Warning! Big Flywheels Engines Are Dangerous! Potentially more dangerous that an AR15. Anytime you are trouble shooting, you will have the air cleaner off, and be ready to cut off the air supply at the first sign of over speed.
How many times over the years have I received this complaint? Well I’ve personally never had an engine that gave me much trouble for long till this week, and I got a full dose of smoking on the compression stroke but no fire.
Above: Audio track demonstrates the sound of the ‘clink’ the injector firing..
to give out a slight sharp short metallic sound. transitive verb. : to cause to clink. See clink defined for English-language learners » · See clink
It was the perfect situation for study, the engine a complete unknown to me all save one thing, I knew it had been running. A new head installed, a used injector, used injection pump, and what seemed like enough compression to make it fire.
I tell people it can only be a few things, and most times the delays in finding the trouble are caused by venturing too far away from the simple things that can cause the condition. You need compression, an adequate injection of decent fuel at near the right time, and it’s best you work at moderate temperatures when trouble shooting or testing an engine for the first time.
In this case, I did know this engine had run well for years, and the timing gears were installed correctly, so I did dismiss the possibility of timing problems at least for the moment.
It seems every engine is a little different, but if you’re attempting to start one for the first time, it really is best to stick to the rules, and save yourself time and frustration. Check for common problems during your assembly, and never trust that an assembled part was assembled correctly. One of the newbie errors in working with Listeroids is finding one or two examples of things being right ‘out of the box’ and assuming the next one will be too. I have seen many posts over the years by people new to slow speed commenting that their brand or choice of Listeroid is best because their one sample was found to be so nice.
In one case…… could it have been a dozen years back? A would be dealer in the USA posted: “The engine I ordered is wonderful, I’m taking orders, and will order a container load.” Later he addressed a forum and said he thought his order had been sabotaged!
Today, there are people convinced that all of India is doing much better, but thanks to contacts in far off places, I hear of similar problems, and just last month, I heard from a friend who ordered a number of Indian petters, and he said it was hard to believe they had sent him so many problems to sort.
The message you need receive is you will assume nothing, and you will deal with folks that promise to make things right if you get such a lemon, and know what they promise. Returning parts to India for a refund is not going to be a cost-effective remedy for the owner/operator.
On with the smoke but no fire story.
Remember, once you get the basics of this old Lister design, you’ll have an understanding of the multi cylinder engines, they’re pretty much the same, only more elements of the same components. If I were teaching the basics of ICEs, this would be my choice of class room engines, and planting problems for students to find would be great learning for them.
A brand new engine can hide troubles you might not think about.. the new filter can hold a bunch of bubbles and give them up slowly. Bubbles in the high pressure line can cause problems, and the first thing we attempt to get is a nice crisp CLINK sound when the injector fires, a CL—–INK isn’t good enough. But how do you know a good clink from a bad one? It’s a learning process for sure, but bubbles in the high pressure line is a source of trouble.
But maybe I tell you how this engine is acting, and how I attempt to find the problem? I couldn’t have found much more wrong!
In this case, I had the luxury of an electric starter, all so rare, and this made it an easy job to look for compression leaks, and I did feel something at the top of the head, and light piece of paper used as a flag found a wisp of air coming by the washer on the injector. I pulled the injector and noticed the hold down was bowed! This is a rather generous piece of metal, and takes some serious over tightening to bend it. As one might expect, the washer was squished as thin as a match book cover, and turned over from the original squish.
Do learn NOT to tighten more than you need to stop leaks, and then just a little more.. you don’t need two hands on a wrench here.
I changed the washer and tightened the hold down reasonably, and the problem gone. The last guy had used brute force. Test the seal with soapy water..
I cranked again, and saw a mist coming from the CS plug, could this be loose? Ahhh yes! How did that get over looked? It’s all so easy WHEN you assume an assembled head is ready to run. I unscrew the plug, check for a copper seal, and tighten same…. all looks good.
We crank again, and no joy, it’s the same.. smoke but no fire.
