A The Trou­bles – cus­tom scooter

Some scoot­ers cre­ate dis­cus­sion be­cause of their stun­ning art­work, oth­ers be­cause of their con­tro­ver­sial sub­ject mat­ter. The Trou­bles is set to be talked about for both rea­sons.

Scootering - - Contents -

Con­tro­ver­sial cus­tom Lam­bretta.

Ir­ish pol­i­tics are among the most com­pli­cated and in­tractable in the world, so why would any­one even at­tempt to por­tray them on a cus­tom scooter? Like most sol­diers of his gen­er­a­tion The Trou­bles’ owner, Aaron Mitchell (‘Mitch’), is a vet­eran of Op­er­a­tion Ban­ner, the Bri­tish mil­i­tary de­ploy­ment to North­ern Ire­land. Hav­ing joined up as a boy sol­dier Mitch found him­self in Belfast at the ten­der age of 17 and the Army’s 18th birth­day present to him was his first oper­a­tional pa­trol.

Un­sur­pris­ingly this, and sub­se­quent tours, made a last­ing im­pres­sion on him. Al­though he’s a se­rial builder of cus­tom scoot­ers it’s taken a while for him to find the fo­cus he needed to bring this idea to light. “I wanted to re­flect my own ex­pe­ri­ences in North­ern Ire­land but in a non-judg­men­tal way. Each side of the trou­bles gets equal cov­er­age with the Bri­tish Army run­ning as a thread be­tween the two.”

That, ba­si­cally, was the in­tent of Op­er­a­tion Ban­ner but of course in­tent rarely re­flects re­al­ity and

Scooter­ing has no in­ten­tion of get­ting drawn into a de­bate that’s con­founded some of the world’s great­est diplo­mats. For Mitch, us­ing his per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ences to try and present a neu­tral por­trayal is com­mend­able and iron­i­cally, given the strength of feel­ing on all sides, prob­a­bly con­tro­ver­sial in it­self.

The base ma­chine was a rather ne­glected Se­ries 2 and its panel work be­yond sal­va­tion, which Mitch re­placed with a full fi­bre­glass set from Le­ices­ter­based GRP Scooter Parts. GRP has fea­tured in a re­cent edition of Scooter­ing and Mitch is a big fan of their prod­ucts: “Fi­bre­glass has come a long way from the ropey copies of years ago. I’ve used it a lot on pre­vi­ous builds and it’s proven very prac­ti­cal.

I’ve had a cou­ple of ‘offs’ with no dam­age at all, it seems to ab­sorb the im­pact and bounce back.”

The frame re­quired some lov­ing care and this, to­gether with the pan­els was dis­patched to Frazer at Envy Cus­tom Paint, who is also based lo­cally in Le­ices­ter, to work his magic. Mitch has used Frazer for pre­vi­ous cus­toms and is a big fan of his work. “Frazer is not only a great artist he’s also re­li­able and sticks to time con­straints. Un­like other cus­tom painters he’s also happy to take a rough frame and get that right be­fore start­ing. Much eas­ier than mess­ing around with var­i­ous bodyshops. Be­fore an air­brush went any­where near the scooter he’d al­ready worked mir­a­cles with the frame.”

The art­work on The Trou­bles is noth­ing less than stun­ning and ex­tremely well thought out. Run­ning along the scooter’s cen­tre line, front to rear are tributes to the 31 Field Bat­tery, Royal Ar­tillery, Mitch’s for­mer unit. The front mud­guard is painted to rep­re­sent a com­bat jacket with the zip form­ing the cen­tre line. The horn­cast’s colours are those of the Cam­paign Ser­vice Medal awarded for ser­vice in North­ern Ire­land, with the medal clasp above the horn grille. Here lies a stroke of ge­nius, im­per­cep­ti­ble un­til pointed out but ob­vi­ous once you’re told it’s there. The horn grille is painted to rep­re­sent the medal and al­though the slots aren’t really wide enough to show it clearly, the Queen’s ef­figy is def­i­nitely there. That’s proof of the painstak­ing at­ten­tion to de­tail in this build. The coloured stripes rep­re­sent Mitch’s uni­form sta­ble belt, the buck­les of which are so con­vinc­ing that it’s hard to ac­cept that they aren’t se­cur­ing the tool­box lid in place. A scream­ing rat in army camo bran­dish­ing a ri­fle bursts through a Union flag on the leg shield tool­box. This is Mitch’s own unit de­ploy­ment badge and is taken from a tat­too on his arm. Fi­nally a beau­ti­ful de­pic­tion of the Royal Ar­tillery crest has been tooled into the be­spoke seat cov­er­ing.

Each side of the scooter de­picts iconic fig­ures from both Union­ist and Na­tion­al­ist pol­i­tics to­gether with their sym­bol­ism. The legshields are par­tic­u­larly hard-hit­ting, show­ing that Mitch wasn’t afraid to tackle the more un­set­tling as­pects of this pe­riod. Any­one who’s vis­ited Belfast will recog­nise

this style as, in­ten­tion­ally or not, they are very rem­i­nis­cent of the huge mu­rals to be found adorn­ing walls in both com­mu­ni­ties.

If the mu­rals weren’t enough, plat­ing by Qual­ity Chrome sets off en­grav­ing by Adi Clarke and the whole en­sem­ble is pro­pelled by a RT230 unit from Mark Broad­hurst.

De­but­ing at this year’s Bridling­ton show, The Trou­bles may pro­voke strong feel­ings but it de­serves to be recog­nised first and fore­most for what it is – a truly re­mark­able cus­tom Lam­bretta. Words: Stan

Phot­graphs: Gary Chap­man

Se­ries 2 curves pro­vide the per­fect can­vas.

1-4 : Not afraid to tackle com­plex is­sues.

Not the ob­vi­ous choice for a cus­tom scheme.

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