If you spend hours on the WEB researching water cooled Lister singles and twins, you're bound to run across stories of Listers that have out lived their owners! If you have 'first hand' stories, I'd love to hear them, please write me. Below are some I've heard, or have been sent.

There's a collector who found a Lister CS 6/1 on the bottom of a scrap heap at the local dump. It was badly rusted and he had to soak it for a few months to get things apart. It runs well today with a rebuilt injector  pump. The rest of the engine was salvaged including the rings!


From Victor Warners

As far as what it takes to kill one, I don't know about mine... but when I  was a kid in the Netherlands in the sixties, we had a small weekend home next to a farm. The farmer ran a one-cylinder Lister. I loved the sound of that thing.  I don't remember what the load was but this engine ran for days and days on end, for many years, sitting outside, pretty much unprotected in Dutch weather under a piece of corrugated metal and covered in rust, mud and other junk. And on and on it went.  As horrible and unloved as the thing looked, they probably never changed the oil and just topped it off as needed. I also don't remember how it was cooled. Probably a tank.


From: Don Carson


I saw your web page, and am familiar with the Lister C/S 6 and C/S8 single diesels.I was around these for many years in the Bahamas, and they are still quite common there in the out-island communities. Most of them are ancient ones imported direct from England as generators. I have worked on one which has been in continuous use for over 40 years, and has never had an overhaul. It still has the original rings and bearings in it! We figured it had over 100,000 hours on it, and is still running strong! Those engines are by far the finest diesel ever produced, and are truly bulletproof. After Hurricane Floyd devastated the island of Abaco, many of us went around helping to get the communities stabilized again. There was no power at many places, so we had to get gensets in and running quickly. In one community, we saw and old 8/1 generator tipped over inside a collapsed shed. My buddy Phil said, "lets try getting it going". So several of us tipped it back upright, hooked up a diesel drum and the water tank again, and it cranked right up!

It survived 200+ Mph winds, and still ran like a top. Needless to say the shelter there has had power since! I am interested in your Petter diesel for my boat, what is the price of your small av1 style diesel engine?


Don Carson


From: Bob Gross (Florida)

Just wanted to let you know we survived the hurricane ok. We got hit square on by Frances with 100+ mph winds. The eye went overhead for 4 hours during which time I wandered around the neighborhood looking at the destruction. It really sucked.

The morning the hurricane hit, the winds were already quite strong and the power went out at 9:30am (eye arrived at 12:25am-04:15am the next morning).  The Listeroid Genset was already prepped and cranked up. It’s amazing how un-prepared my neighbors were, always wondering why a kook like me would waste his time building an old fashioned generator! Well to say the least, they spent quite a bit of time visiting over the next three days as we were the only house around whose water well still worked (flushing toilets), A/C was blowing cold, pool pump working, satellite TV worked, laundry could be done, and had plenty of ice to cool the anxiety. The Lister thumped away like magic for over three and a half days. I burnt 21 gallons of diesel and had zero problems


Hey there,
just browsing the net I found your page on Chinese  diesels and Listeroid engines. Great!
Here are my stories on Listers:

For four years I was assigned as a missionary to Papua New Guinea. By the time (1996-2000) there were still a number of Listers working on the "Out Stations" for there is nothing like a public electricity net.

The most serious problem has been maintenance. Oil change? What the heck is oil? So, the first thing for me to do was replacing engine oil. Some had a few drops of a dark greasy hardly flowing fluid as lubrication substitute in their bellies but they ran!

It has been always a challenge to get them started if you are used to turn a key and the engine starts by electric starter.
Two years I worked with single cylinder made in the early sixties. Check decompression lever, check oil, open fuel valve and give it a hard crank. The engine came to live after two turns. Switch off in the rainy season was through self made lever system that finally pulled the decomp lever.

Possibly the oldest I came across was a two cylinder made in the early fifties. Two huge wheels on the sides and definitely the worst patched up exhaust pipe I ever seen, but it worked nicely. Starting procedure:
Checking oil, open fuel valve, close decomp lever on cylinder one, leave open cylinder two. Cranking. When cylinder one fired up, close decomp lever on cylinder two and off he goes! You couldn't crank the engine with two decomp levers closed! The unit might still in service.

The biggest I had to work with was a 3 cylinder roughly 35kW output.
Unfortunately, oil was sipping somewhere in the cylinder head area. This device was an electric start already with some weird modifications.
Eventually, it got replaced by a 4 cyl. Cummins engine.

Best wishes,
Johannes Müller, Germany


 Dear George.

Found your site very interesting.
I have an old lister 5/1 engine on my farm, made 1951,I think. It was connected to a 32 V generator which is now not used anymore. Since the engines valves are now becoming a bit uptight ( leaks air in compression stroke) I went looking for a cylinder head gasket and valves here in Iceland, but it seems not available here anymore. The problem is that the engine runs fine with the cold start on, but starts to malfunction when I screw it out. It was very interesting to know that these engines are still available from India and spare parts also. I have not yet taken the cylinder head off and it might be to much damage in the head itself, so it maybe have to be chanced for a new one. This engine has been in use for a half century, producing electricity and has also driven a small old fashion sawmill.
Best regards,Óskar Kristinsson,Akranes, Iceland.


