Lister Engines > Original Lister Cs Engines

3 or 4?

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Were their Lister 3 and 4 cylinder slow speed diesels? If so does anyone have any old documentation?

The slow speed Lister diesels are a relic dating from the earliest days of the internal combustion engine.  For more info on that see:

But that's their charm.  Although these engines were popular because of their economy and durability, Lister like all engine manufacturers at the time, eventually began producing high speed diesels and continues that line today.  The company is still in business at and produces engines that aren't much different from what you would find in a forklift or small tractor. 

The 3 and 4 cylinder versions that I have seen were modern engines.  If you search ebay for "lister diesel engine" you might find a picture of one.   I think as more power was demanded for different applications, the convenience of lightweight  high speed engines appealed to customers, that drove sales, and what remained belongs to history.


My friend and I drove 300 miles in a freezing rain to a ranch auction that advertized four Lister and three Witte diesel gensets....all were high speed two and three cylinder engines (and total wrecks).  It  SEEMS like the difference is fly wheels.  Flywheel engines are slow speed and those without are 1800 rpm and higher (?)   Is that right?

The largest lister was a 6 cylinder check out these pictures and the write up.

So Jack, what did you come back from the sale with, and is an engine that's been through a range fire rebuildable or warped like a fortune cookie?

The definition of what constitutes "high speed" keeps changing.  It used to be 1800-2000  rpm.  Now it's commonly 3000 rpm for a diesel.  In the future, who knows?

A friend replaced an old Isuzu 50 hp diesel in his classic 1946 ketch with a new Yanmar turbodiesel.  The Isuzu ran at 1800-2000, and was not unpleasant to listen to, but due to improper alignment with the transmission the spline on the crankshaft stripped out, so the engine was thereafter only good for parts.  I was invited to go over to Catalina island with him to check out the new engine and RADAR installation.  I was anxious to see how the Yanmar, a company whose products I generally like, would perform. 

As it turned out, the turbocharged Yanmar he replaced it with needed to run at 2000 rpm just to make it out of the harbor.  The Isuzu achieved that at about 1100 rpm.  Once we cleared the breakwater, there being no wind he wound up the engine to "cruising speed" (3600 rpm) and I knew I was in for a 6 hour ordeal. 

The engine had the displacement of about a 30 HP normally aspirated engine.  By virtue of a really aggressive turbo setup, it was rated 50 hp output.  The thing made such a racket, you had to stand out on deck any time the engine was running.  I heard he later sailed south to Cabo San Lucas, and had to find a "pick up crew" to help him bring the boat back.  900 miles with the wind and current straight on the nose.  Couldn't have been a happy trip.  So much for progress . . .



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