DIY Generator Base 'Frame Construction'. for the Listeroid_ST_Generator

It's simple when you're building with the Allmand drive

If you have never built anything and wished you had done it differently, this page is NOT for you. Thoughts appear in my usual random order. This page is a living document, reader feedback and experience will hopefully hone the content. This basic plan may allow you to build one generator frame versus several before you're happy with the result..

Building a generator as a project is more fun than some things because it won't take weeks and months to do. It's a perfect project to involve the young people in.  Many of us wish we would have been involved in such a project in our young lives, we now understand what hands on experience does for building confidence..

The first thing to think about is mobility, are you building a stationary plant, or do you wish to move this around from place to place?

If it's heavy (most of what we like is), make sure you 'design in' a lip or recess on one or more ends of the frame where you can get a fork lift under it, or the corner of a hand truck to lift it up and get a pipe roller or something else under it. an example of this is 'C' channel, you might ask yourself, should I put the 'C' inwards or outwards? If those lips are facing outwards, you have a lip to pry on, a fork lift driver can easily pick up your unit using the top of the 'C' to lift on.  Of course, you may not want it moved, you may want to bolt it down and make it hard as possible to be moved....put the 'C' inwards, put the mounting bolts on the inside of the frame where it's hard to get at with the engine and head in place. BTW, you can move the world on a pipe roller if you have a flat surface, this can help you move an assembled unit to the corner of your shop.

Will this generator be on wheels?  I once mounted my Lister 6/1_gen in a small utility trailer and watched it dance all over. I've seen other 6/1s on small cast wheels that did fine.  Don't take you set up for granted, maybe it needs a different orientation than your first idea. You might consider a mock up and a test run with tack welds and clamps before you fully weld anything.

If it's going to be stationary, maybe there's no reason to mount your radiator on the same frame? Maybe it will appreciate being mounted off a wall in your shed and away from any vibrations that may telegraph through adding to the total dB (noise) of the power plant? While you're at it, maybe you'll mount your breaker box, amp meter, volt meter and other stuff on the wall where it is at eye level as well? If you're going to have a free standing and separate fuel tank, and cooling tank, maybe there's room to build all this on a separate skid?

What I like to start with is two strong  'I'  (eye) beams or C channel. rails boxed together in parallel. The generator has it's own sub mount which acts as a trolley allowing it to slide along the two beams for adjustment and positioning.  The engine is located at one end of the eye beams assuring it's placement allows the end of the frame to strike a wall or other object before the flywheel or other parts of the engine do.

Don't drill mounting holes for the engine till you test fit everything...If you start here, you can move things around till you accommodate everything you forgot to allow for..., like a method to drain the oil, oil filters, radiator support, cooling tank mounts, aux. alternator for battery charging, fly wheel clearance, and a thousand other  things.

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Above is a picture of the sub assembly I like to fabricate for a pulley driven setup like the Lister 6/1 or 12/2.  The angle rides on the outside or inside of the eye beams or channel that are used for the two main rails that support the engine and generator head. The box tubes align with the generator mounting holes. The location of the mounting holes in the box tube are determined after the engine is mounted, and a 'mock up' of the pulley and belt is performed. Keeping your pulley as far inward on the generator shaft will keep the side thrust on the bearing down and can make a difference in longevity.

The optional spring and rod arrangement is mounted on the shaft side of the generator and is used to maintain tension on the belt. On this design, a small piece of flat steel with a hole in it is placed on the bolt 'underside' that fastens the gen head down. This keeps the head from being lifted by the engine torque

April 2003

After building a number of frames for 6/1s and 12/2s, I believe this design is close to perfect for driving off the flywheel with the efficient special purpose utterpower pulley 'sheave'.

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Start with two chunks of eye beam about 4 to six inches. Listers are beefy looking, and look better on beefy eye beams. 40 to 42 inch lengths works pretty well for me, you may want to mount more to your base than I do, so lay things out. Don't rule out wooden beams, they were used often in the old days. Consider sealing then up to keep them from being contaminated during oil changes, and fuel spills, etc.

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Measure your mounting holes on the bottom of your engine, set your eye beams up so the engine mount holes fall on the inside of the beam.  Make sure you stay far enough away from the vertical of the eye so you have room for the NUT to clear. Find some stock and weld it across the ends to form a box. It's best to put a level across your work and assure all is flat, then put a clamp across each end and tack weld first. Do a weld at the top, then the bottom, once all is tack welded together, check alignment and then finish welding.

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The above picture shows the sliding sub mount for the generator head.  This allows the head to slide back and forth for adjustment, and maintenance. The mount can also be left on the generator for quick removal, and replacement. Note that the sub assembly uses the two eye beams as a sort of track. The head can not twist from alignment with the engine flywheel. I like "I" beams that are four inches wide across the top.   The Listeroid mounting holes are about 13 inches wide, "side to side". The holes should fall half way between the edge and the center section, this gives you room for the nut and washer, and allows the base of the Lister to be well supported by the tops of the beams. If you are using 4 inch wide eye beams, the beams will come out 18.5 inches wide.



