No budget Non-premium member build

This topic is for those of you who want to save all the money you can. You don’t want to pay $50 for Wayne’s plans, and you want to build your truck gasifier with as little money as possible. That’s what I have done, and my advice is: don’t do it. $50 is a small price to pay in exchange for 10 years of research and development of a final product that is proven and unsurpassed. If you think of a “brilliant” idea, chances are Wayne has already tried it.

Behold my ongoing attempts, frustrations, and wasted resources trying to arrive at a machine that can move my truck down the road.

I started researching gasifiers a few months after I started tree removal and pruning. I was burning waste wood in my backyard and I thought, “There is so much energy in this wood. There has got to be a way to harness it and use it in my truck.” It didn’t take much searching of “wood” and “truck” together to discover gasification. So much better a solution than a steam engine. And so simple! It’s just a wood fire inside a container inside another container, right?

I started my first build in the spring of 2013 that was based on the FEMA plans. Seemed like the simplest and cheapest way to go. I had a 16-inch diameter water heater tank inside a 55 gallon drum. I had a grate with 200 1/2 inch holes drilled into it. I wasn’t even sure that it was going to work because the FEMA plans say that American V-8 engines draw too much air for the FEMA plans to work. I never finished this build because of the doubt and construction arrangements and ended up giving the project away as scrap metal.

Then in July this year under different circumstances I watched MrTeslonian’s video wherein he builds an Imbert-type gasifier that works. So I was encouraged again. I bought four 55 gallon drums. Then I reclaimed a bunch of fence post pipe. Then I received a truckload of pallets, and the next day I received another water heater tank, and I knew it was time to start building again. I wasn’t sure my design in particular would work, but I was sure I could eventually make it work. I just wanted to finish and get it on the truck as fast and cheaply as possible.

I never took any photos of this build, but I did finish it and mount it to my truck for less than $200. The first photo shows the reactor and cyclone filter separated. My cyclone filter is another 55 gallon drum. The second photo was taken after I added air nozzles, but it shows how my setup was on the truck. The reactor on the right, the cyclone filter in the center, the cooling pipe out of the top of the cyclone, and the yellow filter/cooling pipe, and then to the engine intake. I had about 34 inches of 2" cooling pipe. There is a T in the pipe where I had another 55 gallon drum to be used as a tar and condensate catch tank. I used paper as a filter element in the yellow pipes. PVC was used to pipe the gas to the intake. Fuel was long 3 inch by 1/2 inch pallet pieces. I wanted to use as large pieces of fuel as I could to cut down on processing time. I started the fire in my open top FEMA gasifier and let it warm up. Then I started the truck on gasoline, opened the valve to draw gas in through the gasifier and shut off the gasoline. When the carburetor ran out of gasoline the engine died. My gasifier made smoke and tar, but it made no flammable gas. I tried again, this time letting the gasifier burn for over an hour. I thought that a hotter fire would produce better gas. I didn’t have a blower, just an open top gasifier. I got the same results. It was time to take the gasifier off the truck and modify it to make flammable, clean gas.

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Hello Mr. Brian and welcome to the DOW.

Thanks for the kind words .

" If you think of a “brilliant” idea, chances are Wayne has already tried it. "

I have had a lot of ideas over the years . The problem was very few was good ones and have a gasifier junk yard to prove it .!! Pain is a wonderful teacher !!



Hi Wayne and Brian, I have pictures of Wayne’s gasifier graveyard from several years ago … We all learn the real way … Keep building !!! My new one is waiting to get sucked on but I have to make a cyclone first but the obtainium is lacking and I have actually run out of acetylene and oxygen so have to buy some more soon
March of 2010 … fun fun fun !!!

It was the 28th of July 2014 that I took my machine off the truck to modify it and make it work on the ground. I decided the first thing I needed was some flammable gas, and that I probably needed to force some air through my system to heat it up more. Since I didn’t have a suction fan, that would require sealing the wood hopper and adding a nozzle that I could attach the blower to. The first photo shows both the arrangement of 2" PVC to attach the leaf blower to my wood hopper: vinyl tape seal, T blow off hole, valve, and pipe. Under that is the 1 1/4" post pipe that I welded through the wall of my wood hopper to inject air into the bottom of the burn tube. The second picture shows my first major success: August 10 big orange flame coming directly out of my reactor! The flare was about three feet long and would not stay lit without holding the torch to it, but it sure was flammable.

Hey Brian,
Welcome to the site.
I’m not sure what I’m seeing in that picture. Where is the flame coming from. Is this still a FEMA? An open top without air jets?

