Our off grid location in Central Washington State gets plenty of snow, it gets hot, it gets cold. It's a decent place to exposure test a ListGen6_1.
Above: Sun has burned off Snow enough to see the top of the engine
As part of the exposure testing, I have started leaving the boat tank (red) out of doors, it has a vent, and I am usually careful to close that for winter. thsi is the second winter the boat tank has been left out, I am curious about UV, and whether the tank will get chalky and brittle or what? Last year, when I looked into the fuel, it was clear, this year there's a mix of stuff in the oil, and we'll see how it looks and behaves this spring. If you look closely you'll see a Squeeze bulb I bought at GI Joes, this and the quick disconnect are wonderfully handy for NON bio, but B100, forget it! I had a bulb full of B100 and it split right down the side in less than one year.
Above: Snow Just melted
The above setup is based on a good brand of Standard (CS) 6/1 fitted with a proper thermostat, this setup uses the utterpower thermostat because it allows one to use the one inch heater hose that works so well on tanks, and even old hot water radiators as seen here. The ST head is modified, I tossed the stock doghouse, and put a water tight box on top, the rest is stock. The PS Brand head makes a higher voltage at 60hz than most of the ST heads I've seen, and this really helps with long wire runs, and assures you don't burn up tools. It's easy to drop the voltage on a head, but much harder to raise that voltage, plan ahead, exceeding rim speed on a cast iron flywheel to get a higher voltage is not a good practice.
There is more information about this Generator Setup and the exposure testing at this site on the utterpower CD, including how to boost the voltage at 60hz. But here's all you really need to know for now.. .
I have run this generator long hours during the summer to run sprinklers, on hot summer days; they cool the air and make the stay far more enjoyable. The cabin is about 500 feet from the well head, a buried underground delivers water from the well via a one inch pipe, and electrical to the cabin. Basic needs at the cabin can be met by solar for a few days, but the solar investment is minimum, and the 6/1 will charge batteries on such little fuel that it's not practical to make a larger solar investment for the time we presently spend here. I really enjoy being able to do light welding, and to run all of my construction tools here.
The Gen set was set up at the well head to assure a short wire run to the pump, and the big ole flywheels brings this submersible pump on line with hardly a grunt. Since it was dumped off here, why not use it for an exposure test? :-)
After the snow had burned off in 2004, I drove to the Gen set, oiled the rockers, checked the set over and was dumb founded when it fired the very first compression stroke after a long winter. The only protection I gave the engine was a Rubbermaid wash pan that I placed over the valve cover.
This first week in may 2005, Sharon and I made it over the pass to check things out. After checking for water in the bottom of the stock filter, and oiling the rockers, fuel rack, and linkage, etc. I whipped the engine over and was less amazed when the engine fired on the second compression stroke, maybe the air temp was a little colder this year?
I have finally arrived to the point where I take the Lister CS clones for granted, if you check the items I mention on the CD, it's almost a sure thing; they're simply tougher than nails, and I really do believe that serious off grid power is built around a diesel engine that can burn a variety of fuels, and that's exactly what the Old Lister CS type is.
6/2005, after 2 years, the exposure test, the generator made it through two winters, and it's running fine, but we had a bearing making some noise in the Gen head. I took it down and found rust in one bearing after sitting in the open during the long winter. As we know, this is no way to treat electrical machinery, but I wanted to know what problem would show up first if you left it out in the elements totally unprotected do not try this even for a short period of time with the stock ST doghouse.
April 2006, oiled fuel rack on injection pump, took a bit to get it loose, engine started on first compression stroke!
April 24, 2007, made a QuickTime Movie of starting the engine for the first time after the heavy winter. This will be found on the utterpower CD. This is the fourth year the Lister has started on the very first compression stroke after spending a winter under snow.
April 26, 2008, It's been one of the hardest winters people can remember in Easton, it might have been the 1940s when anyone has see the kind of snow fall that 2008 brought. As of April 28th, this month could be the coldest on record as well.
The Lister did not start on the first compression stroke, and there there were other problems noted too, but read on, as the 6/1 did not let us down.
When I first walked up the the generator Set, I noticed the think layer of paint had peeled lose from the flywheel, dirt, dust, and grime, clung to the oily spots on the engine case, and base caused by my liberal use of lube oil on rockers, linkage and injection pump. This hasty method of lube, might be the reason the injection pump rack and internals were found free moving? When I tried moving the flywheel, it offered a lot of resistance, I traced this to the Gen Head. I'm amazed it has worked as long as it has with no protection from the elements. Rocking back and forth it freed up! No I didn't pull the GEN cover, or even look inside, I did last year, and I was surprised it looked as good as it did.
