Life at the end of the road

March 15, 2008

The worst ‘Lister’ and the best ‘hen house’

Filed under: daily doings, polytunnel — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 10:33 pm

Great weather, great forecast and It’s Saturday, today had all the hallmarks of a good day and I was not disappointed. It got off to a slightly shaky start as I still had to deal with last nights rabbit, I’d skinned it and taken the ukky bits out last night but I still had to tidy it up and put it in the fridge. Only a 2 minute job but I’d forgot about it until I was almost out the door, I’d also forgot that I’d left a digger track in my turning place so had to reverse 200m turn round and reverse 200m back to hitch my trailer. Not only that I had to load my wheelie bins into it, I got one in no problem but try as I might I could not lift the other one in, suspecting I’d probably put an old anvil or something in it I left it for the bin men as I still had to put some diesel in the ‘old girl’ or I’d be walking to work. The bin men are supposed to lift our bins every 2 weeks but I feel it’s much saner if I take them the 10 miles down the road as I’m going that way anyway. We seldom fill them and I managed for 15 years without them but when they closed the tip down on Raasay I threatened to start fly tipping if they didn’t give me a bin. Now our rubbish travels from Arnish to Portree then I think it goes to somewhere in Sutherland over 100miles away! The world has gone mad.

Possibly the worst engine ‘Lister’ ever made

When I finally got off to work it was as ever a lovely run down to the ferry slip. The ‘Harvest Caroline’ (thanks Seamus) was still lying peacefully at anchor in Churchton bay and was in fact going to deliver fish feed to ‘Marine harvest’ in loch Ainort.

Harvest Caroline

Upon arrival at work and doing all the usual ferry stuff like going to Sconser and back with cars and passengers it was also time to service one of the generators. The ferry has  2 ‘Lister HRW 6’ diesel generators of around 68hp and 50kw.


and this one (starboard) was due a service. They’re run week about so there’s always one on standby in case of a failure. Now I’m a great fan of Listers for their ruggedness and reliability but the HRW is a bit of a lemmon. It was derived from the HR which is air cooled and a super if touch noisy engine. The W in HRW stands for water cooled and I think the conversion was such that the water jackets and castings were too thin as they’re awful prone to oil leaks and head gasket failiures, they still keep going but just spray oil out everywhere. So after giving STB no 2 fwd diesel altenator (to give it it’s proper name in ship jargon) it’s 500hour service I went to see Willy of ‘polytunnel’ fame

A space age hen house

With so much going on at the harbour and village hall I’ve not been keeping up with developments  at the ‘plastic pipe fabrication yard’ that is Willy’s garden. The polytunnel has been waiting for the primer to cure and the weather to improve. Both of these have happened but Willy seems to have got distracted or moved sideways so to speak. The arrival of 4 bantem hens meant a home had to be made and Willy being Willy would just not put up with a fish box and some chicken wire. When I arrived I was greeted by this fine piece of engineering which had been constructed entirely from fish farm pipe, fish cage floats and the aluminium tubes that go round windsurfer sails.

Hen house 1

Windsurfer handles!!! you may well ask but it’s amazing how many ‘Raasay outdoor center’ go through in a year.

hen house 2

That’s the door swinging on it’s beautifully fabricated hinges.

hen house lock

and this is its wonderful door lock. I could not spend too long gazing in awe at this as I had seaweed to collect off the shore and besides I could see that Willy was on a roll and far be it from me to disturb the creative flow of genius. So off I went to load up 10 bags of seaweed and some beach stones before the afternoon shift. After which I headed north in time to catch the sun setting and another rabbit with the Dudes ‘King ratcatcher’

suset 150308


  1. Space Willy will get a place in the Raasay history books, sure.

    Cheers for tonight, had a good first reading in your blog, Paul.

    Comment by Jörg — March 27, 2008 @ 8:40 pm

  2. You’re being a bit unfair to the HRW series. Two things to remember – there’s a larger “squish” measurement than the HR air cooled series. This was done because the HRW runs cooler than the HR series (being water cooled), and you need more depth to the carbon – carbon gets softer as it gets thicker – so IF there was a lot of carbon build up due to, say, a lot of light loading on the engine, the teh carbon would collapse if the piston/carnon was trying to lift the head. also, the head bolts were torqued higher than the HR (100 ft/lbs instead of 80). By the way, the “later” HRW heads – aboyut 1976 on from memory – had extra struts inside the water cooling ways in the head to prevent distortion. The HR range is good for 50,000 hours before you really start to “look at it”, so to speak. A really good engine. Was made for years with very low warranty returns. I tried to buy some parts the other day for an HR and was amazed at the price – the seller said “There’s still loads in use. A tribute to the people who designed and built the engine.”. As the Senior Quality Engineer for Engine Assy, Test and Packing when the HR/HRW was in production I took that as a compliment!

