Two Old Hands is the ninth episode of the first season of Shining Time Station.


Stacy, Matt and Tanya run to receive the mail sack that just arrived. Matt receives a magazine, Stacy a letter, and Tanya a picture from her pen pal. Harry asks if there is anything for him. Mr. Conductor quickly disappears. Finding nothing for him, Stacy asks Harry if he was expecting something. Harry replies that he wasn't looking for anything in particular and leaves.

Stacy thinks something is wrong and Tanya suddenly remembers that it's Harry’s birthday. They all decide to throw him a surprise party. Tanya decides to give Harry a jump rope, while Matt decides to give him a baseball bat, but Stacy decides they ought to make original presents for him instead. The kids then go to The Jukebox to play some music to listen to while making the presents.

In the Jukebox, Didi has overheard all the commotion about Harry’s birthday, and decides that the band should play a song he really likes. When the nickel finally drops, Tex suggests “A Railroader for Me”, and the band starts playing it.

By the time the song ends, Stacy and the kids have completed their presents. Harry asks Stacy if she can play the song again. Stacy and the kids try to hide the presents. When Harry comes out of his workshop, Stacy tells Harry that Schemer needs some Cheese Giggles from the storeroom for the vending machine, but Harry says he brought him some earlier that morning. Stacy says that Schemer needs another one and Harry leaves, commenting that he must be getting old as he believes people keep thinking up jobs for him just to make him feel useful. Stacy suggests the kids find a box to hide the presents in, and Matt finds an old empty Cheese Giggles box on the steps of Schemer’s arcade. They place their presents in the box, which Stacy then hides.

Just then, Mr. Conductor appears, and says it's a relief that something is over. The kids rush over to him, asking what he is talking about, and he tells them about how the tender engines’ strike against Sir Topham Hatt ended, and how Percy almost got into an accident with Gordon.

When the story ends, Tanya suggests Mr. Conductor that he should Meet Harry and Matt suggests Mr. Conductor come to Harry's surprise party, but Mr. Conductor is still nervous about how he’ll react to the idea of an eighteen-inch high man wanting to be his friend and the fact that Harry's a very private person. Matt thinks that Harry's just shy. Tanya disagrees and says that adults aren't shy. Matt says that some adults are. When Tanya asks who, Mr. Conductor tells both of them about a friend of his, who lived alone someplace for many years until some new people moved in, which made him very shy indeed. Matt says that Mr. Conductor's friend sounds like himself. Stacy returns after successfully hiding the box, but just then Harry’s voice is heard and Mr. Conductor quickly disappears.

Harry arrives with a second box of Cheese Giggles and tells Stacy to tell Schemer that he can carry his own boxes from now on. Harry still feels grumpy about how old he is getting, and heads back to the workshop. Mr. Conductor suddenly appears on the information booth behind Harry's back and greets him, but disappears before Harry can turn around and Harry thinks he's hearing things. Just as Harry reaches the workshop door, Mr. Conductor re-appears on Stacy’s desk, and when Harry turns around he can’t believe his eyes and takes off his glasses. Mr. Conductor, realizing that he gave a bad impression, quickly disappears, embarresed. Harry comments yet again that he is getting old, because now he’s seeing things.

Mr. Conductor re-appears with a wrapped gift, and says he tried. Tanya encourages him to keep trying and asks who the present is for, and Mr. Conductor says it's to cheer Thomas up after he had been in trouble. He then tells the story of how Thomas got conceited when he took his driver’s comments literally and ended up crashing a stationmaster’s breakfast.

When the story ends, Mr. Conductor tells the kids that there are some things that nobody can do on their own. As the kids go help Stacy, Mr. Conductor hears Schemer's voice and disappears. Schemer gives himself a big fanfare, but nobody responds. He tries again but finds the main station room empty and is mad because the station is a public place and nobody is even there. He then finds the box that the presents Stacy and the kids made are in and beliveing them to be cheese giggles decides to put them in the vending Machine. He then sees the Cheese Giggles that Harry brought up and decides to put that box in the Machine, while he'll take the other one home, as he had paid for them in the first place. He then leaves, completely oblivious that he's taking the presents.

Matt and Tanya return with hats for Harry's party, but Mr. Conductor appears and asks where the birthday cake is. The kids realize that they do not have a cake and Mr. Conductor asks them to look down the Anything Tunnel. The tunnel then shows an animated video of how to make a cake. After the video ends, when the kids ask where the cake from the Anything Tunnel is, Mr. Conductor magically creates it. The kids suggest they hide the cake, while Mr. Conductor has to do the dishes.

Stacy returns to the station and looks behind her desk to find the Cheese Giggles box with their presents gone. She sees the second one standing on the arcade floor and asks Tanya if it's one of cheese giggles or birthday presents, but Tanya only finds Cheese Giggles inside. Stacy then realizes that Schemer took the box of presents by mistake. The kids began to panic, then Schemer returns with the box of presents. He explains that station was empty and asks what would happen if a customer came asking for arcade change, while Stacy and the kids stare strangely at the box in his hand. Schemer asks what everybody is staring at and Stacy and the kids all point to the box. When Schemer sees they're pointing at the box he explains that he thought it had Cheese Giggles in it when, to his surprise, there was only some “artsy-craftsy stuff” inside.

