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Walt and Phyllis Wallet of Gasoline Alley welcome home their eldest son Skeezix, his wife Nina and their children, Chipper and Clovia, from a long vacation. Skeezix is unhappy to learn from his brother Corky that his business partner, Wilmer, has been activated into National Guard duty, leaving him to run their business, The Fix-it Shop, with only assistant Rocky to help. As Skeezix's younger sister Judy sets off for school one morning, she runs into Elwood Martin, cousin of Corky's wife Hope. After Walt invites Elwood to stay with the Wallets, Hope secretly reveals that Elwood is the family black sheep and a trouble-making "mooch." Elwood reveals to a dubious Phyllis that he is a chemical engineer, working on a secret formula for the government. Meanwhile, at the diner Corky owns with Hope, Corky learns that he may at last be able to afford the small house of his and Hope's dreams. At The Fix-it Shop, however, Skeezix discovers that Wilmer ordered a large number of new TV sets, while guaranteeing repairs on any old TV set. Skeezix phones Corky to ask for two thousand dollars to pay for the new sets, which Corky immediately agrees to lend, despite knowing it will delay his plans for buying the house. That afternoon, Elwood forces his way into a game of football with Judy and her friends and, declaring he once played professionally, promptly breaks one of the Wallet's windows. Later, Walt brings home a business guest, Mr. Ellis, whom Elwood harangues through dinner. The following morning Hope pleads with Walt to send Elwood packing, but not wanting to be rude, Walt refuses. Believing they can use Elwood's dislike of work to get rid of him, Corky and Hope pretend to need help with the diner and, claiming he once managed a restaurant, Elwood agrees to assist them. At the diner, however, Elwood quickly grows bored assisting Pudge McKay, the chef, and sets off a huge explosion while attempting to light the oven. When Skeezix, harassed by angry customers demanding their TV sets be repaired, telephones Corky for help, Corky brings Elwood to The Fix-it Shop. To the Wallets' surprise, Elwood fixes several sets immediately and, needing to install several TV antennas in town, Skeezix leaves him under Rocky's supervision at the shop. Under Elwood's questioning, Rocky reveals the shop has a contract with a chemical company, and Elwood delightedly orders several ingredients for his long-cherished secret project, which he explains to Rocky will improve gasoline efficiency in cars. After Elwood creates his fuel "power pills," he offers to try one on Rocky's car just as Nina and Chipper stop by. Skeezix and Corky return as Rocky's car explodes, spraying the entire garage with the remains of the power pill. Elwood slips out of the back door, while Chipper pockets one of the power pills and Skeezix discovers that the explosion's spray has instantly removed the paint on several cars. Nina and Chipper return home, where Chipper offers the power pill to neighbor Uncle Avery, who is constantly working on his aging car. Uncle Avery's car sputters and abruptly races off through the neighborhood with a delighted Chipper behind the wheel. When the car races by Gasoline Alley, Elwood manages to grab Chipper through the window and save him before the car crashes into a front porch. Hoping to distract attention from all the damage he has caused, Elwood feigns a serious back injury. Later, Judy tries to catch Elwood faking, but cannot provoke him into a mistake. Corky then recommends hiring Dr. Hammerschlag, who specializes in exposing fake injuries for insurance companies. The doctor and Wallets are unaware that Elwood has wired the house so he can overhear all conversations and listens in as Hammerschlag explains his methods. Elwood then successfully passes Hammerschlag's tests, to the family's dismay. Judy later realizes that Elwood knew Hammerschlag's name without ever being told and surmises that he has somehow overheard everything. She and Corky return to the house and find Elwood's hidden microphone. That evening, as part of a ruse planned by Corky, a Mr. Jay comes to the house inquiring about the experiment conducted at The Fix-it Shop and offers Skeezix five thousand dollars for the power pill's formula. As intended, Elwood overhears the offer and rushes downstairs to claim his involvement, proving he has been shamming. Mr. Jay then reveals he is a con-man friend of Pudge's and departs, as Elwood bitterly complains. When wealthy Mr. Hull, who parks at The Fix-it Shop, arrives to inquire about the power pills, Elwood believes it is yet another scam and furiously departs the Wallets' home. Hull insists he is serious, as the power pill has proven itself a strong paint remover. When he offers to purchase the formula, Walt is unsure of their rights, but Corky suggests they use Hull's enormous financial offer to repair the house, the diner, the shop and the neighborhood for Elwood, then give him whatever might remain. Delighted to have rid themselves of Elwood and his mischief-making, the Wallets agree and Corky and Hope resume planning their new home.