job of picking up the Mayor to take him to a ceremony. Diesel later found Percy stuck in a flood with his fire out. He tried to rescue the tank engine but only made the situation worse when the water damaged his generator, so he got stuck too. After the two were rescued by the Search and Rescue team, Diesel was sent to have his engine repaired.
In the twentieth season, Diesel was shown to care for some ducklings that he thought were cute. Later, Annie and Clarabel played a trick on Daisy while Thomas was on quarry duty, and after Diesel was sent to pull them instead, much to their dismay though Diesel was polite to them despite bumping them.
In The Great Race, Diesel wanted to go to the Great Railway Show, but the Fat Controller was hesitant. To prove himself, Diesel had crates put over Den, Dart and Paxton so that they would resemble trucks and put them in a long train. When the Fat Controller was in the final stages of choosing who would go to the show, Diesel planned to demonstrate how strong he was by pulling the train, while in reality, Den, Dart and Paxton were doing most of the work. However, his unusual train was blocking any way into Knapford Yard. Thomas was coupled to the train both so that he could get into the station and so that he could prove himself worthy to go to the show. The diesels heard Thomas's whistle and thought it was Diesel's horn, so they began pushing, much to Diesel's horror. Thomas then collided with Norman at a set of points and lost his left buffer as a result. Diesel later got stuck inside one of the crates, and was accidentally loaded onto a ship by Cranky.
In the twenty-first season, He damaged Daisy's springs and caused mischief between Daisy and Harvey by telling them both that the other was boasting about being unique. He also proved that he was a hero when a big freeze hit Sodor.
In the twenty-second season, he bumped into Rosie, which made Cranky drop a crate of roses all over the docks, and then teased her about being Thomas' special friend.
Diesel is, in essence, the average pantomime villain. He is oily, malicious, devious, scheming and full of ideas to get revenge. He views himself and any other diesel as highly above the steam engines, and believes that all diesels are "revolutionary" - he has also claimed diesels should be "rough and tough", as an excuse for bullying the other engines. His antics give diesels on Sodor a bad reputation, which causes most steam engines, particularly Duck and Thomas, to mistrust him.
However, despite his antics, Diesel still wants to prove himself to be a really useful engine. He is also very proud to be the first diesel on Sodor and seems to have a soft spot for cute ducklings.
Diesel is based on the BR Class 08. Over seventy members of this class survive today in preservation, while around 100 remain in service on the national rail network. They were in fact the most successful shunting engines in the world, with 996 of them built. Splatter, Dodge, 'Arry, Bert, Paxton, Sidney, Ulli and the Mainland Diesels are also members of the class.
Diesel is painted in BR black. His livery originates from British Railways in the 1950s, during the time when all shunting engines were painted black. His side rods were silver until the sixth season, where they have changed to black.
- Diesel was the first diesel to be introduced in both the Railway Series and television series.
- He was created when Eric Marriott; the editor of the Railway Series at the time, suggested that Awdry should introduce a diesel to in order to keep the books up to date.
- In some merchandise lines he is referred to as "Devious Diesel". It was not until Fergus Breaks the Rules that he was referred to by this name onscreen.
- As revealed in Emily and the Special Coaches, Diesel is a record holder for most trucks shunted in a single day.
- Between the thirteenth and sixteenth seasons, Diesel was the only character from the model series to still be voiced by the narrator in the CGI Series. However, this was only in the US narration.
- Diesel has travelled at well over his top speed of 20 miles per hour on numerous occasions in the televisions series.
- Diesel's face in the magazine stories is often smaller than in the television series.
- According to the magazines and the DVD Bingo game, he and Bulgy are good friends.
- Nathan Clarke did an audio sample for Diesel on his DAA Management Page.
- One of Diesel's television series models is now owned by the Explore the Rails exhibition, previously on display at the British Museum during the 70th Anniversary.
- Diesel has had a few modifications in the television series:
- Season 6:
- His side rods changed from silver to black.
- His brake pipe began facing upwards.
- Season 9:
- He gained a lamp under his face on the left.
- Season 13:
- His lamp disappeared.
- Misty Island Rescue:
- His horn sound changed to that of a generic "American" Nathan K3LA diesel.
- Day of the Diesels:
- His horn sound changed back to its original sound.
- Season 19:
- He gained a headlamp above his face.
- His coupling chain became red.
- He gained a permanent tail lamp.
- Season 20:
- His coupling chain changed back to black.
- Season 6:
- I'm Full of Surprises (entirely performed)
- Will You Won't You (partially performed)
- Where in the World is Thomas? (partially performed)