Has anyone saved Mike LaRosa's plans?

I’ve been searching around on the forums and every link to his photo gallery is now defunct. I can’t access my premium content at the moment here on DOW so I don’t know if we have it saved here. Nowhere else on the internet seems to have saved his plans, just linked to now expired websites.

Yes, the yahoo groups thingy has been eliminated. Mike was having trouble with his online content dissapearing even when he was with us. In my experience, the free website providers will delete your page if you have not maintained it in a certain amount of time.
I dont think Mike was the type of guy that would have assembled proper plans though.
Somewhere, I had a rough sketch he had made for me. I think I posted it here on jessie norths thread about his restoration of mikes unit.


Id be willing to send a few pics of the units if you tell me what you are looking for.


I’m getting all the pics I needed on the restoration thread, thanks for the offer! I was just wondering with some brake rotors that I have if a 5" restriction would work for my 4.3l Chevy V6, maybe with small sized chunks.


Hey Cody,
Also follow the work of Tom Collins.
He did build and run for a 4.3L V-6. Initially using a Mike LaRosa hearthing system.

Very interesting he said he later revised it for more WK-like features.
Another who later revised for WK big-tub/“firetube” and large “choke-hole” features was John Stout. Said it worked better for his big-old vehicles than his original Imbert principals one.
Steve Unruh


I was thinking of doing some air preheating like someone had done to their Caddy build using stainless flex hose wrapped around the hearth. I really like the simplicity of the brake rotor hearth.
Now that I have Wayne’s book I can maybe bounce the two designs against each other and see what compliments it.


Here you go Cody:

In his beginning post he acknowledges help from Mike LaRosa and Max Gasman.
Only 80 some posts. Best read and pictures seen completely.

1826 post covering six years. Can be intimidating.
On the bottom of his first post is an avatar line of all who have talked. You can narrow this down to just reading TomC’s own posts. 407, but it will go fast. Narrow down and read Mike LaRosa’s 13 posts. And maybe WayneK’s 27 responses.
Steve Unruh

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I had plans from one of those popular woodgas book written around the 70’s. Mike said that his basic internal dimensions were about the same. It was the gasifier that was built by a university to run a cab about the university. It had plans included. I no long have those books. Mother Earth first sold it and then Reed sold it with the plans.

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I agree the simplicity is nice, but IIRC he had some issues with it generating tar and it took him quite a bit of tinkering to get it more tar free. He tore it apart and rebuilt it several times and I believe he tarred up his engine on more then one occasion until he got it dialed in. When he put his mind to something, he was a pretty darned determined person.

I personally, would get WK’s book, read it, so you have a -really- good idea what you are doing and what you are looking for. It could easily save you more time/frustration and money, then you spend on it even if you are building a LaRosa. There is no rule that you have to build a WK after reading his book. :stuck_out_tongue: At the very least, it will allow you to ask more specific questions, using the terminology used which typically results in clearer more concise answers to questions.

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Preheating your air with your exhaust off the engine is very important, but why.
It will make your gasifer more efficient because your air is being heated by another source not your gasifer heat. Also the heat that is coming off your gasifer can be used to continue heating up the preheated air more getting the air hotter by gases exiting the gasifer in the drop box. Finally use this hot air to help remove the heat coming off the hottest part of the gasifer and that is the firetube. The 3 stage air preheating is efficient when burning charcoal in a wet and very hot environment when using a wood gasifer. Removing this moisture/tars is very important out by the hopper too. You can burn up some of the tars through the firetube and reduction zone, but it is very difficult to burn up all of them. The tars like to hang around in the hopper I have noticed. It is different when using a charcoal only gasifer the tars have been already removed and the moisture. You have to add moisture back in to control the hot burn. This will make Hydrogen fuel that is a big plus.


This project will have to be after i finish the downdraft Charcoal for the Mazda. But these rotors/drums were too good to not pass up. Bore measures about 5.12 inches and distance from bore to the disc rotor is 5.37 inches. They were going to the scrap pile at work!


My main goal will be to run the Sierra on wood just for the ease of not having to make runs and runs of charcoal.
It took about 4 runs in my TLUD to fill up a 55 gallon drum with finished coal ready to crush.


@Bobmac we can have our LaRosifier brainstorming here.

I think one big plus of the design is if you have a big engine that in a WK would need a larger firetube, you can still keep the 55 gallon drum format but use a different hearth design. Sky’s the limit for width now.

I think a WK hearth core but uses a bottom zone in a LaRosa format would work really well. Your drop box would maybe attract more char though. Still get the heat exchanging necessary but doesn’t sacrifice footprint. Wouldn’t need insulation around a capsule since air would constantly be moving and cooling the outside. Would maybe benefit to wrap the air jacket in welder blanket to keep cold air off, or rockwool and welder blanket.

I honestly think the only heat exchanging you’d need would be muffler and this air jacket since there’s more opportunity to catch hot air. That would leave more room in the drop box to catch heavy char and cool the exiting gas. I’m sure Wayne experimented with this idea, maybe we’re just goobers reinventing a broken wheel.


Personally speaking I’m thinking of making a grateless Ben P hearth dimensions, using two 20lb propane tanks. Weld heat sinking finns all around the firetube and reduction zone containment.

I noticed with my Mini Joni single nozzle, with it’s permanent fixed grate, having the gas exit as high up in the area keeps a lot of char from flying out.

