- “You have caused delay and confusion!”
- ―Mr. Percival
Duncan's Bluff is the twenty-fourth episode of the tenth season.
It is wintertime and Duncan is delivering coal from the Wharf to the mountain villages. One day, he meets James and is quick to tease him for being late. James is not in the mood for Duncan's teasing; he has to take some children to their party. Duncan thinks that two jobs in one day is too much for James and James thinks he is much faster than Duncan. Duncan decides to challenge James to a coal delivery competition. Duncan reckons he can get coal to the villages faster than James can deliver coal to the Wharf. James accepts the challenge and goes off to collect more coal from the coaling plant, leaving Duncan feeling a little sheepish. He is worried that he will lose the challenge as James is bigger and faster than he is.
Duncan delivers all of the coal to the villages, only to find James back with more coal trucks. However, not wanting to lose, Duncan tells James that he has not brought enough coal for the villages, so James sets off once again for the Coaling Plant. Duncan makes his deliveries, but once back at the Wharf, there are still many coal trucks waiting for him even though no more coal is needed for the mountain villages. So Duncan decides to trick James by hiding the remaining coal trucks out of sight in a siding before he returns.
James is making his way back from the coaling plant, but he is getting worn out and he is using up a lot of coal. James is shocked to find Duncan already there, but James decides to get even more coal trucks for Duncan to take. However, James only succeeds in running out of coal and now he cannot collect the children for their party.
The Thin Controller hears about James and informs Duncan about the situation. Duncan is struck with guilt; his trick had made things worse, so he owns up to his prank by telling the Thin Controller. Duncan quickly collects one of the hidden coal trucks, takes it to James, apologises to him about the trick, and tells him that he is Really Useful. However, James tells Duncan that he is Really Useful for bringing the coal to him. Once his tender is topped up with coal, James sets off to collect the children and Duncan agrees that they are both Really Useful Engines.
- The Wharf
- Mountain Village Station
- The Old Wooden Bridge
- Tea Room Station
- The Coaling Plant (mentioned)
- Stock footage from Skarloey the Brave is used.
- Mighty Mac have Sir Handel's whistle sound.
- Duncan's truck already has snow on it when the narrator says "Snow started to fall."
- Michael Angelis says "Pah!" in a different voice, instead of his James voice