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The Saving of a derelict Lister B By Dale Goodchild

Driving home one day, I noticed they had started to clear some overgrown land next to a development site. Assuming they were looking to sell for yet more houses I kept an eye on it incase anything interesting popped up.

I passed this site every week day on my way home from work so was easy to see the changes, but it was one Sunday morning on a drive by with the family, I happened to make some passing comment about looking for engines when my son pipes up from the back seat “ Look at that stationary engine in there!” To say the anchors were quickly applied and the car swung round
for another look was a bit of an understatement.

So there sat in the middle of the wasteland was a Lister B, on its original trolley!! It was incredibly rusty as expected, but regardless, it had to be saved.

A note was popped through the adjoining property hoping they owned the plot of land and then silence for a few days, I got a letter back letting me know that they didn’t own the land unfortunately, but they knew who did and had forwarded my letter and details to the owner! Again nothing was heard for a few days until one night I got a call from a number I didn’t recognise showing as from the Isle of Wight. Thinking it was some spam call I answered a bit apprehensively, when the gent on the other end asked for me by name and said he was calling about the Lister Junior i knew it was worth answering!

He filled me in with the history of the engine as far as he knew it. It was thought to be originally purchased in Chichester From D. Rowes and sons in the 1940s (we think the engine dates to 1946) and only ever left the site in Angmering once in 1976 to power a saw bench on a nearby farm for a winter. It was also used on a saw bench in Angmering, but looking at the wear and tear it couldn’t have been that often, but plenty of sawdust was stuck to the crank case behind the flywheels. He regaled fond memories of his father showing him how to start the engine and slip the drive belt on, helping cut logs and how the engine and land was passed to him on his fathers passing.

He had sold up his home over here and moved to the IOW a few years back, but his brother lived nearby and would assist me with whatever I needed should I wish to purchase the engine. So the talk turned to monies….. The guy had done his “homework” on eBay, stating he had seen restored versions going for £650+, I thought to myself “oh here we go” but he quickly circled and said he didn’t want it going for scrap, but assured me given a few hours tinkering he could’ve had it running HAHAHAHAHA!!!! Anyway, a deal was struck for a more reasonable price on the
promise I would restore it and get it running again and the fun was about to begin.

Going to check on it all showed that it was indeed on a fully original Lister Trolley… the wheels being absolutely seized solid to the axles and the engine stuck fast too! This in itself wouldn’t have been too much of an issue but as the land was being cleared, they had built a 3ft mound of earth all around the gate to stop access for the travelling type.

Dad and i hatched a plan, loaded his work van with the ramps and various planks of wood and some wheeled dollies i acquired from work. Thinking it was going to be a walk in the park to shove this thing out on bits of wood and the wheeled dollies… How bloody wrong can one be!

We laid the wood out on the ground and slowly lifted and shifted the engine and trolley sideways onto it, before lifting the back of the trolley with various logs and bricks and plenty of brute force and ignorance (on my part) to try get it on one of the wheeled dollies, which kind of worked well…..til the weight of the engine snapped the trolley in half!! A plank of wood across the 2 halves solved that issue (with plenty more sweat and swearing) meaning we now had to attempt the same on the front, which actually went much easier for some reason.

So now we had a rolling mass…..the boards were laid out but there was no way to shove this thing up the slope to the van on the road. Kamakazi Alan (Dad) suggested bringing the van into the plot of land and lining it up with the engine to save some work, the gate was removed and dad ploughed his way in, LITERALLY! We dug a smoother path and slowly rolled the engine to the van, this all worked in our favour as the whole lot was literally running downhill into the van, bonus! A bit more shoving and sweating had it safely in the back of the van, we quickly reloaded all our wood and ramps and got out of there. It was well past tea break and had taken a good 2 hours to get this far.

Once home (a whole 3 minute drive) we set about unloading……after a quick cuppa! The whole engine was gunked and left for a while to soak before pressure washing off the worst of the grime. I expected the engine to be seized from initial viewing, the mag chain was solid, valves stuck as was the piston. But its all soaking in various release agents, diesel, rust eater, WD40, vinegar, anything we thought would help.

I removed the engine from the trolley using an engine hoist and fitted it to 1 set of the wheeled dollies i had to aid moving it around to work on and set to work stripping it down. The plug, carb and exhaust all came off relatively easily. Tank straps, magneto bracket and governor linkages not so and required plenty of heat and gentle persuasion. The pulley was pretty easy to remove with a bit of heat and WD though. We managed to lift the hopper (complete with piston) off and that is upside down being soaked in rust eater occasionally.

All the tappets were drifted out and are soaking in a bucket of diesel along with most of the other parts removed. The timing gears, bearings and crank were remarkably clean and wear/damage free! It had however lost most of its oil and filled with water at some point, looking like it had been on its side.

The trolley has been stripped down and the rear wheels have been freed off from the axles. The original timber is a bit beyond reuse, but has been kept for templates for new when the time comes. Remarkably the wood is just morticed and pinned together with a single dowl through each end, relying on the metal work to hold it all together!

And that is the story so far… Once the workshop is finished, I can crack on with some of these projects I seem to have acquired lately!!!

UPDATE: The workshop is finished so guess where I am in my spare time!