Clean-up, Clean-out, Maintenance

I have been thinking that we should have a thread to collect all different kinds of information on the clean-up side of wood gassing. Everything from cleaning and maintaining the truck itself to cleaning your hands, hair, clothes or other materials that necessarily get contaminated with soot, tar, hopper juice, etc…So if you have some tips and tricks, put them here. Or procedures for doing maintenance cleaning, etc…


The best safe cleaner I have found for tar and soot is ZEP Cherry Bomb hand cleaner. It’s not cheap, so here we have a bottle of it on the shelf next to all the other hand cleaners. But it is only used for wood gas goo.

Yesterday Jesse and I did a total clean out on the 95 Dakota. Washed the rails, and dumped and drained everything. All except the hay filter.
I have been thinking that it would be helpful to new gassers if the regular drivers would post their cleanout intervals and info on how often (number of miles, etc.) so they could get a better idea of what is normal.
To be sure, every machine and operator and fuel source is going to have different numbers, but for me it has been a bit frustrating figuring out a routine that works. I think it would help if there was more generic, “average” info out there.

Jakob washed my truck out last week. Yesterday I did it again after about 425 miles. The lower 2 rails were clogged already with soot.
We are burning kiln dried maple almost exclusively now.


I have found (by recommendation of a friend) That “Simple Green” is good for cleaning carbon black from metal surfaces. I have used it to clean the inevitable carbon deposits off the inside of high-voltage cabinets of television transmitters. They usually are made of raw sheet aluminum, and while not perfectly clean they are pretty good. Simple Green is not too harsh on the operator, either. Better than 99% Isopropyl Alcohol. Available at Menard’s, and big-box stores. Good topic, by the way!! Thanks, Billy.

1 Like

Purple Power is also a very good cleaner. I have not tried the Simple Green yet but plan too.

The main active ingredient is iethylene glycol butyl ether and this is environmentally friendly biodegradable.


Great topic Billy.

I have found that alcohol removes tar pretty well. Few things do. I keep alcohol and paper towels in every vehicle.

For hand cleaners, I am partial to Goop, since one of their lead guys Brian Smith is also a woodgas guy, and sent he me a whole box full to use years ago - I still have tons of it. It usually gets the grime off, I have no complaints.

Condensate stains your skin and I have found nothing that removes that except time. I normally wear gloves when handling it.

It is a point of pride to be able to arrive at your destination in a woodgas truck wearing nice clothes and not smudge-faced or reeking of smoke. Easier to do on short trips, but it can be done on longer ones with practice.


On those trips, I usually take along a long sleeve hooded sweater and gloves to wear while working with the gasifier


I agree. A great topic.

With tar I haven’t done a lot of investigation, but bottle of white spirit paint thinner always sits on my basement sink. Whenever my hands are dirty I grab a pinch of laundry powder and add some of the thinner. The mix rubs away just about anything.

About maintenance:

Ash/char: My cyclone container holds only about a gallon. I empty every 50-100 miles or so (a 10s job)

Hopper juice: I open the valve just about every ride. The can holds 5l (a little over a gallon) and is good for about 2 hoppers of wood.

Tar: Whenever tar starts to show when emtying juice. I collect maybe a quart every other month.

Rails: I’m a little low on cooling area so I may flush them more often than most. Maybe once a month or whenever the temp allows (a 10min job).

Hayfilter: I pour a couple buckets of water on the hay a few times a year. Hay change once a year.


I haven’t tried any of the above mention cleaners yet , but I will .

I keep some bleach handy and it seems to cut the tar pretty good.