Featured Project - Don Mannes Tracker

Featured Project of the Month for May 2015 is Don’s Geo Tracker. Don has taken the standard WK design and shoehorned it into a tiny pacakge - small enough to fit in the “pickup bed” he created in the back of his Tracker.

Don’s first post about the Tracker, July 2014:

I am getting really close to Driving On Wood with my unconventional WK gasifier project and have been getting some really strong hints to come clean with what I have been up to.so I thought it was time to show what I have been doing. This morning I did a walk around video of my Geo Tracker project. You can see it here
I have lots of pictures of various stages of the build that I will be posting later.

By September, Don was really enjoying the Tracker.

I went for my weekly ride tonight. In the dark this time. Last week I manually advanced the distributor after the engine was warmed up and running on wood. The engine was idling when I turned the dist. and the rpm’s increased by maybe 50 rpm’s but I could not really tell much difference in acceleration or power. This week I left the distributor at the gasoline setting and the acceleration and power was very acceptable. I was even able to go 65 mph on a flat stretch of road for a mile or so until I had to slow down for a stop sign. The tach read 3400 rpm at 65 mph and that little engine purred like a kitten. Outside temp was about 51 deg. F for this run and when I got back to the shop I right away walked around and felt the drop box and rail heat exchanger boxes and was surprised to be able to hold my hands on them anywhere.The grate temp was 1346 F when I shut the engine off and the hopper temp was 186 F. I don’t know where all the heat is going but this thing sure runs cool. After shut down the hopper temps slowly came up to about 210 and the gasifier housing also got very warm to the touch. The filter barrel also was cool to the touch the whole time.

[Premium members can view the full build thread here: http://forum.driveonwood.com/t/dons-1995-geo-tracker-project/1191]

Don, if you could update us on the status of your Tracker, maybe post some new photos and a video below, we’d be grateful. Great work on this project!


Although there are so many great builds out there that I can only wish to be capable of doing, Don’s build really displays his creativity on one of the most wood efficient vehicles. I can’t wait to see it in Argos.


I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, “I love this woodgas car”. Don has been so creative. Yes it is a WK but it is as far away from one but still call it a WK. I have not gotten to see it personally, but from what I have seen the work is impeccable. Back when these were in the dealerships I looked at them admirably. Since then I haven’t paid much attention. As I said, I found two in our local bone yard and got to look at them close, It just amazes me that Don got everything in that space, that other are fighting to get into a pickup truck I have got to thing that driving it is more like driving a sports car as apposed to a lumbering pickup. I just chased a Geo in the parking lot today to get a better look. I keep wanting to as if they want to sell them, but I don’t know what one is worth and my wife would kill me if I started another build ---- also the thought that if anyone else is to build a Geo, they have a very high standard to soot for in Don’s. Thank you for selecting Dons car for a feature this month.TomC


Congratulations, Don! You were in 3 area newspapers including mine, the Traverse City Record Eagle!

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Don…congratulations. Your truck would have been my pick also. Very deserving of the title. Good job and workmanship.


Funny thing happened. When I got back to the shop today,I found on the bench a printed out copy of the newspaper article the boss had printed out for me. He knows I’m building a gasifier so no doubt figures it will interest me. Tomorrow He’ll be amazed to know I’ve not only seen the tracker but ridden in it.


Could anyone post the article on Don’s truck if possible. I would appreciate it. A proud moment for Don, I’m sure. Congrats, Don. MikeyB

It’s here on the site under Press.


Hi don manns,that tracker is a real nice work of art,and i am verry surprized at the speed it moves around, THANKS

I sure hope Jay Leno sees this. He might invite you out Don.


Hello don Mann’s, just asking if you were rebuilding the old tracker wood gasifier,and or if a 7" fire tube would be too small or would you recommend staying with the 8" tube that you had in it, temp rateing wise, or did you think your temps were staying hot enough, Thanks.

Hi Kevin,

I have not started yet on tweaking the old wood gasifier. When I do I will not change the fire tube from the original TEN INCH


Thanks for the dedicated response,I think tom c has about a 10 or 11 " pulling his v6 Chevy truck,of coarst there at all the other variables that can make up for tube size per motor size.I was planing on a 8 or 9" tube on my toyota with the other variables!es to compensate, The charcoal tracker you are building has desirable factors of sorts.I haven’t bean able too catch much on all the consumable talk.but the design should be a lot easyer too build for the folks that have no welding skills or tools, and a quite a bit simpler to operate,nice work too.

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