Well, well, well! Two big engines afraid of a cow?"
- ―Edward and Gordon
Cows, retitled A Cow on the Line for American releases, is the second epi
Edward's age is beginning to show due to some of his worn-out parts, causing him to make clanking sounds. One bright and sunny day, Edward has to pull some cattle wagons to the town of a nearby market; the trucks are making a lot of noise, as is he by this point.
Near the line is a field where some cows are grazing, in which the noise and smoke produced by the train disturb the cows, who are not used to it. As Edward passes by, a number of cows break the fence, run across the line, and break a coupling, causing the last truck and the guard's van to be left behind. Believing the jerk to be the trucks getting up to mischief, Edward continues on his journey, unaware of the mishap. It is not until Edward gets to the next station that he or his driver realise what happened.
Gordon and Henry hear about the incident, making them laugh, tease Edward about letting a few cows damage his train, and brag that they could handle cows easily, which makes him very angry. Toby is also indignant towards the larger engines, which he knows they have never encountered cows, not knowing the trouble they cause.
A few days later, Edward's mood is still bad when Gordon sails through Wellsworth with the express, still teasing him. Gordon continues down the line, telling the coaches to hurry until he and his driver think they see something on the upcoming bridge. Shutting off steam, the driver applies the brakes, and as Gordon gets closer, he sees that the obstacle is a cow, so he tries to shoo the cow away, but she refuses to budge due to her loneliness about the fact that her calf has disappeared. Along with the passengers, Gordon's crew tries to get the cow to leave, but to no avail.
Henry soon comes by with his train, also thinking that the cow can simply be ordered away, but it fails to work, so when he nervously backs off, he refuses to hurt her. Reversing back to the station, Henry's guard tells the stationmaster about the cow blocking the line. The porter realises that it is Bluebell, declaring that her calf is at the station. The two men decide to send the calf in a truck pulled by Percy, who passes Henry at Crosby on the way.
At the bridge, arriving with the calf, Percy reunites it with his mother; the two cows are then easily led away by the porter, and as they leave, Gordon and Henry make an agreement not to tell anyone about the incident, but the story quickly gets around.
That night, Edward is ready to tease Gordon and Henry in the shed. Gordon defends himself, claiming that he simply refused to hurt Bluebell by running up against him. Edward tells Gordon that he understands, making Gordon worried that Edward does understand all too well.
- Troublesome Trucks
- Percy (does not speak)
- Thomas (cameo)
- James (cameo)
- Mrs. Kyndley (cameo)
- One Naughty Boy (cameo)
- The Spiteful Brake Van (faceless; cameo)
- Lower Suddery
- Brendam Docks
- The Dual Bends
- Tidmouth Sheds
- The Viaduct
- Balladrine Bridge
- In the British narration, the porter notes that Bluebell's calf is "ready to go to market," whereas in the American narration, it is said to be "looking for her mother." It is not clear why the line was changed, although the reference to cow slaughter may have been removed due to censorship.
- Henry regains his wheel arches in this episode and his stepladders become solid.
- This is the first appearance of the Red Coaches.
- A deleted scene shows Henry on the bridge without his coaches.
- In 1986, when originally first broadcast in the United Kingdom as a double bill with Thomas, Percy and the Coal, the credits showed the story title of the previous story credited. However, despite being an even-numbered episode, when aired individually later from 1987, the end credits from Duck Takes Charge are used.
- This episode would have been the second series premiere had The Missing Coach not been cancelled.