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“It doesn't matter what colour paint you have, James. It's what you do to be Really Useful that matters.”

An Engine of Many Colours, retitled An Engine of Many Colors in American releases, is the ninth episode of the twenty-second series.


After the incident in which James crashes into Tidmouth Sheds, James is sent to the Sodor Steamworks for repairs and a repaint. James is worried that the Fat Controller will paint him blue as he threatened to do that a long time ago after hearing from Kevin that there is no red paint but plenty of blue paint available.

James falls asleep and dreams of arriving at Knapford Station. Thomas and Emily tell him he has been repainted blue, much to James' horror. The stationmaster arrives on the platform and tells James that Gordon has come down with boilerache and James will have to take the Express. James protests, but Thomas tells him colour does not matter as long as you do a useful job. A little girl arrives with her father and mistakes James for Edward, displeasing James.

Once James is rolling with the Express, he finds it easy and picks up too much speed. Despite Spencer's warning about showing off and crashing again, James continues at high speed and heads straight for the Vicarstown Bridge before waking up with a start. James, relieved, realises that it was all just a dream and drifts off to sleep again, but not before hearing Henry's whistle and seeing him out the window pulling the Flying Kipper. This time, he arrives at the shunting yard, meeting up with Percy and Stanley, who are both surprised to see James in a green livery. James is distraught, but Stanley tells him that the Fat Controller needs him to take the heavy goods train since Henry is delayed.

James realises that his green livery makes him strong and the goods train light. He rushes past Rosie on Gordon's Hill, who crossly suggests he stop showing off. On his way down the hill, he nearly collides with Edward's train, but wakes up before disaster strikes. James is displeased with another bad dream, but looks up at the silvery moon, yawns and goes back to sleep.

In this dream, James arrives at the Duke and Duchess' summer house to collect them while Spencer is on loan. The Duchess points out that James' silver livery has been polished. James is delighted with his silver paint, as this makes him look very splendid. James rockets about, showing off once again, angering Gordon and going so far as flying off the track atop Gordon's Hill, to which the Duke says it was getting jumpy in the coaches. Hearing the warnings from the Duchess, Rosie and Thomas, James slows down, but meets Diesel, who tells James to crash and chuckles.

As he is nearing Knapford Station, James nearly misses a collision with Philip, but finds himself on a colourful turntable, spinning around changing colours, from brown to purple to yellow to green and again to orange. Spinning faster, James screams before he wakes up in the morning to see that the Fat Controller has come to see him.

James apologises for showing off and does not care about what colour he is, as he only wants to be Really Useful. The Fat Controller mentions the time long ago when he warned James to behave or he would have him painted blue. However, he sees that James is sorry and thinks it only right to have him painted in a colour that suits him best.

Later, when James pulls into Knapford Station, he meets Thomas, who is glad to see him back at work and is surprised that James will not say a word about his paint because he had learned that colour does not matter and what was important is being Really Useful. Thomas asks him who told him that, to which James replies to Thomas that he did in a dream and he begins to puff away, but not without mentioning that his red paint looks splendid again.



Voice Cast



  • Joseph May as Thomas
  • William Hope as Edward and the Duke of Boxford
  • Kerry Shale as Gordon, Diesel and Kevin
  • Rob Rackstraw as James and Stanley
  • Christopher Ragland as Percy
  • Jules de Jongh as Emily and the Duchess of Boxford
  • Glenn Wrage as Spencer
  • Nicola Stapleton as Rosie
  • Rasmus Hardiker as Philip
  • David Bedella as Victor
  • Keith Wickham as Sir Topham Hatt
  • Matt Wilkinson as the Knapford Stationmaster


  • The title is a play on the song "A Coat of Many Colors" from Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
  • This episode is set after the twenty-first series episodes, The Fastest Red Engine on Sodor and during A Shed for Edward. Stock footage from the former is used.
  • This is the first episode to use more than one fantasy sequence, with a total of three. Additionally, the way James spins faster around like a top in the colourful turntable is very similar to what he did in the first series episode, Tenders and Turntables.
  • A reference to the first series episode, James and the Coaches is made in this episode.
  • James' alternate liveries have lining on the back of his tender, which is also present on his black livery. However, some of the alternate liveries did not have the back lining, he would later have lining on his tender in the twenty-third series.
  • A short rearrangement of the ninth series song Pride is heard at the end of the episode when James was repaired.
  • The audio for Victor's line in the episode is reused from King of the Railway.
  • A German TV Guide claims this episode's English title as James' Multi-Coloured Dream Coat, which might have been the working title.
  • This episode marks Stanley's only speaking role in the twenty-second series, though only in a fantasy sequence.
  • This episode marks Spencer's only appearance in the twenty-second series and his last to date, though only in a fantasy sequence.


  • Christopher Ragland is credited in the UK end credits despite none of his UK characters speaking.

In Other Languages

Language Title
Brazilian Portuguese Uma Locomotiva de Muitas Cores
Czech Lokomotiva mnoha barev
Dutch Een Locomotief van Vele Kleuren
Finnish Värikäs veturi
German Die Lok mit den vielen Farben
Hebrew קטר רב גוני
Hungarian A sokszínű mozdony
Japanese カラフルなきかんしゃたち
Norwegian Et lokomotiv i mange farger
Polish Lokomotywa z Wieloma Kolorami
Russian Разноцветный паровозик
Spanish El Abrigo de Colores Soñado de James (LA)
Una Locomotora Multicolor (SPN)
Swedish Ett lok med många färger

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