From 1930 to 1987 the Lister company made diesel motors for pumps, generators, and general-purpose use, using mostly the same design of big, slow-speed, heavy flywheels and simple, easily-repaired parts. The Lister company then sold the designs. Today there are many Indian and Chinese companies that produce Lister copies (aka: “Listeroids”) for export. These are fairly faithful to the original design — with varying quality. The price for these engines *per kilowatt* is cheap, when compared to the more commonly found gasoline-powered generators, though they are not very portable. What is truly amazing is the efficiency of the Lister: one user reports an average of 8000 watts and gallons of diesel per hour. They can be made nearly silent with cheap car mufflers or a water muffler. They run fairly cool, and home-built radiators (water tanks, house radiators, car radiators) seem to work well. These slow-rotating workhorse machines are good for nearly 100% duty cycle if properly maintained. (A 100% duty cycle means running 24/7, with no down time due to heat and lubrication needs). The Listers can run all the time, and there are even some people who have figured out how to do oil changes while the motor is still running, thus removing even the lubrication issues. Their efficiency and raw power makes them perfectly suited for electrical generation for long-term use versus “emergency-only” generators which have an extremely short lifespan. They are also works of mechanical art, and will keep a mechanically-minded hacker occupied for weeks, experimenting and tuning. I’m sure that vegetable oil or waste motor oil would work as fuel in these engines as well, but more research is needed.
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One more plug for George at : He's written a wonderful artical (About 80 pages long) called Lister Longevity. He suggests that folks buy it before they get into one of these engines, and I'd have to agree. Some manufactures do a better job than others, I think mine falls somewhere inbetween. (George knows which ones are good, which are bad.. and which are a good gamble!) "Lister Longevity" goes into a lot more depth than his pages at , and it not only tells the reader what they may be getting into, but it also details lots of assembly/disassembly proceedures - lots of tips on improving them.... the document in my opinion makes the engine a much more valuable thing.