Wednesday, 9 January 2008


Still claiming to be Y2K compliant, I've let the survivalist in me get get a bit out of hand lately. For the last 7 years, my "estate" has been equipped with an ONAN 15 KW gas generator. while perfectly reliable, it did burn lots of auto gas and make plenty of racket. As gasoline is getting so expensive, and it's difficult to store, I went searching for a low cost diesel alternative.
I decided to go with a very unique and proven old design. This engine, called the Lister CS (Cold Start) was invented in 1929. It's still in production today as evidenced by the photos below. Lister stopped making these engines in the '70s, but production continues in India. These engine are this very day powering rural villages in Alaska and third world countries far from the electrical grid. Documented cases have found them running 24/7 for over forty years.

This is over 100,000 hours TBO. Longevity of the Lister seems no problem.
Other features include a hand cranked, zero electrical system design. It will always start. The engine is rated at 16 HP at 850 rpm or 12 HP and 650 RPM. I'll be running it at the later as I don't need the power for my home. It will be coupled to a brand new MASSIVE 12 KW 1800 RPM generator. While it won't ever make 12 KW, the rotating mass of the assembly will make starting these big Florida Air-condition systems a breeze. After the compressor starts, powering the rest of the house should be no problem on 6 KW.
Buying the thing was a real headache. After searching the web, I found a place called LOVSON in Bombay. They export this line of engines. After a short negotiation, the deal was made. $960 for the engine and $200 to ship it to port of Miami. Boy was I dumb to think that's all it would cost. LOVSON totally misrepresented the cost to ship it to me.

The ship sailed to Port of New your, then was trucked by another cargo company to the Port of Miami for additional charge.
Personally I don't get it, a guy in India agrees to very carefully and specific instructions for shipment from one place to another, then doesn't do it. Here in the USA we call it integrity, doing what is promised. These Lovson people knew it would not be shipped as they agreed, and took my money anyway. I seems this type of dishonesty is rampant and an accepted practice in India, so "victim be ware".
Enter the Teamsters ET AL. At this point, the greedy hands came out in force. Within a day, the Cargo carrier, "ALLCARGO MOVERS" inc. appeared and trumped up another $240 in charges for everything from unloading the container to buying new nose pickers. Then the US Customs needed to inspect the crate, that's another $37.

Finally it is trucked to Port of Miami. Here the cargo was again hijacked and held for ransom by another host of crooks. This time a customs entry needed doing ($135) and finally the warehouse crooks in Miami extorted an other $125 for placing it in their warehouse for a week. No wonder a dockworker can make upwards of $150,000 per year in the US.
So even with all these OUTRAGEOUS charges, I still got my little (1400 pounds) engine for less than I could get it in the US and it seems to work just fine.
After spending three hours dismantling the massive packing crate and thoroughly prepping the engine, it fired right up and ticked along gently at 800 rpm.
Here the crate arrives home to my shop, all 1400 pounds of it.After two hours of pulling nails, my first peek at the beast. Got to love that "School Bus Green" paint. You can see the accessory kit and little green toolbox that comes with it. The engine is field serviceable and almost all tasks can be completed with the hand tools included. Man does this crate and contents smell bad, like old wood and yucky paint.All the goodies visibleFinally free from the crate. Check out the cool red trimmed pushrods and yellow valve covers. This design has an exposed valve train. You get to oil it every day with the little oil can that comes with the toolbox. I love tinkering with this kind of stuff.This thing stands 42 inches tall, The fly wheels are 20" in diameter. It took quite a bit of practice to start the thing, but now it seems pretty easy.

Starting goes like this:

Fuel onCutoff lever on (stop lever)Both exhaust valve lifters in (compression release)Start cranking and crank as fast as you can.Flick one exhaust lever to run and bang it slowly starts.

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