Harry emerges from his workshop after hearing Schemer’s voice and is angry at him, but Stacy intervenes, asking if he can fix the ticket puncher or if she should send it out for fixing, but Harry says he’ll fix it himself and walks away.

Schemer is puzzled as to why Harry's mad at him and he didn't ask him to bring anything up. He returns to the subject of the box as it's not a carton of cheese giggles. Tanya mentions that the box is full of birthday presents, and she, Stacy and Matt all tell Schemer about Harry’s birthday. Schemer initially seems enthusiastic, but then says he doesn't like surprise parties. Stacy asks Schemer if He's ever been to one and he nods his head no. Stacy suggests to the kids they should invite Schemer. After some hesitance they do so. Stacy and the kids then retrieve their presents from the box, and Schemer realizes that he doesn't have one for Harry. Matt suggests he give him some nickels. Initially Schemer is uncomfortable with the Idea, but after being convinced by Stacy on how much Harry loves playing the Juke box he agrees.

With the party arrangements settled, Stacy calls Harry out, and as he begrudgingly emerges from the workshop, they all shout “Happy Birthday!” Harry apologizes for his irritability, and thanks everybody for the party. As they celebrate, a passing mail train from Pelican Falls drops a sack at the entrance to the platform. Stacy retrieves it and finds the whole sack is full of birthday cards for Harry.

After the party's over and Schemer's shift is done, Mr. Conductor is talking with Stacy and the kids, who still encourage him to meet Harry. Stacy suggests he talk about something they both love—trains. Mr. Conductor then goes into Harry’s workshop and greets him. Harry looks in his direction and is suspicious at first, and asks if he is real. Mr. Conductor confirms this, and the two begin to talk. Mr. Conductor mentions that he’s lived at Shining Time Station since the First run of the Mimosa Limited and began work there when The President’s Train ran through. Harry mentions that he remembers working on that train. Mr. Conductor mentions he was on that train as well, as he was the Indian Valley Railroad's special conductor. It turns out they were both on the same train and didn't even know it, until now. Stacy and the kids, who have been listening in on the conversation, quietly leave the two to talk, confident that Harry and Mr. Conductor are now firm friends.

Cast and Characters

Main Cast

Flexitoon Puppeteers

Mentioned Characters

Thomas stories

After several days of being closed in their shed, the big engines finally agree to behave and go back to work. Percy, who is still relatively new to the railway, almost causes an accident on the Main Line when he stands in Gordon’s way.  He gets so frightened, he runs away in reverse.  Percy ends up in a bank of earth, and Gordon comes to pull him out. Percy apologises to Gordon for the near-accident and learns to be extra careful.
Thomas knows every part of his Branch Line, causing his driver to joke that he could manage without him. This makes Thomas conceited, claiming that he doesn’t need his driver anymore, despite Percy and Toby telling him otherwise. One morning, Thomas starts from the shed all by himself (thanks to a careless cleaner meddling with his controls) but finds that can’t stop and crashes into the Stationmaster’s house. Donald and Douglas arrive to help out, leaving Thomas with badly damaged buffers. Sir Topham Hatt sends Thomas to be mended and decides to enlist a diesel railcar to do Thomas’ work, claiming “Diesels always stays in their sheds ‘till they are wanted!”

Jukebox Band Segment Song

  • A Railroader and Me

Cartoons & Songs


  • The item that Matt receives in the mail is a Sesame Street magazine with Bert and Ernie featured prominently on the cover.
  • Harry meets Mr. Conductor.
  • The shot of Tanya showing her pen pal’s picture to everybody was used in the original “clip show” title sequence.
  • To start “Thomas Comes to Breakfast”, Mr. Conductor does not use his whistle. Instead, he twirls his present to start the story.
  • In addition to Cheese Giggles, Schemer stocks Potato Boom-Booms and Corn Whammies in his vending machine.
  • This is the first episode to feature a story from Series 2 of Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends. However the use of "Thomas Comes to Breakfast" caused some continuity errors for US audiences as Donald and Douglas, the Scottish Twins, would not receive a proper introduction until the episode “Sweet and Sour” during Shining Time Station's second season. Additionally, Toby the Tram Engine would not be introduced to US audiences until the episode “Ring in the Old” later in the first season then again in "How the Station Got Its Name" later in the third season. Finally, the diesel railcar referred to in the story, which was Daisy, would never feature in a story during Shining Time Station's original three seasons (except Mr. Conductor's Thomas' Tales episode: "Missing Whistles"), although stories featuring her would eventually be released on American video. (Daisy and other Stories 1993 VHS)
  • The song “Baking a Cake” was released on VHS as part of "Shining Time Station Singsongs Vol. 1."
  • Harry’s recollection of the President’s train is accompanied by footage of the Chessie System’s ex-Reading Railroad steam locomotive #2101.
  • This episode marks one of the few times any attempt is made to explain Mr. Conductor's backstory.
  • The Box of Cheese Giggles Harry brings up is obviously empty as Tanya was able to lift it very easily.
  • Mr. Conductor tells both stories to Stacy, Matt and Tanya.


Thomas Stories