The Listeroid Page

Want to buy a Lister ? Email  George B.


At 600 RPMs, it's just like a Big Ole Grandfather Clock, more of a Melody than noise. Compare Judy Garland's voice to that of Susan Esterich. That's about how much difference there is between a typical 3600 RPM engine and a true Lister slow speed.    



It has taken me a number of years to learn what I know about the Indian Listers, and I am still learning. Not all Listeroids are put together with the same care, some folks make their selection on price alone. I have written a living document that is 90 plus pages and growing. I sell a CD with this article included, numerous pictures, info on making specialty tools, how to inspect and determine quality, how to prepare a common Listeroid for hard work. Setting up cooling systems, and a bunch more including the utterpower manual for the ST gen head. This CD could allow you to find common problems and fix them before disaster strikes. It also provides info on maintenance, and info from India. This CD has been well received, and grows as my knowledge grows.

Order CD


 If you are planning to use your lister to drive an AC generator head, this CD will discuss things you should know before making your selection. On the other hand, I will import a few serious work engines from India each year, they have been optimized to power AC gen heads. You can email me and ask to be put on a waiting list without cost, I will email all when they arrive and fill the list 'top down". Sometimes we have economy engines that might need some cleaning, or possibly even rebuilt, but they may be had for less money.   

If you are looking to burn used Vegetable oil for fuel, this engine design may be the best thing you ever find to do it. I received another call tonight from a totally amazed customer that is burning 80% used vegetable oil and 20% off road diesel, and he is starting it cold with this mixture, of course it is spring. He has logged 370 hours with this mixture and is very happy with the power he is getting for an average of one quart of fuel per hour. the heat off the cooling tank is being put to use as well.


A first look at the old Lister design.

If you have interests in efficient off grid power production, you may have heard of the old Lister design.  It's a heavy double flywheel stationary engine built from the ground up to be maintained and even rebuilt in place. This design was built by the British and was still being produced by Lister itself in 1987.  The Indians started building parts for them and eventually assembled whole engines. The name Listeroid means 'copy' , and some engines are close copies for sure. Amazing as it seems, this design still provides great fuel efficiency. Jeff Maier who is an EE and is very interested in Alternative fuels, and home power production produced the following chart using biodiesel.  His tests revealed that the 6/1 with the efficient Allmand drive produced a 14% improvement over the very efficient Asian 175 diesel he had been testing. This test was done with a brand new engine right out of the crate, it is likely that the efficiency gain will become even greater as the engine 'breaks in'. The following graph was produced using a 'STANDARD'  650 RPM engine, the efficient and proven Allmand Drive system; and the ST3 Gen head.


Please note, this chart shows fuel consumed versus load.  Here's Jeff's setup.

You'll be pleased to know... this is NOT an engine full of washers, clips, spacers, shims, and all the little things that seem to jump out at you and roll across the floor into the darkest corner of your shop. In this design, things are purpose built, and there's darn few of them. I don't care how challenged you are, this is a simple engine, and easy to work on.

Your 85 year old Grandmother could rebuild this one if you put a chain fall right over the head so she can pull the cylinder without help. In fact... if you go down a few pictures on this page, you'll see the cylinder resting on a piece of plywood. The plywood is resting on top of the four massive engine studs, it makes a great work surface to hone the cylinder when fitting new rings, use a piece of plastic sheeting to provide that clean room approach.  

  6HPcrate.jpg (76536 bytes) 

Here's my 4 year old Pal 'Spencer', he's checking out the crated Lister 6/1.  An added bonus is you can heat the shop for a day or two burning the crate.

12hpcrte.jpg (98511 bytes)

This is the 12 HP 2 cylinder crate. Big enough for a camp... or at least that's what Spencer thinks.

Take a look at Steve's Old Engine Shed and check out a real LISTER, take time to load the wave file of the 10HP twin if you have the bandwidth and listen to the sweet music.

