The Lister Generator Project Page 10
The Listeroid 6/1 GenSet project
The 16/2 twin cylinder Lister CS project was fun, but I wanted to build a
smaller generator for use in a cabin where there are no air conditioning
load to speak of. A 6/1 fits the bill nicely. It makes enough power to
comfortable run a home. It can carry loads for lighting, water pumping,
cooking, and entertainment easily.
The 6/1, a single cylinder, 6 horse power, is like all Lister style engines, very
conservatively rated. It likely makes over 8 horse power and will
generate at least 3500 watts, and should, after engine break-in, make about
The project needed to be portable, so mounting it on a trailer was a must,
(not needed to be road worthy, just moveable). I've had some experience now
with cooling systems for these engines. Originally they were intended to be
cooled using a 55 gallon drum of water and coolant circulated from
thermosyphoinc effect, in other words no pump was needed. The barrel idea is
great but not to practical for moveable operations, so I'm sticking with a
Experimentation has shown that a small coolant pump does wonders for cooling
efficiency. A small electric Grudfos brand hot water circulation pump has
proven to be VERY effective in the cooling system. These pump are very
reliable, designed to operated continuously for years, rated to 230 deg F,
and 50 psi. They are driven directly from the generator as they have an
internal AC motor. Perfect for a 190 degree engine!
By utilizing an electric circulation pump, a much smaller radiator is used
as thermal efficiency is quite high. Also a smaller radiator fan and power
supply is needed. Modern switching power supplies feature incredible MTBF
ratings, typically over 100,000 hours, and while light loaded, they
contribute the overall reliability of the genset system. Another feature of
a closed coolant system of this nature is the ability of using automotive
anti-freeze type coolant. These coolants offer excellent freezing
protection, reasonable heat transfer and excellent corrosion protection at a
reasonable cost. Coolant can also be used in a open 55 gallon drum system
but coolant costs will be VERY high.
By using a closed pressurized coolant system, operating temperatures can be
maintained at temperatures closer to 210 deg F. Diesel engines run
more efficiently, and produce less smoke when operating at this temperature.
Cast iron cylinder wear is also greatly reduced in this temperature range,
Grundfos Electric Hot
water circulating pump. This pump has a 3 way switch for 3 different speeds.
See the the 6/1 genset running during testing
an development of a cooling system.
Click here... 6 MB .AVI file
The Genset has about 10 hours on it by now. The thing is loaded to produce
2700 watts in this video. you can see the two electric space heaters being
used as a load. You can also see the radiator. It is from a Honda gold wing
with an electric fan (got it on eBay for $6.24) I still need to adjust
the height to get optimal cooling as well as make a small mod to the
cylinder jacket to allow a higher coolant flow, but overall it works well.
Eventually this thing will be mounted to a trailer for portability.
Misc Videos in Apple Quick time format..
Grinding tappets true.
I've finished the 30 hour run-in period and have many comments you might be
Initial startup was difficult as I couldn't get fuel to pump thru the pump.
Even with a squeeze bulb helping, I finally needed to unscrew the delivery
valve from the top of the pump to get the thing to pump. Once pumping the
rest of the fuel line priming was easy and it fired right up.
I'm using some 40 wt aircraft oil I had spare for this initial cleaning and
will change to heavy duty diesel oil soon for additional time. With the oil
filter, I expect to make the next oil change at 100 hours followed by 500
The governor works ok but needs some help. I'm getting a 6 Hz spread from no
load to full load. I can narrow that to 3 Hz with a different spring. The
response is very slow due to the large flywheels and low RPM. I see
overshoots to 67 Hz when dropping a large load.
THe engine needed a linkage mod as did my 16/2 to get more fuel into the
thing for better overload response. This helped a bit and now it make big
puffs of black smoke when accelerating under heavy load...cool!
Absolutely no oil leaks due to the vacuum breather design! Plenty of blow by
however. I'm hoping this will subside as it breaks in. I might plumb these
vapors into the intake...
The engine will make no more that 4080 watts with full rack and lots of
smoke. It's comfortable at 3500 watts with small smoke and loafs
effortlessly at 2500 watts. I hope to see a 10% improvement after 250 hours
as it breaks in. The thing always has a tiny bit of visible smoke but I'm
working on it.
This engine ran quieter with the changeover valve screwed in and clanged a
bit with it out. I started messing around with the timing and have improved
it by retarding it a bit. In general, retarding it makes less clang but more
smoke. I'm close to a sweet spot... still fiddling.
The radiator of choice this go-round is a 1979 Honda Goldwing GL-1100 unit.
