Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends Wiki

Dirty Objects

1,008pages on
this wiki
Add New Page
Talk0 Share
"Whatever is that dirty object?"
— Toby
Dirty Objects
James in a Mess

David Mitton


Britt Allcroft
David Mitton
Robert D. Cardona


Reverend W. Awdry
Britt Allcroft
David Mitton (adapted)


Ringo Starr (UK/US)
George Carlin (US)

Air date

November 12th,
1984 (UK)
April 23rd,
1989 (US)

Previous episode

Thomas in Trouble/
Thomas Breaks
the Rules

Next episode

Off the Rails/
Gordon Takes a Dip

Dirty Objects, retitled James in a Mess in American releases, is the twenty-third episode of the first season. In the US it aired on the Shining Time Station episodes "Finders Keepers" and "A Dog's Life".


Toby and Henrietta are settling into their new lives on the Island of Sodor, but both still look very old-fashioned and could use new paint. Due to their bad paintwork, the two become a subject of scorn for James who calls them "dirty objects". When Toby asks why James is red, James says that it's because he is a spendid engine who is never dirty and ready for anything. Toby then reminds James of the bootlace incident, causing James to become angry.

Later, James leaves his coaches and picks up a line of trucks for a slow goods train. James, who is already in a bad mood, is made even worse due to his hate of slow goods trains. Although the trucks start off behaving well, James is so rough with them that they vow to pay him out. As he climbs Gordon's Hill, James is supposed to stop and have his brakes pinned down. James, who had an accident with trucks before, should have remembered this, but forgets as he is too busy thinking of what he will say to Toby next time they meet. Seizing their chance, the trucks push James down the hill. Unable to stop, James zips through the station and crashes into some tar wagons.

Although James is not hurt, he is left looking very dirty from the tar. Percy and Toby come to help clean up the mess and Toby makes fun of James reminding him that, as a red engine, he's supposed to look spendid and ready for anything. Percy and Toby shunt James back to the sheds where the Fat Controller is waiting. He thanks Percy and Toby for their hard work and tells James that he needs to be cleaned.

The Fat Controller awards Toby a new coat of paint and agrees when Toby requests one for Henrietta too. Toby happily runs off to tell his coach the good news.




  • This episode is based on the story of the same name from The Railway Series book, Toby the Tram Engine.
  • When James races down the hill, the footage is sped up.
  • Stock footage from Thomas and the Breakdown Train and Troublesome Trucks is used.
  • When James is picking up trucks from one of the stations, you can see that a truck on the next line has an "MS" on it. Due to it being partially blocked off, it may say "LMS".
  • In George Carlin's narration, the line "Through the station they thundered" is missing.
  • When James collides with the tar wagons, the crashing sound is louder in Starr's narrations than in Carlin's.
  • A deleted scene shows wires inside James' cab.


  • When James arrives at Knapford, his brake coach is in the middle of his train.
  • A wire pulls James up Gordon's Hill.
  • When James races through Maron his brakevan becomes brown.
  • In the shot of the tar wagons, look back at the station; James isn't there.
  • When James crashes, the truck at the front is missing its buffers and face, a hand is seen pushing James, and blu-tak is used to hold James' crew in place. Also, in a different angle of the same shot, the coupler to attach James to his tender and black and red wires are seen.
  • At least some of James' coal should have fallen out of his tender when he crashed, but it didn't.
  • The covered object in James's first truck is replaced with coal.
  • How can the breakdown crane get in the sidings, when the points are blocked?
  • James' unhurt trucks were cleared away long before the narrator said so.
  • When James crashes in to the tar wagons he comes off the rails but when Toby comes to help clear the mess James is still on the rails.
  • When James, Percy, and Toby arrive at the yards the man next to the Fat Controller has blue-tak on his feet.
  • At the very beginning, Ringo Starr switches from present to past tense.
  • When Toby asks James why he is red, he is missing his eyebrows.
  • The narrator says that James ran into two tar wagons, but there are actually four.



Dirty Objects (RS)04:31

Dirty Objects (RS)

UK Narration

James In A Mess (GC)04:31

James In A Mess (GC)

US Narration

Ad blocker interference detected!

Wikia is a free-to-use site that makes money from advertising. We have a modified experience for viewers using ad blockers

Wikia is not accessible if you’ve made further modifications. Remove the custom ad blocker rule(s) and the page will load as expected.