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Off the Rails

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This article is about the episode. You may be looking for the book or the Buzz Book.
"Silly old Gordon fell in a ditch, fell in a ditch, fell in a ditch. Silly old Gordon fell in a ditch. All on a Monday morning!"
— The boys singing rudely at Gordon
Off the Rails/Gordon Takes a Dip

David Mitton


David Mitton
Robert D. Cardona


Reverend W. Awdry
Britt Allcroft
David Mitton


Ringo Starr (UK/US)
George Carlin (US)

Air date

December 18th,
1984 (UK)
May 7th,
1987 (AUS)
May 21st,
1989 (US)
September 11th,
1990 (JAP)
May 6th,
1993 (George
Carlin US

Previous episode

Dirty Objects/
in a Mess

Next episode

Down the Mine

Off the Rails, retitled Gordon Takes a Dip in American releases, is the twenty-fourth episode of the first season. In the US, it aired on the Shining Time Station episodes, Too Many Cooks and Bad Luck Day on Shining Time Station.


One morning, Gordon is resting his eyes at the station while bragging to himself just how important he is. Henry suddenly pulls up and wakes Gordon rudely. Gordon is very cross, believing that an engine who has never had an accident should be respected. Percy arrives and innocently asks if jammed whistles and burst safety valves count as accidents. Gordon denies it and tells Percy that those sorts of malfunctions could happen to any engine, not like Henry who came off the rails.

When Henry is about to take the express, Gordon reminds him "not to come off the rails today", much to his anger. When he leaves, Gordon tries to go back to sleep, but then his driver wakes him telling him that they have been asked to pull a special goods train. Gordon, who is already cross, refuses to take trucks, as he would rather take coaches.

Gordon's fire is unable to burn fast enough, so Edward comes to push him to the turntable to be turned around. Gordon complains the whole way and Edward rebukes him as they reach the turntable. By now, the movement has gotten Gordon's fire burning nicely and making steam.

As the turntables turns, Gordon is so cross that he is willing to do anything that stops him from taking the special regardless of the consequences. When the table gets halfway round, he moves forward in an attempt to jam it like last time. However Gordon is unable to stop and slides down the unused rails into a ditch. Gordon shouts for someone to get him out, however his crew refuses and tells him that he is stuck.

In his office, the Fat Controller is called and told everything that has happened. Seeing Gordon from his window, he arranges to have Edward take the special train and leave Gordon where he is for now. Meanwhile, some little boys come by and start to tease Gordon with a rhyme, leaving him humiliated.

Gordon stays in the ditch for hours and no rescue team comes until late at night. After extensive work preparing sleepers to keep him out of the mud, he is pulled out from the ditch by James and Henry.

Afterwards, a filthy and disgraced Gordon crawls back to the shed, sad and all the wiser for his experience.




  • This episode is based on the story of the same name from The Railway Series book, Gordon the Big Engine.
  • The telephone conversation is a sped up version of conversation between the policeman and the Fat Controller in Thomas in Trouble.
  • According to the boys' song, the events of this episode take place on Monday.
  • In the US, this episode aired before Whistles and Sneezes, so early American viewers would not understand the "jammed whistles" line.
  • A scrap model of Thomas is seen beside the ditch.
  • When Gordon is shown being lifted from the ditch, a train's lights can be seen passing on the left.  This is believed to be the Marklin engine.
  • In George Carlin's narration, the boys' song, "Silly Old Gordon Fell in the Ditch" has a similar tune to a Mother Goose rhyme entitled, "Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush".


  • In the opening scene Gordon's front bogie wheels are slightly derailed. 
  • When Henry comes up to Gordon and then leaves, Gordon's trailing wheels are derailed.
  • In a close up of Percy, his coupling chain is up, but in the next shot as he rolls over to Gordon it is suddenly dangling down.
  • Gordon's tender is derailed when Percy puffs up.
  • When Henry is getting ready to take the express, Gordon's driver has blu-tak under his feet.
  • When Gordon snaps "Trucks?! Puh!", a piece of hair is visible by his right eye.
  • When Edward buffers up behind Gordon the steam platform is easily noticeable.
  • Gordon was taken to Vicarstown Sheds, which is on the other side of the Island from Knapford.
  • In the close-up of Gordon on the turntable, a gap is visible through his left eye.
  • When Gordon puffs into the ditch his face looks wonky and wires are visibly attached to his cab.
  • When the boys sing the camera shakes.
  • When Gordon is getting pulled out of the ditch, his bufferbeam snags a wooden post.
  • How James and Henry get Gordon out of the ditch is questionable because there are no tracks leading towards the turntable opposite the ditch.
  • In a rare picture, several workmen have Blu-Tack on their feet.
  • James' drive wheels are not moving when he pulls Gordon out of the ditch.
  • Henry is not behind James in the scene of Gordon being rescued as the narrator stated.
  • In the long shots of James during Gordon's rescue, he has the rescue cable Gordon used in Percy Runs Away and later in Down the Mine attached to his front, but in the close up, he has a chain attached to his front instead.


In Other Languages

Language Name Meaning
Spanish El Plan de Gordon Gordon's Plan
Norwegian Ut av sporet Out Off the Track
Welsh Cadw ar y Cledrau Keeping on Track
Danish Den Store Afsporing The Great Derailment
German Entgleist Derailed
Italian La Locomotiva Brontolona The Grumpy Engine
Japanese ゴードンみぞにはまる Gordon Falls into a Ditch
French Les déraillements The Derailments
Finnish Kiskot Laskussa Rails Falling
Brazilian Portuguese Gordon, o Sabotador Gordon the Saboteur
Polish Wykolejenie Derailment
Dutch Van de Rails af Off the Rails
Ukrainian Зійшов з рейок Derailed



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