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Bill is a cheeky little saddle-tank engine who works at the Sodor China Clay Company, and is the twin brother of Ben. Like his twin, he enjoys playing tricks and teasing the other engines.

Biography

The Railway Series

One day, Bill and Ben both brought a train of china clay to Brendam Docks and left to go shunt some more trucks. Much to their surprise, the trucks were gone by the time they returned. Their drivers, after examining a patch of oil on the line, concluded that a diesel engine must have taken them, and the two twins argued over who had brought the "diseasal" into the yard until their drivers suggested that they find out themselves. Bill and Ben were horrified and believed that the diesel would "magic" them away like the trucks, but their crews reassured them that would not be the case. Their nameplates and numbers were removed, and they set off to find the diesel.

Soon enough, the twins found the diesel on a siding with their trucks, and decided to trick him. Each twin would go up to the diesel and then go back behind the train, while the other did the same thing. The twins did this several times, until the diesel began to feel very giddy. When he realized that there were really two engines, he laughed about this, just as Edward arrived. When the twins told him that the diesel had stolen their trucks, Edward explained the situation to them. Embarrassed, the twins apologized to the diesel, BoCo, and ran along to go shunt some more trucks.

A few days later, Edward told the twins what Gordon had said about branch lines. The following morning, when Gordon woke up at Brendam following a series of incidents the previous night, the twins pulled up alongside him and declared that he was a pile of old scrap iron, and began arguing over which was the better way of disposing him; Bill was in favour of scrapping Gordon, while Ben wanted to dump him in the sea. The two twins kept this up despite the horrified Gordon's protests, until BoCo arrived with a train of trucks and threatened to leave with them. The twins quickly left, and left BoCo with Gordon. BoCo wisely neglected to tell Gordon that the twins had been joking.

Sometime later, a group of enthusiasts came to visit the railways of Sodor. When Edward brought the enthusiasts to Brendam, the twins took the enthusiasts to the clay pits in a "brake van special". (RWS; Main Line Engines)

When the Ffarquhar Branch Line had a weight limit placed on one of the bridges on the line, Thomas was sent to work on the Wellsworth Branch Line until the bridge was fixed. When he first arrived, Bill and Ben teased him for his colour, but Edward sent them away before an argument could break out.

After Thomas had an accident with a lorry and returned to the yard covered in dairy, Bill and Ben teased him even more for his livery until Edward threatened to not bring them a group of enthusiasts that would be visiting. The twins quickly forgot about Thomas, and became excited about the enthusiasts coming to see them.

When at the enthusiasts did arrive, one of the photographers with an "instant" camera kept taking continuous photos of Bill, to the point where he eventually became tired of it. When Ben needed assistance pull a ship into deeper waters, Bill raced away to help him, letting out a large cloud of steam as he left; disgusted with the poor quality of the photo, the photographer threw the photo to the ground. When Bill and Ben finished their job, they found the photograph lying on the ground, which only showed Bill's funnel in the cloud of steam. After Thomas rescued Ben after he became stuck in "The Drain", the twins vowed to never tease him again. (RWS; Thomas and the Twins)

Television Series

When important goods arrived to the yard at Wellsworth, the Fat Controller sent the twins to work at the yard to help the other engines, much to their delight. However, after they had an argument when they got in each-others way, the twins refused to work together and complained about each-other all day long. After BoCo and Edward made a plan to make the twins get along with each-other again, the Fat Controller ordered the twins to pull BoCo's heavy goods train to the harbour. Ben was determined to pull the train by himself, but the train was too heavy for him to move on his own. In the end, the twins made up with each-other and pulled the train together. (TVS; One Good Turn)

Bill and Ben were soon becoming bored of working at the clay pits, so the Fat Controller sent them to take care of the shunting duties at the station while Edward was doing other jobs. Though Bill and Ben tried to do their best, they were manipulated by the trucks into shunting them in the wrong sidings, making them extremely late by the time they had to arrange Gordon's coaches.

The next day, the twins were sent back to the clay pits, when a landslide began. The twins worked together to get the workmen out of the clay pits, and managed to escape just before the clay pits were buried in rubble. The Fat Controller congratulated the twins for their bravery. (TVS; Heroes)

When Bill and Ben required assistance at the clay pits, the Fat Controller brought a new diesel engine, Derek, to his railway to help them out. However, when they heard from Percy that Derek had a "toothache", the twins became concerned until Duck told them that Derek actually had teething troubles. The next day, Derek arrived at the clay pits and offered to work as the twins' back engine, but he overheated and broke down as they were trying to climb a steep hill. In the end, Bill and Ben had to pull their train as well as Derek up the hill by themselves. (TVS; Double Teething Troubles)

Sometime later, Bill and Ben were relocated to the Ffarquhar Quarry, and began working alongside Mavis. They were present at the quarry when Salty first arrived, and became jealous of him when they saw him handling the trucks with no problem. (TVS; Salty's Secret) When Bill and Ben became trapped at Brendam Docks when Cranky knocked a shed on the line in front of them, they stayed up all night listening to Salty's stories. (TVS; No Sleep for Cranky) Ben's buffers later became damaged, so the Fat Controller sent him to the works to be fitted with new ones. When Ben returned to the quarry, he found Bill lying in a ditch after he had derailed. (TVS; Buffer Bother)