Bill, the flame in that photo is coming from the first barrel of the three. It is coming out of the 2 and 3/8" pipe where I am holding the torch. The other two barrels are not attached. At this stage I would describe the unit as an Imbert style Flashifier after Flash001USA who’s Youtube videos I was watching at the time. It is a single nozzle going through the side of the wood hopper near the top and injecting the air down into the burn zone. This gave me a fixed reduction zone and really helped to keep the heat concentrated. Like I said, it was necessary because I only had a leaf blower to blow air into my reactor. The lid was sealed with aluminum tape that leaked, but it held. The nozzle is pictured in the first photo as the black scorched pipe. PVC blower tube was attached at the top (left side of the photo) and the longer portion with the scorched end (right side of the photo) went down into the oxidation / reduction zone.

after doing many of the same build rebuild reuse do agains the $50 for the plans is a no brainer the money saved and having a proven build is well worth it brian. I have been now running my truck for a couple of months lovein it

So it is a common theme for folks like us to try and retry and retry again. I agree with you that it’s worth the $50 for the plans but I also know that it will cost several thousand dollars to finish a good Wayne Keith build including the cost of the truck, the parts, blowers, tools, etcetera. When I am ready to begin building a Keith gasifier, I will order the plans then. My plan for right now is to finish what I have started here since I am much further along than I have posted so far in this blog. I expect to at least run the truck, maybe get a top speed of 30 to 40 miles per hour, have a poor turndown ratio, and fail after 1000 miles. I don’t know for sure at this point. But however my current system performs, I know I can convert it into a stationary unit to run a small emergency generator at any time in the future. I have learned a lot in the last month just studying the comments in the forums. Just wait until I report what I got tonight.

(Spoiler alert)

OK, I just couldn’t wait. Tonight I flared my gasifier for two straight hours at wide open throttle on the low blower setting and it did not go out until it ran out of fuel! Remember I am using a leaf blower with an impeller at 1440 watts, not a bilge blower with a propeller at 48 watts. (That is because I added a heat exchanger to preheat the injection air. I learned that from Wayne.) I am so happy.,And the flares started out heavily orange and ended the night pretty blue. (That is because the hay got coated with water and soot and they worked better as they got dirtier. I learned that from Flash001USA and the hay from Wayne.) The first photo shows my flares right after I lit them with a lot of orange in them. The next photo shows the flares after over one hour of burning, and the last photo shows the flares right before going out. What happened is my sawdust and hay filter was wet on the inside, detached and sitting in the open air for seven days. Eight days ago when I first installed the filter the flare was blue-yellow. I flared the gasifier yesterday and the flare was blue-orange. Today I opened things up and there was mold on the hay. I left things as they were but I added a bunch of hay in a laundry bag, filling the barrel up to the top. Maybe next I will replace the filter, clean everything out and fill it back up with hay so there is not wilted mouldy hay in there.

After this post I will go back to where I was just after getting my first orange flare when I had converted from a FEMA to a Flashifier on August 10.

I did look at all of your photos in that folder on that directory. That is about nine years of building gasifiers. There is a lot of stuff there that I don’t get, and a lot that I do get. For instance, I saw your photo of a “redi-made” inter cooler of January 21, 2011. I got that idea myself, but I thought that it wouldn’t work because it would get gummed up fairly quickly. Sure enough, it didn’t take long and there you were, building a new cooling rack for the same trailer in place of your inter cooler. In September. If I had one question to ask a man of such a vast wealth of experience, I would ask why people say that a piston engine under load consumes more fuel than the same engine at the same RPM under no load. Wait a minute… OK, I just figured it out. Nevermind.

Brian, I will try to write you tomorrow … I’m 60 and it is 11:30 and I need to go to bed … That Dodge intercooler worked better than anything I ever used but plugged up in 250 miles … I have it flushed out and am saving it for a smaller application …

I get it Brian. It’s very satisfying digging up info and constructing your interpretation of your findings. To get it to work is even more exciting.
I personally believe you made it to the right site if you want latest and greatest developments in the world of wood gassing vehicles. There are a bunch of brilliant people from all trades that tends to test the boundaries.
I myself look forward to see your developments

To recap, I built my first completed gasifier in four days for $200, mounted it on the truck on July 28, 2014, and it didn’t work. I took it down to the ground and converted it to a Flashifier on August 10 and got a good flare that wouldn’t stay lit without a torch. At the time I had aluminum tape holding the lid sealed, but it leaked badly. Also it seemed like the blower was laboring to blow air through. I decided I needed a better sealing safety lid, and that I needed some more airflow. I added six 1 1/4 inch nozzles equal to the area of two 2" pipes. That’s what Wayne runs on his trucks. I also had learned a little about restrictions, and I just happened to have a 9" steel ring from an old chipper. I decided to install that in a cone shape.

