Lister Engine Forum

Alternative fuels => Other Fuels => Topic started by: vtmetro on August 28, 2015, 01:55:05 AM

Title: Lister on Steam?
Post by: vtmetro on August 28, 2015, 01:55:05 AM
I do wonder where this should fit on the forum, since this Other Fuels section seems to be for other liquid fuels, and steam is not a fuel at all. Rather an energy rich transmission fluid.

It can be generated by wood, coal, solar heat, or any other source of heat from any fuel (or non-fuel) heat source. Conversion of a single cylinder engine like my Metro 6/1 is a fairly simple and straightforward process if you do machining yourself.

I'm not planning to do it yet, but have always been intrigued by the possibility. I have done a conversion for a 5 hp horizontal gas utility engine and run that on compressed air, but not ready to mess with my prized diesel yet.

The big hangup in steam, as always is, not the engine, but the boiler. If I had a boiler I believed in, I wouldn't hesitate to mod the Listeroid. I'd almost certainly run it on wood then, since I have a lot of it and heat with it.

Anyway, Listers HAVE been used to run on steam commercially for electrical generation (not the single cylinder variety, though) in the Australian White Cliffs project. The engines were modified by adding GM cylinder liners and used a bash valve arrangement and were monoflow exhaust. The steam supply was solar generated.

Here, have a look, it's interesting reading at the least:

Title: Re: Lister on Steam?
Post by: Thob on August 29, 2015, 08:01:36 PM
Considering the high price of a listeroid, I think I'd look at starting with something else.  Especially if you do machining yourself, I think there are plans for complete engines.  Steam will blow past the rings and contaminate the oil in short order, which requires frequent changes.

Most steam engines that I've seen of a practical nature use steam above and below the piston, with the rod from piston going thru a stuff box to the cross slide.  Then a second rod connects the cross slide the crank.  Very little steam should escape from the stuff box, and it should be easy to keep that separate from the oil. The steam valve box controls which side of the piston gets steam pressure while the other side exhausts.

Anyway, if I was going to bugger something up, I'd start playing with something cheap.  Depending on location, there may be old oil field engines (gas) available for cheap.
Title: Re: Lister on Steam?
Post by: vtmetro on August 31, 2015, 03:44:58 PM
Thob, nope, wasn't planning to bugger anything up. I've enjoyed thinking about a conversion, which is different.

And I did start with somethng else, as I wrote. A Tecumseh conversion. I cast a new head (I cast iron) and built a rotary valve that worked quite well. There aren't any oil field engines in Vermont, as far as I know.

Condensate in the oil can be a problem, but this and solutions to it have been discussed elsewhere many times before, and it's not necessarily a non-starter for conversions. Sometimes water with a small amount of oil is used as the actual engine lubricant. If interested in learning about that approach you can probably find online Bart Smaalders very well known long term accounts of his compressor conversion steam boat.

Or, If the engine runs engine oil at higher than the boiling point of water it can also rid itself of condensate -- in fact condensate  issues occur not just on a steam engine, but on a diesel or gas engine run infrequently and/or in cold conditions. There are threads here discussing oil flow heating for that condensate removal purpose.

Thob, your description of a traditional slow speed double-acting D-valve steam engine is accurate, but there are many other historic and practical types including single acting engines, with enclosed crankcases splash lubrication, and no stuffing boxes, like the Westinghouse high speed engines used for power generation.