10,000 hours of engine life?

Can you expect 10,000 hours of service on a wood gas engine?

what kind of engine, and what kind of maintenance schedule? I’ve driven big trucks with more than a million miles on them and no major overhaul had been done… I think, like everything your answer will depend on its load, and what kind of maintenance it gets


Let’s say it’s a freshly rebuilt GM 454 engine. An engine like this in a generator should last 8-10,000 before an overhaul is required. Does a properly designed gasifier reduce the engine’s service life?

Max assuming in a vehicle it’s going 50 mph a reasonable speed that is 400000-500000 miles between rebuilds is that a reasonable number? That would seem high to me. It would have to lead an optimism life with perfect maintenance. Just random thoughts.

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Hello Max .

I haven’t experienced any difference in engine wear woodgas vs gasoline . With that said I have never had any reason to go into a motor fueled with wood .

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400,000 miles before a rebuild on a spark ignition engine is an reasonable number. Most people do not take well enough care of their cars’ bodies to last 400,000 miles, or they get tired of them and buy a new vehicle.The cars usually rot out because they aren’t cared for. The engine is rarely, if ever, the reason a vehicle is discarded. Irv Gordon holds the world record for miles driven in a car. His Volvo has 3,000,000 miles on the original block, with several rebuilds. The engine wasn’t anything special, it was a typical production engine and serviced with standard Volvo parts. The million mile Lexis was rebuilt at 600,000 miles with the original block. The million mile Silverado never had the valve covers lifted.

Generators based on gasoline automotive engines have a typical service life of 10,000 hours, as do spark ignition power equipment (old Kohler K series engines).

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“I haven’t experienced any difference in engine wear woodgas vs gasoline . With that said I have never had any reason to go into a motor fueled with wood .”

Thanks Wayne! How do you prevent soot from building up in the engine? Is the gas harder on the valves?

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If you’re concerned with engine life, there is filtration available for woodgas that gets it as clean as propane. Engines fed this clean a gas should last as long as a propane generator, longer than a gasoline or diesel. The filters will have to be maintained regularly to keep a good gas flow.

As vehicle operators we tend to be more lax with the filtration, which is bulky and restricts performance somewhat. It’s mainly soot being filtered out, which is not harmful to the engine (some consider it a fuel source). However it does build up over time in the intake manifold, requiring periodic cleaning. The oil also turns black as it collects the soot, meaning you may want to change the oil more often to prevent thickening.

Hardened valve seats can handle woodgas or any gaseous fuel easily. Tar in the gas will stick to intake valves and cause engine damage, so making clean tar-free woodgas is paramount.

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all things being equal, a fresh 454 turning a 1800 rpm, say, 10kw genset with good gas should last a very long time.

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Mr Max you oversimplify your question.
What engine?
Under what kind of service use?
Operated by who?
And for what purpose?

As ChrisKY says easy manageable made woodgas ran in IC piston engines is comparable to a decent well head gasious engine in terms of engine wear and tear. Now those engine are used 24/7/365 for pumping and lite power generation. So they have NO cold warming up accelerated wear to speak of. They just have to be able to eat a bit of fuelgas carried through moisture and acids. These can be set up for monthly as they run every ~750 hour oil changes. Or . . . .with huge oversize lube oil reservoirs and secondary fine oil filtration and combustion acids neutralization go with annual shutdown oil changes at 8,000 hours. Most any 24/7/356 spark ignition engine will need at least an annual shutdown for spark plugs change out and such. Although there are actually working industrial well head and booster pump engine that do have multiple sparks plugs able to be running engine changed out.

Or. . as ChrisKY said you can multiple/settlement; multiple filter stages, make woodgas as particulates, moisture’s ans acdis clean as spec grades of propane and commercial methane.
You will then become a maintenece, and $$$'s draining slave to that pre-engine “make perrrfect fuel gas” system. Your what would been easy piston IC engine just-eat-it HC’s byproducts accummulations then become a disposal hazard added job.
Ah . . . just like the cooking oil bio-converting “deisel” folk ending up with lots of really contaminated barrels of heavy long-chained HC’s goo!!! Then come to us woodgasers looking for a solution to their created hazardous waste problem. Thier engine solution was an ESSBET engine conversion made to just eat the raw as is.

Real world in my life I make the engine fit the needed fuel I have to use. Not the other way around.
Specifically my legal on the roads engines better be able to fuel and live happy with any pump grade of gasoline available. Any octane. Any reasonable alcohol blend mixes. No premium only, need valve saving lead substute additives Queens kept supported here.
The two diesels here; ANY pump grade of road, off road, spec grade of bio-mixes.
And these with many, many cold starts and warming up wear, all get your 10,000 hour service life’s.
The four cycle outdoor equipment gasoline engines here get pampered with marine no-alcohol gasoline’s. These WERE only 250 hour manufactures rated emmisions certified to begin with for bore and valves wearing anyhow. I get at least 1600 hours service life’s on these. Good gasoline, wide viscosity high temp resistance synthetic oils changed out at coloring.
My welder/generator twin cylinder Kohler engine is a heavy-duty version of these.
I have woodgas fuled these Kohler twins. Wear says on target for an annual hardest case use of 2640 hours with two cold starts, operated in two daily 4 hour gasifier batch fuel made stints this would be no problem.
Worst case a set of piston rings. valve face lapping, piston crown and combustion chamber decarbonizing in the Summer time lots of sun and warm maintenance period to mach needed then gasifier and cooling filter train annual use maintenances.

