Trashed For Gas: Armageddon 2012
Above is the photograph my neighbor kindly took of my Lambretta and emailed me twenty-four hours after Hurricane Sandy hit New York City. The bike was locked to the iron fence of the tree pit which at least meant that the bike hadn’t traveled too far from home, but it was strewn all over the sidewalk and twisted around the lock and chain. But here’s the thing. The damage wasn’t caused by the storm.
Not even a full day after Hurricane Sandy, the gas scavengers were out. The neighborhood was in total darkness due to the power black-out, and I was out of town for a couple of days making my bike an easy target. But apparently not so easy.
From what I can surmise having since had a chance to inspect the bike is that the vandal started by ripping the (less than three month old) leather seat off the seat frame as they desperately tried to figure out how to lift the seat on a Lambretta damaging the seat in the process. They also at some point appear to have run a screwdriver under the seat in an attempt to lever the seat off. The first of the scratched bodywork.
They then pulled the side panels off and threw them on the ground bending the panel retaining springs in the process and adding more bodywork damage in the form of dents and scratches.
They had now exposed the fuel line to the carburetor. Bravo. At this point we’re talking needing a new seat leather and accepting the new scratches and dents as “patina.” Could have been worse.
It got worse. They then pulled the fuel line, but didn’t seem to understand that you also need to turn the fuel stop/reserve lever to get the gas to flow down from the tank. Imagine their frustration. They can see there is gas in the tank but it’s not dripping out below. What would be a good next step? I know, let’s try and pull the gas tank out of the frame using our trusty screwdriver, denting and piercing the tank rendering it useless in the process and twisting the tank retaining straps all to hell. My repair bill now just jumped with the addition of a new tank and tank hardware. Ugh.
But man, those folks at Innocenti and Serveta never designed that tank to come loose through leverage so the vandal needed another course of action. I know! Throw the bike on the ground and physically tip it over to get the gas to pour out. At this point I have to just assume that their frustration and/or desperation was turning them into a blind range.
And herein lies the stinger. More damaged body work, a dented fender, a smashed wing mirror and broken mirror bracket I can live with (oh, add those to the bill by the way) but in throwing the bike over they proceeded to shear the gear shift handlebar off the bike cracking the aluminum headset bottom that any Lammy owner will tell you is a) a pain in the ass to get at because it involves a complete headset dis-assembly and b) tough to find a matching replacement.
So there you go. I spent this past weekend pulling the old tank and removing the headset, and the parts ordering has commenced. Before priming and painting a replacement headset bottom it looks like I’m looking at about $500 in parts to get her back on the road. All for about two bucks worth of gas that came nicely pre-mixed with 2% oil. I hope that oil does to their fuel injection what they did to my bike.
Ah well, life in New York City. Onwards and upwards! I’ll be holding workshops in the near future to show my neighborhood how to steal my gas without damage or frustration in thirty seconds if they actually know what they’re doing. Stay tuned.