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One windy day, Percy and Thomas leave the washdown and head to Brendam Docks to help Salty shift freight. The steam engines' smoke swirled around, making Cranky grumpy. As Cranky turns to pick up some freight, he moves too fast and his hook hits into his tower, chipping his paintwork. Cranky blames the steam engines' smoke for his accident which makes Percy upset. Thomas tells Percy that Cranky is just in a bad mood.
The next morning, the engines head to the washdown as the wind blows again. Afterwards, they go to the docks. When they arrive, Cranky ignores Thomas and Percy. Cranky starts to lift a load, but it blows about and bumps him badly. Cranky starts to look more and more scruffy. Cranky blames the steam engines again, but this time, Percy protests their innocence. Salty thinks Cranky is being particularly bad-tempered because he is jealous of the engines' sparkling clean paintwork. This gives Thomas a good idea which he shares with the Fat Controller who agrees to help.
Later, Thomas returns to the docks with a van full of men, paintpots and brushes. He has also brought Rocky and a painter's cradle on a flatbed. Cranky is curious. Rocky starts to the lift the cradle with two men harnessed in it. They then proceed to paint Cranky's tower where it had been chipped and scratched. Teams of workmen take it in turns to paint Cranky until the crane is bright and shiny. Cranky is happy to be as bright as the steam engines. Percy thinks Cranky is now very swanky.