Monday, September 19, 2005

Playstation Generation?

The day started early with a shower at 6:30am in order refresh me prior to the drive over to Swindon for mid-morning.

By 8am I was on the M25 near Reigate, and by 9:45, I was still on the M25, stuck in gridlocked traffic, not yet at Heathrow. I diverted through Windsor and followed the Thames to Junction 8/9 of the M4 where I joined a nice quiet motorway.

The reason for this early morning activity was to collect a Lister Diesel engine from a farm near Swindon.

This Lister is going to form part of my waste vegetable oil powered CHP system, but will first need a little cleaning up and a major overhaul to get it running again.

It occurred to me whilst driving that this Lister project was going to be quite a major undertaking, not only in dealing with the transportation logistics of an engine weighing a third of a tonne, but also a major effort required in getting the various components together so as to make a working system:

Engine - a Lister CS 6/1 a 6hp single cylinder diesel engine made in 1951.
exhaust system
cooling system
concrete base
engine shed
plumbing and electrical work
heating system
batteries, inverter

- in fact the list is almost endless.

But it then occurred to me that anyone who wants to succeed with alternative and renewable energy needs to remain unphased with this type of project. You need to acquire new skills, either self-taught or read up from books. You need to become self reliant and self sufficient. If a spare part, such as a gasket or pipe flange needs making for a 55 year old engine, then it is likely that you are going to have to do it yourself, select your own materials and just get on with it.

Sadly this self imposed, self reliance is no longer common place in today's society. Too many of us belong to the "Playstation Generation", expecting everything to work "right out of the box" and provide instant entertainment and instant gratification with minimum effort. Then when we tire of our electronic toys we discard them into a cupboard (or landfill ) and buy the latest model for half the price and twice the features of the previous model.

Fortunately we are all adaptable, and with a little effort can soon learn the skills to work on simple diesel engines - designed in 1929.

If we in the western world, are reluctant to get back to reliable simple technology, then those in developing countries such as China, India and Africa will be most happy to step into our shoes...

Pictures of the lastest Lister acquisation can be seen at

1 comment:

James said...

Ummm. Being both an early 80s computer kid and a self-sufficiency nut, I would say both go hand in hand.

Your average citizen is neither. They can't operate modern digital equipment or look after themselves using the old ways. One look at a gadget manual and it is cast aside. A friend shows them how to use one or two of the important features and that's as far as they get.

All part of a dumbed down world. Getting fat and lazy. Whilst there is still oil to allow them to do so, of course.