I opened the vent on the fuel tank, set the decompressor, and began turning the engine over, I then dropped the lever, and allowed the injection pump rack to open, clink, clink, clink, was heard immediately. After some Cranking, I took the decompressor off, and I could fee the lack of compression. I removed the exhaust flange, and found water sitting there, and lots of it, this might be a reason to avoid the WET sump exhaust system, or to have a big gate valve to keep the moisture from rising in the pipe when note in use? I guess the moisture could have entered thru the pipe threads, but the water was there all the same.
I decided to see if I could improve the seal by hammering on top of the valve end rocker. I placed a piece of wood on the rocker, and used a handy rock from the field. About 20 whacks, and I tried again, the leak thru the open exhaust valve was now faintly heard, and I decided to turn the engine over and let the injector flood the chamber with more fuel. After about 30 revolutions, I dropped the decompressor, and behold, I got smoke and the next revolution produced ignition! The engine stumbled and complained for about 10 revolutions, and then went into over speed, the Centrifugal force became great enough to free the governor, and the engine settled in at 650 RPMs as observed by the Kill A Watt, and yes, this means we're making juice! I turned on the well pump, and used the attached hose to fill the radiator, the engine sounds happy. The water tank is filling, and the kitchen sink will be running, and this will spread happiness.
Will I do the smart thing, and build a cover for this GEN SET, or will I be temped to see if it can survive another winter in this harsh environment? I think it's notable that I used one wrench to remove the exhaust flange, a piece of wood, and a rock from the field to get the job done. No wonder the Third world likes this engine..
7/2008 We spent several beautiful days at the cabin, I ran the generator for a good portion of the day with two sprinklers running at the cabin, it was 90 degrees, and the cool mist from the sprinklers make a hot day so much more enjoyable. The Gen head bearing is now howling, this head is a fairly old one with the stock open Chinese bearings, I am sorry I didn't make the grease fitting mods on this head, it may have saved the bearings.
Exposure test comes to an end!
I decided to take the entire set home and tear it down, no point in abusing this unit further, we now know you can leave this simple and rugged out in the open for four or five years and have reliable power, but we all know it's a lot smarter to leave it under cover.
Here's what I found wrong .
The frame was experimental, thinner metal capped with a heavy angle.. this didn't hold up, there was a stress crack in one side, and it was going to fail at some point. This is more evidence that the heavy 'I' beams are a good idea, properly welded up, they just don't fail you.
Removing the head, I found some pitting on the valve in the area of the seat, interestingly, the seat in the head looked fine, I found this problem on intake and exhaust. Part of the reason was condensate coming up the exhaust system, as the barrel (used as a silencer) was holding rain water, not a good idea! More water was likely coming in via the air filter, OR it was simply the thermal cycle of the day causing some condensate to form. Equipment under cover stays a more constant temperature, and this problem is less profound.
I replaced and lapped in two new valves, (so easy and quick to do)
Next, I inspected the liner, and piston, all looks good...
I pulled the crank pin bushing and noted some sand trapped in the bearings, not a bunch but it was there, crank pin looked good except for some etching of the crank pin caused by water and acids, we can expect this kind of thing setting out in the field unprotected in all kinds of weather. I used some 800 grit paper to clean up the crank pin, and replaced the bearings.
I had a strong magnet in the bottom of the sump, the magnet was plenty fuzzy with metals, and i was certainly glad I had placed it, I think this is mandatory for these old engines, and the neos are STRONG and should be considered. I cleaned it well, and returned it to the sump.
One thing that was rather interesting, the engine never had a load more than the 1.5 HP well pump in all these years, many of the runs were short, but during the summer, 10 hours a day was not unusual, still total hours on this set was nothing, as we don't visit this site all that often.. During the tear down, I found the inside of the exhaust coated with what looked like black putty, i was rather amazed the engine wasn't getting hot enough to burn this out. It is clear to me that he load is not enough, and it need more to clean the exhaust port out.
There was a moderate amount of carbon on the piston top, injector tip was carboned up, and this could have been some of the problem too.
I replaced the frame with a heavy eye beam frame I made, and I've added a PMG generator 120/240 vac for Easton, this will be a second set at Easton, and it will have a shed around it for winter.
OK, maybe I didn't mention it, but I failed to drain the water, and 14F day cracked the water jacket, some epoxy sealed the crack for two years, but now I'm replacing the water jacket as well, another easy thing to do while I'm at it, these engines are so easy to work on.
As for the ST generator head, I was amazed as to how clean and nice the insides looked even though the bearing(s) are grinding, I'll replace same, and this unit is ready for more service, slip rings and everything else looks excellent, this unit received some of the utterpower Mods including the removal of the troublesome dog house, I am certain this is why it held up in the weather.
I'm guessing that two or three more years would have really raised hell with the crank pin and the Valves. We'll correct the exhaust system problems, we'll cover the intake, and the unit being out of the weather means it will likely outlast me, I doubt it'll need another part.
Now... we need somebody to volunteer to put their Honda Generator out in a field for 4 or 5 years, and see if it can be started each spring when the snow melts.. place your bets..