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Lister St 2 Cylinder Diesel Engine For A Generator

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samthedog

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I have been considering getting a backup power supply for a while. I currently have a Yanmar diesel generator which is a great machine, however it runs at 3600 RPM, which I think results in a machine that is not a long-term power solution.

I have the chance to buy a Lister 18 HP 2 cylinder diesel engine. I would like to make this the powerplant for a larger generator. The benefit is that the engine's RPM under normal use is 1500 so I would imagine this engine would have a longer service life than my Yanmar.

Anyway, here is the engine here:

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I can likely score it for about 500 USD (the exchange rate is TERRIBLE right now for us in Norway). Anyway, has anyone ever done this kind of project? I think it would be worthwhile since these engines get about 20 000 hours between in-frame rebuilds so realistically this should last me the rest of my life as a back-up. The engine is located near a small fresh water lake so it has not seen salt use and seems too be in pretty good shape.

Opinions are welcome.

Paul.

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mike837go

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There is a reason gensets run at 3,600 rpm. That yields a 60 HZ sine wave output.

You'll need to work the gearing (belts) on a 1,500 rpm engine to get the alternator spinning at 3,600 rpm.

Or connect your Diesel to a 120 or 150 amp truck alternator. Connect the alternator to a 12V deep cycle battery. Then power your shop/home from an inverter.

You're power plant will be much quieter when converting Diesel fuel to electricity. But will be really quiet during those times you don't need to run the engine and just use power from the batteries.

I built a much smaller a rig (3hp gas engine, 30A alternator, 2kw inverter) for my RV for when we camp without hookups.
 

samthedog

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What do you plan on using for a power end?
I plan on using a 1450 RPM 50 HZ 10kW 3 phase motor. This matches nicely with the 1500 RPM of the diesel motor.

There is a reason gensets run at 3,600 rpm. That yields a 60 HZ sine wave output.

You'll need to work the gearing (belts) on a 1,500 rpm engine to get the alternator spinning at 3,600 rpm.

Or connect your Diesel to a 120 or 150 amp truck alternator. Connect the alternator to a 12V deep cycle battery. Then power your shop/home from an inverter.

You're power plant will be much quieter when converting Diesel fuel to electricity. But will be really quiet during those times you don't need to run the engine and just use power from the batteries.

I built a much smaller a rig (3hp gas engine, 30A alternator, 2kw inverter) for my RV for when we camp without hookups.
What about connecting directly to a 1450 RPM 3 phase motor? This would allow me to draw both 3 and single phase and the alternator would be spinning at the correct RPM. I can pick up a1450 RPM 10 kW motor for about $150 that I could connect directly to the engine or put a clutch between them. Power here runs at 50 HZ so this seems like it would work however electrickery is not my strong suite.

Paul.
 

mike837go

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I plan on using a 1450 RPM 50 HZ 10kW 3 phase motor. This matches nicely with the 1500 RPM of the diesel motor.
What about connecting directly to a 1450 RPM 3 phase motor? This would allow me to draw both 3 and single phase and the alternator would be spinning at the correct RPM. I can pick up a1450 RPM 10 kW motor for about $150 that I could connect directly to the engine or put a clutch between them. Power here runs at 50 HZ so this seems like it would work however electrickery is not my strong suite.
Paul.
I've never tried to convert a motor to an alternator. However, I have found that spinning a permanent magnet DC motor will produce DC power.

Now to some reality and let the more knowledgeable folks chime in.

In order to generate electrical power, you have to have a wire moving through a magnetic field (generator) or a magnetic field move past a wire (alternator). Just spinning a field wound motor will generally not produce significant amounts of electricity. You need to pump some serious quantities of DC into the fields while spinning the armature at the correct speed to produce the proper frequency of AC.

If my understanding of 3-phase motors is correct (and I'm pretty sure it isn't) you'll have to totally separate the fields from the brushes and include some heavy-duty rectifiers...
 

