Lister 5/1 Diesel

Lister Restoration & Rebuild

Obtaining & Restoring Your First Engine

Chapter 5 -

Repairs & Reconditioning

Repairs which can be done at home are restricted by time and facilities. The repairs that are listed in this chapter are generally not suitable for home repairs, but a description of those processes will help the enthusiast understand what is possible at moderate cost and what is not possible however much money you throw at it.

Given unlimited money and time, everything can be repaired or completely reproduced from scratch. The interest in restoration hinges as much on what you can do yourself, as what you can cadge or scrounge from sources around and about. The search for that elusive set of bearing shells or gasket set can take weeks of effort and cost, but it is so sweet when you have the prize in your hand, that you feel it is well worth the effort.

The following sections give brief details of current engineering practices in the engine reconditioning field, together with comments on the costs and practicality. Some non-reconditioning subjects are also touched on.

Widely available for almost all sizes of engine, spare pistons still available for some older engines, with the possibility of new pistons being manufactured from castings if you have the money. Costs medium to high (10 - 20 per cylinder for boring, pistons from 25 upwards each) Price for generating a new piston casting including pattern making would be in the order of 450 + 30 per casting. Costs per casting come down with quantity. Pattern life is indefinite.

Ring sets still available from sources in the hobby and occasionally from stores of companies that are clearing out of closing down. Some advertisers in S.E. offer to manufacture new rings. Costs can be high for specialist work, but this is one part that cannot be skimped.

Widely available as above. Bearing availability not good for rarer engines, possibility of new bearings being re-manufactured, in plain phosphor bronze or white metal. New original white metal bearings no longer available from specialist engine sources, although some still turn up at sales.

Old bearings can be re-metalled by vintage car sources. Costs medium to high as few reconditioners can cope with, or want to get involved with, long single or double-throw crankshafts. Regrinding a single-throw crank will cost in the order of 20 - 40, excluding bearings, assuming that the repairers machine will take it.

Building up of shafts by metal spraying is widely available, but is not deemed suitable for engine bearing surfaces by our local man. Bearing building up by the MIG welding process and subsequent machining back to standard is available through most reconditioners, but there are only two or three centres that do this in the UK as far as I am able to ascertain, with at least one in London.

Note that the 3/1, 5/1, 6/1 and 10/2 main bearings have to be built up and ground back to standard, as the flywheels and crankshaft ends would be larger than the bearing if ground undersize, and you obviously couldn't get an undersized bearing over the shaft.

Costs for spraying/machining 60 per shaft, excluding VAT
Costs for the welding/grinding were P.O.A. (Price on application)

A good reference work for those interested in the old techniques for white metal bearing repairs and similar 1940's - 1950's engineering is Caxton Publishing's' 'The Modern Motor Engineer'. My copy is in new condition, published in 1955. It was passed on to me following the death of my stepfather.

It contains everything you would need in the way of information on such subjects. Turning up new pistons, re-metalling main and big end bearings, block repairs and so on is all described in great detail. It was intended as a reference work on motor repairs for cars and trucks, but almost everything in the engine line is applicable to stationary engines.

Widely available at specialist machinists. Costs about 25 - 35 per flywheel, Balancing also available from specialist engine tuners. balancing per flywheel: about 25.

NOTE (Lister engines in particular) Don't forget that if you take off more than a nominal amount of flywheel diameter, you will loose the engine serial numbers and the timing marks which could cause you problems later on. The ends of the crankshaft are normally stamped with a 1 on one end and a 2 on the other. Each flywheel rim (or face) should also be similarly marked to enable each flywheel to be fitted in its original position. (Info from David Harris)

Less popular than in the 1950's and 1960's, but modern welding techniques provide better repairs. Medium costs (50 - 150 depending on size of work) no limit to repairs although costs escalate for the more intricate block and head repairs.

Widely available, although few old engines had valve seats as a separate component. Most repairers able to regrind valves and recut seats. New seat insertion depends on the amount of material in the head between waterways and the seat. Low to medium cost, spares still available for most engines through new parts or modified parts from other engines. Seat recut: 10 per pair of valves, seat insertion 30 per pair, seats extra.

Most BSF and BSW threaded fasteners are still available from specialist suppliers, particularly in the car trade dealing with 1930's to 1950's cars.

