Hello everyone. My name is Tom Butler I am new to this site. I live in the Vancouver WA area. I want to build a top of the line wood gasifier along the lines of the ones Ben Peterson builds. I’m looking to find a mentor to teach and or help me. I’ve built rudimentary “Producer Gas” units in the early 2000’s. And have researched the chemistry etc of such units. But that is the extent of my knowledge on at least a similar subject. I have purchased Ben Peterson’s book. Wood Gasifier Builder’s Bible and am ready to get cracking. I have a shop with the rudimentary tools needed for the construction. If anyone has suggestions(constructive please) and or knows someone that I can work with to make this project a reality, I welcome your input/help.
I hope this is the appropriate place to post about this. If it’s not, I apologize in advance. I watched one of Ben’s videos where he interviews his Mentor Steve Unruh. When I did a google search this site came up. So based on that I joined. If this site is meant to promote someone else’s designs, please accept my apologies!
Thanks in advance for any help you can provide,
Hi Tom ,welcome aboard , i’m not a wood gas builder , but i guess the guys here would maybe want an idea of what you intend running on the gasifier that you want to build , if its for stationary use or for mobile use ? engine size /power output .
Hello Dave, thanks I’m glad to be here. I am looking to build the stationary wood gasifier that Ben gives the plans for in his book. I want to run a stationary electric generator off it. I believe Ben says you can run between a 1 to 4 liter generator with it.
Hi TomB, Vancouver WA
Why do you need a Mentor?
BenP, now retired and moved on to other things did put the sum of all raw-wood-fuel gasification he had learned in his book system.
Me? Actually local to you. I’m retired too. All of my stuff is dissembled and broadly distributed around the now remaining 8 acres hiding-in-plain sight from the local metals thieves. This is a normal-local, now too-much occurrence. Me, gone for a weekend with the wife and the dogs; they could get a lid, a cooler . . . but never a whole system packed off.
Sad to say other reclusive hill-local folks I have helped and set up all have set aside their systems due to the bottoming of the easy-use pump-fuel prices; versus the sweat labor hours need to keep a wood gasifier system up, and running. And they like I were never ones who encouraged see-me, see-my-stuff, home visits.
Again . . . I’ve actually been tracked down to home by save-the-planet types videoing evangelists; to Nazi-biker meth cookers looking for non-monitored power secrets. Want no more of that nonsense.
BenP allowing this, caused himself some real home-site problems from thieves (materials&intellectual) and stop-efforts types from both ends of the eco/political/social spectrum.
Now on a positive note.
Do Net search up any, and all, video references to Victory Gasifiers.
One will be a youtube video of a PNW suburban fellow who built and was running a BensBook-system fueling a 12 kW home generator.
Other videoed system users too.
Use a V-twin of at least 600-700cc as an absolute minimum for a Ben’s Book system. A three/four cylinder engine would be even easier. Use the wider guideline specs in the 2nd released revised book. The one with the Mustang car on it’s cover.
Those with Ben’sBook system problems are those engine power loading it too lightly. Or, using input fuel stocks other than the chunked up wood fuel it was designed for.
Chris Saenz this sites originator and Administrator has clearly spelled out that this DOW site is open to all systems users types.
You can use the page top tools to search up Small Engines topics for home generator systems; and many specific question things here.
No question will be considered too basic, or stupid.
Real efforts to achieve will be applauded and encouraged on.
To tap into wood-for-shaft-power real experienced users we have all had to throw out a world-wide net as using wood requires sweating a bunch. Blackened hands and skull sweat too when it quits producing on a weekly basis.
Pump/dino fuels are just a phone call/credit card away for instant make-power gratification. Make these work Help just a phone call away. That for a price too.
Wood-for-power is a one-in-a-million D.I.Y. pursuit.
Currently in the whole State of Washington I know of only 6-7 actually doing this. Whole state of Oregon, only 4-5 doing this. State of Idaho, only 2-3.
Ha! And half of these are here on the DOW active, and exchanging about it!
So, Welcome to the DOW. You come to the right place.
This is the site that is filled with friendly folks who are hands on builders.
I live about 25 miles South of Seattle and have had multiple failed gasification projects until I joined.
It took a graduate course in the school of hard knocks before learning that the secret to gasification is DRY proper sized wood an excess of proper sized charcoal and a hot enough fire to consume any tar
Hi Tom, no need for “a” mentor, we all mentor each other here. Just start a build thread and start building. If you need advice before you build just ask. But first put out your end goals that you want to achieve; as mentioned we need to know, what engine size and desired output.
Welcome to the DOW site. Like the others have said this is the right place for anyone the wants to build a gasifier and have it work, driving a vehicle or for generation of power, and of course othe machines.