Got it on eBay for $6 plus $12 shipping. The fan works well and after much
messing around, it now cools properly. The lower cylinder jacket opening was
largely blocked by casting flash and restricting the water flow. This
manifested itself as an excessive temperature spread between the inlet and
outlet of the radiator. I was seeing 105 deg F spread at 3000 watts (200 deg
into radiator and 95 deg return). Obviously this was un-sat and needed some
work. After opening up the port with a die grinder things got a lot better.
Also, raising the radiator higher increased the flow rate. Currently the
bottom of the radiator is 1" higher than the upper cylinder head water
fitting. This is giving me a personally desirable 50 deg F spread from top
to bottom. I see 180 deg F coming out of the head and 130 deg F returning
from the radiator. This is with a 3000 watt load, 70 deg air temp and the
fan running at 3 amps (75% power). It seems like it should do the job in
Florida summer heat so the radiator choice seems adequate, though barely.
The water neck flange fittings were tapped using a worn out tap so I
couldn't get the screwed in fittings to stop leaking, especially under the
pressure of 200 deg F. I gave up and JB welded them into the cast water neck
flanges. Now no leaks, and all the water stays inside the engine with the
radiator cap installed and the coolant system fully pressurized.
The NAPA belt needed tightening once during this 30 hour period as expected.
It runs with little vibration or shake and is overall much smoother than the
16/2 setup. I think this is due to the fact I used large chunks of steel to
mount the gen head.
The gen head has an AVR. The light flicker seems to be less than before even
the the engine is turning slower than the 16/2 setup. I attribute this to
the AVR. As the gen head loads up and the RPM falls a bit, the voltage of
the gen head drops enough that the AVR is no longer in a regulating mode and
the generator is humping as hard as it can to keep up. In this mode, light
flicker is quite noticeable. I will experiment with reconnecting thee had
using the 50 Hz coils. This will produce more voltage across the RPM range
and keep the regulator regulating. Will report findings later.
The stock air cleaner was evaluated and as advertised, was restrictive and
will be modified to increase airflow. Operating with the air cleaner removed
allowed the engine to make 500 more watts with a similar amount of smoke. I
feel even more improvements can be made with mild porting and a larger
Different mufflers didn't seem to have much effect on performance...oh well.
Operating the engine at varying loads with the changeover valve seemed to
have little effect except it would smoke more under heavy loads with the
valve "in". I initially it clanged less with the valve in, but a slight
timing retard has helped this. The valve also tends to leak and loosen when
left in the "in" position. The engines starts equally with the valve in or
out, hot or cold. After much investigation, we found out that these newer
Listeroid engines were designed to need no changeover valve. In fact,
operating the changeover valve will excessively lower the compression ratio
to an undesirable level. These engine should be operated with the changeover
valve fully screwed in to achieve the desire compression ratio. Problem is
the valve don't like to stay screwed in and always back out and start
leaking. The hold tight when screwed out, so this problem must be addressed.
We've ordered plugs from India to replace the changeover valves and obtain
normal operation. We thought the valves would look cool and add a touch of
Cold oil seems to be the limiting factor, not compression, when starting in
cooler weather. Man this thing is really hard to spin up with the temp below
50 deg F. Don't know how they do it on a really cold day...build a fire
beneath it maybe t warm it up?
Sitting on the new frame...
Details of cylinder head
Generator head mated up to frame assembly
View showing belt setup
NEVER RUN AN ENGINE LIKE THIS WITH THE OPEN FLYWHEELS AND BELT EXPOSED.
Details of oil filter setup
Belt tensioning setup. Works very well!
Time to get on with mounting this thing to a trailer and making it portable.
Will report later!
Mounting the engine on a
trailer has been difficult, and still in development. So far, it's been on
two trailers. The first was a two wheel tow behind unit with leaf
springs. This was a miserable failure due to vibration and resonance in the
trailers' suspension. The engine shook violently and with no fixes
attainable. I even tried adding crank down jacks to lift the assembly
off the ground and prevent free resonance. Nothing worked. Even the the
radiator mount broke as did the fuel tank mount in only a few hours.
The next trailer was a 4
wheel low speed tow behind cart. It has no suspension other than the
compressed air in the tires. The engine still shakes badly. It seems largely
due to the flywheels being badly out of balance so balancing in next on this
project. After much deliberation, I've decided to build a tag along elevated
stand to carry the fuel tank and radiator. This small truss will hold the 9
gallon tank level with the Bosch injection pump, and also carry the
radiator. Short hoses will connect the radiator to the engine and water
pump. This will effectively isolate the entire fuel tank and radiator
assembly from the vibrating trailer. There will be provisions for the
radiator/fuel tank stand to be carried and easily detached from the trailer.