I could still make it grated but I would need to make it absolutely bombproof since the firetube and reduction zone/gas zone will be welded together, maybe make a very overbuilt angle iron grate with heavy duty chain. It’ll have a bottom clean out pipe and that’s about it for maintenance. Works pretty good on the Mini Joni with a 2" pipe.

Air jacket in my case will probably be hot water heater, nozzles and restriction would be thread in and drop in for repairs. I’d use some decent nozzle length to build an ash wall to protect the tank walls. I would have the bottom of the hearth poke out a little so I can access the clean out. I’ve kinda thought of this for something mounted on a cargo rack or carefully mounted in the frame of a truck.

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Now are you thinking this gasifer will be charcoal , wood , or a charcoal/wood 10% mix ?
I see great potential for it being a light weight charcoal gasifer for larger engine sizes. Not even using preheated air. Okay yes preheating the air is more efficient in a wood gasifer but not needed in a charcoal gasifer. With the new rebuilding of the old 92 Dakota truck fire tube with the new improved heat shields will be something that can be incorporated into the LaRosa design but first I need to prove it will work. More on this later.


Personally I’d like to use this design for the Joni hearth I made for the Mazda. I would like to see just how raw of wood I can utilize. But I think the dimensions are too far off as it is with it’s integrated air nozzle ring. Plus his design as he’s said depends on a lot of air velocity.
I have a few 20lb propane tanks laying around and plenty of weekend time.
Maybe with venturi ejecting assistance it can run fairly raw wood.

I do know that Mike leaned more towards Imbert directions, and Tom has had better performance with Max Gasmans help. Though Tom used a different design than Mike’s napkin schematic, I have Tom’s awesome drawing saved on my PC I’ll post it here later.

I wonder if one combined the MEN revised nozzle design, even number of nozzles that split into two odds, one nozzle points 90 degrees like normal and one points up to prevent bridging like Ron Lemler’s hearth.

here is Tom’s old layout for his LaRosifier. Two brake rotors bolted together, welded to a car rim for the air jacket. I think he used/uses a cyclone heat exchanger I can’t remember, I do remember he’s done a lot of changes since Max has helped him.

Edit: I sure wish I had @TomC 's talent for art. Would be a lot easier for me to convey ideas I know that’s for sure. Some people can’t think with images, I don’t have that problem I just can’t get my hand to coordinate with my brain to put it on paper, I’m better with making abstracts than a realistic to scale drawing so that’s why I use Prop Comedy to get out ideas.


Just be a bit careful, LaRosa’s gasifier did have it’s fair share of tars and sticky valves. He had it or his vehicle apart cleaning out tars a lot more then even he would like to admit.
He had his gasifier apart numerous times as well.

His design was neat because it was made of very cheap stuff lying around and he used mostly rudimentary tools and a stick welder. It was more like a Fema2, in that it could be done easily with hand power tools and stuff lying around. I think that was a large part of the personal challenge to him. If it worked well numerous people who copied the design would have stuck with it; Instead they mostly switched to the WK design after that was released.

Let it serve as inspiration for the will power and creativity needed to complete the design, even against all odds of a severe budget limitation, not very good tools, and really no scrap pile. Don’t ignore new knowledge, see if you can apply it. Certainly Mike would have tried, and more then anything, he would want you to be successful.


I’m mostly wanting to try to bring alive Mike’s old napkin drawing. It has tons of heat exchanging to dry out the wood.

Combined with a Monorator Hopper and engine exhaust driven venturi ejection to get the liquid out of there asap I think it stands a chance.

It wouldn’t use the brake drum hearth, I’d instead make an off the shelf and scrounged Ben P hearth, so a more true to form Imbert hearth. As handy as it would be to have the heat retention of cast iron for the hearth I don’t have any that would match the dimensions well enough.

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Sean; I thought I knew Mike LaRosa quite well. Spent many hours on the phone and he drove his truck up to my place one time. I don’t remember hearing him say anything about “taring” up an engine. I thought if he did tar one he would just park it and pull out another old car and build a “new” design that he had cooking in the back of his mind, At the time of the LaRosafier’s, we did not have a whole lot of information like is available now. There were a few guys from across the pond on the Google Woodgas sight that fed us information, but unfortunately anything that was written was in a foreign language.
Yes we were operating on the “cheep” with just fundamental tools. No breaks, rollers, or shears. For us, this was just an experiment and we didn’t want to put a lot of money into it in case it didn’t work. Sure couldn’t afford stainless steel like the guys across the pond used— to this day, I still don’t understand how they get so much stainless. As far a how mine worked, I thought it was a success—I drove it to Argos ( 300+ miles one way). Never had a speedometer in my truck so never knew how fast it would go. I had to run flat-out on the Interstates to keep up with traffic and it wasn’t very often that I had to pass another car. When I stopped to pay on the Ill. Toll Road, the lady taking money said," Hey man, You gotts a bau-ba-que going in that truck?"
Mike and I kept doing rebuilds to try to get something better. About this time WK came up to Milwaukee on wood. His design raised the bar on how fast woodgas vehicles could go. That for me became my goal. Every time after that that I took the truck for a drive, I came home and tore something down or added something in an effort to match the WK.
Last fall, I decided to go back to the LaRosa design just to have something to drive. Unfortunately, I had forgotten the dimensions of the first one. When I went to set it into the hot water shell that I had used, the tire rim was too large. I still can’t figure it out, I can’t remember ever having anything on the farm that used a 14" rim so I can’t remember where that rim came from. I do think I have found the secret to the WK design but I just haven’t had the gumption to get out in the cold shop and work. Maybe someday summer will come. TomC