Best chevy pickup to convert

Our plan was to try and follow the instructions in Wayne’s book as closely as possible, but we ran into a snag.

A while back, yawl were very helpful in outlining some of the challenges involved in converting Dodge Dakotas to run on wood. We went ahead and purchased a '92, and began the process of getting used to it as a vehicle while we manufactured some of the key components such as the fire tube.

For reasons that don’t have anything to do with the conversion, I’m reaching the point where I’m ready to give up on Dodge Dakotas as a vehicle that I’m willing to work with or recommend to others.

First, it was the driver’s side door latch. Turned out that replacement latches are not available. I wound up having to go a hundred miles to a Pick and Pull yard to get a used part that works, and now the door closes, but the prospect of not being able to purchase a necessary part like that threw me. I had never come across such a problem before in forty years of working on older Chevys (my primary rig is an '80 3/4 ton that’s been worked hard and repaired a lot).

This winter has been unusually snowy, and we were not able to make use of the '92 Dakota this winter because of problems getting the front axle to engage. Now that the snow is melting, and I can start working on the rig, I find that the mechanism that engages the front axle is evidently another one of those parts which are not available for love or money. Even looked into converting it to a Posi-Lok set up, but they don’t support Dakotas either.

We’re okay with just thinking of the Dakota truck as a 4x2 that we can use when weather conditions allow, and are considering acquiring another truck to convert to running on wood. Personally, I have a strong loyalty to Chevy pickups, so I’d appreciate any advice as to which ones have proven to be good conversion candidates.

with much appreciation,



Walt, sorry to hear the troubles you are having. I too have had trouble finding some part for my 95 Dakota. If you click on the search button, you’ll see others that have converted Chevys.

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well walt I have been fairly happy with my 97 gmc do a search like bill mentioned there is a few on here.

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Paul m i ben meanning too ask you how has the timeing worked out on power and whats your comfordable cuese speed with your truck.

I haven’t changed anything on the timing yet just the standard advance . still working on a modified distributer just to give less control by the trucks computer . I can run 65-70 mph pure wood I just half to watch how fast I try to get there. speed limit around here is 95% 55 and below so all good there.

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Paul I am working on bc a distributor as well. I will be using an old points distributor for mine. Hopefully I can get some shop time this week. I have been working on a plan.

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If the points give you trouble the pertronix kits work good to upgrade them. I have one of those kits on my d17 because I was having a hard time finding points which would last.

I don’t plan on using the points , just the top few inches of the distributor to rotate separately from the stock distributor to advance spark time without moving the cam sensor.

I have thought about using both to create two sparks.

Thanks paul M did you get my hood scoop done yet.(Jokeing) sounds like the newer chevys are working great.have you weighed 5 gallons of your lighter breed of pines that are two weeks dryed.

Good hearing from you folks WaltP.
Yes. Been a bugger-do cold snowy winter in these Cascades base hills.
Those doing Chevy pickup’s for woodgasing have seemed to fallen into different ease of use categories.
For your Rural/highland use you’d want a V-8 with as you said four wheel drive.
The small and large block carburated w/distributors have been made to work. Feed back carburetor systems OK to base start off of too.
The actual dual injector throttle body systems been made to work. These system still did have an ignition distributor.
The early (late 90’s) TRUE individual electric-injector to each intake valve “Port” systems been made to work. Rare large blocks only I think. In tow rigs and motorhomes. Some say these are the best. AdminChris now a big-block TB Chevy pickup woodgaser.

Unfortunately in the early-mid 90’s GM’s small blocks used a weird propritory central injectors block, plastic pressure delivery lines out “spider” injector system. Those tried these say NEVER AGAIN.

And most all GM/Chevy’s went with a no distributor, individual ignition-coil-over-sparkplug V-8 system early on in the 2000’s.
You will have to become an adept PCM hacker, and those using these engines say that the revised design makes these a valves-WILL-hit the piston design.

Chose informed, wisely for want you are willing to do, and want.
Ha! Fords in the early 2000’s became just as no-distributor, coil-over-plug unfriendly, and WITH overhead cams.
J-I-C Steve Unruh


I’m going with a hei on top with vacuum controls .
kevin I haven’t ran much pine lately I didn’t care for the mileage even though it was free .

I know what you mean this pine over hear aint very heavy when dry, and with my v10 tube i ran out of wood space on top, see how it works out with shorter choke, i may re fabricate the unit for more wood space later if i can run clean gas with shorter tube, all i am after if 57 mph most of the time.I may pull the carb and plate the intake too see how many leaks i have there,and its hard too get good idle with intake carb adaptor leaks.Other than all those adjustments too manage, the old truck is pulling on down the trail 45 mpg for now. I probbly have air leaks some place, as it runs best with just a tiny bit of air from my one air butter fly.

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If it were me, Id get a 96 -99 truck with the 5.7 Vortec (non LS). Pull the EFI off and throw as far away as I could throw it. Go to Ebay/Amazon get the Vortec Carb manifold, take your pick, you will need an HEI distributor, electric fuel pump or (presure bypass valve to retain the stock pump) and then source a simple four barrel carb. to get a little more power for 50 bucks or so, stuff an RV cam and that engine will good to around 360 HP on gasoline with carb tuning. This will get you ahead a bit when running wood gas and this motor will free wheel if you ever get into some valve issues. Tape over the SES / CES light and you are good to go :fire:


Last time i run low on wood and motor not start with out stiring hopper wood and char rod, so i went back too my carb,i think the needle seat may have stuck, it started then stalled 4 times before my batt died, so bring extra batterys and tap hammer too free up carb if going carb. Luckey i was 50 feet from my driveway too recharge the battery, by then it started right back as usually.

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