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Lister HA smoking, leaking oil and making a disturbing banging noise (total beginner!)


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Hi, I'm an absolute beginner, and know almost nothing about engines so please forgive my ignorance!


So I've lived on my 50ft narrowboat (built 1989) for a year now and over the last couple of months the engine has been emitting lots of smoke, its sort of greyish-blue.


Also, there is a large amount of (what I think is) oil leaking out.


Finally when I turn the engine on to higher revs after a few minutes a loud banging noise starts, sounds like metal banging on to metal, which is disturbing so I turn the engine right down again which makes the noise stop.


I think that all these issues are related, like maybe the oil leak is making the engine smoke and the lack of oil is somehow making the engine make the noise. What irritates me is that I took it in to a marina to have it serviced recently and all they said on the matter is that Listers are prone to do this, without any further explanation.


I'd be really grateful if someone had any insights into it. As I said, I know almost nothing about engines so any help is much appreciated!



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First you need to check the oil level - if very low or you "need a longer dipstick" then

1 you definately have a leak

2 topping up MAY solve the "banging" - if damage has not already been done


If the oil is "on the mark" or way over the mark then it is possible that you

have an internal diesel leak - listers are prone to this - fuel leaks from the injector

or return lines run down into the sump and

1 dilutes the oil reducing its lubricating properties

2 raises the oil level to the point where leaks occur through places that would not normally be submerged

3 increases the risk of a worn engine "running away" on the contents of the sump (you really dont want this !)


The smoke you referred to - from the exhaust or from the engine generally ?


Unfortunately the first thing you have to do is find the source of the leak, unless its pretty obvious this will involve

a thorough clean up & then running the engine to try and pinpoint the source.



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Hi all, thanks very much for the replies, very much appreciated!

So, Richard, how much would you charge to come and have a look at the engine? If the leak can be plugged and more oil can be added to the engine do you think that this would solve the problem?

Or, if there is too much oil in, do you think that taking some out would be helpful?


I'm going to have a look tonight and try to find where the leak is, if I do find where the leak is coming from, (thanks for the warning about this Springy!) I'll try and tighten it but in case I don't, please let me know if you could pop over the Oxford and how much you would chage.




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Hi Dave, my rate is £35 per hour (I should put that on my website), it shouldn't take too long to get an idea of what is going on


There are a few things you can do to get an idea of what is happening.


First off, if you can, have a clean up under the engine and then put some newspaper under it. You should then be able to spot where it leaks from. If you can't clean up under the engine, shoving large pieces of cardboard works too. Knowing which end of the engine or where a leak comes from is helpful


Next, it would be helpful to understand which way the oil level is going (as Springy said above). If it is going down, you are using oil, either by leaking or by burning it. If the level is going up, you've got an internal diesel leak - this is a bad thing. If it stays the same, things aren't as bad as you might think


Can you work out roughly where the banging is coming from - which end of the engine?




01926 356400



Edited by RLWP
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Hi Richard,

Thanks for getting back to me, I'll try and work out where the oil is coming from and put some paper down underneath it to see where it comes from.
I'll also check the oil level to see where its at as well. I can give you a call tomorrow and maybe we could arrange a time for you to pop over?


Thanks again


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