Really, honestly, folks the equipment (engine, gun, boat, cast iron enamel woodstove, etc) is not sacrosanct: it’s there to do a job. Use it. Maintain it, yeah. Abuse it and then IF you are still needing; that abuse lesson will get driven home having to prematurely replace.
The saddest thing in the world is worshiped set-aside, kept boxed up pretty that ain’t then worth a damn for real work. And it always there crying out to help you out.
Work wear worn is a sign of worthiness.



Hi Chris
Could you expand on your statement that " there is filtration available for woodgas that gets it as clean as propane."

Hi Werner,

As Steve said, with sufficient filtration and refinement, woodgas can be a “spec grade” fuel. Some of these methods:

  • Bag house filtration
  • Cyclone filtering
  • Paper filtering
  • Wet filters / precipitators
  • Gas chilling (for condensate removal)
  • Gas reheating (to raise dew point)
  • electrostatic precipitators
  • catalytic elements

There is information available on each of these processes, check the documentation in our Library section.

You can use some or all of these, in the pursuit of cleaner gas. It just depends on what you’re trying to do… Some applications require perfect gas, like Fischer-Tropch aka gas to liquids. Most engines can handle some soot just fine.


Personally, all I use is a hay filter. My truck has nearly 20,000 miles on woodgas, and showing no engine problems. I expect the gasifier will be replaced multiple times and the truck junked out before the motor wears out.

Adding and maintaining a bunch of filters would have cost me time and aggravation, and made zero difference to my woodgas miles traveled. For my use, and my fuel supply, the current setup is working beautifully.


Good Morning MaxT
I read back and see that my response to your 10,000 hour engine life might be viewed as “snarky”. American colloquial meaning in this case foolish pursuit.
Not at all. My aplogy for this appeance. I DID say that I have often in personal use gotton 10,000 hours life on pistion IC engines. I was serious.
My numbers:
The traveling nurse’s wifes current Ford Edge 3.5 DOHC vehicle I went out and strated to warm up and defrost shows 5772 miles for 214 hours use since my last reset. For an average MPH travel speed of 26.97.
Her previous primary vehicle was a bought new 2007 Hyundai Tucson 2.7L DOHC retired now for my use at 201, 000 miles in Sept of this year. It always showed her overall average travel speed as 26 MPH. I never kept track of her total hours of use.
But this calulates out to 7,730.8 hours engine running time.
I say it this way because her l-o-n-g engine running warnong up times; time pulled over either laptop computer or cell phone working; time siiting at 6 way and 8 way traffic intersections ALL COUNT AS ENGINE RUNNING even if no distance was traveled.
This is no different than an engine driven generator running on stand-by idle, waiting for a load demand.
No different than a too hard to start cold piece of diesel equipment once beginning of day/shift started, left running idling, on standby, hot and ready.
This 7,730 engine hours Tucson I expect to use now for the 8-10 years primary use life of her Ford Edge. Grrr. Bit of blue cloud smoke now until fully engine warmed up. That is the PITA valve seals oil drowning cams-directly- over-valves V6 canted angle system. just like my old 67 BMW 1600, the exhaust valves are drainback oil drown.
The previous bought new in 1998, model 1999 Plymouth mini-van 3.3L cam-in-block ( yeah!) was retired out of her use in Sept 2007 at 189,000. due to too many electrical accessory issues. I used and sold this just this last Sept at 260,000 miles. Weep. There goes, by-by, our only E85 capable vehicle.
So 260,000 divided by 26 mph travel would be your 10,000 engine operating hours.
Now my actual fuel mileages are 10-15% higher than my wife’s. My overall travel speeds higher at 29 MPH.
So maybe this van “only” has 9,000 oprating hours. Still in fine engine and transmissions conditions due to my “anal” “over” maintenance’s. Sold to a grandmother with dependent minors grandchildren she is raising with my personal guarantee she is set up for engine, transmission, brakes, tires, battery, charging and starting systems reliability for 40,000 miles more use.
Previous personal vehicle engines all but two bought use I have never been able to squeeze another 100,000, ~3500 hours of use out of them. Impossible to put back the poor maintenance worn away metals. Cursed lot of acid oil destroyed seals had to be replaced to keep the oil inside these too.

Long term woodgas fuel use on engines in Mr VesaM’s book he affirms what Mr WayneK says that there is no difference in engine wear versus gasoline and diesel with equivalent maintenance’s.
He also affirms with pictures and words what Chris Seanz says that an OPERATER ran poorly gasifier system can quickly damage an engine to be non-fuctionable with tars. Destroy an engine with passed trough ash cores requiring then major machine work rebuilding.

My other woodgas long term use revolves around the Kubota 3 cylinder DG972’s. You can google search up this engine series. These were offered and woodgas used by both APL/GEK and the VictoryGasWorks Shop.
Kubotoa based this engine off of thier D1000 diesel series of engines. These were to wide spec methane(S) fuel use modified and sold/used for landfill gas power generators and such.
Also quite a few well-used 20-30 kW big trailer watercooled inline Industrial Ford 6 cylinder engined generator sets have been woodgas ran. Ha! At 20-60 pounds of fuelwood per hour these have not accumulated the woodgas running hours.
The little Kubota’s at their much lower fuel wood use per hour, have.

We are all just On The Way To Better
Steve Unruh


Hi Max,

If you are wanting extra reliability and an engine that designed for harsh gas, look at Arrow.

Their engines are designed to run off of unrefined well-head gas. You will be paying a premium for sure but they have engines that have been running since the forties.

Arrow Engine Derate Calculator

To quote their marketing :flushed:

Over 75,000 Arrow Engines are powering pumping jacks in oil fields from the frozen tundra’s of Canada, to the mountains of South America; from the deserts of the Middle East, to the jungles of Indonesia. Many of the original engines built in the 1940’s are still running today.

Some info from an Arrow employee

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