Author Topic: Petter or Lister for a Genset (without starting a holy war...)  (Read 807 times)

threeReefs

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Hi All and I'm hoping to access the wisdom of the forum, here.

I love old diesels and am looking for a generator based on a Petter or Lister. About 5kVA, probably twin cylinder, electric start, as a standby unit. I don't mind a 'project' (actually would like one) but I'm trying to understand the difference in characteristics between Lister and Petter engines in this context. Are they reckoned to be about the same in terms of noise levels, reliability, spares availability or do they have particular strengths or were they made for particular applications?

I've got the option to buy a Petter AVA2 Mk2, with attached ALCO alternator - I don't know if it runs, yet, but it turns over and has good compression so I think could be OK and worth playing with and trying to bring back to life. It's not autostart but I don't want that - the alternator does seem to have starter windings on it because the control box has a 'start' button. Would this be a good basis for a genset or should I look for something newer (this is about 1960 I think) and would a Lister-based unit be better ? You don't see many Petter-based gensets.

Thoughts appreciated and thank you in advance ! My plan is to use it to charge some batteries which in turn drive a large inverter which actually supplies mains to the house, so the genset doesn't have to be precise about frequency or even voltage.

Richard (not sure whether to post here or in Listed Gensets but let's try here first...)

ajaffa1

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Re: Petter or Lister for a Genset (without starting a holy war...)
« Reply #1 on: June 24, 2023, 12:18:22 AM »
Hi Richard, welcome to the forum. You don`t say what part of the world you are in so it is difficult to advise you on spare parts suppliers.
I own both Lister and Petter diesel generators and am very happy with the performance. I would recommend you try to find a water cooled model if you can, they are much quieter and can be installed in a sound proof enclosure with just the radiator or a cooling hopper outside, a further option is to use the heat from the water jacket to heat a hot water cylinder via a heat exchanger, free hot water is a blessing.
Exhaust noise can be reduced with readily available mufflers or eliminated by digging an inground exhaust system, depending on the space you have available.
Diesel engines need to be loaded quite heavily to prevent the cylinders becoming glazed. The AVA2 will peak at around 12 HP and would run a generator giving out around 7KVA, if you are only going to be using 5KVA get a 2 bar electric heater and use that extra load to occasionally fully load the genset.
I have recently bought a Petter 3 phase genset. It is air cooled and I will be trying to build it a sound deadening enclosure with louvred doors to three sides. I`ll post some pictures as I go.
good luck, let us know how you go.

Bob

threeReefs

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Re: Petter or Lister for a Genset (without starting a holy war...)
« Reply #2 on: June 24, 2023, 02:36:38 PM »
Thanks for the reply Bob...
I am in Surrey, UK - about 20 miles South of London. So I'm 'local' to both Lister and Petter, which is helpful.

My inverter / charger allows me to specify the battery charging current, so my thinking is that I will run things off the battery/inverter combination most of the time (which produces a nicer waveform, consistent frequency, and copes with reactive loads) and then when the batteries get to the optimum charge point, start and run the generator under heavy load (giving it time to warm up first) to put charge back into the batteries. That means I also don't need to have the genny running all the time.

The point about water-cooled being quieter is interesting, and makes a lot of sense, although water-cooled Lister or Petter engines seem very thin on the ground! The only water-cooled ones I've seen are really old ones.

I will post a pic of the Petter I'm looking at if I can work out how...

RT

ajaffa1

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Re: Petter or Lister for a Genset (without starting a holy war...)
« Reply #3 on: June 24, 2023, 11:39:53 PM »
Hi RT, I used to live in Cheshunt, just north of London. I`m now in Tasmania. That unit looks like a good project, probably about 70 years old. These were much more robustly made than the modern equivalents and can be rebored/reground etc if necessary. It is missing the flywheel cowling, this will need replacing as the vanes on the flywheel drive cooling air around the cylinders.
No shortage of spare part suppliers in the UK. If you have difficulty locating anything I recommend you find your nearest canal boat servicing yard and have a yarn with their engineer, a lot of canal boats ran Lister and Petter engines.
How are you planning to rectify 240 volt AC to charge the batteries? A warning: if you rectify 240 volts AC yo get around 380 volts DC which will kill you! please be careful.

Bob

threeReefs

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Re: Petter or Lister for a Genset (without starting a holy war...)
« Reply #4 on: June 25, 2023, 09:09:48 AM »
Thanks for the encouragement Bob ! And hello from the other side of the planet. I will let you know how I get on once I've got my paws on the engine.

The charger/inverter I've got takes in mains AC and uses that to charge the batteries, it's not heavy enough to have a large transformer in it (I haven't opened it up) so I suspect it has a sizable switch-mode PSU which takes 240V 50Hz (but isn't fussy about it) and rectifies/chops/smooths it etc down to 48V - so it's all happening inside the box well away from my fingers... you're right about large DC voltages.

I guess if you were feeling brave, an old boat would be a good source of a water-cooled engine, although you'd have to rig up all the thermostat/fan/cooling etc yourself.

RT