VW Diesel-powered GenSet

My friend, Bob Matthews, and I built a VW Diesel-powered standby generator outfit, starting in August of 1998. Over a year later, it's about finished.

The engine block came from an '84 Rabbit, head from an '85 Golf, an '80 Dasher indjection pump, and other parts from a collection of junk VWs that are laying around here. The generator is a 10KW, 3600RPM unit from Northern (formerly Northern Hydraulics) We started with an engine from an '80 Dasher and a bellhousing from a Rabbit, but due to an oversight, ran it with no oil pressure for nearly 10 minutes. As you can imagine, this did the engine no good at all, so we built up this "Johnny Cash Cadillac" to replace it.

To start with, we needed a method of driving the generator via belt. We arrived at a 'good' speed for the engine by driving my Jetta down the road; it seemed like 45 MPH gave good acceleration with a reasonable engine speed. Checking with a tach, we found that to be 2300RPM, more or less. That meant a 1.6:1 stepup, and we had keep the generator turning in the same direction as the engine, meaning that a simple gearbox couldn't be used. As we wanted to keep all side loads off the rear crankshaft bearing, a support bearing and coupling arrangement was required.

The parts for the coupling, etc. are shown in this shot. There's a coupling plate that is attached to the VW drive plate with 3 shoulder bolts, washers, and Delrin sleeves/bushings. We tried pieces of rubber hose, but those were quickly pounded out. The flywheel need to have 3 counterbores to accomodate the bolt heads, and the bellhousing had to be chopped and have a bearing mount installed. The latter is also the rear engine mount. Here, we've bolted the VW drive plate onto the crank; you can see the bolt mounting pads welded onto it. This shot shows the shaft and drive plate assembled to the VW drive plate, this one shows the flywheel bolted to the VW drive plate, and this last one shows the rear of the engine, completely assembled with the 1.5" shaft sticking out.

Of course, we needed a frame (made from 4" channel iron) to hold it all together, but the radiator and generator aren't mounted on it yet.

Here's a pic of the complete unit from the RH side, and here's the LH side. It's sitting on the pad behind the barn, being tested as these pics were taken. Speed control is accomplished by a surplus governor, with a linkage to the injection pump. You'll note the double 'V' belt drive; The Book says that it's inadaquet, so we changed to this Gilmer Belt drive. The white spot on the upper sprocket is reflective tape for my optical tachometer.  This closeup from the RH side shows the governor, etc. The little yellow thing is a plug over the timing hole in the bellhousing.

Cooling is from the Dasher radiator and a fan from a Geo of some sort. Of course, we need a control panel. The chrome thing in the lower LH corner is the timing advance, used for starting, and the meter in the center is a non-working electronic tach.

We tested it by taking the 240-volt output and feeding it to this setup with 4 electric range elements. The voltage holds right at 235, loaded or not, and the 7000-watt load makes the RPM drop by only 100 at the generator pulley. That load is over 10HP, and really makes the speed linkage move a bunch when switched On!

Here it is, installed in the GenShed, from outside (the orange thing on the RH side is the fuel tank), and from inside. Speed is monitored by this frequency meter. The radiator and engine exhaust looks like this from the back of the shed. The shed looks like this from the front.

Here's some additional thoughts on the project:

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