Getting Started on my First Gasifier!

So I’ve been dreaming of building a wood gasifier for over a year now and I finally have the time, and access to the tools and materials that I need…

My problem is that I am having a hard time finding reliable information about how to choose specific design specs (like hearth size, etc) to match my project. I have a 1997 chevy 454 in a 30’ RV with a 4000w generator. I hope to run them both on wood. Any help/direction would be greatly appreciated

I’ve been following this sites forums for quite some time and I really appreciate all the information being shared. I just officially joined and once I get started I will upload details and photos of my projects and myself. Thanks!


Ben welcome to the forum. I will suggest you do what I am planning to do when I get ready to actually build a gasificer and upgrade to the premium membership I think it is called for 50 dollars you get Wayne Keith book and access to the rest of the forum where details of that design are discussed. It is my plan to upgrade before I build a gasificer myself.

What I do know, if you really want to build a gasifier, you found the right place. You be amazed at all the miles already driven on wood here. My guess it has to be over 300,000 miles. A lot of experience here.
Welcome and enjoy your build because you won’t be able to contain yourself once you can run an engine on wood.

You may need two different gasifiers, as you can’t use the same hearth size and run the engines independently. If you haven’t read the book (Wayne Keith’s), I would highly suggest reading it especially for the 454. It will save you a lot of time, and possibly a couple of redesigns/rebuilds. I assume the 4kw generator has it’s own engine, and it is roughly around 10hp. You may wish to at least start with a gary gilmore charcoal gasifier. It is the easiest to fab, and making charcoal isn’t terribly hard or expensive. It gets your feet a little wet before moving onto a bigger project. If you end up, not using it, because you figured out something else, you aren’t out a whole lot.


Not true. It won’t be ideal but a full size Keith gasifier will run a small engine for a short period of time with no issues. Wayne has demo’d this in the past.

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Yeah, but you are going to have long run times to charge up the battery pack. I don’t think you can get clean gas for that long. You can prove me wrong. :slight_smile:

Leave the truck idling while you run the small motor. Lol ok a second smaller gasificer would be better but there is more then one way to skin a cat…
If it where me I think I would look at a WK for the truck.
For the generator I think I would look at Northern Self Reliance. My train of thought is the trunk of the tree heats my house. The smaller wood could be chucked for the truck and the too small to chunk could be chips for the generator.

Good morning Ben and welcome to the DOW.

A 30’ RV running hyway speeds may be a big order for a gasifier.

It would be no problem for a gasifier to power a vehicle this weight and size running very low speeds or a vehicle the weight and size of a pickup truck running 50-60 mph. If you plan on running the RV at safe hyway speeds it will be very difficult. ( driving slower than the stream of traffic is dangerous )

I think the best you can do is run hybrid at about 50/50 gasoline and wood. ( I made a quick 400 mile trip last week driving 55-65 mph , 9000 pound truck , 2000 pound trailer and about 6000 pound load , I used 20-25 gal gasoline and 350-400 pound wood )

I don’t know how far from home you plan to travel but the wood supply is important and seems the gasifier works out best when you are in a certain radius of home ( wood pile )



It would still be a vast improvement in mileage. You are going from like 4mpg to 8mpg. So a potential savings of 100 dollars for a 400 mile round trip. Some people do that every weekend for horse shows, hunting/fishing, camping, nascar, mudding/snowmobiling, etc. Then others take off for a week 1-2 times a year. Even if you don’t get the genset running on the gasifier, it still can be a significant savings.

My thoughts on why woodgas RVs for roadtrips are a bad idea. I’ve posted this before, and I agree with Wayne above.


Thank you all so much for your responses! So here’s my plan in a nutshell, preceded by a brief history: For me, it all started as a growing interest in charcoal as it benefits agriculture and soil science, and love for trees and the forest. Charcoal lead me to wood gas and it seemed so perfect… I have yet to see one run in person but I already feel obsessed with wood gasifiers and their potential.

So, I figured I might have to make 2 separate gasifiers for the gen and the RV… Thats ok. The RV wont have to go far or fast on wood. I just want it to be able to move. I’m going to chop it up and make it lighter. I’m taking walls and ceilings out to make about a 10’ flatbed on the rear to hold the gasifiers and maybe a small wood chunker. Also taking out the entire bathroom, a lot of the plumbing, cabinets, furniture, etc. My goal is to make a sort of mobile headquarters that can produce power, heat, and hot water for a small community or a few families. I suppose the gasifier for the generator is really the point and I intent to build most of the system around that, but I would still like it to be able to drive on wood. I think part of me wishes I was a nomad. I also wish I had a shorter RV and a bigger gen…

Anyway, that’s the idea. I’m sure the project will change and evolve as it progresses so I’m just focussing on picking the right gasifiers and building them. I’m going to sign up for premium membership and read Wayne’s book asap. Thanks again!