Sunday, April 16, 2006

We got Juice!

Finally after several weeks of development, the Lister powered generator produced it's first power.

That's not the alternator smoking!

It's just steam from the merrily boiling kettle in the bottom righthand corner of the photo, ready for a nice cup of tea.

I had been waiting for the pulleys and belts from Beeline in Milton Keynes, and I picked these up yesterday.

The toothed belt drive allows the alternator to run in synchronisation with the engine and provides the necessary 2.5:1 step up ratio needed to make the alternator run at 1500rpm and produce 50Hz ac.

The engine and alternator are bolted down onto an old fabricated steel baseplate, which was bought very cheaply on ebay. With a lick of dark green paint (B&Q) it will look like new!

I have turned both the engine and the alternator through 90 degrees on the base (compared to the original Lister Startomatic configuration), so that the shafts face each other and this makes for a compact belt drive.

The cast iron slotted rails were salvaged from the same Startomatic unit, and with a little re-drilling of the baseplate and threading to accept some chunky M12 bolts, it makes the perfect adjustable sliding mount for the new Chinese 3kW alternator. The alternator is slid to one side of the base and this tightens the drive belt to the correct tension before it is bolted in place.

I have arranged a temporary water cooling tank - although this one is not really big enough for continuous running - but OK for a couple of hours. I also needed to make the veg-oil pre-heating coil around the hot exhaust and sort out the fuel changeover solenoid valve - to allow easy swap over from diesel to vegetable oil, when the engine has started and up to temperature.

So what has this little project cost?

Engine - 6hp 1950 Lister CS slow speed diesel engine £250 Ebay
Steel baseplate (+ engine for spares) £78 Ebay
Engine Spares (valves, guides springs etc) £80 Marine Engine Services Uxbridge
3kW Chinese alternator £245 Volvox Engineering Ltd
Pulleys, belt and taper bushes £83 Beeline, Milton Keynes
Time and Ingenuity Priceless!

So for a fraction under £750 you can have a totally bomb-proof generator set, that can run on waste vegetable oil, produce all your electricity needs from renewable fuel and the waste heat from the engine will provide a major contribution to heating your home.

If it breaks, you can fix it using simple tools and cheap spare parts. This engine is already 56 years old and still going strong. It would be interesting to see a modern generator set in 56 years time!

This engine uses one litre of waste vegetable oil per hour whilst running a 2kW load such as a kettle.

This project exemplifies the three key maxims of sustainable living:

Reduce, Re-cycle and Re-use

I reduced my electricity consumption so that I can easily meet my needs from a generator running on renewable fuel.

I recycled the old Lister engine and the steel baseplate.

I am re- using waste vegetable oil that otherwise would be dumped as waste.

More pictures of the alternator, drive and generator set are on my webpage - follow

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