RJSakowski

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A 150 amp automotive alternator will provide less than 15 amps at 120 v.a.c. It is fine for low power applications but not really suitable for whole house backup. Also a typical 12v. deep cycle battery has a storage capacity of about 1 kwh. Some high end batteries will double that capacity but at much higher cost. One the other hand, a sine wave inverter can provide clean, well regulated frequency stable power for sensitive equipment.
 

samthedog

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The motor I would use as the generator would be a 3 phase, AC motor. I wouldn't use DC for this application.

Paul.
 

mike837go

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A 150 amp automotive alternator will provide less than 15 amps at 120 v.a.c. It is fine for low power applications but not really suitable for whole house backup. Also a typical 12v. deep cycle battery has a storage capacity of about 1 kwh. Some high end batteries will double that capacity but at much higher cost. One the other hand, a sine wave inverter can provide clean, well regulated frequency stable power for sensitive equipment.
You are absolutely correct about the momentary capacity of this set up. Your main limitation is how much inverter you can afford. With the engine running and the battery charged you could go as high as 2kw for a several minutes.

What I described would run a refrigerator, some lights and a TV for when the power grid goes out. You won't live 'normally' but it'll keep the food fresh, get the news and you'll have lights when the sun goes down. Out in the field, it'll cover one person's use of power tools.


The motor I would use as the generator would be a 3 phase, AC motor. I wouldn't use DC for this application.
Paul.
Even though an alternator produces AC power, internally it needs DC in the fields to produce the magnetic field.

If you disassemble your existing genset, you will find the output of the stationary windings (the "stator") is connected to a rectifier that sends DC into the rotating armature (the "rotor") via a pair of brushes and slip rings. By spinning the stable magnetic field within the stator, AC is induced at the frequency the rotor is spun at. There may be an adjustable voltage regulator associated with the rectifier. By varying the voltage in the rotor, the AC output voltage can be adjusted. The throttle (governor) is adjusted to get the correct frequency.

(Unless you have a brushless design, then there will be a large capacitor connected to 1/2 the output of the stator, an extra winding on the rotor and a rectifier between the two sets of windings on the rotor. Frequency is still engine speed dependent, but the output voltage is controlled by the size of the capacitor.)
 

JimDawson

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I may be missing something here, but how the heck do you turn a 3 phase motor into an alternator? You have to generate the magnetic field some way and a standard armature has no windings to create the field. Alternators have a wound rotor that a DC current is applied to, thus generating the magnetic field.

You could use a permanent magnet or wound field DC motor and an inverter. A brushless DC motor will output 3 phase also, they have a permanent magnet rotor.

.
.
 

mike837go

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I may be missing something here, but how the heck do you turn a 3 phase motor into an alternator? You have to generate the magnetic field some way and a standard armature has no windings to create the field. Alternators have a wound rotor that a DC current is applied to, thus generating the magnetic field.

You could use a permanent magnet or wound field DC motor and an inverter. A brushless DC motor will output 3 phase also, they have a permanent magnet rotor.
.
You're not missing anything. My knowledge of 3-phase motors falls somewhere between "not much" and "zero". A shunt-wound single phase motor can be modified into a very inefficient generator if you want to bother...

I am, however, quite familiar with how generators and alternators work. And what it takes to fix them when they don't.

Technically, an automotive alternator produces very high frequency 3-phase AC. 6 diodes turns that into something close enough to DC to charge the battery, operate the lights and run all of the electronics.
 

T Bredehoft

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I've often wondered why the engine has to run at generator speed, even when only a trickle of 110 is needed. Could there be a sensor that would regulate the speed of the engine through some sort of transmission to turn the generator at the speed needed to supply the load?

Yes, I know it has to go 3600 to supply 110 volts. So. I'll bet some hot dog experimenter could do something solid state to convert low-RPM voltage to low amp 110 voltage, dependent upon draw.

Do this and solve some of the world's energy problems.
 

