Coal, retitled Henry's Special Coal in American releases, is the eighteenth episode of the first season. In the US, this episode aired on Shining Time Station episodes Happy Accidents in 1989 and Dan's Big Race in 1993.
One morning, Henry wakes up feeling very ill. He complains about it to James, who simply shrugs it off as Henry being lazy. The Fat Controller is also unhappy about this, given this is the latest in a long line of problems with Henry and not even new parts or paint seem to help. He warns the green engine that if he does not get better soon he will have to be replaced.
Later, as Henry prepares to take his first train, the Fat Controller, determined to get to the bottom of Henry's problems, decides to ride along in the cab while taking off his top hat and coat. Henry manages to start, but the fireman is not pleased and notes that Henry's fire does not give enough heat. As a result, Henry quickly loses steam, and has to rest when he reaches Edward's station, leaving Edward to take care of the train. Henry's crew and the Fat Controller continue to discuss what the problem is. They then discover the root of the problem; the coal provided is unsuitable for him. While the other engines have nice big fireboxes, Henry's is too small. But if Henry had Welsh coal, he would easily improve. So although it will be expensive, the Fat Controller decides to send James for some Welsh coal.
When the coal arrives, the fireman carefully stokes up Henry's fire to give the best possible results. Henry initially has his doubts, but his mood changes as he comes into the platform with more than enough steam. The Fat Controller is happy to see that Henry is feeling well, and warns the driver not to push him. The driver assures him not to worry: in fact, he will have to hold him back.
For the first time, Henry makes it to the junction before Thomas. When Thomas arrives, Henry calls him "lazybones" before quickly running off, paying Thomas back for insulting him before. Thomas, too surprised to be cross, reacts with disbelief and Annie and Clarabel concur to him.
- This episode is based on the story of the same name from The Railway Series book, Henry the Green Engine.
- Stock footage from Edward, Gordon and Henry and Troublesome Trucks is used, as is pre-filmed footage from The Flying Kipper.
- A rare picture implies that James may have been intended to play a larger role in this episode.
- At the beginning of the episode, the source of James' smoke is visible.
- Because stock footage is used, the Fat Controller is smiling when he tells Henry that he might have to be replaced.
- As Edward backs onto the train, his eyes repeatedly bounce up and down.
- In the close-up of Henry's fireman holding a piece of coal, a piece of blu-tak is visible sticking the coal to his hand, and another one keeping one of his arms attached to his body.
- When Henry's fireman says, "Wait and see, we'll have a roaring fire just when we want it," blu-tack is visible below his left arm. In that same scene, a part of Henry's paintwork is blue (this is because the large scale tender is really Gordon's repainted, viewers can tell from the shape of the tender).
- In the last close-up scene of Henry, he is in his new shape.
- As Henry leaves Knapford, the truck at the top of the platform changes into a van and steam rises in between his coaches.
- When the narrator says, "He wanted to go fast, but his driver wouldn't let him" a bush beside the track shakes. In the same scene, the teak livery on one of Henry's coaches is visible. This is because the coaches are double coated due to budget limitations.
- Throughout the episode, Henry's coaches keep changing their places and positions:
- When Henry collects his coaches from Knapford and approaches Edward's station, the first class composite coach is in the middle of the train. However, when Henry stops next to the platform, the first class coach is suddenly at the front.
- When Henry makes his first journey with the Welsh coal, he starts out of the station with the brake coach at the front of the train. However, when Henry is out on the open line, the brake coach is suddenly the rear one. Then, when Henry approaches the bridge, the brake coach is suddenly facing the other way round for the rest of the episode.
- When Henry starts out of Knapford with his Welsh coal, the first class composite coach is at the rear of the train. However, as Henry passes the Bus Yard and approaches the bridge, the first class coach is the middle coach. Then, when Henry passes under the bridge, the first class coach is at the front of the train for the remainder of the episode.
- In the restored version, when Henry backs into the siding, his tender hits the station building, a few chuffing sounds are heard even after he stops, and leaves it soon afterward. Also, Edward does not start moving despite his whistle and puffing sound being heard.
- The narrator says that Henry stopped outside Edward's Station. However, his train has stopped at the platform.
- When Henry passes the goods yard, blu-tak can be seen under a workman's shoes.
- In the final scene, during the close up of Thomas' face, viewers can see behind his eye.
- When Henry goes around the bend, one side of his coach is orange but the other side is green.
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