Chinese 1115 Workhorse
I’m sure you remember Fantasy Island?
Well, here’s the real Island where Noel operates a world class resort for a small number of guests at a time.
Noel Douglas immigrated to the Fijian Islands with his Scottish Family somewhere in the later forties. He owns the ultimate off grid location.. where engines run long hours, and we are able to learn just how long engines run, or why they failed.
If you look at an older post I share about Noel’s projects, you’ll see he’s a tireless experimenter always looking for a better way to serve his guests, and assure their comfort in an Island paradise. Fresh grown fruit and vegetables, fresh caught Tuna right off the Island, and much more.
As I have mentioned, in all too many places in the Islands, if you want it… you have to make your own, and that includes electricity and running water. Many of us know the 1115 as a real work horse, just try to lug one down, and watch it blow smoke rings, and chug though about anything.
I may have mentioned Mike McCarrol, he lives in Calumet Minn, some might consider him a little eccentric, he is! Mike has a machine shop, and foundry, has built a lot of specialized equipment to do jobs others are not equipped to do. He also makes castings and has produced a lot of parts for the original Indian motorcycles over the years.
In Mike’s early days, he found there were no bikes he really liked, so he stuffed a four-cylinder auto engine in his bike, and with his casting abilities and machine shop…. of course it looked like a production bike and fooled a lot of people..
Mike got interested in the 1115s and soon he had about six of them, of course he tore one down completely and called me with the detailed analysis, and being MIKE, it was all verbal, and you either write it down, or lose it.. you see Mike doesn’t write well, as he says the letters just don’t stay still on the page, he can do it.. it’s just a lot of effort.
One thing Mike made sure I understood… (years ago) ”George those balance shafts, that’s a heck of a load for those bearings, it’s best you take that engine apart and put a bearing in there you trust, there’s just too much going on here, and the pin drive off the end of the shaft drives the all important oil pump. George, if that bearing goes bad, there’s serious consequences”.
What did Mike use the engines for? some were matched with generator heads and used for portable welding in the field, Mikes says the combo was powerful enough to do the commercial welding he does, and the generator was economical to run.
Mike has seen more mechanical failures than most, he teaches me the finer points of mechanicals, he calls for electrical advice
Facts are, it takes a good bearing on both ends of the balance shaft.. it’s a fact, but that doesn’t stop someone in China from using an inferior bearing.
Noel’s closest Market for good parts is Australia, and he has found bearings there that prove more reliable.
The remaining issue causing problems is the idler gear, and especially the bushings in the Aluminium side case. Do note that sprial cut in the picture Noel sent us.. is it used to assure adequate oil into the case side bushing?
The problem we are having is with the cast iron bushes used as bearings for the idler gear shaft ( also the shaft that the crank start handle fits ) . They also use these cast iron bushes for the cam shaft but this is lower down and gets better lubrication. The idler gear shaft is higher up in the casing and is much more poorely lubricated as its only means of lubrication appears to come from splash that appears not to reach there very well. There is no oil feed to these bearings.
The vibration dampener shafts on this engine have ball bearings ( not grease sealed ) on both ends but the originals only lasted around
1,000 hours before they packed up. I have repalced all these with high spec ball bearings. The problem now is the worn cast iron bushes are so sloppy causing the gears to make a lot of noise. You can hear the clatter from half a mile away.
A solution for these cast iron bushes would be great. There is not enough room there to fit good quality ball bearings. It would seem that some form of forced oil feed could be an improvement. These bushes do not appear to be subjected to much stress. Perhaps a better material like cinted bronze like we used to see on the older Engilsh equipment.
Here’s what I think we need look at..
Cast iron bushings? They were used in the Lister 6/1, that cam bushing on the opposite end of where the injection pump is.. was a cast iron bushing and worked fine with a little lube..
That sprial cut.. we need access if it were machine well enough to bring oil into the case bushing.
We need ask Noel to see if the block side bushing has a oil feed hole, and wether the bushing has a hole alighned with it?
Is there a possibility to drilling a hole down the center of the timing gear, and then a hole to pressure feed oil into the case side bush?
There is one more item we might consider, and that’s the EPA, and possibly others who are driving the removal of proven anti friction anti wear compounds like Zinc, we best not rule out that Noel could be using one of our more modern and inferior lube oils?
Discussion follows I hope..
Of course that 1000 hours arrives a long way down the road for a lot of users.. but not Noel Douglas or the people he sells to, they are off gridders, their applications demand more service.
Noel is new to the 1115, and says the engines he bought in this last batch reliably come apart at about 1000 hours of service…. when this bushing fails! Somewhere on the WEB are old articles I wrote about the balance shafts on these engines.. 185s, and up make use of them, and you better make sure there is a decent bearing in there, because it’s ugly when it all comes apart. A good bearing here does the job, a junk bearing invites diaster, a bushing assures it, and if we were to look at the details.. just how did that bushing get lubrication? I doubt it was fed oil under pressure from the pump!
Western minds assume way too much, and you need spec every part of the engine to assure you get what you want.
Thanks for the report Noel!
Oh.. BTW, I was able to send him a good manual of the proper 1115 build showing the 63xx bearings on both sides of the balance shaft, maybe there’s a way to mod the side case he has and build it up right? Mike McCarroll, well, he’d make a pattern and pour a new one
It was some years back a visitor shows up at my shop, a handsome young guy looking for parts to build a new stationary power plant on a family owned island in the San Juans. He says he was born in Fiji, and I took the chance.. “do you know my friend Noel Douglas?” We both had a good laugh, and don’t we all understand just has small the world has grown?