John Hasler

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I've often wondered why the engine has to run at generator speed, even when only a trickle of 110 is needed. Could there be a sensor that would regulate the speed of the engine through some sort of transmission to turn the generator at the speed needed to supply the load?

Yes, I know it has to go 3600 to supply 110 volts. So. I'll bet some hot dog experimenter could do something solid state to convert low-RPM voltage to low amp 110 voltage, dependent upon draw.

Do this and solve some of the world's energy problems.
Actually it needs to run at 3600RPM to supply 60Hz. It would be possible to run the motor at its optimum speed for the load and use what would amount to a sort of VFD to convert what the generator then produced to 120VAC at 60Hz but that would make the generator much more complex and expensive. The savings would also not be very large: those engines are designed to run efficiently at constant RPM with varying load..
 

JimDawson

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I've often wondered why the engine has to run at generator speed, even when only a trickle of 110 is needed. Could there be a sensor that would regulate the speed of the engine through some sort of transmission to turn the generator at the speed needed to supply the load?

Yes, I know it has to go 3600 to supply 110 volts. So. I'll bet some hot dog experimenter could do something solid state to convert low-RPM voltage to low amp 110 voltage, dependent upon draw.

Do this and solve some of the world's energy problems.

A conventional generator has to run at a fixed speed to provide 60HZ depending on the number of poles. A 2 pole requires 3600 RPM, a 4 pole requires 1800 RPM and a 6 pole requires 1200 RPM.

It is absolutely possible to do what you describe using an inverter. My Honda interter generator does exactly this. The motor runs at the speed needed to provide output for the load.
 

MozamPete

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I may be missing something here, but how the heck do you turn a 3 phase motor into an alternator? You have to generate the magnetic field some way and a standard armature has no windings to create the field. Alternators have a wound rotor that a DC current is applied to, thus generating the magnetic field.

You could use a permanent magnet or wound field DC motor and an inverter. A brushless DC motor will output 3 phase also, they have a permanent magnet rotor.

.
.
You can get a three phase induction motor to 'self excite' and operate as a generator but you need to add a couple of strategically connected capacitors, or alternatively it has to be connected to an existing grid which will not be the case in this situation (if you had a three phase motor running normally off the utility network supply and you make it spin a bit faster it will reverse the power flow and act as a generator). There are some relatively large induction generator - I've seen 3MW ones.

The rated speed of 1450 is because in an induction motor the shaft speed falls below the 50Hz synchronous speed. When operating as a generator you would need to run at around 1550rpm to get 50Hz.

There is a good book "induction motors as generators" by nigel smith which will tell you everything you need to know. It is predominantly for using motor as generator in micro-hydro schemes but the same principles apply.
 

JimDawson

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You can get a three phase induction motor to 'self excite' and operate as a generator but you need to add a couple of strategically connected capacitors, or alternatively it has to be connected to an existing grid which will not be the case in this situation (if you had a three phase motor running normally off the utility network supply and you make it spin a bit faster it will reverse the power flow and act as a generator). There are some relatively large induction generator - I've seen 3MW ones.

The rated speed of 1450 is because in an induction motor the shaft speed falls below the 50Hz synchronous speed. When operating as a generator you would need to run at around 1550rpm to get 50Hz.

There is a good book "induction motors as generators" by nigel smith which will tell you everything you need to know. It is predominantly for using motor as generator in micro-hydro schemes but the same principles apply.
I learn something new here every day. Thanks!
 

John Hasler

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Even though an alternator produces AC power, internally it needs DC in the fields to produce the magnetic field.

If you disassemble your existing genset, you will find the output of the stationary windings (the "stator") is connected to a rectifier that sends DC into the rotating armature (the "rotor") via a pair of brushes and slip rings. By spinning the stable magnetic field within the stator, AC is induced at the frequency the rotor is spun at. There may be an adjustable voltage regulator associated with the rectifier. By varying the voltage in the rotor, the AC output voltage can be adjusted. The throttle (governor) is adjusted to get the correct frequency.