'Non-fastener' threaded items can be made from scratch given a pattern or drawing. 'Fine thread' versions of BSF fasteners still around in some of the smaller stockists and at autojumbles.

Costs not high for basic nuts and bolts in most cases. Few original fasteners available; modern hardware has different appearance, with forged items having numbers on heads of bolts. Most old threads were machined, while modern types are forged or rolled. Changes during the second world war to heads of BSW and BSF bolts and nuts can effect appearances, as hexagon heads were rationalised between the two types to save cost.

Plating available on everything at small extra charge. Some types of coach bolts are now unavailable unless a minimum quantity ordered. Note that most old engines did not use washers of any kind under nuts.

Available at specialist small diesel repairers who are usually connected with, or interested in, a related hobby. Medium cost, spares not usually a problem, even on older engines. Costs to overhaul a Bryce unit injection pump 30 - 40, depending on parts used. Injectors 10 - 20 ditto.

Some repairers, like the one I use, keep lots of bits and pieces from old job lots, and where the customer never collected the repaired parts (makes you wonder what they did with the engine) and can often make up new units from bits and pieces. When my injectors were being dismantled and checked, we found one nozzle retaining sleeve was different to the other, so out came the box of bits and a correct sleeve was found.

Bryce (Lucas-Bryce) still list Lister pumps and nozzles, and the pattern parts suppliers also have elements and nozzles available for the 7mm elements used on the 5/1 - 10/2 engines. 3/1 engines had a different pump and injector.

Not applicable to diesels, but most of us have at least one petrol engine in our collection. Large amounts of unidentified units in circulation, particularly in the old car trade. Very little in-depth knowledge of industrial engine carbs and systems, but worth looking into. Costs can be dirt cheap or sky-high. Spares and repair kits still available for some older Amal and similar carbs. Some parts now being re-manufactured.

A bit of a minefield for the uninitiated, but it is surprising what you can turn up at autojumbles etc. Amal parts still available from some motorcycle suppliers.

Again, not strictly applicable to Cold Start diesels; Most magneto types are well supported, with spares/repairs being freely available. Prices for rewind of armature: 25 - 50. Coil spares tend to be better supported: new coil from an advertiser 10.

Coils and earlier trembler systems are still repaired, but the earlier you go the more difficult it will be to get replacements. As long as you have the remains, you seem to be able to get it repaired/refurbished. Low to medium costs; also worth looking at old car autojumbles where a surprising amount of compatible or convertible parts appear. Beaulieu comes to mind, as does the motorcycle event at Netley Marsh at the same time. Rebuild for a multi-cylinder magneto including new bearings will cost you 85 - 250, depending on work done. The old car industry has quite a few magneto specialists (who can also help with switchboard parts for old generators sometimes)

If all else fails and you cannot find a secondhand part, you can get patterns made and cast your own bits. Many small foundries have their own pattern makers, and while costs for a pattern can be relatively high, the options of selling castings to other enthusiasts can cover the initial cost of the pattern. A recent enquiry (1996) for Austin A40 Somerset bumper over-riders in cast brass 4mm thick produced a pattern cost of 390 and a unit cost of 20 per casting.

In this case the availability of new parts is nil, and there are no more recoverable parts in circulation. The brass parts will need polishing and chroming, but will not rust. Cast iron is cheaper than brass, but the pattern costs will be high for anything reasonably complex. Worth looking into, particularly for manufacturing new pistons.

As nearly all Lister engines consist of castings of one sort or another, there would seem to be no limit other than cost in producing some of the more rare items. When we run out of parts from autojumbles and S.E., we will have to consider this method of keeping our engines going.

When we wanted a second flywheel for our Ruston-Hornsby 11hp diesel, we were pleased to find that a fellow enthusiast had made a pattern for his own engine, and was prepared to cast another flywheel for us as well. The cost of the casting was £180, with machining about another £150.

Most shafts and similar parts can be re-manufactured from scratch given a drawing or original part as a pattern. Costs are variable depending on where you go to get the job done. Most turned-part shops run CNC lathes which are set for making small parts in the thousands, and will not look at a one-off job.

Smaller jobbing shops can, and will, produce small batch parts, and we had a batch of BSW square nuts produced by such an establishment. Costs depend on what you are after and how much work the place has on at the time. Items such as keyways will have to be put in where the original had them, so a milling facility will be needed.

