Lister 5/1 Diesel

Identifying Lister Diesels

An article from the Stationary Engine Newsgroup July 1998


This one is for Dene Oehme in Australia, who asked if I could put together a bit on identifying Lister diesel engines for his new web pages (which are a very good effort)

There have been quite a few newcomers to the NG who have asked me if I could explain how to differentiate between various models of the Lister Diesel engines. I have not had that problem myself, as I tended to get right in amongst them from day one, and also spent a lot of time going through handbooks and manuals that I picked up at autojumbles etc.

For the complete beginner, references to CS, CD,CE, JP, 61/6, etc etc are all a bit confusing at first, but if taken in historical order there is some logic behind the designations.

JP, JS and JK Engines.
The first diesel was the 9/1 (nine horsepower, one cylinder) 1000 rpm engine, which also became known as the JP. The JP came from the Joint Product agreement between Lister and Ruston & Hornsby, whereby they apparently agreed to keep to their own engine size ranges and not compete against each other. This left Listers with engines below 100HP, while R&H handled sizes above that.

The block was integral with the crankcase on all models, and wet liners were used. The one feature that characterised the JP, CS, CD/CE and FR engines was the compression change-over valve. This device made starting from cold without an external heat source a much more reliable process, and earned Lister a big market both in the UK and overseas.

The valve operates by putting a small ante-chamber in the head in communication with the main combustion chamber or not. When the chamber was in communication, the compression ratio was lowered, and this was the running configuration.

When the chamber was taken out of communication, the compression ration was raised, and this was the starting configuration. For operation at very high altitudes, the change-over valve could be left in the starting position. Lubrication was by wet or dry sump gear pressure pump.

The JP was never called a JP until later on in it's life, and the single was always called the 9/1, not a JP1. Later versions in two, three, four and six cylinders were variously called the 18/2 (later 21/2) JP2, 30-3 (JP3) , 40-4 (JP4) and 61-6 (JP6)

The JS was a short-lived variant of the JP, and I understand was only made in a three-cylinder version, the JS3. Problems with centre bearings caused a lot of trouble for Lister.

The JK was the final variant, with no compression change-over valve, pressure lubricated valve gear, higher speed range up to 1500 RPM and copper-lead bearings. The JP, JS and JK engines all had rocker-box mounted decompressor handles and a single flywheel at the opposite end to the fuel pump. The JS3 and JK4 shared a non-standard water circulating pump. A few options such as power take-off and air-starting equipment were pretty common, and there were numerous marine versions with different configurations altogether to the industrial units we are used to.

A lot of parts are common to all three engine ranges, but be careful over the heads, bearings and con-rods.

CS Cold-Start Diesels
The cold-start range of diesels came out after the 9/1, and were intended for low-speed farm implement type applications, and the first engines were the 5/1 models (five horsepower, one cylinder) producing 5HP at 600 rpm. This early engine had many of the contemporary Lister 'L' engine parts in common, such as crankcase, crank, bearings etc.

The CS label was given to the engine by Listers, and it was incorporated on the spec plates as part of the engine serial number. Whether this was done officially at first is not known, but the factory eventually followed suit.

The CS range always had twin flywheels (except for Hamworthy Distarto ships compressor engines which had one) and the early ones were spoked. Later engines and Start-O-Matic generating engines had solid disc flywheels of two of three different versions.

The other main difference between the CS range and all the others is the use of a separate cylinder block which was detachable from the crankcase (twin blocks on the 10/2 and 12/2)

The 5/1 was upgraded to the 6/1 by a speed increase to 650 rpm, and there was also a 3/1 version, upgraded to 3½/1, which was never that popular, and is somewhat collectible today.

The later 8/1 was a much-modified engine, with no compression change-over and different injector and pump. Basic bottom end remained much the same for all versions of the singles, while the twins were obviously different again. Later 8/1's had aluminium rocker covers, early engines had holes in the cover for the injector 'feeler' pip on top of the injector.

Early 5/1 engines had 1.75" diameter crankshafts, later had 2". You cannot fit undersized mains to any of the CS engines, as they were not made. (Think about it - the mains are inboard of a shaft that will not be undersized, and the bearings are one-piece tubular type) So if you screwed up a crank, you had to have a new one. Nowadays you can get cranks metal sprayed and re-ground to full size.

Most parts of the later bottom ends and timing/injection drives were exchangeable between engines, but injection equipment obviously varied with different cylinder sizes and compression ratios. Governor and timing gears were the same, twins had a different oil pump arrangement and thus both governor and non-governor end housings are different to the singles. Lubrication was pretty minimal, with plunger pumps on both singles and twins, with greasers for the rockers and splash for the timing gears etc.

Barrels on the 5/1 - 6/1 and 10/2 - 12/2 of all models were the same, but early ones were cast iron bores and later were chrome. Rings were different to suit the materials they were running in. 8/1 later barrels had cast in clearance for the holding down studs, that saved drilling the block right through.

3/1 engines had two gudgeon pins sizes for some reason, early and late. 3/1 heads and barrels are unique to those engines, as are rockers, injectors and valves/valve gear.

3/1 became 3½/1, 5/1 became 6/1 and 10/2 (twin) became 12/2. All by raising the speed from 600 to 650 rpm. Nothing else changes, but chrome bores as far as we can see. (There are numerous detail changes to all sorts of things, but for all intents and purposes the chrome bores was the main difference)

Easy to work on, lovely slow old plonker to watch. Probably the best of the Lister diesels.

