The Waukesha/Cerlist Connection (updated Feb 2017)

(This is the fifth in a series of six articles about the various engine lines Waukesha acquired over the years that are no longer in production.)


In 1963, Waukesha acquired the rights to build the unique Cerlist Diesels.

The Cerlist Diesel Co. was incorporated in North Carolina in 1956 by Peter Cerf. The name of the engine company was derived from the names of Cerf and Dr. Hans List of Austria, who designed the engine.


The 2-cycle, high-speed, aluminum, supercharged diesels were unique in that they had no valves, and were "loop-scavenged". Multiple intake and exhaust ports were cast through the cylinder wall near the bottom of the piston stroke. The intake ports were angled upward so that the incoming rush of supercharged air was directed up and over the top of the cylinder and then back down in a looping fashion to the exhaust ports, carrying exhaust gases with it and filling the cylinder with a fresh charge of air.


Cerlist Design Features


Cerlist Diesels were originally manufactured in the Cerlist Diesel plant in Burlington, NC until the company went bankrupt. Peter Cerf had estimated that several thousand were manufactured. Although the engines were used primarily in military applications, they were used in some industrial and marine applications as well.


During the Vietnam War, the Air Logistics Corp, of Monrovia, CA used the 3-cylinder Cerlist Diesel to drive the jet fuel pump of their Boondocks Air-Transportation Fueling System. The system was a portable unit that included the engine driven pump, two huge flexible fuel bladders along with all the piping and valves that could be towed to the airfields built out in the boondocks.


Cerlist Model 3


The Waukesha Cerlist Division was located in Waukesha's Clinton, Iowa plant under the direction of Peter Cerf, Sales Manager. Cerlist Diesels were discontinued in 1973. All the WEHS knows for sure about the fate of the Cerlist's Diesel is that in 1980, the entire inventory of Cerlist Diesel parts were sold to Engine & Equipment Co., Salt Lake City, Utah.


Cerlist Model 4



The Cerlist models involved in Waukesha's acquisition were:



Bore x Stroke






4.000 x 4.250


50 @ 3,000




4.000 x 4.250


75 @ 3,000




4.000 x 4.250


100 @ 3,000




  1. The WEHS has service manuals and parts lists for these models.

Rocky, WEHS 5-2013

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