Lister Genset, A British Beauty

| March/April 2001

25 N. Front Street Mountaintop, Pennsylvania 18707 e-mail: Homepage: angelfire. com/pa3/generatorgus

I know a lot of collectors don't give a hoot about generators, but anybody who likes old machinery will love this old girl. She is a Lister-Bruston Battery Charging Genset, model TB, 10 HP, twin cylinder with a 5 ' x 5 ' bore and stroke and is petrol (gasoline) fueled. Born at Dursley, England in 1915, she moved to New York City, in 1916. From there she settled in eastern Connecticut, to work for a well-to-do doctor, where she put in many years of dedicated service until Rural Electrification came and forced her into early retirement sometime in the 30s. She remained in seclusion in a damp basement until the early nineties, when she was rescued by an engine collector, whose name I don't know. The story goes that he had to remove part of the basement wall in order to extricate her. She then made a trek to northeastern Pennsylvania, in care of another collector, my friend, Sean Hatton. Being a generator man for some years, I admired this aging beauty every time I visited Sean, but he wasn't at all interested in parting with her, until about a year ago when he decided to move out west and couldn't take her with him. Now I'm her caretaker. Thanks, Sean!

The years in that damp basement didn't much bother her internally, but did take a toll on her cosmetically. Also, she had a freeze crack in the outer water jacket of each cylinder. I decided she needed a facelift, and since she was partially disassembled when I got her, I decided a complete teardown was in order. I must say I'm not a big fan of restoration, but in this case it was necessary. At this point I'll stop doing the 'she, her' thing and get down to brass tacks.

Aside from a lot of cleaning, brushing and some sandblasting, the engine didn't need a lot of work. The rear cylinder had some damage caused by a mouse who entered through the sparkplug hole. A light honing and the replacement of two top rings (thanks, Dave Reed, Otto Engine Works). Also, the valves needed grinding and seating (thanks, Don Leonard, my pal, for letting me use his equipment). The only other internal problems were a broken fuel pump drive gear (thanks, Gus), and a clogged rod oiler line. That clog evidently caused the rod bearing to fail, as it had been repoured long ago by some ancient mechanic, although the clog itself was never cleared. All of the other bearings are bronze shells, which were in perfect condition. New composition gaskets with metal compression rings (thanks, Lubbock Gasket) were made for the intake and exhaust manifolds, also the valve installation plugs. Did I mention that this engine is headless?

This also caused me some concern. While reassembling, instead of putting the rod and piston on the crank first, I opted to put them in the heads first and drop the whole set up into the engine. It seemed like it would be easier to work the rings into the bore first, rather than try to hold the heavy head in while attempting it.

Gus Simms of 25 N. Front Street, Mountaintop, Pennsylvania 18707 tells the Lister-Bruston Battery Charging Genset.


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