Another Crazy Idea

Continuing the discussion from Generator:

Continuing the discussion from Who is online and new member section:

Continuing the discussion from Who is online and new member section:

Fred, Your observation on the practicality of driving on wood in the hills reminds me of an idea I had a while ago.
You may remember years ago the mother earth news people built a hybrid electric car, in which a small 5 horse? engine drove a generator to charge the batteries and then the cars electric motor of course ran off the batteries. I thought you could run the small engine on wood gas. It would run at constant speed and the batteries would take care of the uphill downhill variations. I think you would need a larger engine to keep up with that scenario, but still a workable idea I think.
What do you all think on this?

A hybrid electric with a gas engine can’t make more average power than the output of the engine. Peak power will be determined by the amount of electrical energy in the batteries, but average output will be the same as the engine. If you have a go kart with an electric and a gas drive it would work, but what you are basically talking about is putting a gasifier on a go kart.

In other words, if you are driving in the city with a very light vehicle and a lot of stop and go, then while stopped, the batteries will charge up, and you can draw more than 5 horsepower from the batteries to accelerate when the light turns green. And you can recharge again when the light turns red. But if you are travelling on the Interstate, the batteries will deplete down to the power level of the engine, and you will be limited by that amount of energy.

If you are trying to improve performance in the city, or on hills, then you might could put an electric drive on a woodgas truck. I think it would make more sense just to put a bigger engine and gasifier on the truck though. Or convert to propane and increase the compression ratio so that there is no loss of power when switching to wood. Or do like Wayne does and blend in some gasoline on hills.

1 Like

You are correct about the net power of the small engine. In fact there would be considerable power lost in the multiple conversions between the wood gas and the wheels. No doubt you would need a larger engine than the 5 hp they used, but still smaller that typically used in a that vehicle.
I was thinking not so much about the lack of horsepower, but rather the perennial problem of the gasifier cooling on an extended downhill, and then trying to get back uphill on a cooled gasifier.
the wk is more tolerant in this regard anyway.
Perhaps not the best idea in mountain territory, but I think still a viable option in some circumstances.

When I leave home I drive 10 miles to the nearest paved road and 10 more to the nearest store or gas pump. 15 more for a larger cheaper store or one that sells parts or hardware. In this distance I gone from 8300 feet just over 6000 feet, almost all a little bit down hill with a few steep climbs when the road doesn’t follow the terrine. I hadn’t thought of hybrid electric but twonder if the weight of enough batterys to help get me back home would be practical. A larger engine, with higher compression and advanced timing would get me back on wood but gasoline would be a problem. Maybe propane or E85 on the steep spots to help. I think the problem would be keeping the temperature high enough not to make tar on the way down. Would extra part time nozzles to add ( leak) air help or just cause other problems? Thanks for any thoughts that may help solve this.

Hello Mr. Fred .

I thought I would comment here vs the other thread , I may have been getting of topic .

Going down hill in a gasified vehicle one can CAUSE the gasifier to heat up quicker than going up a hill . Those that have been driving a while understands how we can use the momentum of the vehicle while manipulating the air mix setting to make a heavy draw on the gasifier and no power from the motor .

Depending on the design of the gasifier it is possible to run a long time cold without making any tar . Best to have the gasifier at operating temps first.

Below are a couple of videos idling the trucks and still making clean gas. Long videos and I don’t expect anyone to watch them all the way through but can skip through to see the camera was never shut off.

I have two thoughts. One: as a Canadian I know that many inventions in Canada took what worked in the United States and made it work when faced with the harsh Canadian climate. Block heaters is one example. Snowmobiles is another. So with so many different people in so many different situations, many innovations will come from solving regional problems.

Two: It takes a gracious, patient man like Wayne to hear new folks come along and hear over and over how they are going to solve all the terrible problems with Wayne’s design, without ever having built or driven one themselves. There was that “push button start” fellow in particular last year who wanted to make a gasifier that he could loan to his neighbors daughter. Never heard from him again.

Thanks, Wayne, for your help and inspiration.


Mr Wayne
Thank you for suggesting the videos. The first one was blocked but the I watched all of the second and was very reassured because the newer f150 I have with a smaller high speed engine makes enough power on gasoline but probably wouldn’t on wood. I’ll have to set up another truck to convert to wood gas and am glad to see that it will probably be worth the time and expense.
Thank you for putting with another newbee, but I have to start some were and help from you and this site will give me chance to make it work the first time.

