Stacy is up on a ladder trying to fix the ticket counter’s clock, while Schemer is dusting off The Jukebox with his tie. When she asks for his help, he claims he’s too busy. Matt and Tanya arrive from the platform. Tanya asks Stacy if she can climb up to help, but Stacy does not let her and wants her to keep an eye on the ladder. Matt is asked to grab a screwdriver. Matt asks Stacy if he can keep a ball of red string he found with the screwdriver. Tanya wonders what you can do with just string, prompting Stacy to recall something her grandmother once said, “Let my life be like a piece of string: long, strong and soft at the end.”
Mr. Conductor appears protesting that Stacy’s grandmother never said such a thing. Stacy admits that she made up the saying herself. Stacy leaves to find some oil.
Matt asks Mr. Conductor if he actually knew Stacy’s grandmother. He reveals that she ran Shining Time Station years ago, which is when he first met her. Tanya protests that everyone knows how to have fun. Mr. Conductor explains that everybody likes to have fun, but not everyone knows how to go about it. Tanya tries demonstrating Cat's cradle with the string, but only gets her fingers tangled up. Matt quickly helps her out. Mr. Conductor congratulates him, saying that it always feels good to help someone out. He tells them the story of how Thomas felt really useful when he helped use a breakdown train to rescue James the Red Engine.
Matt wishes that someone could help them figure out what to do with the string. Mr. Conductor replies that they’ll have to help each other out with that one. Matt remembers that Stacy taught him how to make flowers out of string. Mr. Conductor appears by his front door to compliment them on their progress. He claims that string can do a lot with itself. When Tanya complains that that doesn’t make sense, he proceeds to show them a magic bubble about shapes made out of string. This gives the kids some new ideas, and they run off to gather some supplies.
Harry comes out of his workshop and plays a song from the jukebox. The band play the song “Railroad Corral.” Matt and Tanya come into the workshop, where Harry is fixing a sign with a broken chain. The sign used to hang on the ticket booth long ago. Harry is using a soldering iron to fix the chain. Harry tests the chain by hanging the sign on a hook, but the chain breaks. Matt offers him some string instead, which proves to be just the ticket.
Mr. Conductor appears complimenting them on how busy they were. Matt only has a little bit of string left, and Tanya wants to do something really special with it. Mr. Conductor says that string can be a great problem solver as well, which reminds him of James. He tells them the story of how a shoelace and a newspaper once helped James pull his train.
Stacy is searching by the lost and found. She suddenly remembers where she left the oil. She asks Mr. Conductor to tell her where the oil is. He replies she had left it in the ticket booth yesterday. Stacy thanks Mr. Conductor, who disappears just as Schemer walks in.
Stacy’s goodbye makes Schemer think she’s talking to furniture. When he tries to tie his shoelaces after tripping over, he accidentally pulls the laces out of his shoe completely. He angrily pulls out the laces from his other shoe too, claiming he doesn’t need them. When he tries walking, the shoes fall off his feet altogether. Stacy tells Matt and Tanya that they should give the last of their string to Schemer, to which they agree.
A woman wearing a wetsuit, scuba gear and flippers flops into the station carrying a bowl of goldfish, asking when the next train to Lucky Lake is leaving. Stacy replies that it’s twenty minutes, and the woman leaves for the platform.
Tanya hands the string over to an excited Schemer. He gives a teapot to the kids as a present. Matt wonders what they can do with it. Stacy puts the string flowers the kids made inside the old pot, making it into a decorative flower pot for the Information Desk. Harry comes in with his repaired sign for the kids to hang up, and then proceeds to help Stacy fix the clock.
Cast and Characters
- Ringo Starr as Mr. Conductor
- Didi Conn as Stacy Jones
- Leonard Jackson as Harry Cupper
- Nicole Leach as Tanya Cupper
- Brian O'Connor as Schemer
- Jason Woliner as Matthew Jones
- Peter Baird as Grace Bass
- Jonathan Freeman as Tito Swing
- Craig Marin as Rex
- Olga Marin as DiDi
- Alan Semok as Grace Bass
- Vaneese Thomas as Grace Bass
- Wayne White as Tex
Thomas has to take the breakdown train and help James when the silly freight cars push him off the line. He earns a branch line and two coaches named Annie and Clarabel for his heroics.
James and Edward pull a passenger train together. James is excited about how splendid he must look. He wheeshes steam and gets water on Sir Topham Hat’s new hat which gets him into trouble. Next day James is cross and behaves roughly with his coaches. He tears a hole in his coach’s breakpipe by going to fast and they have to borrow boot laces from a man to mend the hole.
Jukebox Band Segment Song
- Railroad Coral
- Mr. Conductor has lived at Shining Time Station since Stacy’s grandmother ran it.
- Mr. Conductor keeps a parrot in his house on the mural.
- This is the first mention of Stacy’s grandmother. She will not appear in person until Season 3.
- This is the first time a Thomas story isn’t started by Mr. Conductor blowing his whistle. Instead, he clicks two wooden spoons together.
- Mr. Conductor demonstrates that he can drum using two wooden spoons. This is a nod to Ringo Starr’s career as a drummer for The Beatles.
- Annette Holloway, who played the "Scuba Woman", also served as the show's assistant stage manager.
- At one point, Mr. Conductor dubs Tanya, “Tanya Lasagna”. This nickname is referred to again in Season 2 by Mr. Conductor’s cousin (George Carlin).
- Mr. Conductor tells both stories to Matt and Tanya.