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Old 09-05-2002, 12:43 PM
Posts: n/a
building a small diesel generator

I'm stuck on diesel engines for some reason and have recently completed a project involving the creation of a small (4 - 5 kw) diesel generator. You can buy diesel generators outright already put together but they are pricey so I opted for do-it-yourself approach.

In case you are considering a generator, and have a desire to build one yourself (with or without diesel motor), I might be able to help you think it through. My experience was very much OJT but I think I have a little practical insight now.

I used a Lister-Petter 1 cylinder diesel with a bit over 7 hp. Bought a generator head from Voltmaster on the web. But it together on a platform using wheel kit purchased from Northern Tool.

I don't really recommend this approach as its time consuming and ends up costing good deal more than off-the-shelf gas model of same power - but it was a lot of fun and I do have a neat machine now to add to my collection.

Can't share this with my wife who is convinced I have lost it, especially since she already knows how much time and money I have invested in my '85 300CD.

Columbia, SC

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Old 09-06-2002, 12:33 AM
Registered User
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: oregon
Posts: 2,013
I read somewhere that the 617 engine was used to power generators before it was used in the wonder cars, I also share your enthusiasm about diesel engines large or small. Volvo made a beaut 1 cylinder sail boat engine. A friend had one in Key Largo it burned about a quart an hour at hull speed so he claimed, you could start it by pulling it's heavy flywheel like the old John Deer tractors. any time I think I might be spending too much upgrading my cars I look at new car prices......
William Rogers.....
74 240D
81 SD
86 Euro 500Se
81 454 Blazer built from frame up
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Old 09-06-2002, 10:37 AM
G-Benz's Avatar
Razorback Soccer Dad
Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: Dallas/Fort-Worth
Posts: 5,711
Being a VW nut, I have perused the VW mags and have seen lots of conversion applications for building generators and air compressors with the air-cooled VW engine. No it's not a diesel, but I just wanted to comment on the thread.

If I never do anything to the body in the next decade, perhaps I will build one of those kits with my current motor. Then I will have a generator powered by a chromed, show-quality, hot rodded VW motor! What a conversation piece!
2009 ML350 (106K) - Family vehicle
2001 CLK430 Cabriolet (80K) - Wife's car
2005 BMW 645CI (138K) - My daily driver
2016 Mustang (32K) - Daughter's car
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Old 09-10-2002, 02:17 PM
sixto's Avatar
smoke gets in your eyes
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: SF Bay Area
Posts: 20,799
A good friend of mine overseas found a good deal on a tired 240D with sunroof (very rare where he is). He put an M123 with 4-speed in the body and put the OM616 to work driving a pump in his commercial fishpond. It's probably still going 15 years later.

91 300SE
87 300SDL
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Old 09-10-2002, 02:30 PM
Kuan's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: At the Birkebeiner
Posts: 3,811
Why don't you just attach two leads to your battery, one positive and one negative. Or take it from the alternator, all you have to do is make it go the right speed right?

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Old 09-10-2002, 04:06 PM
Posts: n/a

Well, your car's battery is DC (direct current) while the house stuff is AC (alternating current)......I believe....just don't ask me what the real difference in the two is!

Anyway, the amount of juice put out by the car's alternator or battery wouldn't go much further than a few light bulbs. The car engine certainly has the horsepower to spin a large generator, it just uses those horses for a different purpose (to spin the wheels).


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