Sunday, 2 May 2010

In praise of British engineering

The new boat has a name. It is Gary C. Sawyer's suggestion Anna. Who as well as being an Anglian king has a name that I won't sound like a lunatic when spelling phonetically over the VHF to harbour traffic control. Good pick, Gary. Anyway, this is about Anna's engine. And rudder.

If you're buying a new boat engine these days for a small coastal sea boat you'll probably go for one of the marine engines based on the Kubota diesel lump that powers the mini diggers that dig up your street every month. A Beta or a Nanni. For Anna it would be a 3 cylinder 719cc block producing about 20hp and weighing 104kg, and so small, neat and compact that you could almost fit it in the bilge. But Anna's already got an engine; it's a massive iron lump weighing 200kgs with the gearbox, two cylinders of over 600cc each and producing 23hp. And it's the size of Jonah Lomu, with enough torque to pull your granny away from Coronation Street.

The Lister-Petter TS2 is a quintessentially British engine. It does away with all that nonsense of an indirect sea-water cooling system, and even a fresh-water cooling system by cleverly using a fan blade fixed around the flywheel to blow air over itself. And it hasn't got a single bit of electronics anywhere. In fact, it wears its electrics - alternator, starter motor and sensors - like a duchess wears pearls; more because they're expected than necessary. You can strip all the electrics off, if you like, until you're left with a bare engine, a fuel tank and a starting handle. And it will work perfectly. Ah, reader, the joy of gently turning a well-lubricated engine over by hand with the decompression levers open; the gentle tick gloop catch tick that brings a deep contentment to the soul.

The Americans are loopy about Listers. They scavenge them from old agricultural machinery and restore them to that uniquely American standard of perfection. Then post long videos on YouTube of them running. Seriously. And yes, I can understand the joy.

Anyway, Anna's engine is coming on. I may even post a video of it running. But today when I'd planned to clear and degrease the bilges I think I'll design a replacement for the missing rudder instead.

Life is good.


Anonymous said...

Can I assure your readers that the original Anna is in fine fettle - her bilges are as clean as a whistle, several years left on her MOT, she has her own boathouse, she has no need of your repalcement rudder - she sets her own course and sticks fast to it.
She turns over first time and requires no lubrication.
This Anna-come-lately seems to require an awful lot of tinkering by comapriosn!

Skipper said...

I'm jealous. Enjoy the project!

Current said...

I had a look on the Lister website. They still make an engine almost exactly like this, it's now called a TR2.

The electrics are still optional.