Skarloey is a narrow gauge tank engine who works on the Skarloey Railway, and is the oldest engine on the line. He is the twin of Talyllyn, and the brother of Rheneas. He is a wise and thoughtful engine who looks out for the younger engines on the line.
The Railway Series
Skarloey was built by Fletcher, Jennings & Co. in 1864, and was shipped to the Island of Sodor to work on the newly-developed Skarloey Railway the following year. He was very young and immature, however, and refused to pull trains unless if they were coaches. He was sheeted up until he was sorry, and was chosen to pull the directors' train. However, his lack of stability made him bounce along the line, and during the journey, Mr. Mack, the railway's controller, fell off his footplate and landed in a bush. In order to solve the problem, Skarloey was fitted with a pair of trailing wheels and a cab. This made him quite cocky, however, and he got into an argument with Rheneas. After Skarloey was rescued from a landslide, he became a much wiser engine. (RWS; Very Old Engines)
As the railway was facing difficulties, Skarloey was put aside in 1945, only to be used in emergency purposes only. Because of this, Rheneas was the only engine working on the line at the time. (RWS; Gallant Old Engine) The Thin Controller purchased two new engines, Sir Handel and Peter Sam, to run the line, but when Sir Handel was experiencing difficulties with the coaches, Skarloey offered to take his train. During the journey, his spring broke, causing him to tilt. Despite this, Skarloey bravely continued the journey, and a reward for this, the Owner sent him to the Works to be overhauled. (RWS; Four Little Engines)
When Skarloey returned to service in 1958, he was sent to the tunnel near Rheneas station to help Duncan out when he became stuck in the other side of the tunnel. He later gave a speech when the BBC was filming a television documentary about the line. (RWS; The Little Old Engine)
When Duncan stalled on a bridge and refused to move, Skarloey arrived and took him and his train to the top station. Duncan was still complaining after the incident, so Skarloey told him how Rheneas saved the railway by himself, changing Duncan's views on passengers. He was present at the sheds when Rheneas returned to the line. (RWS; Gallant Old Engine)
For his and Rheneas' 100th anniversary, Skarloey took the Duke of Sodor on a tour around the new loop line around the lake, much to the confusion of Peter Sam, who thought the Duke was an engine. (RWS; Very Old Engines) He also attended the naming ceremony of Ivo Hugh. (RWS; New Little Engine)
Skarloey had not worked for quite some time, and stayed in his shed until he came out to take Sir Handel's train when he was experiencing difficulty with the coaches. When Skarloey was damaged, the Fat Controller had him mended. (TVS; Four Little Engines) When Duke was rediscovered in his shed, Skarloey and Rheneas both brought him to the Skarloey Railway. (TVS; Sleeping Beauty)
During the winter period, Skarloey stopped in a ravine when his crew stopped to have a cup of hot cocoa. This proved to be dangerous, as the slate trucks from above the ravine broke away from the incline and landed in the snow, causing Skarloey to be buried in an avalanche. Fortunately, Skarloey and his crew survived, and the snow melted and formed an igloo around him. (TVS; Snow)
When Rusty was neglecting to do his work at the quarry, the Fat Controller sent Skarloey and Rheneas to work at the quarry with him and closed down their line. However, when the men were doing blasting in the quarry and the engines had to leave, the Fat Controller allowed the engines to restore their line only if they did so in less than two weeks. With Elizabeth's help, the line was restored in no time. (TVS; Rusty Saves the Day)
After having an accident on the old bridge, Skarloey became too frightened to cross the bridge again, so the Fat Controller ordered him to do shunting work while Rheneas did his work as well as his own. However, when Rheneas became stuck on the bridge, Skarloey put his fear of the bridge behind him and managed to rescue him. (TVS; The Old Bridge) When the hot-air balloon ran out of fuel and landed close by the line, Skarloey took the Fat Controller and Lady Hatt to the grand opening of Rumblin Bridge. (TVS; The Grand Opening)
Personality and Traits
In the Railway Series, Skarloey is painted in the Skarloey Railway's signature red livery with blue lining, and his name is written on his saddle tank in yellow writing. When he was first built, he was painted with blue and gold lining, and his siderods were red. In Four Little Engines, he had a red dome and wheels, but his dome became gold in later books, and his wheels became black.
In the television series, Skarloey was painted red with white lining in his first appearance. In the ninth season, he became dark crimson. He carries two red nameplates with his name written on in gold, and his numberplate is placed on the sides of his coal bunker.