The traveling Lister
Manufacturer: R.A. Lister & Co. Ltd., Dursley, England
The operation of R.A. Lister & Co. Ltd. of Dursley, England, made many different gas and diesel engines over many decades. One of the best sellers was the single-flywheel D-type gas engine. With a rating of 2 HP at 1,000 RPM, it was well-suited to many applications: farm, construction, generators, pumps and others. First built in 1926, it was popular to the point that it was still in production in 1964. It is believed that 250,000 were built.
The start of a world tour
My engine was built in 1929, and according to records in England, it was shipped to Rangoon, Burma, in East Asia. It subsequently found its way to Toronto, Canada, and was given a new brass tag from R.A. Lister & Co. (Canada) Ltd. Apparently it was re-tagged and sold again. I bought it from a Michigan man at the 2005 Tri-State Gas Engine and Tractor Show in Portland, Ind., and it now resides in the St. Louis area.
Details on the D
The Lister has a 3-inch bore and a 3-inch stroke with a 5:1 compression ratio. The hand crank drives off the camshaft giving it a 2:1 ratio. Not many English engines came to the U.S. However, many of the lower-priced engines from the U.S. went there. Some of the more common names are Aermotor, Associated (Amanco in England), Fairbanks-Morse, International and McCormick-Deering.
The Lister D that I bought had been worked on but apparently without success. After disassembling and finding what was wrong, I needed to find some parts. I located (through the Internet) a past employee of Lister in England who is an active collector of old engines. He found all of the parts for me as there are still a lot of new and used parts for this model in the U.K.
One of the unusual characteristics of this model is that the crankshaft only has main bearings on one side of the connecting rod. It has a large carrier with two big ball bearings. The crankpin is located on the end of the crankshaft to take the connecting rod. It protrudes a bit to drive a fork, which in turn drives the camshaft, the governor and the high tension ML magneto. All of this runs in an enclosed oil sump. This engine is hopper cooled, though Lister did make some with auxiliary thermo-siphon water tanks and others that were radiator cooled with belt-driven fans.
A European vacation
I wanted the proper direct drive ML high-tension magneto, so I searched the Internet and found one on eBay for what I thought to be a reasonable price. Friends and I tried to repair it without much success so I bit the bullet and mailed it to a repair facility in England. That did not go as well as expected, as it was lost in the mail for five months. Somehow, it came back to me from where it had been hiding in Amsterdam. I mailed it again and all came out well.
Just a few repairs
The various repairs I made were to the connecting rod bushing and piston rings, as well as grinding the valves, welding a new gas tank and reworking the gravity feed carburetor.
I cleaned off all of the old paint and re-painted it with the correct color. Then, as it weighs 298 pounds, I decided to make a cart for it. This is a 2-wheel type made from drawings I found in a book on the Lister D. After a little battle with ignition timing and governor settings, it runs very well at 600 RPM. I am looking forward to showing the engine this summer and looking for a Lister diesel at the local engine shows.
For those interested in restoring a Lister D, I would recommend the following sources:
• The Lister D Story 1926 – 1964 by David W. Edgington.
• “Lister D – Type Restoration” from Stationary Engine, a U.K. gas engine magazine.
• Old Stationary Engines by David W. Edgington (focus on European engines).
All of these are available from David W. Edgington, Lodgewood Farm, Hawkersridge, Westbury, Wilts BA13 4LA, U.K. or on the web at www.stationaryenginebooks.co.uk
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