- "You were right, Sir, old engines can't pull trains like young ones."
"They can if they're mended, Old Faithful, and that's what will happen to you. You deserve it."
- ―Skarloey and the Owner, Old Faithful, Four Little Engines
Skarloey was built by Fletcher, Jennings & Co. in 1865, and was delivered to the port at Kirk Ronan by a ship, where he was then taken to the Skarloey Railway by rail. Upon his arrival, Skarloey was young and immature, and refused to pull trucks, believing that he was only suitable for coaches. As the Railwaymen did not understand engines, Skarloey found it easy to not move, and refused to do anything for them. After several days of failing to make him steam, the men were ordered to sheet Skarloey up and leave him be by Mr. Mack, the manager.
Eventually, Skarloey felt sorry for his mistakes, and was glad to do his work when Mr. Bobbie, a man who helped to build him, came to the line to work with him. When he was chosen to pull the Directors' train, Skarloey became bouncy and excited, and scoffed at Rheneas when he advised him to be careful. Due to his short wheelbase and long footplate, Skarloey was a rough rider and bounced along the line, and when Mr. Mack closed his regulator too quickly, the coaches bumped into him and caused him to knock Mr. Mack off his footplate into a bush. After this incident, Rheneas pulled the Directors' train, while Skarloey was left in the shed. When the Directors came back to the shed, the Inspector suggested that Skarloey be fitted with a set of extra wheels to improve stability.
Skarloey was sent back to Whitehaven, and received a pair of trailing wheels and a cab. This made him conceited, especially when the coaches began complimenting him. After having an argument with Rheneas over cabs, Skarloey fell out with him, and both engines refused to speak to each-other. However, when Skarloey got stuck in a landslide while taking the workmen to the Quarry, Rheneas came to his rescue, and both engines apologized to each-other. (RWS; Very Old Engines)
In 1897, Skarloey returned to Whitehaven to undergo extensive repairs, which became the last time he was overhauled for several decades. Any minor repairs and general maintenance was carried out at the Skarloey Railway's workshop at Crovan's Gate. By 1945, Skarloey's boiler and firebox were in such a terrible state that he could only be steamed up for emergency situations. (Book; The Island of Sodor: Its People, History and Railways)
After Rheneas was sent to England to undergo an overhaul, Skarloey was left in the sheds at Crovan's Gate, and two new engines, Sir Handel and Peter Sam, arrived to work on the railway while he was left in the shed. However, when Peter Sam needed repairs and Sir Handel became damaged after a minor accident, Skarloey offered to come out of the shed to pull Sir Handel's train. At first, the journey went well, but before he could reach the Works Station, one of Skarloey's front springs broke, causing his body to tilt sideways. Despite his weakened state, Skarloey refused to give up, and bravely finished his journey to the station. The Owner was proud of Skarloey, and promised to have him repaired at once. (RWS; Four Little Engines)
Skarloey was sent to England and underwent an extensive overhaul, and met his twin, Talyllyn, who was being repaired in the same workshop for the same reason that he was being repaired. In 1958, Skarloey returned to Sodor, and upon coming back to his home railway, he was called out to rescue Duncan when he became stuck in the tunnel. When a group of producers from the BBC came to the Skarloey Railway to film the line for a television documentary, Skarloey gave a speech for the programme, and told everyone about the Talyllyn Railway. (RWS; The Little Old Engine)
Although Skarloey was in excellent condition upon his return, he was still a shy steamer. Mr. Hugh managed to cure this problem by fitting a brick arch in his firebox, as well as a Kylchap cowl on his blast pipe. This was all done in the Skarloey Railway's workshop with no outside help at all, and Skarloey became a much better steamer. (Book; The Island of Sodor: Its People, History and Railways)
When Duncan stalled on the Viaduct with his passenger train, Skarloey was called out to take him and his train back home. After this incident, Duncan began complaining frequently, so Skarloey told him the story of how Rheneas saved the railway, successfully changing his opinion on passengers. Skarloey joined in with the other engines when Rheneas returned to the railway in 1961. (RWS; Gallant Old Engine)
Personality and Traits
Skarloey is a calm, wise and faithful engine, full of wisdom and knowledge. He looks after the younger and more inexperienced narrow gauge engines in a firm, yet fair, manner, and is the leader of the narrow gauge engines at the Blue Mountain Quarry. Skarloey is also full of determination and never backs down from a tough situation, a prime example being when he limped back to Crovan's Gate with a full passenger train despite being weakened by a broken spring. He treats everyone, engines and people alike, with kindness and respect, and enjoys a quiet, peaceful run along the railway, stopping by all the old gates and stiles to see his old friends.
However, Skarloey has not always been a wise engine. In his youth, he was immature, bouncy and excitable, and was also known for being rather cocky. He refused to pull trucks on the grounds that he was more suitable for coaches, and did not cooperate with the Railwaymen until Mr. Bobbie arrived. He became increasingly more conceited after he was fitted with a cab and even quarreled with Rheneas over it, but got over his feud when Rheneas rescued him from a landslide. Since then, Skarloey began to mature, and grew into the old and wise engine that he is today. He was portrayed with his more youthful personality between the ninth and twelfth seasons, but returned to his proper persona in Blue Mountain Mystery.
In the Railway Series, Skarloey is painted in the Skarloey Railway's standard red livery with blue lining and a brass dome, his name is written on the sides of his saddle-tank in gold writing, and his number is carried on a black plate on the sides of his coal bunker. When he was first built, Skarloey had blue and yellow lining, and his siderods were red. In Four Little Engines, his dome and wheels were red, but they became brass and black respectively in The Little Old Engine.
In Thomas & Friends, Skarloey is painted crimson red with white lining, his handrails are gold, and he carries his name and number on red plates on the sides of his saddle-tank and coal bunker respectively in gold writing. In the fourth season, Skarloey was painted scarlet red, and the ring around the top of his funnel was gold, but he was repainted to crimson with no gold ring around his funnel in the ninth season.