Author Topic: Alternative fuel experiences.  (Read 10613 times)


  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 282
    • View Profile
Alternative fuel experiences.
« on: March 26, 2015, 11:00:14 AM »
Alternative fuels.

Listers are very forgiving of crappy fuels, but as I have found, there is a limit to what they will digest.
Transformer oil.
 This is what mine runs on mostly. This is clean oil, thin and runny, drained from electrical pole transformers. I get this stuff in 44 gallon drums for free. Its now classed as a toxic waste, and normally costs the electric company a fee to have it disposed of. This stuff will burn very well with no changes or problems. Early TO contained PCPs.... pretty much all this older oil has long been disposed of decades past. Some exhaust smoke on startup, then clear, even under heavy load. My 3.5 HP CS uses 500mls per hour at 75 % load
Auto transmission fluid.
This stuff is very variable, and almost always requires good filtering, contains particles of friction material from the gearbox internals, especially if it is discoloured. Engine power will be down considerably and also will cause hard starting from cold. I suspect this "oil" has a flame retardant added to increase the flash point, as well as an anti foaming agent,  preventing optimum atomisation. A small running improvement can be had by tightening the injector adjustment to increase the "misting", and injector pump timing can be advanced to account for the slower burn...... best to mix this with other fuels if possible. Very smokey on startup, then a blue haze under load. Consumption a little over 1 liter per hour 75% load.... if it will reach that.
Old engine oil.
This being the more common "free" fuel for most, the good old black messy shit.
Comes mixed complete with metal filings, anti freeze, brake fluid,solvents , cleaning fluids and other good stuff.
Here, we need to filter this stuff really good before use. Oddly, this horrible stuff seems to have more calorific value than true diesel fuel. I have a good cheap and simple filtering method for this, and a water injection system, also simple to make, to alleviate the carbon buildup, and help with a cleaner burn. Ill describe this a bit later. Generally the injector pressure can be reduced to account for the higher viscosity, and lagging the injector to increase its temperature also helps. Very smokey on startup, clear exhaust with light load, then blue haze when working. Carbon deposits can be problematic. consumption between 300/400 mls per hour 75% load. Attempts to preheat the oil prior to injection have failed due to carbonisation and eventual blocking  in the heater pipes.

Water injection.
This is almost compulsory when burning oil. It marginally increases power, why I dont yet  know, but more importanatly, it drastically reduces carbon buildup inside the engine and exhaust. Mine is dead simple. Take an old oil bath air cleaner as fitted to almost if not all 50s and 60s British cars.  One from an older Vauxhall will fit straight on to the Lister inlet pipe.On the outer casing, you will see an oil level mark.. Drill a 3/8 hole in three places along this line, roughly placed evenly around the perimeter. Drill another 1/4 inch hole somewhere through the bottom. Run a 1/4 inch plastic water pipe imto this bottom hole.... this goes to a rain water tank outside. The water level will slowly rise inside the air cleaner base, and eventually overflow out of the holes up the side, keeping a constant level. Once the top portion is installed, we have a simple air cleaner come water injection system. Each time the engine takes a gulp of air, it is forced to suck it through the water. This saturates the air with enough water vapour to keep the carbon levels down. Depending on water supply height, the inlet can be adjusted to get just the right amount comiing in to satisfy the engines needs, any excess will overflow harmlessly out of the upper holes. Depending on climate, there is no real need to install a water tap. My engine seems to use almost as much water as fuel in summer. Periodically ensure there are no blockages that will allow water to directly enter the engine.

Here I have made a simple and effective dodge to do a messy but important job. Firstly, the original Lister canister on the engine block is dismantled and the insides removed and discarded. The canister is filled completely with a roll of underfelt. I dont know what this stuff is called, but its also used in the upholstery business, see photo. The idea here is the oil flow is very slow and any particles that have escaped the primary filters are trapped in the fibres. A hole is drilled in the base casting "nub" and threaded to take a gas tap. This is used to drain any water. The problem I found when using a conventional filter is they rapidly block up completely, and are certainly not cheap.
 The fuel tank I use is a  preloved caravan 9 kilo gas cylinder with the top removed.... easily done with a cutoff wheel in a disk grinder. The outlet tap is arranged an inch or two above the bottom, again to trap any water, and more underfelt arranged in such a way that the oil has to flow through it. This is plumbed through to the existing  Lister filter.
The main filter is made from a Tupperware plastic 40 liter container, with a plastic bottle crate mounted on top. Both are also fitted with underfelt. The raw waste oil is poured into the top section every few weeks, and slowly filters through, any rubbish, and water remains in the top section, and can be cleaned periodically, the underfelt replaced. The old stuff makes great fire starters!! I use an old stirrup pump to transferr the oil into the fuel tank when needed. This is very rudimentary, but has worked well for me over the last 20 years without any fuel blockages in that time. With new underfelt, I will filter the oil twice, first time round, in case of any crap in the underfelt getting into the oil. As the underfelt ages with use, it seems to increase its filtering ability. Any water/antifreeze is held back, and will eventually evapourate.... the less you have to touch this stuff the better.

Heres this underfelt stuff Im talking about.

Old oil bath air filter.


  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 13
    • View Profile
Re: Alternative fuel experiences.
« Reply #1 on: May 26, 2017, 09:49:15 PM »
Great post starfire!  Could you repost your photos?


  • Casey
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2132
  • What? My diesel had fries for lunch?
    • View Profile
Re: Alternative fuel experiences.
« Reply #2 on: May 28, 2017, 01:44:04 AM »
Gee Whiz and Golly Goshes,

I wonder why they classify it as toxic.  Maybe that's only when it's burned?

Just asking.

NPR Tipper/Dump Truck
Kubota BX 2230
Witte BD Generator
SunnyBoy 6000 + SolarWorld 245


  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3189
    • View Profile
    • Lister Parts
Re: Alternative fuel experiences.
« Reply #3 on: May 28, 2017, 01:54:38 AM »
anything with PCBs - known toxin to animals and humans.

Also known as: Aroclor, Chlorinated Biphenyls, Kaneclor
Chemical reference number (CAS): 1336-36-3
PCBs are a group of 209 different compounds. PCBs are manufactured substances and have no smell. They are yellow, oily liquids that don't burn easily. There are no natural sources of PCBs.
Companies in the United States first made PCBs in 1929. They’'ve been used as coolants in electrical equipment, in metal-cutting oils, in microscope lens oils, and in inks, dyes, and carbonless copy paper.
In 1977, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) banned the use of PCBs. The EPA was concerned about the harmful effects of PCBs. For example, PCBs can accumulate in the environment. PCBs may be present in old fluorescent light fixtures and parts of appliances made before 1978.
PCBs break down very slowly and can be carried long distances in the air, in rivers, lakes and oceans. PCBs can build up over time in the fat of people and animals. Recent studies found that most people have traces of PCBs in their body fat. PCBs can accumulate in the food chain. For example, fish can have PCB levels in their fatty tissues that are much higher than in the surrounding water.
ALL Things Lister/Petter - Americas
Lyons Kansas warehousing and rebuild operations