In the middle of the deserts of the Southwestern United States, a jalopy grinds to a halt. The driver, Oliver Hardy, and his passenger, Stanlay Laurel, discover that they are out of fuel. Having no more on hand, they decide to push the car to the nearest filling station. Stan finds a mule and enlists its help in pushing the car.
The first station they find is deserted, so they decide to flag down passing motorists. Every attempt fails, even when Ollie faints in the middle of the road. Finally, a station wagon stops.
Inside is Chester Wright, a likeable conman. He persuades Stan and Ollie that he has pills that can transform water into gasoline. He manages to convince the boys of this and refills their car with real gas. When he notices that Stan and Ollie are a two man jazz band, he has a great idea.
Stan, Ollie, and Chester stop at a fair in the town of Midvale. Stan and Ollie play a whole orchestra-worth of instrumetns themselves and attract much attention. While the music is playing, Chester finds a young girl and decides to dance. She keeps dropping her purse, so he places it in his pocket for safe keeping.
When the song is done, Stan and Ollie pedal the gas pills, which they believe are legit. When a man places one in his car, it explodes. The angry crowd demands to have their money returned. Chester pretends to be a detective and "arrests" Stan and Ollie. They quickly pack up and leave.
Unbeknownst to them, inside their trailer is Susan Cowan, the woman whose purse Chester had put in his pocket during the dance. When they are far away from Midvale, Chester realizes his mistake and stops the car. She climsbs out of the trailer and confronts him. As Chester is returning her purse, he finds a photograph of her mother, finalizing a real estate deal with financiers Malcolm Bennett and Henry Corcoran. Chester recognizes them as crooks and figures that Susan's mother has been cheated out of the ten thousand dollars that she invested.
Chester drives Susan back to town, to the office of lawyer Samuel Cass, where the money is being held. Cass searches his safe only to find torn strips of newspaper instead of the money. He realizes that the gangsters switched the envelope of paper for the one of money.
Chester persuades her that he can catch the men himself, but she insists on travelling with him to New Orleans, where Chester thinks the crooks have gone for the horse races.
Checking into the hotel where Corcoran is staying, Ollie pretends to be the wealthy Col. Watterson Bixby of Leaping Frog, Texas, with Stan as his valet, Potts, and Chester as his secretary. Seeing a chance to rob "the colonel," Corcoran sends his girl friend Dorcas to his room to romance him. She mistakes Stan for the colonel and takes him into her room. Stan soon becomes drunk on brandy, and hides under the sofa after hearing a knock on the door.
Ollie has come to introduce himself, and Dorcas wastes no time in getting him into the room. Ollie and Dorcas talk of love over their cocktails while Stan hides under the chaise and hiccups.
The outraged Corcoran enters and threatens to sue Ollie for estrangement of his wife's affections, but Ollie and Chester pretends to be a sheriff and deputy. Ollie claims to have an arrest warrant for Corcoran and tells the crook to return his five-thousand dollar share of the money he stole from in exchange for letting him go. Corcoran draws a gun on Ollie and Chester, but the drunken Stan sneks up behind him and captures him. He agrees to Ollie's offer.
Chester then sends Susan to the riverboat casino and nightclub run by Bennett to audition as a singer. Bennett is impressed by Susan's singing talents and explains that he could build a whole show around her if only he could find an investor. Tony Queen, a notorious gangster, is unwilling to give any money, and Susan won't be able to work on the ship unless an investor is immediatly found.
In order to provide such an investor, Chester convinces Stan to disguise himself as Susan's wealthy aunt Emily, who is just looking for a show business venture to sink her money into. Bennett falls for the plot, and persuades Tony to also enter in on the deal.
Stan and Ollie decide to take all of the money the crooks put in the show in the same way the gangsters swindled Susan's mother. They steal the envelope containing the gang's money and leave them with one full of shredded newspaper. They give the real money to Chester who informs them that he will meet them at a train station later.
The criminals quickly discover the ploy and capture Stan, Ollie, and Susan. They take them back to the riverboat, where Susan's act will go on as planned. Stan (still dressed as Aunt Emily), and Ollie are taken to the boiler room. Ollie is made to shovel coal into the boiler, while a thug guards them both. Ollie tries to knock him out with a weight tethered to a coal dump door, but this fails.
Ollie still has one of Chester's pills, and drops it by mistake. Thinking it will cure his indigestion, the guard swallows it. His stomach instantly expands and he floats up the ceiling. Stan and Ollie make a quick escape.
The two see Queen making advances at Susan and place one of the pills in his martini. He drinks it and suffers the same fate. They rescue Susan and race away.
The gangsters are hot on their trail and chase the duo onto the dancefloor. Stan and Ollie pretend to be jitterbugging and knock them out with body slams.
Meanwhile, the thug in the boiler room crashes to the floor, accidentally starting the paddlewheel of the boat. The boat breaks away from the pier and speeds wildly downriver.
Chester and the police manage to board the boat and bring it to a halt. Chester tells Susan that he wired her mother the money and they embrace. The gangsters have recovered and chase Stan and Ollie. The duo leap off the boat and into the river to escape them.