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Author Topic: My old CS Lister, still working at 75....  (Read 42793 times)

starfire

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My old CS Lister, still working at 75....
« on: March 25, 2015, 08:45:48 PM »
By way of an introduction, I have a Lister 3.5 CS, 1939 model.
This engine runs approx 1500 hours each and every year , has done for nigh on 2 decades, solely responsible for generating my electricity. It runs a variety of fuels, from transformer oil to auto tranny fluid to old black and messy waste oil.
Over the years, I have found many tricks and ways to enhance its operation, or maintain it mechanically, these I hope to document over the coming months, many may find this info useful. It specifically related to the CS , but most ideas will work with all older stationary engine types.
 I only document what I know works, and  have actually done it, its all practical, not theory. None of this will cost any big sums of money, mostly none at all, and anyone with a modest  collection of hand tools can do this.  
In return I will enjoy reading here what others have done, I was unaware the interest and following these old relics have, even though my engine even after 70 odd years is still required to work hard for its living.

Greetings from New Zealand. :)
« Last Edit: March 25, 2015, 10:32:59 PM by starfire »

dieselgman

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Re: My old CS Lister, still working at 75....
« Reply #1 on: March 25, 2015, 09:01:25 PM »
Welcome to the Forum!

We are happy to hear about your success stories as well as problems... many use this resource to make their own decisions about appropriate and effective use of these old machines.

dieselgman
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Lyons Kansas warehousing and rebuild operations

Hugh Conway

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Re: My old CS Lister, still working at 75....
« Reply #2 on: March 25, 2015, 09:33:57 PM »
Starfire;
Welcome to the forum. We are all looking forward to learning more of your real-life experience with this old banger! The ideal and the actual can be very different, so your documentation of the life and times of this genuine oldie will be a treat and another educational excursion as often found here.
thanks for joining in.
Cheers,
Hugh
JKson 6/1  (Utterpower PMG ) Off-grid
Lister 6/1 Start-O-Matic engine......running with PMG
1978 Royal Enfield (glutton for punishment by Indian iron)
1963 BMW R-27 project

BruceM

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Re: My old CS Lister, still working at 75....
« Reply #3 on: March 25, 2015, 10:06:22 PM »
I'm likewise very glad to see you join us, Starfire.  Originals are hard to come by here in the US southwest, so I went with a Listeroid, but I'm looking forward to reading about your experience!  I still dream of SOM flywheels, and wish the shops in Rajkot would start making them.


starfire

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Re: My old CS Lister, still working at 75....
« Reply #4 on: March 25, 2015, 10:42:59 PM »
Thank you for the welcome and words of encouragement. Im just figuring how to send photos..



As you can see, the old girl has recently had a birthday. It runs two modded car alternators, these supply 24 volts at around 150 amps into the battery bank. Any car type alternator can simply be paralleled electrically with another to increase the charging current, and at $5nz each  from a scrap dealer, they are good value for money!! I have found duplication and redundancy is the key to reliability. If one dies, and they do, the other will front up and keep the system running. Alternators used like this will last around 12 months, they really are not designed to charge high currents continuously.


starfire

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Re: My old CS Lister, still working at 75....
« Reply #6 on: March 26, 2015, 03:07:45 AM »
In situ crank journal grinding....part 1

My Lister had over time  become noisy, smoked from the breather badly, and lacked power. This I had put down to piston/ring wear, and put any remedial work  off until the yearly maintenance time. Ironically, as always, the day before this "birthday" she ground to a terminal stop, total siezure. Removing the inspection hatch revealed the con rod big end had literally welded itself to the crank journal, requiring a hammer and chisel to seperate the shells from the crank. The journal had been running on the steel backing, the breather smoke indicating just how hot the bearing assembly was getting, and not helped by the engine working overtime against the massively increased friction.

Before I go into the repair, let me talk a little about babbit bearings, and what I understand.

These are a very soft metal, like lead, and with a very low melting point. Any direct metal to metal contact will create a localised hot spot, the metal will plasticise, and with rotation of the surfaces will "wipe" the softened metal around the bearing, further increasing friction and causing more woes. Babbit bearings need almost perfect surfaces with an unbroken oil film to work well. The conventional wisdom of using soft bearing metals is to allow them to "absorb" any particulates in the oil thus rendering them harmless. This I now dispute through observation. Recently I dismantled my 350000 Km Mitstubishi engine because of exhaust smoke and low oil pressure. I noticed a very grooved and worn crankshaft, but the bearing shells looked as new. The alumimium pistons were like new,  the cast iron cylinder bores were worn with a perceptable lip at the top. Both these indicating to me the harder of the two metals suffering the most wear. I wonder if any collected abrasive foreign particulates in the softer metal are the cause of this?
I have also noticed many car engines happily run steel camshafts direct into aluminium cylinder heads, even Briggs and Stratton lawnmower engines  get away with running a steel piston inside an aluminium cylinder, again indicating that aluminium is a respecatble bearing material mated with steel.
I am told that aluminium oxide is an abrasive..... they make aluminium oxide sandpaper. All aluminium is oxidised, being a very unstable metal when exposed to oxygen. 