(Unless you have a brushless design, then there will be a large capacitor connected to 1/2 the output of the stator, an extra winding on the rotor and a rectifier between the two sets of windings on the rotor. Frequency is still engine speed dependent, but the output voltage is controlled by the size of the capacitor.)
Some of the cheaper and more heavily advertised gensets use permanent magnets for the field. The advertising tries make this sound like an advantage.
 

Tony Wells

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You could spin up a small automotive alt/gen directly from the engine to excite the field.
 

Chipper5783

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Sam, you raise a number of good points. You have received numerous good responses. I assume you are talking about being off the grid. Strictly speaking the conventional three phase induction motor is not going to work. As others have pointed out, in a grid connected application, a slightly over synchronous induction motor will push energy into the grid. This is called an asynchronous generator. The field excitation gets to the rotor by transformer action (which is just the relative speed difference between the rotating magnetic field of the stator, driven by the 50Hz grid and the speed of the rotor that is a few percent above synchronous speed - similar concept to how a motor works). Without the grid, there is no easy way to energize the rotor. This is a very simple and robust system, but it is limited to what percentage of the overall grid can be provided (as the percentage increases, the controls get more complicated).

The easy approach is to acquire an electrical machine that allows you to create a rotating magnetic field (preferably in a controllable way - but even that is optional, with enough electronics the energy generated can be fixed after the fact). There are a number of electrical machines that will accomplish this, but they are generally described as a "generator" (or some synonym).

The engine. Yes, you certainly can direct connect the generator. That is a very common approach. As other posters have stated, you simply need to operate the generator at the designed speed - so with a 4 pole generator to get 50Hz, the the generator need to operate at 1500 rpm. That is pretty slow for a Lister ST2. This is still not a big deal, you simply need to derate the horse power expectations (probably quite a bit). There is probably a power curve in the manual, or available on line. Remember that for a 10kW generator, you need nearly 15kW of engine, at the target speed (especially if you are starting a good sized motor). To get enough power, you will likely need to run the engine up around 2200rpm, again, check the power curve. Then you need to ratio down to the correct speed for the generator. Of course the common method is with belts and pullies (certainly numerous other options).
That is only one approach. Since you are off grid, run at your own frequency - how about 65Hz? That will make the engine happier. Then you lathe will simply operate faster than what the name plate says, sort of your own mechanical variable frequency drive (don't try too large a change or the controls will not like it). You could also run all the power through an inverter & frequency drive, but those devices do not like being too far off designed frequency (and you will run into quite a financial cost).

Once you get it sorted, let us know how you worked it out.

Regards, David
 

GA Gyro

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Just a side note...

There are many places one can buy a generator without the engine... only the actual generating part.
One place is the Northern Tool catalogue...

google Northern Tool

This may give you some ideas as to how to set your genset up.

I would work out the HP and RPM necessary, and do a set of pulleys with belts... to get the desired 50 Htz and watts output.
 

Ulma Doctor

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i have worked on the lister diesels many times- they are sweet little engines.
they were used for pumping and generator applications in my tenure
 

samthedog

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Wow, thanks for all the replies. I had no idea this would draw so much discussion. In checking the specs for the S 2, it had the RPM listed as 1500. I know it could probably run faster but my thoughts were this is likely where the power and toque curves cross.

The reason why I was looking at a 10 kW generator / motor to attach to it was because I recall that the larger the generator unit compared to the expected load, the easier it is on the windings. I know it is extra load for the engine but I am not expecting to draw more than 7 kW at any time.

If I bide my time I may be able to score somthing like this:

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This is a generator unit run from a tractor PTO. It is oversized compared to the Lister however I wouldn't be using anywhere near 12.5 kW and it's operational RPM is 1500, the same as the Lister. I can pick up this generator for $200. This would enable me to build a diesel generator for under$800 that will exceed my power needs by a fair margin.

