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The Railway Series
Rheneas was built by Fletcher, Jennings & Co. in Whitehaven and was delivered by sea to Kirk Ronan in time to haul the train carrying the Board of Trade Inspector in October 1865. Unlike Skarloey, Rheneas was stern and thoughtful and fell out with Skarloey after the latter called him a "stick-in-the-mud" following an argument over cabs. The two reconciled after Rheneas saved Skarloey from a landslide in 1867.
Rheneas’ long wheelbase enabled him to ride steadily, but it also made him hard on the track and this, together with the initial absence of a cab, made Skarloey the more heavily used of the two. Unlike Skarloey (and Dolgoch), Rheneas never returned to Whitehaven. Such repairs as were needed, including the fabrication of a cab at an unknown date, were done at the Skarloey Railway workshops. In 1937, and again in 1943, he was overhauled at the NWR Works at Crovan's Gate. Like Dolgoch, Rheneas enjoys "peculiar motion," which did not make life any easier for the workshop staff.
Rheneas saved the railway by keeping services going through a very lean period in the late 1940s. By 1945, Skarloey was in need of desperate repairs, leaving Rheneas to run the line alone. He managed to pull a full train home one windy day despite having a jammed valve gear and was rewarded with an overhaul. When Sir Handel and Peter Sam arrived to the railway in 1952, he was sent to England for a heavy overhaul. While there, he was reunited with his twin Dolgoch, money, however, was tight on both their railways and neithers repairs could be completed immediately. Skarloey often felt lonely to know he wasn't there, but he often used his story of when he saved the railway to teach younger engines how to behave, like Duncan. His overhaul was finished in 1961, putting him back into fettle, and he returned to the Skarloey Railway soon after. Because of his bravery, he earned the nickname "Gallant Old Engine" by railway staff.
While Rusty was spreading weedkiller spray on the tracks with a special truck, Rheneas had to fetch another coach when there were more visitors than usual. He wasn't happy about this because this meant he would be late, and it didn't get any better when he had to slow down for hedgecutters, and to make matters worse, because of the weedkiller spray, he ended up slipping down the hill and grinds to a halt. As his crew sanded the rails, he managed to make his way, but his passengers had a limited view of the countryside. They did not mind this however, as they were more pleased with Rheneas' brave efforts.
He underwent another heavy overhaul at Crovan’s Gate Works in 2002.
Thomas & Friends
When Rheneas first appeared in the fourth season, he was one of many engines who came and went on the Mid Sodor Railway and were outlasted by Duke. When Skarloey took visitors into the mountains to search for Duke and they found him, Rheneas helped Skarloey transport Duke back down to the Skarloey Railway for restoration. In the meantime, the two engines were feeling their age and easily tiring, so the manager sent two engines, Sir Handel and Peter Sam, to help, and the older engines promised to give them a big welcome.
Despite being fond of Peter Sam, Rheneas would join in the other engines' mockingly saying, "You and your special funnel!" when Peter Sam was impatiently waiting for his new one. When he got it and demonstrably performed better than everyone, Rheneas and the others stopped teasing him and instead wished they had a funnel like it. Likewise, Sir Handel's broad tyres were a source of mockery as Rheneas would join in on shouting, "Look at his steamroller wheels!" After Sir Handel caused George the steamroller to go away, Rheneas became visibly annoyed at the blue engine's newfound source of incessant bragging.
When Duncan was complaining about the passengers, Skarloey decided to tell him the story of how Rheneas saved the railway on his own with a full train and jammed valve gear on a rainy day to teach Duncan the importance of not stopping in the wrong place. Rheneas came home from the works the next day and was greeted to a chorus of whistles by engines large and small. He told Skarloey that this makes a little engine to feel that at last he has really come home.
Rheneas and Skarloey are Rusty's best friends, and they are best friends with each other as well. The three of them were chased by a boulder when it had rolled off from its cliff. While Rusty had to outmaneuver the boulder, and Skarloey needed to get himself out of the boulder's rampaging path, Rheneas's line did not have any points, so he was forced to try and outrun it once the boulder came dangerously close to colliding with him head-on. He did so, speeding across a viaduct, and ended up derailing. The boulder passed by, which Rheneas's driver found preferable to getting squashed.
In the sixth season, the three engines were headed to the quarry to help Duncan. Their fascination of the incline's mechanics quickly became soured with an impatient Duncan telling them what to do. Rusty tried to mollify the vocally displeased red engines, but even Rusty and also Rheneas had enough when the "Bossy Boots" engine told them they are as slow as snails, and Rheneas crossly chuffed that no more than four slate trucks could be sent up at a time. Eventually realizing that Duncan would not listen, the three best friends left with their slate. They helped clear up after Duncan's crash, after which Duncan owed them an apology.