Most small places we approached were willing to carry our such work, especially if it was a cash payment job. Don't haggle over prices, if you find a good supplier, keep him happy ! On the other hand don't pay silly money for basic work. Get a couple of quotes if you think you are being quoted an unrealistic price (ripped off is the euphemism I am thinking of)

Example: Chaff cutter main shaft remanufacture using damaged old shaft as pattern, including keyways: 45. Note that you could in theory make a new crankshaft from scratch, as the billets of steel in the required sizes are available without too much trouble. There would be a lot of turning and milling, as you would not have the shape the original forging had, but with suitable heat treatment it would probably be a better job than the original. I asked the question and was quoted: 500 - 1500, depending on the amount of work involved, and you would have to get the journals ground at extra cost after hardening.

A huge variety of companies available in yellow pages, but it can take you years to find a couple of good, reliable and conscientious companies. Powder coaters are limited in the colours available out of a box, but powders can be mixed to match a sample specially - at a price. More later.

Painters have the ability to mix colours specially to order, or if they cannot do it on site, there are plenty of paint suppliers who will do it for you. Lister Middle Brunswick Green is a BS 381C colour; shade 226. This is a standard industrial colour and you should have no problems in getting it made up - but check it before use. I had a batch of 5 litres made up, and there was a formula problem when the paint was mixed which left me with 5 litres of the wrong colour. Our local car paint supplier was able to mix a small quantity of his own brand which came out near perfect to the original colour.

Colour swatches are not a good enough guide when checking colours, and older paint will have faded and darkened (or sometimes lightened) Large paint suppliers such as Trimite at Uxbridge will supply paint in minimum quantities, or will occasionally arrange for standard colours at their trade collection counter. They are pretty much beyond reproach with colour specs, but don't expect such large organisations to fall over themselves for a 20 order for paint. Go to a local car paint supplier who will usually mix you up some two-pack (catalytic drying paint) or air drying paint in one or two-litre quantities.

Cost per litre varies according to paint type and quantity, and don't forget you will need twice as much thinners as paint, to allow for cleaning off, thinning and brush/gun cleaning afterwards. Allow between 8 - 20 per litre. Two-pack is about 17 per litre, air drying about 12 per litre. (Catalyst will be required for the two-pack at extra cost)

Powder coating is a better process for basic lumps of metal such as chassis and frames. The process is quite simple and involves powder being sprayed electrostatically onto your parts, which are then baked in an oven to melt the powder onto the surface (at over 300 Deg C) The process is good for covering up minor surface marks, but the powder remains thermoplastic, i.e. it softens with heat, and is therefore not recommended for surfaces where the temperature exceeds 100-150 Deg C.

Note that because the process is electrostatic, powder will not go into holes very well. This is great for keeping it out of threads and the like, but not so good if you want to get powder down a long, thin hole. Nozzles are available which will allow some injection of powder into holes and cavities, but generally it will depend on the guy who is going to do the work.

Smaller powder coaters are willing to do small batches of bits, especially for cash payment. They do not carry a great selection of colours, but as long as you can cope with that they are a better bet than the big boys. Insist on etching primer for all paint/powder work, it gives a better key for the final coat.

Powder colours are pretty varied, but tend to be the popular RAL (European Standard) BS 381C and BS4800 colours, and even then you will only find the faster moving colours being stocked at the powder makers.

You can get powders made to match a colour sample, but you will have to buy a 100Kg batch, and pay about 5 - 7 per kilo. Standard colours are around 4 per kilo and come in 25 kilo boxes. All plus VAT of course.

Properly prepared paint and powder finishes will last for ever in real terms. Powder looks more orange-peel than paint, but it does hide a lot of casting marks and irregularities. If you like to see your engine, warts and all, use paint.

For the occasional engine frame, chain guard or crank cover, it is usually no problem to sort out a local sheet metal shop or fabricator to knock something up. Most are very reasonable and make a nice job of the welds etc.

Smaller companies come out best again here, and you can usually tell the ones to use by the amount of small jobbing work they have on in the workshop. Again, don't try to push prices down too far, as the company or proprietor has to make a living, and you will not be welcome back a second time if you screwed them or him into the ground on price the first time.

Don't try to get rush jobs done the first time out either, but try to establish a regular relationship with the supplier that sees both of you getting benefits from the trade. If you recommend him to others, try to make sure that they know the rules of engagement as well, to avoid you loosing a good supplier by your friends bad behaviour. It does happen !

