- “Your worthy Sir Topham Hatt thinks I need to learn. He is mistaken. We Diesels don't need to learn. We know everything. We come to a yard and improve it. We are revolutionary.”
- ―Diesel boasting to Duck
Duck and the Diesel Engine is the thirteenth book of the Railway Series.
We have had two visitors to our railway. One of these, City of Truro, is a very famous engine. We were sorry when we had to say goodbye to him.
The other visitor was different. "I do not believe," writes the Fat Controller, "that all diesels are troublesome, but this one upset our engines and made Duck very unhappy."
City of Truro, the first engine to go more than 100 miles an hour in 1904, visits Sodor and has a lengthy conversation with Duck till late at night. Gordon is jealous of City of Truro's record, claiming that he is a domeless engine and not to be trusted. Gordon later tries to equal the record, but his dome becomes loose from the speed and is blown off at the viaduct. All his passengers laugh at him, and that night, someone jokes about the event - Gordon believes it is Duck.
The engines are tired of Duck's talk about his Great Western heritage and are happy when a visitor comes. The visitor, a diesel shunter by the name of Diesel, claims he is "revolutionary," but Duck is unimpressed and tells him to shunt some trucks. Diesel attempts to take some rusty old vans away afterwards, but their brakes are on and all Diesel does is derail them. As he cleans up, the trucks start singing a rude parody of "Pop Goes the Weasel" called Pop Goes the Diesel, much to Diesel's annoyance.
The trucks continue to tease Diesel, and Diesel believes that Duck made him look silly and plans to have him sent away by telling the trucks rude jokes about the big engines and attributing them to Duck. The trucks tell the engines, and when they find out they refuse Duck entry into the shed. The Fat Controller comes to stop the noise, and, after hearing all three sides of the story, kindly asks Duck to go to Wellsworth for a while. Duck does so, upset.
Edward feels sorry for Duck about Diesel's lying about him and helps him settle into life at Wellsworth. Duck takes up a position as a banker, but one day a train breaks away and chases him down the hill. Duck manages to slow down gradually, slowing the trucks down too in the process, but they are diverted onto a siding stopping outside a barber's shop. Duck crashes into the wall, and the furious barber lathers his face with shaving cream. When the workmen come to pull Duck away the Fat Controller points out that if Duck had not done anything someone could have been badly hurt. The barber, repentant, rinses Duck's face. To add to his joy, the Fat Controller tells Duck that Diesel has been shipped away and Duck is welcomed back after all the engines are sorry for believing Diesel's lies, and shunning Duck.
- City of Truro
- The Fat Controller
- The Barber
- Other Foreign Engines (do not speak)
- The Railway Society (do not speak)
- Thomas (cameo)
- Toby (cameo)
- Wellsworth Sheds
- The Viaduct
- Tidmouth Sheds
- Gordon's Hill
- Light Engineering Co.
- C&B Barber
- MC BUNN
- To date, "A Close Shave" and Little Old Twins are tied with having the most illustrations for a Railway Series story: nine.
- In the first illustration, a man with a bow tie and a vicar can be seen looking at Duck. Editor Eric Marriott theorised in The Thomas the Tank Engine Man that the vicar is the Rev. W. Awdry showing C. Reginald Dalby how Duck is supposed to look, as Dalby had drawn him incorrectly in Percy the Small Engine, and was inserted as a joke by John T. Kenney towards his predecessor as illustrator.
- In the second illustration of "Dirty Work," one of the trucks has the word "Leeds" written on its side.
- "Galloping sausage" was a nickname for the experimental W1 No. 10000 streamlined engine built for the LNER by Sir Nigel Gresley. This engine was also known as the "Hush Hush."
- New illustrations of "Pop Goes the Diesel" done by Loraine Marshall are featured when Mr. Perkins reads the story on the Trouble on the Tracks DVD.
- "Domeless Engines" is based on an event when an LNER K3 lost its dome.
- "A Close Shave" is based on a true event which took place at a railway station in Hull, Yorkshire, England.
- The events of this book took place in 1957.
- In the sixth illustration of "Domeless Engines" Gordon's paint turns lighter.
- In the fifth illustration of "Dirty Work" the panels on Duck's front and the hole where Duck's side rods connect with his wheels are missing.
- Duck's face is smaller in the sixth illustration of "Pop Goes the Diesel."
- Throughout this book, The Twin Engines and Branch Line Engines, most of the engines appear to have white buffers.
- In the fourth illustration of "A Close Shave," Duck is going in the wrong direction to the east, when according to the story he is supposed to go to the west to Crosby.
- In the final illustration, Thomas' number is just below his cab and Toby's eyes are missing their pupils.
- The blurb incorrectly describes Duck as a saddle tank engine.
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