I stop to beat on the filter with a wooden hammer handle, and with the hose that goes to the injector return in a bottle of diesel so I can watch and see the bubbles purged. It took a bit of banging, but soon we were bubble free, this is an important step in firing new engines. Next, we go to the injection pump, and remove the high pressure fuel line and unscrew the top fitting, we are careful not to lose the spring, and remove the top of the valve, we turn the flywheel till fuel gushes from the top and the bubbles clear. We put the valve back in, and screw the top on with the spring. Next we refit the HP fuel line and we’re careful NOT to make too tight! It really doesn’t need much torque, and too much splits the ferrel and you’ll need a new HP fuel line! Splitting that ferrel means it leaks forever more till you change the fuel line. Tight enough not to leak and just a little more is all you need.. Next crack loose the top fitting at the injector and crank with the rack WIDE open for the longest possible pump stroke, as you crank look for fuel to gush by the fitting, and there’s lots of it, slowly tighten the fitting and keep turning the flywheel. Tight enough to stop the leak and a little more.. Don’t use two hands!
A new attempt to start…In my case, we still have smoke and no fire..
I have the air cleaner, and Muffler removed, make sure you do this! If you ever have a run away engine, you just need put the palm of your hand over the intake to kill it..
I listen close as the engine is brought up on compression with both hands on the flywheel.. I hear leaks with an ear at the intake port and exhaust. Are they bad ones? No, but it takes so little to check the valves, so let’s do it!
The head is on it’s side on the bench in five minutes.. I have a small wooden tool I made to compress the valve springs. The hole over the valve is large enough to reach in and take the keepers out.. I leave the spring compressed, and remove the valve.
I blued the face of the valve seat, and put the valve back in. A screw driver in the slot in this valve allowed me to move the valve back and forth and check for proper contact. It looked ugly! Fact is, the valve fitted didn’t really seem to match the angle of the valve seat very well, so I grabbed another set of valves , re-blued the seat and found them a far better fit.
With Listeroids we assume nothing, One hundred can be checked and found good, and the next not so good, do not play the game of probabilities or you will get burned.
These valves and seats were far closer, and it seems the valves found in the head were done on a machine with the angle off a tad? Maybe the shop boy doing the job? With the new valves, I added some valve grinding compound, and in a few minutes I had a much better fit. I cleaned the valves and seats with solvent, cleaned them several times, lubed the stems with assembly grease and put it all together.
With HP fuel line purged, we attempt to crank it over again.. smoke and no fire!
Hmmmmm, but now I’m fairly certain we have great compression, since the engine was running fine at one point in the past, and the inside of the liner looked excellent with the piston at BDC, and not a single skuff or hair line mark found, and no leak heard from the crank case, I assume (for the moment) we have adequate compression.
Since this engine is for sale, why not check the injection pump? Maybe a complete rebuild just because we can? Is it possible this pump has a problem?
In less than two minutes, the pump was off and under the drill press, I used it like an arbor to press down on the bottom of the pump and take out the keeper ring. On my CD is an article showing this pump apart, and how to assemble it..
I didn’t find anything too alarming inside the pump, but for good measure I replaced the barrel, and plunger, and the delivery valve, that’s pretty much a complete rebuild and the spring felt fine.
I didn’t see an obvious problem, but cleaned it all, and made sure the rack and pinion traveled fully on assembly.
I pulled the roller tappet and checked the roller, I found a good quality roller in good condition, and thought about finding rollers in engines that were never finished! Lumpy might be a good description of the worst ones found.
Soon it’s all bolted back together, and fuel lines bled. It’s now late, and the shop doors down to keep the noises in.. We engage the starter, and more smoke.. then pop pop pop! I kill it all, roll up the door and let the smoke out.. We need wait till a decent time to do more..but fire…. we do have fire!
So many things found wrong, and it’s a reminder, that if you leave Murphy half a chance to make you feel foolish, he’ll do it every time. Check it all on assembly!
The real test comes with a load test, and for that you need a load.. Generators are near the ultimate, and I expect to make about 3500 watts at near sea level. If we don’t make that, we need check more things. I’ve found that a few degrees of timing one way or the other in this engine doesn’t make a lot of difference, so don’t expect 15% more or less horse power change with a few degrees of timing change one way or the other.
Next morning, I disconnected the linkage totally and started the engine, it took some time to clear all the fuel out, but soon it was idling slow and smooth, and slamming the rack open gave a quick response. It’s sounds great!
I have a nice clear CLINK now, but I’m not sure I found anything bad in the Injection pump. All looks very good. I am now among those who have fought the condition of smoke but no fire all the way.. it wasn’t exactly a quick fix this time 🙂