Could it be that alluminium could be both an abrasive, and a very good bearing material at the same time?

Would it be at all possible that aluminium bearings in a Lister big end would A)
 gently grind the crank journal back to smooth, and B) once metal to metal  contact had ceased, make a long lasting reliable bearing at little to no cost, and C) survive the extra heat while doing its job?

The answer to all three  is a very definite yes.

Having nothing to lose, I decided to  have a `crack. After all, I did not fancy my chances of dismantling an engine that is 75 years old quickly and easily, especially with historic main shaft damage through loose pulleys etc.

Here are the shells, heat damaged, not a trace of any bearing material.





New shells part way through the running in process.



Crank journal after 4 hours slow running. Note the absence of pitting and scoring.


BruceM

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Re: My old CS Lister, still working at 75....
« Reply #7 on: March 26, 2015, 03:26:49 AM »
How did you make your aluminum bearing shells?

starfire

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Re: My old CS Lister, still working at 75....
« Reply #8 on: March 26, 2015, 03:42:37 AM »
Crankshaft grinding part two.

The journal was roughly filed and oil stoned to remove and smooth the major damage, especially any sharp edges. Forget any grooving, these will disappear later.
Two aluminium bearing shells were made as detailed.
Take two sections  of 2mm aluminium plate and cut these  1 inch longer and 1/2 inch wider than the rod cap dimensions.
Using aluminium jaws in a vice, press the flat sheet into the cap using a small block of wood.
Using a hammer and another piece of wood, pound the living daylights out of the new shells into the cap, it must conform perfectly to the cap internal ID. Don't hammer the alloy directly, this will cause hard spots.....
Again, clamp the shells into the vice with the wood to hold it secure, and gently form the sides with a small hammer folding the edges down the sides of the cap, these will become the thrust surfaces. Do this gently, take your time with this.
This whole manufacturing process  will take around 1 hour. See photo of finished product.
Now is the time to file the shell ends almost flush with the cap.  . Leave them a tad proud to ensure they are firmly "squashed" into the rod when mounted.
The shells can now be inserted onto the big end journal, the thrust face width filed to allow them to fit. We need around 10 thou clearance here.
Cut small temporary shims from an old spray paint/flyspray can, these are to fit over the conrod cap bolts between the rod and cap. I used 3 per side initially.... around 30 thou. These allow a little "wiggle" room.
Fit the shells/shims  to the conrod and cap, snug the nuts until the engine can just be stiffly  rotated a few turns by hand, remove the shells, and with a pocket knife, scrape away the shiny high spots. Don't  be too fussy just now, what we want is a reasonably large  contact area over as much of the bearing surface as possible.  Don't use oil at this stage..
Repeat this several times till a good wide contact patch is achieved.
Remove the dipper rod from the conrod cap, and use the hole as a guide to drill the oil hole through into the shells. Also with a sharp object, gouge the oil channels into each shell to distribute the oil.. Make these at least 1mm deep and fairly wide...say 2 mm. A broken hacksaw blade works well here.
Refit the dipper
Oil and fit the shells and as many shims as needed between cap and rod to allow the engine to turn easily/smoothly when fully tightened.
Refit the inspection cover and start the engine.
Run at a VERY  slow speed, watching for oil smoke from the breather. When this appears, indicating bearing heat, shut the engine down for 10/15 minutes  to cool and restart.
Do this repeatedly over several hours.
Again, remove the rod cap, and check progress. At this time, clearances will be very large, remove shims to arrive at a suitably small clearance and repeat the running procedure.  Aim for around a sloppy 10/15 thou  at this stage, we need LOTS of oil around the bearing. Loose is better than tight, and at this very low speed, it wont cause harm. A saving in time can be had by swapping upper and lower shell positions each time to equalise wear..
Any heat is caused by friction. The friction is due to metal to metal contact between alloy and journal. The wear is restricted to the journal high spots only. As the bearings and journal begin to mate, heat will be dramatically reduced, evidenced by less and less breather fuming, until eventually there will be no heating at all, indicating a full and continuous oil film.
Now is the time to recheck clearances and removing shims, also watching the shell end protrusion, . This is called bearing "crush", needed to preload the shells to prevent them spinning in the rod/cap. I reinstalled at 3 to 4 thou clearance.
 Now, clean the engine internally  with kerosene, change the oil, restart,and slowly bring up the revs, and increase load.
I rechecked mine after 10 hours running at half, then full  load to find an almost visually perfect crank journal, and around 90 percent contact pattern on each shell.
Once a continuous and unbroken oil film has been established, there is no further wear on shells or journal.
Two engines repaired in this way have done many hundreds of hours without further troubles.
 The final crank journal dimensions depend on initial damage. Mine, as an example, ended up 1 thou out of round, around 12 thou undersized, assuming it was standard to begin with. One groove remains, just detectable with a fingernail. The journal  itself is slightly conical, differing each end by around .5 thou. This is very acceptable given the initial poor state of the journal, and money spent. This method  is time consuming, but when taken in the context of a complete engine teardown, and conventional crank grind,I believe much quicker and certainly as effective, and ay NO COST financially.
As of today, engine has  over 200 hours running after this repair, a quick look inside today reveals no detectable increased big end movement since the repair, and no sign of any further heating. A babbit type bearing would now operate successfully in this engine, but I'm happy to retain the alloy version!! It still has two tinplate shims of around 5 thou to allow for future adjustment if needed.
Purists may "shudder" at this unconventional approach, but as I am reliant on this engine, the repair has been done quickly and efficiently, very little down time, the journal now in even  better condition than it was originally 20 years ago.

dieselgman

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Re: My old CS Lister, still working at 75....
« Reply #9 on: March 26, 2015, 11:56:36 AM »
Necessity is the mother of invention...

