Starting query Lister SL1

This is a query about my day-to-day working generator, ie it's not a
recreational thing but I hope you lot can help.
I have a genset built around a Lister SL1, it has a Start-o-Matic system
which starts it up when a load is applied. This is partly achieved by two
solenoids. The first flicks the fuel switch lever, then the engine is
turned over and once it is running up to speed and there is 230V being put
out a second solenoid switches the compression lever to the on position.
This is the theory and this is how it works with our other generator the
The other day it had problems starting, it would start but then shut
itself down just as it got to speed. I noticed that the compression lever
wasn't being switched from the off position. The second solenoid appears
not to be working though there is 230V across it just before the shutdown.
Anyway, while looking at it I disconnected the compression lever from the
solenoid and because of gravity the compression lever falls naturally into
the on position. However, the generator starts okay from this position and
runs fine.
My question is whether starting it in this way is likely to be damaging? I
am looking to replace the solenoid but if it works fine without it then
that would be useful. If it isn't damaging then what is the lever for?
As you may be able to guess I know very little about these thing but
having moved to a house off the grid I'm having to learn.
As an aside are there any books that would be suitable as primers for
engines of these designs (we have SL1, ST1 and ST3) not specific workshop
manuals but more general stuff not aimed at modern
turbocharged-fuel-injected-four-by-four type stuff?
Reply to
Colin Blackburn
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