May 2, 2002

I found enough time to take the crate off the twin today. The cross bracing inside is unreal, they did a super job of making sure everything was secure. This is one massive piece of cast iron! The flywheels are far nicer castings than I expected. What is a disappointment are the fuel lines, there's a kink here and there on the low pressure side indicating the assembler didn't have the proper tool to bend the line. the manual covers different options with diagrams showing engines with tapered roller bearings, other ones with bushed bearings, engines with cylinder liners, ones without, it will become apparent to you that these engines may all look similar from the outside, but can be quite different from engine to engine according to what you have ordered. Once you look over the manual, you'll note the difference between a 'bushed' main bearing housing and a 'tapered' main bearing housing. They have a different outward appearance, and either can be fitted to the same engine. The cylinder sleeves are wet, so you should be able to tell if the engine was equipped with a sleeve by pulling the door off and feeling for the end of the sleeve.

Above: This is a very nicely made cylinder with a WET sleeve, this end mounts downward on top of the crank case, if you open the door, and follow the rod upwards, you'll be able to feel the end of the sleeve and prove you have a sleeved engine without pulling the head.

Above is the top end of a cylinder, this particular one was fitted to P brand engine, it's a very nice casting with a fine finish on the inside.

Above: Here's a 6/1 with the cylinder pulled. Once you've done this once, it's a five minute job to take the head and cylinder off. This is easier to work on than anything you've likely seen. These studs measure .715 thousands in diameter, that's a U.S. one cent piece on top of the deck.

Above: Here's a picture of square cut gears that drive the cam and governor. there's a small gear on the crank that drives this red 'idler gear', you can see the cam gear to the right. As you probably know, square cut gears are very strong and durable.  




lister6.jpg (20643 bytes)  Here's a typical single, there must be a lot more of these made because there is a STANDARD Indian part for everything. The 12/2s are often fitted with the worst low pressure fuel lines I've seen, these are possibly made by beating the fuel lines between two rocks to form them. Easy enough for a DIYer to re-do, but some folks are expecting more.  The engine above has Tapered Roller Bearings and splash only lubrication, which means there's no pump to fail. If you don't think this lube system is adequate, pull the dip stick while it's running. Water cooling inlet and outlets are same thread count as NPT fittings, I use some sealer, and really fit them tight with excellent results. There's adequate room to re-tap the fitted connectors and move from 3/4 inch to one inch NPT threads.   fitting of choice  



Above: Lister CS clone (PS12/2)

Here's a twin with the covers off the heads, note the lube oil pump in the center of the engine, you can see the oil pickup coming off the sump. The oil pump can be replaced from the outside, the main bearing housings are external which allows the removal and replacement of main bearings from the outside of the engine. There's a large access portal in the side of the crank case that allows a person to gain access to internals. There's no need to unbolt this engine from it's mounting to completely rebuild it.  It was designed from the ground up for quick parts replacement throughout the engine.

The lube oil system in a bushed type twin has a plunger type pump that supplies oil to pans that gravity feed oil onto bearings and lobes. I would not run a 12/2 without pulling the plug on the outlet side of the pump and making sure that it is pumping oil and primes quickly. I thought this metro had a little too much clearance between the pump piston and the bore, it does not prime well.

I ate lunch with a man who made his living flying all over Alaska servicing old slow speed Lister light plants far from the grid. He told me that rings, honing, and a valve job brought most of the Listers back on line.  Lyndon said he'd seen a number of Listers that had been working hard for10 years that had so little wear in the main bearings that there was no question about leaving them in place during the overhaul.


Here's a picture of the Mico (Indian Bosch) fuel pump. This unit is used in both engines and runs off a fuel pump cam on the cam shaft that operates the valves. The pump is activated by a cam follower, and all parts look well made.

Some engines have no lube oil filler, no dip stick to check oil, the better ones do.

I poured five and one half quarts of oil into the single and got it up to the full mark on the dip stick. I put a gallon or two of diesel fuel in the tank and loosened the inlet fitting on the Mico pump. After some cranking with the compression release on, I got fuel through the pump and to the injector. Once I heard the injector 'clank', I prepared myself for a FIRST start.

