The 'Casa Adventure' - Is it all that?
As soon as the Casa SS225 Lydden Hill replica Kit was hinted at from Casa Lambretta I was there in the queue with my open wallet. My objective to attempt to build the perfect touring / Laning engine was suddenly a real possibility. Here was a new Kit that wasn't just a bolt on but instead a integral part of an overall engine package of casings, drive and clutch systems that would be attempting to improve pretty much everything about the standard Lambretta engine design. This was it and the chance for me to really build a unit that could deliver extreme performance (for when its needed) with good tractable power delivery that would be flexible to ride. Reliability would hopefully be there by design. The golden three really.
Don't get me wrong, standard casings are still a fantastic design and perfection in many ways but they also deliver up plenty of failings at the same time and the Casa adventure was going to provide me a real alternative solution to the tried and tested patch and weld approach to tuning engine units that we all know and love.
One of the benefits of riding with L.O.S.T is that we tend to major in lots and lots of long sinuous B road and non-classified Lane riding. This in itself offers up a severe and sustained workout in the round for any engine and in-turn provides an opportunity to test new products and so the Casa SS225 kit was definitely going to get a work out.
I need to qualify first that my touring scoot is geared for hill climbing (steep ones) and not designed for top speed. I have ran a fair few gearing configurations and toured a 17/46 on a TS1 with a LI150 box for many years and it was really great but the engine always needed to be in peak condition to be able maintain its power for long periods when really worked in the hills. Secondly, the bike itself is basically a mobile Junket and weighs probably about 'half a ton' with all the accessories and shit bolted/lassoed to it, so again low gearing lends itself to 'gettin' momentum quickly. Any new engine would retain this gearing arrangement.
I began with running the Casa SS barrel on a set of standard Jet 200 casings and
as a 230cc (60mm crank) it was ok. Probably mid to high 20's on BHP without any real build effort needed. I ran this configuration for approximately 3500 miles without so much as a glitch from it. It was exceptionally fuel efficient, smooth and torquey beyond belief but your crank does need to be in tip top condition to effectively deal with its silent assassin ways when confronted with a 1 in 3 uphill hairpin whilst fully loaded. My prized Tino Saatchi race crank really felt the pain and was duly abused and discarded without mercy.
that said, If anyone is in the market for a replacement top end and are looking for a really reliable monster with plenty of 'out of the box' kick then the Casa 225 SS needs to be already in your shopping cart.
In short, nothing currently compares to it IMHO.
The wait for the launch of the Casa Casing was lengthy but was definitely worth it in the end. They are a thing of beauty and the building up of a brand new engine casing, even in clean newly machined original casings is great but this is on another level. It has been a real pleasure to work with parts that are sorted. They work from the off and are no longer annoying in operation. However, not everything is plain sailing though and here are number of early observations to consider if you are thinking of venturing down the Casacase route.
The casings themselves have been clearly designed around the use of Casa specific accessories and transplanting parts from standard casings is not without its problems. The Casa cooler version that is designed to fit the CasaCase (not the standard casing variant) will not fit flywheels other than the Casatronic/Varitronic variety. The Flywheel needs to be machined at the back to stop fouling as the cowling flange is very shallow. Its not a lot of machining but a pain all the same if you looking to utlise that dependable ignition solution that has served you so well to date.
A Jockey Boxenstop rear brake unit is not usable but that said the improved accuracy of the rear brake mechanism does not actually require any after-market improvement. Standard LI components will suffice with good quality shoes.
The rear brake cable top hat hole does not fit standard top hats and will need working to fit an off-the-shelf item. A silly but annoying to find out at a late build / fitting stage. I round filed mine to fit.
Removal of the main bearings will need the specialised tools as produced by Casa. The bearings are different than standard and standard tools just don't fit with the casting configuration and dimensions etc. The specialised Casa tools are nice though if thats your bag and of course do the job perfectly?
I would recommend cleaning and greasing all tapped threads prior to fitting new bolts / studs etc. Many of the new threads were tight and locked bolts quickly.
In general, the casings are an absolute joy to work with but the new CasaCover is on another level in terms of quality ,fit and readiness for use. This thing has had some serious thought applied to its design and build. The cover will fit all existing standard casings and beefs up the construction of the casing in some serious ways. The casing comes with everything you need to build and fit it ready for use except a cover gasket. It uses a SX/LI kickstart ramp (preferable in my mind) but has a changeable push mechanism that can operate clutches that have either an SX/LI or GP plunger. The clutch arm shaft runs on needle bearings top and bottom and the plunger is geared therefore making the operation of the lever featherlite. I can compress my AF 6 plate road/race clutch by just using the clutch arm itself and this has never been doable on a standard cover clutch mechanism. In addition, the clutch arm itself is shorter meaning the clutch cable now runs from the adjuster block across the top / front of the casing and therefore pulling the cable away from the gear change tie rod- Genius!
The Cover is deeper though all round and if you are using a Franspeed exhaust three-point rear support frame then be warned - it does not fit over the back of the casing. It will need longer bolts and some form of packer to pull the frame away far enough to be able to get the bobbin bolt through. It wants a Protti pipe really -honest!
Access is available via two new inspection holes in the front of the casing and handy I suppose if you need to adjust the chain at some point. My engines never stay together long enough to warrant its use but maybe things are about change in that department. The front inspection hole exposes the front drive sprocket that will allow you to drop the crank from the vertically split casing without having to remove the casing. Another great feature that I am sure to try at some point. my only worry is these holes can attract unwanted items if not covered during builds and then the cover has to be removed anyway...
So, there you have it. A complete CasaCase bottom end built and ready to receive my newly re-lined SS barrel. I may have forgot to mention that I have worn the darn thing out after some 5000 miles or so. My new piston was slapping about like a good un in the bore so LangCourts have it now and they will hopefully bring it back up to spec. In future I will try to operate with a Carb filter as many of the roads we traverse are very dusty (especially in Summer) and the open carb arrangement is just too much for it to deal with. I have changed three set of rings over that distance and all have had 3-4mm ring gaps at the point of change so its had a hard life....
So 'is it all that?' - Absolutely Yes. I have yet to try the CasaCover in anger but I am fully expecting the new build to produce early to mid 30's BHP with its 240cc (62mm crank) and its relined barrel matched to the casings. It should also produce plenty of torque to boot for those hills, mountains and lanes.
I would like to finally thank John and Mike at JB Tuning Ltd for their unwavering and absolutely magnificent support throughout this process. There has been many times when the lack of online knowledge for these engines has meant having to ask them a quick question or seek their advice on tune etc and evry time they have delivered. Thank you guys.
So, if you see a scruffy Junket scoot out there on the road- catch me and say hello.