Thanks for responding to my first post by suggesting a larger engine in lighter truck. Do you think a ford 390 I have in a 56 f100 I have found would work for me? The 56 remindes me of the first truck I remember being in and on wood gas it would be better yet.
Thanks again

Fred, a 390 in a F-100 would work, yes. I’m building a 360 in a 1973 F-350. Wayne has built a 460 in a F-250. I think all these combinations will work. It’s easier I think to blend in gasoline with multi-port fuel injection, but it’s still doable to use a carburetor. There will be less power on wood, so towing capacity and performance on hills will be worse. I would like to know if an increase in compression ratio would make an engine run with the same power on wood as it would run on gasoline.

At this point I can only go by what I have read on higher compression for wood gas but I know it works for propane and alcohol, both less dense fuels than gasoline although denser than wood gas. Summit Racing has Keith Black pistons for my 390 that will give me 11 to 1 for about the cost of ford pistons. Milling heads and intake could go higher. Engineers claim a non turbocharged engine louses 3% for every 1000 feet or in my case 25% + 30% for wood gas I think 14 to 1 might be worth a try. The old big block engines with there low rpm tork should be good match for wood gas and have the advantage of better (straigher) rod angles not wedging the piston skirts into the cylinder walls like a stroked small block the same size. Should be less friction and longer life. On the down side higher compression would make it hard to use gasoline for extra power or running home without wood.
By the way I am not surprised to end up on a thread called another crazy idea. Have heard that one before.
Thanks Fred

this note is to wayne,

dear sir, we have a small junkyard in the chicago area and i see that you have made some various things out of old front wheel drive axles and other junk car parts.

since you are obviously very generous with your knowledge and time to better the world around you and to help others do the same, i would like to offer you any non-highdemand parts that we might have around for only the time it would take us to chop them off and the shipping to get them to you, or if you are ever in lockport il. 60441, you may of course pick them up or have somebody pick them up.
this would include anything from engines to transmissions rear ends etc, so long as they arent items that we are planning on scrapping out.

in addition, if you bought anything big up this way that was too expensive to ship, we would be happy to store it for you for free or to pick it up for cost, until such reasonable time as you could come and pick it up.

i have not built a gassifier of any sort but they do interest me. so i will ask a couple questions, would there be any benefit to using a diesel core as the initial setup with the higher compression and stronger block etc or would the weight defeat any benefit ? and how would you set up the carb as the liquid injection pump and injectors i would assume are useless ?

best regards and our thanks for your selfless contributions to humanity as a whole.

correction, “so long as they ARE items that we are planning on scrapping out” and are not still our regular inventory, as we end up crushing a lot of stuff that is good for its steel weight price, which is basically pennies on small parts like axles etc.

Good morning Fred .

In reference to some of the above mountain driving .

In my area we don’t have high mountains to deal with but nearby we do have a road with about 1000 foot elevation climb. Below is a short video of pulling the mountain 100% woodgas. Yes the SUV ford in front of me was able to pull away . Also I think if I had wanted I could have flipped a switch ( gasoline ) and caught and passed him . ( second video )


Hello Mr. Palano .

Thanks very much for the offer but right now I have plenty old cars, trucks and tractors in my junk . Also there is a recycling yard local that removes the motors and trans from cars and trucks and sets them out for public sale .

I’m sure with some effort one could convert a diesel to run on woodgas but it is so much easier converting the gasoline motors . There is a lot of devils in the detail but with a gasoline motor it is a matter of shutting of the gasoline and piping in the wood. Gasifiying a diesel motor can get complicated and expensive .

that’s the coolest video i have ever seen in my entire life.

thanks wayne for the info wayne, if you know anybody else that we may be able to help, if they are serious we may be able to give them a break too.
have a great week and keep up the interesting engineering !!
i trust your judgment and wont bother with a diesel if i try building one !!

Oh man, Wayne, the last time I did that was in my 67 GTO, 400 cubes, 4 speed. Darn, that Dakota sounds sweet. Yah, I’m looking. Thanks for the video it was blood rushing for sure!

1 Like

Hello Pepe ,

Just to be very clear the second video is all gasoline . I was just showing that you don’t want to hold it at WOT too long or you will be going fast down the road . Even with the reduced power of wood gas they will usually go fast enough .

I moved 4 posts to an existing topic: Life goes on - Winter 2014