I grew up on a back country farm on the North Island of New Zealand. When I was very young we had no power lines. What we did have was a Lister single. I gather my dad was the first in our district to buy one of these, but then, he was known to take risks. The Lister powered milking machines; a vacuum pump and some mechanical contraptions for pulsing the teat cups, and a cream separator. This operation went on twice a day, and I can't remember the hours of run time. At the end of the day, we would take the large flat belt off the pulley and sling a couple of Vee belts on the fly wheel and run a 32 volt generator which charged a case full of lead acid batteries for our house power. Since the cow shed was a good distance from the house, we had a wire run through a series of pulley's from the back of the house over to the shed, and by the assistance of some weights hanging down on the back of the engine, we could pull on the wire and the wire pulled the lever up to shut down the engine. We ran lights and a radio from the battery power. The other main task for the Lister was shearing sheep. We had two stations for shearing plant. When shearing, the engine would run all day. The water tank would get steaming hot, but I don't remember my dad ever replenishing the water with any cool. There was very little repair done on that engine, and it ran for all the years I was there. The engine was part of life on the farm. I got a real kick out of starting that engine for the first time. We did not decompress it to start it, we would back the flywheel up until we could feel the compression stroke, and then wind up forward as fast as you could accelerate that flywheel set, and she would just make it over the top, and fire, and away she would go.
Other farmers in our district had a variety of engines for their stationary needs. I remember the name Blackstone. Most of them were verticals and ran with that random pop of those old gas engines
Other things; my mum had a Beatty washing machine with a Briggs and Stratton engine on it. It had a kick starter. A piece of flex took the exhaust out through a hole in the wall. She had a kerosene fridge. It had a flame and worked its cooling cycle somehow with the heat from the flame. The general farm work was done with a team of heavy horses (2). Plowing, disking, harrowing, mowing hay and silage, gathering in the hay and silage, and stacking were all done with horses. As well we had a drill for distributing powdered fertilizers on the fields. These days were days packed with a lot of hard work for my family. Life was simpler, and did not offer a lot of options to stress over. I remember how quiet it was out there. At night time it was totally silent except for the sound of a small creek at the back of the house, and an occasional call of an owl or Kiwi, unless of course we had just weaned the calves.
The middle 50's changed everything. In typical go get it style my dad lead the charge to get state electric power into the district. This brought a flood of new electrical appliances with it. Not only did we get power, but the first of the small grey Ferguson tractors appeared as well. We were of course first to bring one of these babies into the district, and of course there is an array of implements needed to make the tractor usable.
The changes in mechanization and technology enriched our lives in many ways. We could travel more, and work was not so demanding. No longer did the neighbors come to help us to bring in the hay though. Parties of people in the hay fields were a thing of the past, we were less interdependent.
I hope this is of interest to you. The old Lister was a work horse, it was dirty and oily, but always ran. A faithful friend.
Best regards,
Tim Jones
Fort Langley


Lister on D'Urville Island, New Zealand

My experience with the mighty Lister engine mainly comes from having had one in the family for many years.  However when I was a fitter with the New Zealand Ministry of Works, I came across a few of them in our workshop...or in various locations like emergency standby plants in important buildings....or at the lighthouse installations that we used to service.  Most of these engines were more modern than the beautiful old family engine.
We have some family land on d'Urville Island in the Marlborough Sounds at the north end of New Zealand's South Island.  When we first acquired the place in the late 'sixties there was no grid power.  Grid power came later, but we chose to stick with making our own.
My Dad picked up our old Lister from a farm in a remote area where it had either served as part of a generating set, or maybe more likely as the power plant driving some sheep shearing machinery.
I don't know what he replaced on it initially, but it has served us well since the late sixties.  I believe it was made around 1930.  As a young teenager I recall falling asleep at night to its comforting sound.
Dad has raised us to be do-it-yourselfers.  Dad built a sawmill on the property, we felled trees and milled them, built a house and a wharf, and have done heaps of other projects.
Several years before he died...in the late '90s, Dad built up a new generating plant that had an electric start.  We put the Lister away in the back corner of a shed and installed the new one.  After Dad died, the new genset was playing up badly.  I fixed an electrical problem, but I was not willing to tackle the expensive-sounding problem with the fuel system on the newer engine.  Instead that went to the corner of the shed and we heaved and struggled...and re-installed the old Lister.
We also have a fairly modern 7kw generating set that is powered by a Yanmar diesel.  Works well, even if it sounds horrible.  In addition we have a small pelton wheel which charges a bank of batteries....24v at around 3 or 4 amps,  along with an inverter.
For years the Lister had just its two spoked flywheels.  Dad eventually found a big solid wheel which he fitted in an attempt to have less flicker in the electric lighting.  But this danged wheel would come loose periodically and rattle on the shaft.  I thought I'd made a fairly good job of fixing it by jamming shim under the gib-headed tapered key, but my brother tells me it has come loose again. Maybe I have to make a heavy collar to fit on the shaft alongside the flywheel.  I could then bolt the flywheel to the collar maybe, or perhaps just use it as a mechanism to help keep the key jammed in place.  I could reinstall the old flywheel if I can find it.
If you ever get the time, and you know of any commonly used method to prevent the flywheel coming loose, I would love to hear about it.
Thanks again for your great site.  Best wishes.... Stephen Coote.