Your story brings to mind an experience I once had out in the Alaska bush with an old homesteader and a little Briggs & Stratton pump engine. The short story is that the Briggs had heated up and seized the piston solidly in the cylinder and I simply said toss it aside and take a trip to town for a replacement. That stubborn and crafty homesteader just took a 36" pipe wrench to the main shaft and forced the thing to turn. To my utter disbelief, he soon had worked that thing back and forth until it would turn again and was soon able to start it up and resume the pumping job. It actually ran for several more days all the way to job completion. Lesson learned - never give up!

dieselgman
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Lyons Kansas warehousing and rebuild operations

honda lee

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Re: My old CS Lister, still working at 75....
« Reply #10 on: March 26, 2015, 02:59:51 PM »
Hi starfire, and welcome . With your set up do your altanators stop charging automaticly? If not what do you use to not over charge your batteries?

BruceM

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Re: My old CS Lister, still working at 75....
« Reply #11 on: March 26, 2015, 07:22:22 PM »
Your homemade bearing shells look amazingly good.  An amazing recovery from a disaster!



dieselspanner

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Re: My old CS Lister, still working at 75....
« Reply #12 on: March 26, 2015, 07:24:50 PM »
Hi Starfire

Does 'Starfire' have anything to do with BSA singles?

I'm well impressed with your efforts and success, I'm at the completely stripped down stage with a 3-5-6/1 'Bitza' that looks as if it's been sabotaged with a handful of sand in the crank, as that puts me firmly in the 'nothing to loose' club I've gotta have a go!

45 years or so ago I was a 'Saturday boy' with a firm that repaired tannery machinery in Northamptonshire (UK), scraped white metal bearings were common on machinery that was well old back then, Cheap repairs for the cheap 'uns was the name of the game. As the 'nipper' all I ever got to do was polish the shafts with emery cloth, looks like my turn with the scraper has arrived!

Looking forward to more......

Cheers Stef
Tighten 'til it strips, weld nut to chassis, peen stud, adjust with angle grinder.

starfire

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Re: My old CS Lister, still working at 75....
« Reply #13 on: March 26, 2015, 09:00:30 PM »
Hi starfire, and welcome . With your set up do your altanators stop charging automaticly? If not what do you use to not over charge your batteries?
Hi. One alternator has the usual regulator installed as factory, this one will reduce its charge rate as the batteries reach around the 26 volt mark. The other one has no regulator, so will continue charging well over 30 volts if you let it. This is to equalise the banks occasionally by over charging.. Both field windings are switched to choose either/or. The reason I use batteries is cost mainly. These I grab from the scrap dealer, any duds just get returned. Thats why its such a messy untidy installation, always a work in progress really.
The other very good thing using batteries is the convinience of always having power. The batteries supply two inverters, so the generator can run at any time. This for me has been the most reliable setup.

starfire

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Re: My old CS Lister, still working at 75....
« Reply #14 on: March 26, 2015, 09:08:17 PM »
Hi Starfire

Does 'Starfire' have anything to do with BSA singles?

I'm well impressed with your efforts and success, I'm at the completely stripped down stage with a 3-5-6/1 'Bitza' that looks as if it's been sabotaged with a handful of sand in the crank, as that puts me firmly in the 'nothing to loose' club I've gotta have a go!

45 years or so ago I was a 'Saturday boy' with a firm that repaired tannery machinery in Northamptonshire (UK), scraped white metal bearings were common on machinery that was well old back then, Cheap repairs for the cheap 'uns was the name of the game. As the 'nipper' all I ever got to do was polish the shafts with emery cloth, looks like my turn with the scraper has arrived!

Looking forward to more......

Cheers Stef
Its not hard to do, just very time consuming....
Funny thing.... yes, Im into vintage bikes.  Not the old Brit stuff though.... we had these when I was very much younger. Then the Japanese bought out a thing called a Honda Dream. It was 308cc, electric`start, reliable, didnt leak oil, and would blow away even a 650 Triumph. So, we ditched all that old Brit stuff and went Japanese. I remember in the late 60s,  racing around Johnny Goulds farm on these old bikes, and at the end of that day, we dug a hole with his tractor and buried them all. Now I wonder if that was wise. Good luck with your BSA.... it will work fine, just take your time. I remember seeing these with fibreglass resin bearings too. I dont know how long they lasted.... Id go alluminium. You could possibly spin it up with an electric motor to do the actual bedding in.... much easier.
« Last Edit: March 26, 2015, 09:17:39 PM by starfire »