Dana and I were just down in your neck of the woods for her 1989 class reunion at LaCenter, Washington. We live in East Wenatchee, Washington. There is hundreds of years of experience here on this site if you add them all up. Also across the two great seas we have active members also.
Title, and start a new building thread and you will have other members join in to helping you. Read through Ben’s book carefully a few times to get familiar with it and to understand it. This is the best wood/charcoal Gasification site in the world. No bull just fact. Prove is lots of members DOW or generating on Wood.
Hi Steve, first off thank you very much for your considerate and well thought out reply.
To answer your first question of, why I need a mentor. Is I guess, I really don’t need a mentor. But because BenP suggested in one of his videos that someone should seek a mentor out. Left me feeling like maybe there were somethings in the project that might require one. I’ve designed, built and even manufactured many things from metal projects to electric motors and generators, over the years. So if the information included in BenP’s second addition is complete, I should be good to go.
Sorry to hear that you had to deal with unsavory individuals. I’ve had my fair share of dealing with those types myself and never want to deal with them again either.
Now that I’ve considered what you have to say. I will just build this project without taking on a mentor as I don’t want any “visitors” at my place either. But if I get stuck on something I will avail myself of the expertise available on this site.
Thanks again for the considerate reply,
Thank you Michael,
I appreciate the welcome and thanks for the words of wisdom.
Hello all, I just now read the suggestion of multiple replying in one post.
“Hi Tom, no need for “a” mentor, we all mentor each other here. Just start a build thread and start building. If you need advice before you build just ask. But first put out your end goals that you want to achieve; as mentioned we need to know, what engine size and desired output.”
Hi Matt, thanks for the information on how to start a build tread and the kind offer of help.
Thanks Robert, people here sure are friendly! I like this site already. I appreciate your reply and look forward to getting this project going. I will read through the book at least twice before I start acquiring materials.
Thanks again everyone, I feel less apprehensive about this project already!
Hello Mr. Tom
Sorry to be so slow replying to your post and welcoming you to the DOW. I echo all that has been said above. I think you are at the right place to learn and share about gasification.
Hey good, TomB,
I was worrying some I had come across as too . . . too . . . too
Onto practical small engine woodgasing.
Where BenP and I diverged a lot was his believing he could make stable enough gasification systems and IC engine controls to support AC synchronous electrical making.
Can be done. He did. Others did/have.
Requires a lot of additional woodfuel standardization; more gasifier automation; and especially IC engine fast-speed IC engine speed-load governing.
So actually a huge amount of his developing went into these areas.
Me? I’d had decades experiences with diy home DC electrical generating. Wind and micro-hydro have always been very power fluctuating. Multi-fueling small engines very RPM/power variable too.
DC electrical generating then your gas-quality and engine RPM can float all over and you’ll still have useable electrical power generated.
Put the woo-woo electronics in a good patented/warranted charger/controller. A modest easy battery bank. A good patent warranted inverter.
Downside of my way? Realistically 2-3 kWel DC generating system to keep it found equipment or under a couple of grand of bought new. 10-12 kW load demanding in spurts from the combined live output and battery bank when gone with DC motors loading. Refrigerators, freezers, lighting and well pumps this can all be had DC.
Class A moterhomes and live-on cruiser boats as systems examples. And the old RV’s as donor sources.
I have since simplified even off-shelf easier.
Lots of vendor trailer/carts now using the Honda EF6500/7000 inverter-gnerators. Quiet. Quiet. And reliable. Worldwide parts availability. Printed paper service manuals. Even woodgas power derated that’d be 4000-5000 watts AC.
Only seems the expensive route until you realize then can use all existing non-heating electrical loads. Airconditioning. Cloths washer.
All heat making should be done using wood, or wood gas directly.
O.K. except lower wattage intermittent use plug-in’s like my drip coffee-maker with a non-warming vacuum carafe, the wife’s hair dyer and such
An actual 10-12 kWel continuous demand system will be a wood eating hog, I doubt an individual would keep up with fuel prep and delivery.
Large family; multiple-folk compound; church/school, O.K. with a dedicated power man/gal serving it.
Just been my experiences.
Good Morning Tom Butler,
Ha! I have been unsuccessful finding some of the BensBook system users vidoes I wanted to link-show-you to. Although true that text and stills photo’s you put up Net never ever really go away. Data-bits intensive videos require someone to continue to pay the costs in some way for access.
I did find newer videos of both Garringer and Dobsons systems in-use and recent development building.
And of course a lot of APL/Gek systems.
All have been talked about, examined and contrasted here on the DOW.
PowerHearth; CPC; and even Mr Williams work seem to have fades away.
What is valued most here by the members is actaully building and works running a system. Any wood-for-power system.