The three best friends have worked the Skarloey Railway for each of their entire lives, but work at the quarry clashed with Rusty's maintenance work, causing the line to fall into disrepair and be shut down and forcing Rheneas and Skarloey to work at the quarry with Rusty. A period of blasting gave the engines two weeks to attempt to repair the line, and Rheneas determinedly worked harder than ever with a hopeless Skarloey, a clever Rusty, and an initially derisive Elizabeth. The railway was restored in the allotted time, and the two tank engines were very happy at this turn of events.
In the seventh season, Rheneas saved Skarloey from his state of dangling from a broken bridge. Because Skarloey was too scared to cross the bridge again, Rheneas would collect both of their trains every morning. Eventually, this caused Rheneas to run out of water right on the bridge. Skarloey forced himself to cross the bridge to save his best friend, and Rheneas thanked him for his bravery.
Rheneas' own bravery would become important when he was tasked with making a school trip special, and his doubt in his own best made him really feel his small size. Rusty assured Rheneas that he knows the mountains better than any engine, which Rheneas did not deny, but none of the everyday locations that his driver pointed out felt exciting, important, or even special. Rusty's workmen carelessly sent Rheneas down a closed and bumpy mountain track. Rheneas was frightened at the dangerous turn the trip was taking, but his driver did not stop him racing through the mountains with all his might like a roller coaster. Though tired at the end of it, Rheneas had given the children the time of their lives and thus felt really useful instead of his size.
Rheneas has been called a "gallant old engine" before and deserves such a title. Rheneas is highly determined, brave, courageous, and long-time friend of Skarloey. He is a tough, committed worker despite his age and takes great responsibility in his work. He is keen to keep his friends smiling and, although he is a level-headed engine, he can be a bit of an adventurer too. Though he may often try to struggle on alone, Rheneas knows when it is time to call on the help of his friends. Nevertheless, Rheneas is always highly dedicated to the task at hand.
In the Railway Series Rheneas is painted in the Skarloey Railway's standard red livery with blue and yellow lining, with his name on the sides of his boiler in yellow.
In the television series, Rheneas is painted vermilion with black lining and brass fittings. He has black and brass name and number plates on the sides of his boiler and coal bunkers respectively. In early magazine illustrations, he was painted carmine. This carried over to nearly all his merchandise.
- Four Little Engines - Skarloey Remembers (does not speak)
- Gallant Old Engine - Passengers and Polish (mentioned) and Gallant Old Engine
- Mountain Engines - Mountain Engine and Bad Look-Out
- Very Old Engines - Crosspatch (does not speak), Bucking Bronco, Stick-in-the-Mud and Duck and Dukes
- Duke the Lost Engine - Granpuff (mentioned), Bulldog (does not speak) and Sleeping Beauty (cameo)
- Great Little Engines - Patience is a Virtue and Sir Handel Comes Home (cameo)
- New Little Engine - Speedkiller and I Name this Engine...
- His build year is given as 1865 in The Island of Sodor: Its People, History and Railways and 1866 in Sodor: Reading Between the Lines. This difference arises due to uncertainty about Dolgoch's build date. However, since Rheneas was stated in Very Old Engines to arrive shortly after the opening of the Skarloey Railway, and that was in 1865, making Rheneas a year older than Dolgoch.
- In New Little Engine, Rheneas is depicted as an 0-4-2.
- His 2004 Wooden Railway and take along toys had a face that resembled Sir Handel's face.
- His name is Sudric for "Divided Waterfall."
- The Reverend W. Awdry's model of Rheneas is currently on display at the Narrow Gauge Museum in Tywyn.
- Rheneas was built at Fletcher, Jennings & Co. at Whitehaven, the same place where Skarloey, Captain Baxter, Talyllyn, Dolgoch and Smudger were built.
- Ben Small and John Hasler both gave Rheneas a Welsh accent; reflecting his basis' origins.
- Rheneas was featured on the 1986 single cover along with Percy of Oh L'amour, a song by English synthpop duo Erasure.
- Nitrogen Studios went to the Talyllyn Railway and took measurements of Rheneas' basis, Dolgoch, so that his CGI model would closely resemble it. This was also done with Skarloey, Sir Handel and Peter Sam.
- Rheneas had a happy face mask for his small scale model that was never shown on screen in the television series.
- Rheneas has had many modifications throughout the television series. These include:
- Season 5:
- Silver buffers as opposed to grey ones. (large scale model only)
- Slightly bigger eyes and nose. (large scale model only)
- Season 6:
- Black buffers as opposed to silver ones.
- His whistle sound changed to Peter Sam's original one.
- His model is significantly less weathered.
- Gained slightly thicker eyebrows.
- Season 5:
- ERTL (normal and metallic; discontinued)
- Wooden Railway
- Take-Along (discontinued)
- Bandai Tecs
- Wind-up Trains (normal and metallic)