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Company Selling Detroit 2-71 Generators


These are ex-railroad reefer units. I own one myself. They are loud for sure! And very, very, very heavy (about 2200 pounds). I'd do a search for 2-71 diesel genset and find the cheapest/closest one and buy it-most are yanked out, cleaned, and sold fast without much work, and most were out of service in workin order. They will make rated power from 0 to 40k hours in any conditions you can imagine and are fairly easy to work on.

These have to use nothing but STRAIGHT 40w diesel oil. Has to say detroit 71 series on the bucket, or you're gonna risk killing it.



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Affordable power is one of a handful of companies that specialize in selling these mostly ex-railcar 2-71 generators. They tend to have one of the lower prices for a business seller , but the units they sell tend to be the least refurbished, with a fresh coat of paint an option they only sometimes offer. Expect possible dangling wires, intrumentation or options not connected, etc., basically they sell a running generator that has its basic function tested, most of these are hard wired 120/208V 3 phase which will work for most household loads, however if you have any 230V important loads (well pumps, etc.) confirm that they will run on 208V also. It seems like there is a company in the pacific northwest (idaho maybe) that does fancier refurb jobs including options like new control panels, on board fuel tanks, etc. I can't find them listed at the moment and it has been a couple of years since I went to their web site McSomethinng I think, so it is possible they are no longer around. There was also a seller out of FL, but I think they mostly cater to the export trade.


here is the one I was thinking about in the NW


Wayne 440

The last generator still running when the end of the world finally comes will probably be powered by a Detroit Diesel.


I think you're gonna see closer to 1.75 per hour at load.
Keep in mind these reefer units were built in the 50's and 60's. Diesel was SUPER cheap when bought in railroad quantities, and the only telemetry available to let you know the reefer failed was the smell of a boxcar full of rotting food.


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most all are 208/120 Y
the AVR is rudimentary
a new cap is all it will likely ever need

if one is a fair diesel mechanic
it will run 24/7/forever
Sort of a general question: If these worked so well, what is the advantage of a more complicated voltage regulator? More precise voltage? Less distortion?


You do not need precise voltage regulation for a reefer motor. It does not have sensitive solid state electronics like most of our house stuff.


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Sort of a general question: If these worked so well, what is the advantage of a more complicated voltage regulator? More precise voltage? Less distortion?
most of the newer electronics use pulse width switching power supplies that will operate over a wide voltage range
so that is not the reason [IMHO] these are not now used [well, sort of]

these inductor regulators are no longer prevalent for one simple reason
Iron and Cu costs more than chips

just as 60 HZ transformers and chokes have been replaced in DC power supplies
with pulse width switchers and filtered with an emitter follower and a small cap
generator VR with inductors have been replaced with a black box of chips

marginally better and a lot cheaper

carried to extreme and one gets the new class of inverter generators

the lumbering 1200 RPM 6 pole production has a lot of iron and less to go wrong
but balancing the load is recommended
only one leg is used for the regulation
lightly loaded that is where the load should be
not a problem with 3 phase motor loads
but better inductor regulation would need 3 inductors

single phase split 240 generators that use the inductor regulation such as my Kohler 582 powered Homelite
run each leg through the single inductor [out of phase] with cumulative results

check all those "wall wart" power supplies

all the new stuff is "light"
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Bought one on an unclaimed frieght auction that only had the sight glass on the rear armuture bearing broken. the unit runs perfect and couldn't tell the diference from shop power welding with a 300 GMS. a 40 series JD diesel muffler knocked the noise down a lot.

J.B. Castagnos

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I'm not knocking the DDs, I like them, have a 2-53 on a JD440 Dozer. It amazes me that these engines were designed in the 30's, I believe they were introduced in 1938, and remained in production until 2000 or so with little changes.


We have now a total of 4 Detroit 2 cylinder engines, the first is a 20kw 2-53 gen set which does use about 1 gallon per hour @ 10 kw load, the second is a 2-53 power unit on a stand, the third is a 2-71 1,800 rpm 30kw gen set which is way loud @ full load and uses closer to 1.25 gallons per hour per 10kw load. The last is a new one, a 2-53 out of a 440 JD dozer, still in parts, but with the machine work done on the crank and block. Working on head & cylinder kits next. The Detroit Diesel design is very interesting, and a testiment to General Motor's engineering department and casting foundry experience. The block casting for the 2-53 is better than most modern car engines.

Richard L

back in the 90S I bought probably 50-60 of these from BN and paid $75 for each. They are Bullet proof . Heavy, noisy, parts are cheap, pretty fuel mileage,a wierd shut down system, cant remember the how the voltage was controled, there was a reactor, and transformer set up.
I have a full set of manuals for these, interesting point, the units that the RR replaced these with were crap, and Hatch and Kirk in Seattle were thinking of starting to manufacture these again.


affordable power - I remembered this outfit was in central idaho but there website sais Colorado ... hmmm...

Anyway, they are on Ebay, I have watched alot of there auctions when I was considering a 2-71 detroit diesel
After watching a couple of videos, looking up the specifications of the weight (I would need a fork lift to move it around, I don't have one) and where my brother works they have an 8-71 in one of there trucks, WOW! In the cab, you have to wear hearing protection, power compared to the other trucks is low. It does have power once it is revved up. Overall, given the choice of the detroit, cummins, or cat powered truck, the detroit is always last to be picked.

The biggest reason I passed on these was the weight and noise. I simply could not find a way to deal with the noise, and I have not way to deal with the weight (Maybe if it was trailer mounted)
Good engine and genset, just could not fit my needs.

My personal choice - A 20 KW MultiQuip genset powered by a inline 4 isuzu diesel, whisperwatt.


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I too thought they were in Idaho, but the last time I had looked at their web site was 4 or 5 years ago guess they moved.