First project

I’m looking for some advice. I’ve been lurking around here and reading all that I can for the past several months and this is quickly becoming a new addiction, but I need some guidance. I considered doing a vehicle first, but I have limited access to welding equipment and the thought of enduring the wrath of “she whom must me obeyed” after she sees me bugger up a currently owned, working truck has me thinking smaller. My primary needs are for electric back up for an aquaponics system and ideally cogeneration to keep me growing tropical fish and vegetables all winter in my greenhouse. I looked at doing a surplus military genset or manufacturing one from alternators and lawn mower engines, but also want motive power. I’ve also considered a compact tractor with a pto for both static and motive applications and have located several gas Fords, Farmalls, and an IH… I’m really not sure where to get started. I’m also interested in the premium membership and the “list” for the forthcoming book. I know a gassified truck is in my future and have begun to scour the locale for a mid 90s dodge v10, ford v10 or ford 460 in the extended cab long bed versions. She whom must be obeyed knows that something is up. What is the best start to show my lovely wife that I’m not crazy and I can generate heat and useable electricity from biomass? Where would you direct a new convert for the first project or for the applications I’m seeking.

Warmest regards


Jeff, In this part of PA, Dible is a name from Reynoldsville. Have we met? Since you are just getting started in gasification, let me suggest you start off with something easy. Learn from it and go on to develop a wood fired vehicle. Here is a link to a system I built to run a military surplus generator.

Welcome aboard and hope your wife will catch the wood gas “bug” but do not hold your breath. Unless it can make money or save a lot,they tend to “endure” your hobby. You can always use the line, “Well, what do you want me to do, hang out at the bars or play golf?”
Bye the way, I live in Luthersburg.

Welcome Jeff Dible
Well first off do click open the “Buy Plans” button at the top and join up the Premium members section. There is 2X the activity discussion with systems actually being built and operated there. Some are downsized versions of the Keith System.
Next for yourself beg, borrow, buy your way to go visit someone who is already woodgas engine running. This will make it real to you. PA Gary sounds like to me is giving you an invitation.
Then build something, anything that you can make run a stripped down (no fuel tank) engine run to show off to the family and friends. You want to impress them you are actually able to fuel an engine with wood. The smallest electric starting 3600 RPM gen-sets you can lay your hands on good for this operating brush type power tools and incandescent lights.
THEN let your SHMBO see the Light, and feel the simple gasifier/filter/cooler rejected heats and the engine rejected heats and know these could all be greenhouse winter heating energies.
Simplest, least equipment needed system to do this with is one of PA Gary’s charcoal gasifiers.
See his “Cheap and simple woodsplitter system” topic in his Charcoal Gasifiers section found under the Forum button here.
Buy the charcoal commercial bagged for this project. You will not need that much.
Once you are convinced, and she is convinced, then in your hardwood country you can either make your own charcoal fuel following David Baileys in his greenhouse stove system or go to a full raw wood gasifier on your next bigger tractor system. See Ron Lehmers nice IHC tractor adaptation here. TerryG. is also shown popping wheelies on a woodgas fueled 18hp riding lawn mower. Use the “search” function here to find these.

Suggest you scratch the Ford overhead cam V-10 from your wish list and stick with just later model still push-rod valve engines. ALL chain driven overhead valve engine required special tools and a real love of nuts and bolts to service. Used, and NOT having had lots of anal very regular oil changes they all will need cam chain, idlers and chain guide work. Not just to pick on Ford I include the later model chain driven OHC Dodge/Jeep V engines in this avoid category too.

Steve Unruh

Welcome Jeff!
How to convince someone else it is a good idea?..thinking…thinking…

Show them videos and pics of successful systems could be a good way to start. Maybe take her to one of the meet ups and show the vehicles.

Aquaponics along with a CHP gasification system are my goals as well; then transportation.

that’s what i can contribute… small systems can be done… and work properly even in harsh conditions,

for me, if i was going to use it in conjunction with a battery bank i’d be using an engine to run alternators to charge batteries instead of a running a genset.

I’ll be looking for an affordable gas tractor in the future as well… used to be they were plentiful and cheap. can’t say it’s that way anymore.

Thanks for the start. Just what I need another wonderful modification of modern tech to be sustainable. I’m budgeting for the premium membership. Thanks to all. I’ve got a 3.5 hp briggs and straton lawnmower thats going to get some attention soon. Also found out tonight that the neighbor has a Ford 8n he may be willing to part with. When it rains it pours.

Thanks All

Hi Jeff. I started out experimenting with wood gas last fall and my first project was to build a small gasifier out of some steel paint cans. To prove to myself that this works I hooked it up to my little pushmower and, to my delight, it ran. It was a lot of fun showing friends and family I can run an internal combustion engine with wood. Now just a few months later I’m well into my Wayne Keith gasifier build. You will be driving on wood very soon! Also, the lawnmower project really did not take much of my time and cost little money. Attached are a couple of pictures of that setup. It is a tar making device for sure and I used pellets for wood stoves as fuel. Despite the tar it did prove to me with my own eyes that wood gas is a potent fuel and gave me the confidence I needed to move forward to a bigger project. Best regards.

I am impressed JohnC that you went to the additional work to put in air nozzles.
Good picture set. Hey All note the flare in the #5 picture.
See JeffD, most of us have one or two lawnmower engines in our beginnings. Mine was two old Tecumseh on a DYI cast iron charcoal pot and a charcoal fueled double walled pipe Tee set up. Ha! Ha! Where I learned HOT, HOT char gas needs to be de-ashed and cooled! Better to kill a cheap throw-a-way before committing to a good engine set-up.
First get an IC engine fueled and running on anything - smoke, tar, so-so high CO2 gas. And then let the IC engine needs drive you forward.

Steve Unruh

Hello West Coast Steve. The copper air nozzles were not part of the very first effort. Originally I just had a downdraft design based on the FEMA unit. I had a major problem with fire creeping higher and higher into my fuel hopper until the whole thing was ablaze. So I added the copper tubing/nozzles to gain control. Once installed I now am able to fill up the fire tube (6" flue pipe) with wood pellets and cap it with a lid from a paint can (which incidentally fits perfectly). The copper tubes come up in the the top chamber of the unit. This chamber has a lid with a hole in it where my shop vac hose is inserted. The shop vac hose is reversed so it is blowing and the vac is plugged in to a router speed controller so I can adjust the speed precicely. As mentioned, this is a tar making machine. I know I am not getting nearly hot enough to crack tar because the copper tubing/nozzles have not melted. I can run this pushmower engine at full throttle for about 45 minutes on one coffee can full of wood pellets. Certainly was a fun and easy way to learn about wood gas!

Hello all,

I think lawn mowers are in a lot of our history.

It has been several years back but as soon as the wife saw this, she informed me she was NOT going to push a mower and pull a wood heater at the same time mowing grass!!!