Fabrication in the larger RSJ and RHS sections is a bit more specialised, and you may have to ask one of the local steel stockholders (look in Yellow Pages) for the names of a couple of firms that they deal with.

Try to go in with at least a decent sketch of what you are after, and listen to their recommendations if they suggest a different way of putting the thing together. It may not work for your particular job, but they usually have far more experience in that sort of thing, and have honed basic assemblies to a fine art. (They usually have good contacts for the more specialised bolts and fasteners as well)

Trailer chassis (designed by us) in 50 X 50 and 50 X 90 X 5mm box section: 250. Commercial equivalent: 480

Delivery of your part(s) will either be included in the price in the case of most heavy items, or you will be expected to collect in the case of smaller, lighter parts. If you ask for them to be delivered, expect to pay extra, up to 25 for overnight carrier for items up to 15Kg, more for heavier items.

If you need a makers name or logo made into a transfer, then you will need some artwork to be generated. Most graphics bureaux can scan original (and quite tatty) labels and logos into their computer, and then clean them up. To do this for a 4" X 4" item for example would cost you about 40, plus extra for supplying a positive film or disk.

Some smaller places and one man outfits will generate new artwork from a photograph or drawing, but the costs will have to be negotiated before you start. Expect to pay up to 40 per hour at least. Cash talks here as elsewhere.

Screenprinting is pretty common, and you should have no problem finding a local outfit to do the work. Charges include the cost of making the screen, which involves a photographic process, and the actual set up and printing time.

Expect to pay 30 - 45 for a single set up and printing up to 10 items with the same screen. If you need more than one colour, then the screen will have to be washed off and set up for the next colour. For a two-colour set up and print of 10 items from the same screen you will pay between 50 - 75. Smaller places again are better and more amenable than the larger ones, but once you leave, the screen is destroyed, so if you want to come back later in the week and do some more, make sure your screen printer knows !

(Screens can be kept for up to a month, but they do have a limited shelf life so try to get as much done as possible from the one set up)

Note that the screenprinter will require a positive (pozi in their language) artwork on clear film from which he will produce the screen. Your artwork man should have produced that for you, but if you have a good existing printed version of what you want, and it is clear enough to use, then you can get it photographed (and reduced/enlarged) at one of the many local photography studios or at a specialist Printed Circuit Board photoplotting house. They invariably have conventional, but large format camera facilities for producing pozi film from camera artwork. Charges for a one off photograph and reduction would be about 20 - 30.

Remember that Graphics bureaux can usually offer image manipulation as well as simple cleaning up, so look into that side if you want to add or delete parts of your image.

A bit of a dying art these days, but the aforementioned artisans, the patternmakers are usually amongst the best at the game, and of course have the equipment for all those intricate details that you will want for your masterpiece. Woodshops who make doors and the like are not likely to hold the hard woods required, and any plywood they stock is not going to be as good a quality as the patternmakers.

Wood is expensive, and environmentalists have made it a bit of a political hot potato. Hard woods have to be imported from hot climates, and heavy sections in mahogany, Iroko or similar will cost the earth. Having said that, there are some substitutes available now which are sourced from forests that are 'sustainable', and can be stained to show similar colouring if not the grain of the more expensive timber.

Costs for making up wooden parts are pretty expensive as the materials are far more costly than metal. Expect to pay up to 200 - 250 for a medium sized engine trolley, but this figure does vary according to where you are and the local economy. Our local patternmakers do work for us commercially, and we get the benefit of the association when we need something for ourselves. (We still have to pay for it though !)

The wood boys can also give very useful advise on fixings and finishes, which can be invaluable. Always ask the questions and listen to what they have to say, it will always be interesting. If you do not have a wood machining shop near you, ask you local timber merchant if he knows of one in the area. The merchant will probably deal with wood shops for some timber or other and will know what materials they are using.

Some home hobbyists have extensive wood-machining facilities such as routers, lathes and the like, and it is quite possible that you can get jobs done far cheaper by a local enthusiast than you would commercially.

Other sources include: evening classes at your local TEC, (many a fine bit of timber and metalwork has been turned our over the dark evenings of winter) and I seem to remember that 'students' get special rates on materials used in their courses. Finally, small specialist furniture makers would be worth approaching, especially for fine detail work.