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The above picture is a view from the generator end showing how the assembly is bolted together, gen head, sub assembly, and eye beams. I weld the top pieces to the side pieces, and bolt the bottom piece on with the same bolt that fastens the gen head to the base. Leave just enough clearance where the head can move back and forth.  This will allow for adjustment, but keep the torque from lifting the head. You can use washers as shims to get it the way you want it. I have used masking tape along the top and inside of the eye beam. This allows me to lay out the generator sub assembly, weld the top to the inside track , and then pull the tape for clearance.

NOTE: The Allmand Serpentine pulley and standard SK bushing is placed on the generator shaft and placed inward as close as possible, this reduces the side thrust on the generator bearing. The pulley is then aligned with the flywheel and set to run on in the center or inside of the flywheel. Once this 'mock up" has been completed,  you can locate your holes for mounting the generator to the sub assembly.


I use the NAPA Serp Belt part # 250060935 (six groove), note that the last three numbers are the size of the belt. (93.5 inches). this should be about right if you lay out your engine and gen head the way I do.  Some folks ask about the 8 groove belt, for a 6/1, the only reason I've found (so far) to run the 8 groove belt is to make it look beefier. My recommendation is to call NAPA and check on the sizes they have, I've been told that the Automotive applications for the 8 groove belt are increasing, and more sizes should become available. At the time I write this, NAPA stocks a 25-080922 (92 3/4 inches) and a 25-080952 (95 3/4 inches). It's best you wrap a string around your flywheel and pulley, and measure the minimum length belt that would work for your layout. Goodyear claims to make superior belts, you might check them out too. Remember, there's lots of near new belts on those upside down junkers, seems people put new belts on them just before they get wrecked or junked out.  I have found that many of the Chevy V8s and V6s have belts of the proper size, and who knows how many other makes will work. This supply of parts could be important in an emergency or in hard times, it embraces the philosophy of building with parts you can find when you need them most. And of course, you'll remember to keep that old belt off your car or truck and see if it fits, it could be a spare you can hang in your generator shed.

All that's left is a tension spring to keep the belt in tension. DIYers have reported good results with placing the belt in tension and locking the sub assembly down with a bolt and leaving the spring out. The effort to add the tension device assures a constant tension regardless of temp, load, etc. I'll stick with the spring for my stuff.

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Above is an attempt to show the underside of the generator mount. There's a tab welded or bolted onto the bottom of the gen head track assembly. This has a hole drilled through it allowing a threaded rod to pass. A nut and large washer make up the end that carries a big diesel valve spring. The rod passes through a hole in the end of the gen base, or through another tab mounted or bolted to the frame. on the outside is an adjustment nut, "a drilled and tapped faucet handle works to allow adjustment without tools. the rod and adjustment nut puts the spring in compression, and forces the gen head away from the engine. put this rod as close as possible to being 'inline' with the belt, this assures and even and less binding tension system. 

If you design it different, that's what it's all about.  If you don't know where to start,  the above design seems to work very well. The Lister looks at home on good sized 'I' Beams, one Frame I made has rails that just pick up the mounting holes on the 6/1 on the outside of the beam.  In other words, the beams are narrower. the look is no where as appealing.

Before you attempt to mount the engine, read this.

Engine blocks will not appreciate being bolted to your generator base with grade 8 bolts. If you forget the basics here, you could crack the engine block, break off a mounting tab, or distort the block. Place the engine on the frame, align the flywheel and generator pulley using your belt to find the best engine position. Transfer your engine mounting holes to the frame, drill them, insert three soft (common hardware store 1/2 inch nuts and bolts), and snug them up with your fingers. Study the fourth hole and use feeler gauges to get an idea how much you need in the way of a shim to allow all four corners to rest on the frame. Shim your engine carefully to assure you're not distorting the block or breaking something when you tighten the mounting bolts.

If you start thinking you're going to take this concern one step further and put some big ole rubber mounts under the engine, remember the drive system will not like this, both the Engine and Generator need to be fixed in relation to one another to function properly.. If you want rubber mounts, put them under the common frame.

Keep in mind that open flywheel engines are dangerous, run them only after you build the proper guards and have them certified by the proper authorities. For legal reasons, we suggest you never start them. 

Adjusting the base

A big ole Eye Beam frame is not a dainty thing. When you weld it up, things can move slightly. the tops of the eye beam might not be perfectly level, etc. All of this is of little concern to me, Remember to align your flywheel and pulley off one side of the eye beam, use the outside of the beam on the drive side as your guide. Make sure you're mounting holes are far enough away from the middle of the beam to allow for the nuts or fasteners to clear. AND most important.. if you don't like the way the engine and eye beam meets.. you can adjust this by smacking the top of the beam with a big ole sledge hammer! This is not anything like making a watch, it's totally appropriate to use a big ole hammer when mounting the engine to the frame.

Another example of a frame base using wood!

Are you thinking of buying a Listeroid engine? Lots of folks made up their mind after reading the feature article "Lister Longevity". Learn what it takes to make a good work engine out of the Indian Lister Types. Get the utterpower CD.


George B.