    Comment by David Martin — October 16, 2010 @ 6:54 pm

    • Hi David,

      It might be the worst (in my opinion) but it is still a dammed good engine. The problem, as you rightly point out is the light loading that these marine generators are subjected to for much of their life. To be honest most of the problems that occur are due to the MCA and Lloyds requirement for these engines to be stripped down regularly for survey. If they were left alone they’d be far more reliable, these engines need rebuilding me craftsmen and not just mere engineers like me 🙂

      I run three Lister generators myself David, an SR1 of 1969 vintage that has only had head work done, an ST2 that ran 12 hours a day for 13 years before I got it in 1991 and has still not had the heads of and a HR2 of 1974 vintage. I also think that it was 1986 before the mods were done as that’s when our generators were built and we have the early ones. The MV Loch Riddon built a few months later has the modified ones, though I am by no means an expert.

      Thank you for reading my blog and taking the time to comment, our Listers are due to be replaced by Cummings sets in December and I will miss them. OK, I’ll not miss mopping up the oil from the leaky head gaskets or the water from all the weeping galleries but I’ll miss that 1500rpm purrrr 🙂

      Cheers, Paul and thanks again for the input

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — October 16, 2010 @ 9:23 pm

      • Bet the Cummins won’t last as long! Are the Chinese ones?

        I’ve always wondered Lloyds etc (I was an approved Lloyds Tester – had my own “stamp” to stamp on the crankcase – QC115)wnate dtehse engines to run at less than 100% load. They’d run all day at full load. Every engine was run at fll load for 1 1/2 hours – one negine a day at random for 24 ours and one engine a week, at random, for 100 hours. Every now and then an engine would be taken and run for 500 hours at full load. never saw on fail. Our technical Driector A J (Joe) Morris – he was always Mr Morris – said you should always run an aengine how you intended to use it. Like running your car in until the first roundabout!

        Comment by David Martin — October 17, 2010 @ 7:19 pm

      • Good Morning David,

        these old Lister’s certainly inspire fond memories and loyalty amongst their former employees. I know a couple of engineers that worked for Lister here in Scotland for donkey’s years. One even remembers servicing my very own HR2 as a long haired apprentice in the eighties when it resided in a satellite tracking station near Glasgow. Next time I see him I’ll ask him to keep an eye out for your stamp 🙂 as he’s still very much involved with overhauling them on ships 🙂 as you say the Cummins will probably be Chinese but as the ship is already 24 years old they will probably see her to some beach in Bangladesh or India 😦

        Cheers, Paul

        Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — October 18, 2010 @ 7:13 am

  3. .
    I work on a 10m landing craft is fitted with a lister HRW6 It is a good running engine but it does leek oil from every gasket.
    2 years ago The engine was taken out and given a full recon and new pistons 2 months after it started to leek again.
    And i make shore it serviced every 500 hrs Any new gaskets dont seem to last very long and it starts leeking oil again.
    The company engineers will replace the engine in the spring with a Ford 2725E, because of the the Listers constant oil leeks are a fire risk and wont pass MCA inspection, I think also the engineeers are feed up with changing gaskets on it.
    I have worked with lots of types of Listers and petters and found them good engines, the HRW6 I dont think it was Listers best effort.

    Comment by Richard — January 8, 2012 @ 10:28 pm

    • Hi Richard,

      your comment made me smile, much as I am a fan of RA Lister, I think the HRW was not one of their best, our Lister gensets were replaced with Perkins 4.4 TGM’s recently 🙂 Good luck with the Ford.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — January 8, 2012 @ 10:55 pm

  4. Hello, you guys seem to know what you are talking about. I dont. i have a Lister Blackstone, 11 Hw6 ME17,72 HP 2000rpm. (it is in a duch sailing barge in the Nhetherlands) is this engine compareble with your engine? Im looking for part and cannot find much on the internet under lister blackstone. I have a “exhaust” leak on the side of a injector, and also fuel in oil and i want to revise thise myself. anyone a clue on why tis could of happend and how to fix. yours sincerely Sjors Binksma from Holland.

    Comment by Sjors Binksma — May 4, 2014 @ 8:54 pm

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