View Full Version : For stationary engine fans

10-19-2009, 07:43 AM
I was just looking for some bike pictures on my webspace and found a folder of engine pictures.

It's a 1950's Lister CS Start-O-Matic. The lister Cold Start diesel was developed in the 30's and these later generator plants were part of the Farm modernisation program post war.


The generator unit is a combines a series wound starter, DC dynamo to recharge the starter batteries and a 2.5Kw 240vac 50Hz AC alternator.



The black handwheel on the head is the compression change over valve.

The control gear is all electromechanical and ran 24V dc through the house wiring as a 'load detect'. If you turned on a 40Watt light bulb the generator would self start and then (in theory) shut down when the last load was turned off.

The engine is rated 6bhp @ 650 rpm. If you fiddle with the govenor you can get them to idle at 50rpm. With the heavy generator flywheels, the engine weighs about 450Kg (990lb) and the whole setup is about 700Kg (1540lb).

Parts are still available from India where direct copies and derivatives are still made. The engine in the picture is wearing a hard chrome bore Indian made cylinder and piston and and has Indian valves and guides. Except for the guides which I had to do some work on, the quality was pretty good.

10-19-2009, 08:35 AM
I was fishing at a remote location in Caithness a while ago, the place had that
Lister generator set up.
It was odd at first, flick a light switch and in the distance chug chug chug...

i wouldnt mind a similar set up for emergency use , should imagine 50 gallons of diesil would last forever.

J Tiers
10-19-2009, 08:48 AM
The Indian versions are popular here, for folks who consider that it will make them "independent" of power.

In the time of rural electrification over here, if you had one like that you probably would have had to smash it..... The power company would not hook up power if there was any local power, like a windmill and batteries, which had been quite popular. They had to be destroyed. I assume the same would have been true of generators.

10-19-2009, 08:58 AM
one of these days i'm going to buy a Lister like that. sometimes a few are on display at local antique engine shows and i always like listening to them run.

andy b.

10-19-2009, 09:21 AM
I did in fact have two!



This one came very cheap, but the starter/alternator was in poor condition.

I did some work for an importer of Indian engines and spares doing glow-plug conversions (to make the engines easier to start on unprocessed vegetable oil). Payment was that Chinese 5Kw alternator.

The plan was a combined heat and power plant like a friend of mine has http://www.powercubes.com/listers

When I decided I needed a new workshop, there wasn't room for the engines, so they were sold on.

10-19-2009, 10:34 AM
I remember a two cylinder model as a child. No battery start. A hand crank with a spring loaded pin for an overrunning clutch, but god help you if you let go the crank and let it start sprinning freely with the engine. In addition to the compression reduction, there were levers to hold the valves open for a complete compression release. You really wanted to remember to set them on shut down or you had to struggle to turn it over from stop to get the valves open to be able to crank it fast enough to get it to run on its own. Cooling was thermosiphon from a big tank outside on a pedestal. Was that the good old days?

10-19-2009, 11:40 AM
One of my engines may have had the auto-starter, but it wasn't hooked up and I always hand cranked them. The S-O-M engines have a combined decompressor/fuel rack solenoid, so you have to set the compression change over valve half way to 'leak' compression when you're priming the injector. Just keep cranking with the fuel rack fully open untill you hear the injector 'creak' every revolution (you can work up quite a sweat doing that). I'm pretty lightly built (except around the gut these days) but never had any trouble with my engines. The standard versions with the spoked flywheels are a bit harder. Letting go of the starter is a BIG no-no. When training people to start the engine I'd have them do practice starts with me craking from the other side and make sure they could not only keep hold of the handle, but also slide it off.

Lister later uprated the engine to 8hp at 850rpm (started at 5hp), but the Indians have taken it much further. There are engines rated 10hp at 1000rpm (exceeding the safe limit for Iron flywheels, but they're probably cast steel) at standard capacity. They've gone further with bored a stroked versions, 12hp, 16hp, or even a monster 20hp. I've done PDI on a Lovson 12hp and then cranked it up. Nasty. Compared to the mellow note and fairly gentle nature of an original 6/1, it was a real beast and felt really brutal and almost out of control. I'd be scared of a 16/1 or 20/1!

Peter S
10-20-2009, 07:19 PM
Right from the beginning, Lister offered electric lighting plants which started and stopped automatically.

Here is a 1912 Lister advert:

"Upon switching on the lights the Engine starts, and when the lamps are switched off it stops. With the exception of lubricating and re-filling petrol supply tank, No Attention is required".

Right from the beginning (1909) the Lister engines were made to run all day without attention, they are fully enclosed with an oil pump which distributes lube from a sump to all parts of the engine. They used proper cooling systems which don't need replenishment. They also use a "fool proof" fuel supply system which pumps petrol into the carb. There is a simple weir/overflow in the carb, so excessive fuel returns to the tank, thus no leakage or blockage can occur if there is dirt in the fuel (no needle valves, just big holes, no gravity feed to leak fuel). They used "flick" magneto which gives the best possible spark for starting.

20-30 years later other manufacturers were still using open crank engines, drip feed oilers, chain drive magnetoes (hard to start), hopper cooling, and 100 years later guys in the US are buying Lister Diesel replicas which they have to hand start!

I grew up on a farm with a Lister Diesel Start-O-Matic, it was the only power supply we had. A much older petrol Lister drove the shearing gear (I still have this one, 1917) The Diesel engine had its own engine room, inside another larger shed, about 50-100 metres from the house. Thus it could barely be heard. It used a 44-gallon drum for diesel fuel, and a similar drum with water for fool-proof thermo-syphon cooling. As far as I know the engine seldom required attention. It started and stopped itself on demand and was reliable. (BTW, the Start-O-Matic supplied currect at 230 volt, no batteries used, just a normal car battery used for the self-starter. From memory, the engine was run up to full speed (thus 50hz) by the starter before the compression lever was dropped).

I have to admit the little Honda gen-sets are nice, light and quiet, but really they are quite primitive compared to the Lister sets of almost 100 years ago, when owners liked to be able to switch a light or appliance on or off at their pleasure.

10-20-2009, 07:20 PM
EVguru, here's (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AG1MnXkHhlM&feature=player_embedded) a video of a large stationary engine that is definitely scary!

10-20-2009, 08:24 PM
EVguru, here's (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AG1MnXkHhlM&feature=player_embedded) a video of a large stationary engine that is definitely scary!

Hahah... I thought you said it was a Stationary Engine.... :eek:

10-20-2009, 09:20 PM
EVguru, here's (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AG1MnXkHhlM&feature=player_embedded) a video of a large stationary engine that is definitely scary!

I think the flywheel sliced the air tank hose.
They might want to strap that thing down before trying again??

Watching him bar that engine over, and another mention of "baring over" a steam engine the other day begs the question:

How many folks do you suppose were killed back in the day after forgeting the bar in the wheel??

10-20-2009, 09:54 PM
EVguru, here's (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AG1MnXkHhlM&feature=player_embedded) a video of a large stationary engine that is definitely scary!

That's one of those new engines where the piston is stationary and the engine jumps up and down:)