I am not looking at a genset to get off the grid. The genset is strictly a backup if anything happens to our power. I just want a decent system that I know I can self start and can sit for extended periods without needing servicing etc..

Paul.

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mike837go

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If you want to use the Lister Diesel, then that kind of PTO alternator is the perfect companion.

A simple splined coupling and you are good to go. The gearing to boost the RPM is already included.

Remember that you'll set the engine's governor to get the correct frequency.

Voltage will be a function of how well your engine handles the electrical load. Though, there may be an Exciter rheostat near the meters on the alternator.

Good luck, you are closer to the path now!
 

idjeffp

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Interesting thread...
I have a Kohler 10 kW 240 VAC 1-ph generator sitting in my driveway now... The Wisconsin VH4 engine needs some rebuild work but the generator head looks to be in decent shape... Meters on it got banged around so would need replacing if you want to use them. I pulled the cover off the end and the internals look to be in reasonable shape. It only had something like 50 hrs on it when my friend purchased it I was told. It was given to me to use for my Rotary Phase converter project, but I'm not sure if I'm going to use it... Built like a tank in any case!
 

haroun

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A google search on lister diesel genset will bring a trove of information. Those things are BELOVED by those that use them, because of the low RPM & their ability to use dicey fuel. Just take a search,
 

larryr

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I have been considering getting a backup power supply for a while. I currently have a Yanmar diesel generator which is a great machine, however it runs at 3600 RPM, which I think results in a machine that is not a long-term power solution.

I have the chance to buy a Lister 18 HP 2 cylinder diesel engine. I would like to make this the powerplant for a larger generator. The benefit is that the engine's RPM under normal use is 1500 so I would imagine this engine would have a longer service life than my Yanmar.

Anyway, here is the engine here:

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I can likely score it for about 500 USD (the exchange rate is TERRIBLE right now for us in Norway). Anyway, has anyone ever done this kind of project? I think it would be worthwhile since these engines get about 20 000 hours between in-frame rebuilds so realistically this should last me the rest of my life as a back-up. The engine is located near a small fresh water lake so it has not seen salt use and seems too be in pretty good shape.

Opinions are welcome.

Paul.
jim dawson is correct in his comment about gen set rpms. by the time you buy the necessary components to to get up and running you will have spent more than the cost of a big box store gen set. unless your getting really cheap or free parts find something else to with that lister.

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lexus

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I am not sure if this is in the same area but a local earth mover has some lite towers that run of a lister generator. They work great and not a bad price $1800. 00 Canadian and the power plant can be converted to 3 phase
 

Swarf S

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Diesel motors run for years providing the regular oil changes oil are made, should use Diesel Motor Oil Like "Remula brand/type" oil. Also watch out for algae grows in the fuel tank to clog the injectors. there are also preventive products for this. Believe me your diesel motor will out last the generator I would not worry about replacing the engine 3 to 4 k hours of use. If it wears out there are building kits that have cylinder sleeves, over size journal connecting rods, etc, etc. A hobby machinist should be able to follow the instruction manual to make the repairs if not, a good friend and a couple of 6 packs and pizza. By the way I saw in one of the forum answers about 2 pole and 4 pole in the generator. Well the polls also go with the additional windings etc. and it is not worth the bother to make changes if any can be made to your generator.
 

Guv

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Lister engines are very reliable engines. The one problem that can occur is fuel diluting the oil in the sump. As both the injectors and the injector pumps are internally fitted (injectors under the valve covers and pumps behind a cover) you must make absolutely sure there are no fuel leaks at the joints where the supply and pressure sides are connected as the oil will get diluted resulting in bearing failure. In my 40 years in the engine rebuilding business we have encountered this numerous times. Just make sure that after running the engine for a while check for leaks at the pumps especially . You can run the engine without the fuel pump cover just to check with a slight oil splashing
 
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