I had all of our 10/2 engine blocks pickled, which took out all of the internal scale and rust in the water jackets, together with any light surface rusting. The surface finish is blackish afterwards, but is free from any loose scale. Our stripper uses a preservative dip after pickling and stripping which delays the onset of rusting that is a problem with older castings.

I prefer to have blocks etc. stripped rather than sandblasted, as the surface retains the original grinding marks and casting pattern ridges. Sandblasting removes an amount of surface material which may cause problems on thin materials such as tanks.


Some cast irons with a high content of free carbon may react with phosphoric acid and form a softened layer on the surface of the piece being stripped. It does not affect all cast irons, but it does cause problems with Lister tappet housings, oil pump housing, valve lifter casting and governor housings (both ends) The tappet housing retainers do not seem to be affected, nor does the oil pick-up union. If at all unsure, get a sample piece done and check it. The problem appears mostly on machined faces, as the basic casting will have a skin of hard material which is not immediately penetrable by the acid.

There is also the need to very thoroughly clean any blasted parts, as the grit or balls get in everywhere, and a few grit particles in an oilway will very quickly wreck a new engine.

The benefit of sandblasting or shotblasting as the case may be, is that paint, surface rust and scale all come away in one process, and the finish gives a very good key to new paint or primer. The snag is that castings will rust immediately once exposed to air, and for some reason older castings seem to rust quicker than present day manufactured types. It may be that moisture in the compressed air is driven into the metal with the grit, but whatever the reason it is a problem.

When we had our chaff cutter wheel shotblasted, we had to leave it at the works for three days as we were not in their area with the van. When we collected it, it was absolutely red with rust, albeit light rust. We now collect on the same day the blasting is done and get it into the painters spray booth later the same day.

Prices for shotblasting vary according to how much handling is involved, and how much surface material (Paint, rust etc.) has to be removed. A complete set of 10/2 castings would cost between 40 to 80.

Fortunately, very few of us have to get gearwheels cut, as they tend to be reusable even when found rusted solid. There are quite a number of gear cutting specialists in the UK, and a high proportion of them are smaller companies who will entertain an enquiry for a one-off set of gears.

Before you do look around, note that a lot of existing modern engines and equipment use gears of spur and helical types, and it may be possible to modify something more modern to do the repair.

Model Engineer' and 'Stationary Engine' magazines carry adverts for gear cutting, and even at lot of model engineers have got the necessary skill and equipment to do the job. Note that some helicals may use 'multi-start' teeth arrangements. That's about all on sourcing services, but don't forget the many engine clubs in the country that are listed in the 'Stationary Engine' magazine twice yearly. The next chapter starts the re-assembly of the engine.

Most plain bearings used in engines tend to be either phosphor-bronze bushes, or a proprietary type such as 'Oilite'. Both are quite common on older engines, and are also used on pumps, generators and other equipment.

'Oilite' bushes are still commercially available, and come in Imperial and Metric sizes. The 10/2 engine uses a number of these bushes on the camshaft, and if your bearings are damaged, you will have to get replacements. Plain turned phosphor-bronze bushes are usually made-up from stock bar or tube, and are used in situations where a stock bush is unavailable or unsuitable.

'Oilite' bushes are impregnated with lubricant by soaking in engine oil for 24 hours before installation. Note that this is done after any machining. The bushes will need an interference fit of about 3-5 thou, and care should be taken to allow for the reduction of the internal size due to the bush being squeezed into the housing.

Being made from sintered bronze powder, these bushes will hold large amounts of oil, but they still require lubrication, even on a slow running camshaft such as the 10/2 which rotates at 325 rpm. The outrigger bearings in the end housings should be lubricated by hand before running if possible, the next bearing in on the non-governor end having the luxury of splash lubrication and the start-up 1/2 pint through the oil plug on top of the crankcase. (See instruction/parts list for this one) This bearing also acts as the thrust face for the camshaft, taking the end thrust generated by the helical timing gear.

The centre camshaft bearing is a large cast-iron bush with two oil holes in the top face of each lobe, which should be cleaned out on overhauls.

Stockists of 'Oilite' bushes are fairly common, and we had no problems getting sizes near to our requirements. You will not get the exact sizes you need, but the ID is the most important, you can always machine the OD and length in your lathe.

© Peter & Rita Forbes 2000 - 2003
Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5 Chapter 6 Chapter 7

Appendices Index Main