CD/DE Singles and twins.
The CD (single) and CE (twin) were both produced to provide slightly higher power than the 5/1 and 6/1, but less than the 9/1 and 18/2. The output power was 7HP for the CD and 14 for the CE.

A bit of an 'in-between' engine, the CD/CE range was a rethink on the JP 9/1 concept, which never really achieved much popularity. Their biggest market was in generation applications, and coming just before WW2 they were extensively used for generating and pumping applications, but not much at all in farming and the like.

The engines were integral-block construction, with a 'square' bore to stroke ratio. The other engines before had always been long-stroke, and this change was to affect the way the engine performed.

Both engines were fitted with twin solid disc flywheels with cast-in oval slots. A range of 'electrical' flywheels was available which were probably the heaviest fitting of all the Lister diesels. The heads were different, and most of the block fittings were unique to each engine.

The crankshaft had four bearings, five on the twin, which gave a very rigid foundation for the crank to run in. The bearings are tubular like the CS engines, but the crank can be ground undersize.

There is no decompressor as such, but the compression change-over valves had an intermediate position that effectively acted as a decompressor device.

Generators had solenoids to operate these levers instead of being purely manual, and auto-starting gensets had fully automatic starting facilities which were quite sophisticated for the time.

Blackstone also had a few bits and pieces from these engines, and Nordberg in the 'States manufactured these engines under licence during the war, with slightly different flywheel sizes I believe.

Both engines were available with full-power take offs and clutches, which the CS range never was (although there were various configurations available as a special build) The CD/CE engines were designed from the word go to be power sources for plant, and were designed to be built in.

They are not particularly attractive engines (I have one of each) but they are part of the heritage of Listers and should be treated as such. Some piston rings from the CD/CE can be used on CS engines with care.

Injectors and pumps are unique to the range, the CE having a dual-plunger pump against the CS 10/2 having twin single-plunger pumps.

Oil pump is similar to the JP and FR, and is very accessible at the front of the engine. Dry sump lubrication was available. In the UK, most engines were used on generators, but other applications were quite common. The Post Office had very large numbers in service up to the 1970's and 1980's on small exchange relay stations. Some CE's were marinised, and are still used by enthusiasts in canal narrow-boats.

FR Series, FR1, FR2 etc.
The last of the compression change-over engines, the FR series was designed from day one to be an industrial power plant. They were probably the peak of engine design at Listers, and were a very complex engine to work on.

There are very few knobbly bits to see externally, only the throttle lever, decompression and compression change-over controls. The flywheel is at the starting end of the engine, and only one was fitted to all models. Some had it at the back (timing gear end) but the vast majority were shipped with a standard front flywheel configuration.

Radiator cooling was standard, with a built-in circulation pump, and a gear oil pump was carried over from the CD/CE and JP engines. Dry-sump was available, mainly for marine applications where the larger four and six cylinder engines achieved some success.

A.J. (Joe) Morris was the chief designer at Listers when the FR range was conceived, and David Harris tells of things like timing gear sets being run together to check for noise, and the complexity of the building of the engine. David also said that Joe Morris had all the files and hammers taken away from the assembly lines before they were allowed to work on the FR's !

Compared with the CS, which is my personal favourite Lister Diesel, the FR looks very modern and lacking in character, but when you look at the variety of applications it was used on, it was a major advance for Lister and got them into many markets where the older engines would not have been considered.

All the rockers, injectors and pumps etc are enclosed behind large removeable covers. All are gasketed, so oil leaks are small, and you will find rust to be a problem on these engines as there was not a lot of blown or leaked oil around to keep rust away.

All threads are Unified on the FR, a complete break from the BSF and BSW threads used on the CS and JP engines. (The 8/1 and 16/2 engines went on for some years as a major export product to Iran, and only stopped when the Shah was overthrown there)

Some other identifiers
The FR, JP and CD/CE all used crankcase mounting brackets, while the CS ranges used feet on the crankcase itself.

The CS range all had external pushrods etc.

Only the JP and FR had a proper decompression lever which was directly acting on the valves. CS had a tappet 'holder-upper' which stopped the exhaust tappet from lowering back with the cam, and the CD/CE used the compression change-over valve to do the same job.

JP's had separate heads and common barrel/crankcase. CS's had one barrel to a head. FR's had one head, a dual head and a three-cylinder head, but common barrels in a crankcase, while CD/CE's had different heads and wet liners in a common crankcase.

The JP and CD/CE liners have some similarities, and I think you can modify a JP liner to fit a CD/CE or vice-versa (you need to machine the liner length and fit con-rod cut-outs by memory)

All engines are overhead valve, water cooled four-strokes.

A different variant of the CS range was the air-cooled VA engine. This one was a complete wierdo, as it was air-cooled but developed from the water cooled CS range of engines.

Bottom end is pretty much standard CS, but flywheels are disc type with trapezoidal cut-outs (3) and the barrel and head are totally different to the CS ranges. The flywheel on the cooling fan side is where the drive belts would be on a standard Start-O-Matic engine, so the VA is back to front in respect of starting position etc.

Nothing from the crankcase up fits the other CS engines, and the single flywheel which hasn't got the fan on will not match anything other than a late 8/1.

That's about all I can think of on the subject, my thanks to David Harris for much anecdotal and factual info on the engines mentioned.


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