One compression stroke and the engine was off and running. This is it.... you are instantly hooked on this sound, the engine is really quiet, you hear some clatter from the valve train, and the pepper can silencer makes a bit of noise, but... to give you an idea how quiet it is, most of what you hear is the mechanical noise the injector makes as it fires 'clank'! This is enough in itself to amaze me.  Unlike the noise   of most engines, this is almost a welcome and soothing sound, kind of like a big OLE grandfather clock.

The next step is to fit the proper generator head for the Listeroids, a modern looking head would clash, and might take away some of the magic?  you'd also have to run a  5.54 ratio to get a consumer 2 pole gen head to spin for 60 Hz. The   ST 4 pole head will take a 2.77 ratio to get the 60hz, the Sheave will be far larger and create a more positive drive.

After reading a number of stories and accounts of Lister performance, I've decided to step up to a 5KW 4 pole head for the 6/1.  Although this engine will most likely produce little more than 3KW ongoing, it should have the ability to produce far more for short periods, I feel it is better to have too much head than too little.

May 5, 2002

With a little spare time, I checked the threads and fasteners on this engine. To my liking, I found most are S.A.E. I hooked the hose to the engine for cooling and let it run for 1/2 hour, it is so quiet without a load, I'm not sure my neighbor knew I had anything running. Just like a big OLE Grandfather clock,  tick tock, clickety clak, it's a noise I could fall asleep listening to.


I went down to Binford scrap metals and found myself are real heavy gauge box beam. The thought was to give the engine and generator head something really solid to set on.   Once it's in the final resting place, I'll roto hammer some holes in the concrete slab and tie the base down with some anchors.

base.jpg (65200 bytes)

In the picture above you can see the base after it was primed and painted.  The box is spaced to provide support all the way around the base of the engine. Studs were welded into the base allowing the engine to be lowered onto the studs. The thinking here is the engine isn't going to walk off if the nuts get loose. I didn't weigh the base, but it's probably fifty pounds or more.


Above is a picture of the engine secured to the base.

May 16th 2002

Check out the thermostat installation

June 11, 2002

I finally figured out what I wanted to try for a generator mount. Someone wrote in with the idea of trapping the generator head between two pieces of angle, and having the head slide back and forth in the 'track', then one could make adjustments without the belt tension causing the head to twist.  It sounds like a great idea, so I thought I'd do something on that order here.

What I've decided to do is bolt a base to the generator head that has two angles hugging the inside and top of the frame rails, same idea, slightly different execution.   Look at the picture below. These angles have just enough clearance to move the head back and forth for adjustment. A fresh coat of paint will really tighten things up.

genbase.jpg (41130 bytes)

The studs are welded in place, and match the generator's bolt pattern. 

Following is some info that might help you with belt drive calculations. Go back and check out  Dr. John Culp's drive set up for his 3600 RPM head.

Formula for computing pulley sizes:

D2 = D1 x N1

D1= Diameter of pulley on engine
D2= Diameter of pulley on generator
N1= RPM of engine
N2= RPM of generator

In the case of the Lister 6/1 AND a ST 1800 RPM head....

D1 = 23.25"
N1 = 650 (rated)
(D1xN1) = 15112.5
N2= 8.3958333"

OR .... Where N1= 600
N2= 7.75"

If we look at the generator speed of 1800 RPMs, we can see that the head spins 30 revolutions per second. Considering that this head has four poles, the output is two cycles per revolution or 60 HZ. If we look at the engine speed, we find it is turning 10.830 revolutions per second.

I think the engine would be happy  between 575>650 RPMs. Of course you'd have more power at the full rated 650 RPM speed. the slower speed might give slightly better fuel economy and longevity, I'm not sure. this engine was originally designed to run at 600 RPMs, not 650, and if we go back far enough we might find a slower running engine whit the same bore and stroke... if you have done any research here, email me. 