As contributing member Matt Ryder said once you start fabricating set up your own build-it/using-it topics thread.
For engine/generator use up thorough 4 cylinder use the Small Engines sub-section.
Larger multi-liter engine generators use the General Discussion sub-section.
Hey! And PNW Douglas fir wood is a superior gasifier fuel wood! Quick energy release with super low ash.
Hi Tom, I had had no experience welding but I built the machine from Ben’s book, though it took me over a year. When I began, I didn’t know about this group and I didn’t have a clear goal in mind. As I got closer to the end of the project, I decided I didn’t want to buy a 1 to 5 litre generator, but rather just use what I had, a 200 cc generator. This required significant internal changes to the design and fuel (charcoal with added water instead of wood) but after a lot of help from this group, I have got the Ben’s machine running the small generator, though I’m’ sure it would run more efficiently with a big engine. See link in above post, “First project - Ben Peterson gasifier”. This group has amazing knowledge. If I could build a machine, I’m sure with your experience and the group’s help you will have no trouble.
There are a few details I had trouble with in the book. The first one was the lid crossbar, described on page 104. The hinge end has to be narrowed so that the hinge brackets will not be located directly on top of the bolts in the removable plate, page 113. You don’t find out that the hinge end of the lid crossbar has to be narrowed until you try to weld the hinge brackets on to the removable plate, and you find the brackets come down directly on top of the bolts. You can see the narrowed end of the lid crossbar on page 115. It should have been shown on page 104.
Another detail: It would have been nice if the skid and especially the large square tubes, page 118, had been added AFTER the dome donut was drilled and tapped over the bottom of the tank, page 121. I found it impossible to do that drilling and tapping from the outside because the skid/large square tubes were in the way, so I did it from the inside of the tank, which was quite difficult.
Another detail was more complicated and related to the vertical measurements around the top of the filter - the handles on the filter candle and the pieces in the filter lid that press on the filter candle. I think my 100 pound propane tank was not exactly the same size as the one Ben was using, so several of my measurements had to be different than his, for mine to fit together. Check in advance that you have the exact same size hundred pound tank that is described in the plans.
Those are irregularities that come to mind. Overall, the plans are fine. Tig welding the stainless air intake pipe was the most difficult part of the project for me. I didn’t build the carburetor, but might do that in future. All the best.
It’s okay Steve, I’ve been burned, ripped off etc myself. So I completely understand why you reacted the way you did.
I do want to make a continuous supply of 15-25kw. But as I was reading BenP’s book he states that I would need about one pound of dried wood per KWH of power. That’s a lot of wood, cutting and drying!
I’m perplexed as to which way to go now. I do have cheap power where I live. But I can double the profit with cheap or free electricity. And if your like me you’re probably wondering if its legal. Yes it’s legal and moral. No grow operation or other illegal or immoral operation. I’m being purposefully vague for obvious reasons.
I am still interested in building a small unit for emergency situations though. My power goes out here on a regular basis and it would be nice to have a back up supply. My darn power just went out a few days ago.
Maybe I will try and build a smaller unit like you have described.
Thanks for all your input.
Good evening Steve,
Thanks for the info. I will do some internet searches on the systems you described.
Thanks for your incites Greg. There always seems to be something left out of all designs. But at least that seems like a small one. Sorry for the long delay in replying. I’ve been extremely busy at work doing our annual inventory. I’m salaried so they can work me everyday, and they did, lol.
For back up power, why not aim for solar with battery backup? Unless you are in the west coast, solar is probably by far the most reliable system, both for extreme longevity, and minimum maintenance. Even in the PNW, I would probably base a system around solar, and then branch out.
I had 2 similar thoughts. One was simply build the battery storage with a Hybrid inverter but don’t add the solar panels and charge controllers at the start anyway. The comment that power is cheap but not stable made me think of that 4 hour backup would cover most of my power outages here. I do have a generator because it is that bad at my farm. I suspect the issue is cost.
But my second thought was something which has been discussed here many times before. If I wanted to generate power I would look long and hard at the charge controllers used by the solar and wind industry to charge batteries. I wouldn’t want to have to design something that would keep a generator running at a tight enough frequency control for modern electronics. But at 15kw continuous you are looking at a 30hp gas motor. I have a generator like that here it has a 1 liter engine and is a pretty big machine. So my next thought was find a PTO generator and an old farm tractor like an Allis Chalmers D17 something 50 to 70 hp gas and build a gasifer for it. You could run a generator plus get a tractor to do other work out of the same peoject. The idea being that the tractor might be oversized enough that it would be able to run on wood and provide a steady speed for the generator. That is actually on my long term project list. I know I need to install solar because I simply don’t have the bandwidth to add getting wood for fuel to my work load.