When Bill and Ben once again required assistance at the quarry, Fergus was sent to the quarry to help them out. However, the twins quickly became tired of Fergus' bossy behaviour and went against his orders. After they delivered a rock crusher to the quarry, Fergus ordered them to pass through the area where the men were blasting as smoothly as they could, but the twins did not heed to his advice and shook the ground as much as they could. This caused the rocks to loosen and create a landslide, but fortunately the twins were rescued when Fergus pushed them out of the way. After Fergus was cleared from underneath the rocks, the twins apologized for their behaviour, and worked with Fergus in peace. (TVS; Bill, Ben and Fergus)

Bill and Ben left the Ffarquhar Quarry, and were given more duties on the Main Line. During the autumn season, the twins were given the job of delivering pumpkins, but they spilled pumpkins across the line. In order to ensure that no more pumpkins would roll off, Bill was forced to push the train from behind, but Ben derailed. Ben was very close to rolling down an embankment until Percy came to their aid and pulled him back to safety. (TVS; Percy's Lucky Day)

When Bill and Ben saw Connor for the first time, they decided to play a trick on him; one of the twins would challenge Connor to a race to Ulfstead Castle, while the other would wait at the castle for him, making it seem like the twin was faster than him. This nearly caused an accident when Connor almost ran into Henry, so the Fat Controller sent Bill to the Steamworks to be repainted to blue. This did not work, as Ben managed to trick Kevin into having him repainted in the same livery by pretending to be Bill, and thus the tricks kept happening. (TVS; Bill or Ben?)

Bill and Ben were both sent back to the clay pits, where they began to work with Timothy and Marion. When one of the bridges on his branch line needed to be rebuilt, Thomas was sent to the clay pits to work alongside the twins. When a storm broke out and a landslide began, Bill and Ben both jumped in and pushed Thomas to safety. The next morning, they were congratulated by the Fat Controller at the Knapford shunting yard. Thomas became convinced that the twins were tricking him with fake footprints at the clay pits and asked them about it; however they believed that he was referring to when they saved him from the landslide and, offended, puffed away.

The following morning, Bill and Ben were sleeping in their sheds as Percy passed by to inspect the clay pits, followed by Thomas. Both twins blamed each-other for making the puffing sounds, then concluded that it was Timothy doing it in his sleep. When they woke up, they saw yet another landslide at the clay pits, and when Marion caught the skull of a dinosaur fossil and explained what dinosaurs were, they were very intrigued by this. (TVS; Tale of the Brave)

When Ben was given the task of delivering more coal to the clay pits, he neglected to do this job when he was challenged by Bill to a race back to the clay pits. Despite being told by both Marion and Timothy to go fetch the coal train, they ignored this and fooled around in the clay pits, teasing Timothy for being an oil-burning engine until they ran out of coal. When Timothy brought the shipment of coal back to the clay pits, the twins both apologized to him. (TVS; No Steam Without Coal) The twins later tricked Timothy by going on a wild goose chase to find a rainbow-coloured truck, which Timothy actually ended up finding: an old truck filled to the brim with rubbish. As punishment for tricking Timothy, the Fat Controller put both twins on waste duty. (TVS; Timothy and the Rainbow Truck)

When the twins became tired of Timothy and thought he was no fun at all, they suggested to the Fat Controller that he should work with Porter at Brendam Docks, as Salty was working on the Mainland and Porter was working by himself. However, the twins began bickering with each-other in Timothy's absence, and by the time he returned to the clay pits, the yard was in a dreadful state. Fortunately, Salty and Porter both arrived to help shunt the trucks in their proper places. (TVS; No Help at All)

Technical Details

Basis

Bill is based on Alfred, an 0-4-0 saddle tank locomotive and the twin engine of Judy, Ben's basis. Both Alfred and Judy were built with an unusually low design so that they could go under the very low bridge on the Cornish Main Line and to navigate tight turns. They are now preserved and in working order on the Bodmin and Wenford Railway in Cornwall, England.

Livery

In the Railway Series, Bill was painted dark orange with red lining. His cab roof was white, and his buffers were silver. He had "SCC" and his name painted on the sides of his saddle tank, and "Brendam Bay" in front of his saddle tank above his smokebox. He carried his numberplate just above his face.

In the television series, Bill became significantly larger than his basis so that his original model could be fitted with the wiring and mechanism needed to make the model function. He is painted bright yellow with red lining, his cab roof and footplate are both white, and the wood panels on the sides of his cab are a dull brown. He has "SCC" written on the sides of his saddle tank, and "Brendam Bay" written in front just above his face. He carried his name on a brown nameplate in yellow lettering, and his wheels were originally painted black.

In the seventeenth season, Bill's wheels were repainted to red, his crosshead and rear dome became black, and his nameplate became entirely brass, making it difficult to tell him and Ben apart. The "SCC" written on his side tanks received red lining around the lettering, and both the "SCC" and "Brendam Bay" words were painted a brighter shade of yellow, making them more noticeable. Among other changes, he received a permanent headlamp on a black box, slightly different valve gear, yellow siderod guards and a taller cab. In the nineteenth season, the lettering on his nameplate became gold, making it easier to read.

In Bill or Ben?, Bill was repainted dark blue with yellow lining after the Fat Controller ordered him to be repainted to tell him apart from his twin. This livery was only temporary, and he was later repainted back into his original yellow paint scheme.

Trivia

  • Bill was originally intended to have his numberplate placed above his face in the second season similar to his portrayal in the Railway Series. For unknown reasons, this numberplate was not included.
  • Bill and Ben, along with Toby and James, are two of Andrew Brenner's favourite characters.
  • Bill's whistle is a higher-pitched version of Thomas' whistle sound. Ben uses the same whistle sound in an even higher pitch.

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