[Vwdiesel] Anyone else use a VW diesel or Changfa for an electric power generator?

Shawn Wright swright at zuiko.sls.bc.ca
Sun Apr 10 21:28:06 EDT 2005

On 10 Apr 2005 at 19:45, Area31 Research Facility <stephensrw at stn.net> wrote:

> Hi All,
> I had been thinking of using a VW diesel for a long time in a standby power
> genset for my farm estate.  The attraction to this particular engine was
> extremely good fuel economy, the ability to run the engine on WVO, WMO, or used
> automatic transmission fluid, and well size matched for a direct drive 1800 RPM
> alternator in the 10-15 kW range. At such a slow speed compared to the life in a
> car and all the other benefits in care and feeding that a stationary
> installation can afford an engine including no cold temperature starts, I
> figured on much longer service life.  As a plus, automotive engines are fairly
> easy to get and cost a lot less than similar sized industrial engines.  Being a
> water cooled engine they last longer and are quieter than their air cooled
> cousins and co-generation is possible.  I am using the engine coolant to preheat
> waste oil fuel and also to heat my shop building.

Sounds like a great project - I've seen a few VW diesels used as gensets in large 
RVs, where they are also used to heat the interior and the main engine, pretty slick.
> I began my DIY power plant back in January of this year and started with a
> 1984 NA 1.6D from a Jetta.  Unfortunately the engine was in really bad shape and
> I have had to replace it but I was making good power for a while during testing.
> Last week I obtained a 1980 NA 1.5 and have been trying to coax a grunged up
> Bosch FI pump back to life.  I seem to be having success and have finally
> achieved good starting and running now with no smoke, with no load yet on the
> crankshaft.  Today I am re-installing my flex coupler to the big 3 phase
> alternator (12-15 kW rating thereabouts) and hope to try the engine under load
> this evening or tomorrow.
> I have built this plant from the ground up and am very proud of my work.  I can
> email a picture file to anyone interested or contemplating a similar project. 
> George at www.utterpower.com will be doing an article about my project.  One of
> the obstacles to using this engine in a genset is the odd flywheel on flex plate
> arrangement that makes it difficult to put a conventional pulley on it as it
> cannot support side loads.  The way the sterter is mounted away from the engine
> doesn't help either. 

You may be able to save yourself some time by getting a Dasher, Fox, or Quantum 
bellhousing, starter & flywheel. I'm pretty sure they use a standard flywheel and 
starter arrangement, but others here will know for sure.

 I have designed a flex coupler that appears to take the
> extreme abuse that a coupler in this location will see.  My design can be DIY'd
> by anyone with a lathe, drillpress, 3/8-16 tap and arc welding capabilities. 
> Using an almost impossible to start engine gave the prototype coupler a real
> worst case abusive workout.  The rubber components in the coupler were actually
> smoking they got so hot on more than one day  while I was wasting my battery (
> and poor starter!) trying to start the beast.  I propose to make my coupler
> design public domain as a contribution to the alternate energy/home power crowd
> who need all the help we can get trying to survive despite the enormous mess all
> the damage that the well funded utility companies have created.
> In my searches for an affordable replacement engine I located a driveable
> Jetta with a 1.6 TD in it.  The engine was rebuilt recently and I witnessed it
> cold start not being plugged in at -20C.  It took right off first cranking.  I
> was impressed.  I am buying the car tomorrow, so I hope to be driving a VW turbo
> diesel soon as well as using a VW diesel at home for electrical power.  I have
> to build a second VW diesel powered genset as a backup to this plant and I also
> have plans to DIY a 10-15 kW wind turbine on my property this year as part of
> plans to go off-grid and be energy self sufficient.  I can no longer afford
> rising utility bills and the crippling cost of car gasoline.

Sounds like a good catch on the TD - they are a truly awesome engine, even better 
than the NA.

> I am also planning to build a small co-generating DC genset out of a single
> cylinder Changfa Chinese diesel for just the house. I am looking at the 15HP and
> 18HP models. It will provide domestic got water using my hot water tank as the
> cooling hopper for the engine, and will charge the 48 volt forklift batteries
> when the wind turbine cannot.  The house will be on inverters. The VW diesel
> plants in the workshop are to power and heat the workshop (3500 sq.ft.) and to
> provide electrical backup to the house when needed. Initially (now) this first
> VW diesel plant wll serve to provide emergency power for the house and shop in
> te case of utility outages, and to provide economical 3-phase power to run my
> machine shop.  My rotary converter that I now use is very inefficient and the
> power bill to run it is very expensive. That alone is justificationenough for a
> VW powered genset.
> I could use some advice about the Changfa single cylinder horizontal diesels I
> am looking at.  They both have swirl chambers but the CR is different. The 15 HP
> @ 2200 RPM (903 cc) engine has higher CR at 20:1.  The larger 18 HP @ 2200 RPM
> (1093 cc) has a CR of just 17:1.  Since I plan to run this on well filtered
> waste transmission fluid  I'm not sure which compression ratio would be better
> for me.  I plan to run the engine 24-7 at around 900 RPM and load it to maybe 3
> kW max for battery charging.

Very interesting stuff. We have a few generators for emergency backup at work 
(15kw Lister, and 250kw Cat), and I've always planned on getting one someday when 
I move to acreage...

Shawn Wright
'85 Jetta D 
'88 Westy 2.1L, soon to be 1.6TD 5 speed
 (see progress at http://members.shaw.ca/vwdiesels)
'82 Diesel Westy

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