NOTE: 10/2003 I have inserted the following as a warning.   I have had several contacts with customers and owners of Listeroids that claim that their flywheels are 24 inches in diameter,  All of the Listeroids I've had the opportunity to measure have been 23.5 inches. This small difference will have some effect on your drive ratio if you drive off the flywheel. If you had a 24 inch flywheel, you'd need an 8 inch pulley to get your 1800 RPMs at the generator at 600 RPMs engine speed.

I have discussed RPMs and the need to keep the Lister at rated RPM with a number of people in the old engine crowd. There is total agreement that you don't overspeed these engines just for the fun of it. You don't do it for liability reasons alone, but most folks have found the Listeroids to run happily at less RPMs than the rated speed.

I'd have no problem running my big flywheel Listeroid at any speed between 600-650 RPMs.


Another Note on Lister 6/1s

Some folks have ordered a 2nd Lister and have noted differences in some of the components. I just talked to Hank in Florida who was a little surprised to find a plastic shut off valve on the bottom of the gas tank.  I have a few brass valves that leak, I'm guessing the Indians adopted the plastic one because it doesn't leak. Another surprise for Hank was Metallic paint, it seems the Indians and many of their regular customers love this stuff, (Yuck). I find that Hunter Dark Green is just the right color for these engines, you'll want to do a little sanding and a little clean up on castings, etc, so I've given up on caring what color they come over in, I spray my own paint anyway.  This note is a reminder that there are small differences from assembler to assembler, and that Indian Listers continue to change in small ways.

George B.




If you have personal experience with these engines, please consider emailing me.


 Listerlight.jpg (13768 bytes)   LisYan_4KW.jpg (22454 bytes)

Above left is an old Lister light plant, above right is our Lister/ST generator.

October 12, 2002  A note on valve train lubrication.  The Lister valve train relies on manual lube. I asked an Indian about this set up, and he said the folks in his country found this system needs very little lube. In fact all of the grease type fittings you can see on the old Listers are a thing of the past on Indian Listers.

If you've done some reading about lubrication, you will note that Zinc is a super oil additive. But when it is used in the primary lubricating oil within the engine you can have too much Zinc. This additive can cause deposits to build up on valve faces, spark plugs and area of the combustion chamber. For an external application like the Lister valve train, larger amounts of Zinc will protect the valve train even when you forget to give it an occasional shot of oil. 

There is a documented story of an automotive engineer showing up at a state fair booth where a guy was demonstrating an oil additive. they had a motor set up where two pieces of metal rubbed together and you could see the reduced friction when their product was added. The Engineer asked the guy running the booth if he would try 'his stuff', .... new pieces of metal were installed and this mystery concoction was added. To the amazement of the Booth Operator, he couldn't apply enough pressure to the disk to slow it down! The performance of this mystery stuff was off the chart, and clearly better than the stuff he was selling.

What was it????.... Head and Shoulders Shampoo.... right out of the bottle! Loaded with Zinc to control dandruff. Should you use Head and Shoulders to lube the valve train in the Lister design?  Probably not, but it is a good case for finding something with high levels of Zinc in it. Since synthetics have much higher film strengths, it may make sense for a person to use it in this application as well.

Check out PulOnYan.bmp (921654 bytes) our pulley,  coupling a Lister to a generator head can be a complex, troublesome, and expensive , but not if you   incorporate our economical custom pulley, or our turnkey drive system.

Inspections of Engines

PS 6/1 engine 11-20-05 inspection NEW

What  NOT to expect from a LISTEROID

Balance in the Listeroids

Understanding the Change Over Valve "COV" New

 Listeroid quality, what to expect

Discussion of Lister Types and the Variants like the GM90, and direct injection engines

The Big Indian Twins

Want to buy a Lister ? Email  George B.

Jeff's super quiet Lister 6/1, you'll be amazed!

Lister 6/1

A Turbo Lister 6/1 ?? 

Lister 12/2

Lister Parts in North America

Building your own generator base

Listeroid Specs

Listeroid fuel consumption

Lister Stories, If you have first hand experience with this design, please email me an share your experience.

First Run, If you bought a Listeroid, I'd recommend you read this before you do more than open the crate.


Cooling a Lister

Build a proper frame

Potential Problems