Picture 1 is my grate. It’s 1/2 inch or so slots in the bottom of the former water heater tank.
Pictures 2 and 3 show how I installed the 9" restriction ring. Scrap metal and lots of welding. That’s how I make cones. I did tap the holes in the 9" ring to install various future restrictions and burn tubes, after Flash001USA, but then I learned about inserts. No bolts shall be necessary.
Picture 4 shows the completed nozzles: six nozzles at 1 1/4 inch each (top rail from a chain link fence. It was free.)
Picture 5 shows aluminum heat shields to keep radiation away from the intake air. I was hoping to cool the woodgas more by heating the intake air with the woodgas. This idea didn’t work. The aluminum melted.
Picture 6 shows the fiberglass insulation that I had wrapped around my fire tube. I had read that there is insulation inside Wayne’s reactors to keep the outside cool. This is very important to me. Wayne hauls hay; my truck is made of wood. I had some fiberglass insulation handy, and since glass melts at 2500 degrees, I thought it would be good to go. This idea also didn’t work. It restricted the flow of air and did melt some. The drum still did overheat and burnt the paint.
Picture 7 is the plastic lid with a bead of caulking to seal the wood hopper. This idea did not work. The lid leaked smoke, and then heated up and melted. Maybe this post belongs in the ‘what not to do’ section…
Picture 8 shows my completed setup ready for ignition. Forced induction on either side of the reactor. Air is preheated as it goes down the six nozzle tubes about 24" long. Woodgas exits through the 2" tube over to the cyclone filter to the left. Out the top to the first cooling tube: about 10 feet of cooling. The first pre-filter flare tube before the yellow cooling rack about 24 feet long. Then on to the hay filter, modeled after Flash001USA. 4" 10 foot long PVC filled with hay (grass clippings.) It’s the simplest form of hay filter I could muster at the time.

When I fired up my reactor this time, the plastic lid held down with wood and a bungee cord leaked smoke. The air that came out of the pre-filter flare never lit at all. I now believe that the reactor never built up a char bed (it never got hot enough to make flammable gas.) Nothing came out of the flare past the hay filter. I had grass clippings for hay and I think that the fiberglass insulation restricted the airflow, and the grass clippings completely restricted the airflow through the 10 foot long 4’ tube. Before I could make any flammable gas the plastic lid melted and I took it off to keep it from falling into the wood hopper. Now my gasifier became an UPDRAFT gasifier as I had a huge plume of smoke coming out of the top of the wood hopper. That was the best airflow through the system I ever had. I couldn’t resist: I just had to see if it would light. It went up in a huge column of fire. Picture 8. Huge fire is what I wanted, but I got it in a way I wasn’t expecting. Once the caulking burned off the lip of the wood hopper the flare would go out with the blower on. If I shut if off for a few seconds, the woodgas would enrichen, and then I could ignite it, and it would flare and stay lit. Then if I turned on the blower, it would shoot out that huge column of fire that you see, but it would only last for a few seconds until going out, and then if I left the blower on the actual fire in the reactor would begin to poke out the top. So, a tiny bit of unexpected success in the midst of massive failure.

Hey BrianW
Take look at member John Stouts early work here:
He took his early mixed bag build and converted the hearth tube core of to JUST to a minimalist WK big “char-tub” system. Kept all of his rest as Good’nuff.
He was so pleased with his improvement performance result that he then went out and sourced an old Dodge Dakota for the much more favorable power to weight ratio and much reduced wind resistance.
Swapped over and adapted-in his made up hybrid system to that. You’d have to go the $50. Premium buy-in to see that project in detail.

Good path to useable to follow man. Keep up the DOing and you will get there!
Steve unruh

Sweep “Whats New” for the drop down options.
Open up “Blogs”.
Type in John Stout into the search box.
It is there.

EDIT link fixed.

Yes, I am hoping that I can eventually build a Keith reactor and keep my heat exchanger, cooling rack, and other parts with the truck. I know that my hay filter will be compatible because I watched Wayne build his. There are a couple videos that non-members can see. Uses a plastic bucket to keep hay out of the inlet pipes, and rabbit wire to keep hay out of the outlet pipes. I am using a laundry bag to block to outlet pipes on mine and a sheet metal cover on the inlet pipes. I am very happy with my hay filter performance.

I feel very welcome here and sense your kind, helping, encouraging nature, Mr. Keith. Your and your kind of folks are what the world needs more of these days.

Coming off the disappointment of melting my lid and not flaring at all in downdraft mode, I knew I needed a good seal on my wood hopper. Not having found a suitable solution for a safety lid, and needing a good seal, I just went ahead a screwed a round piece of sheet metal over the burn tube hole. I know it’s not the safest, but it’s also not complete yet. So I forced air through my cooling rack and 4" PVC grass filter. The air went through, but it would not light at all. At this point I am extremely disappointed and perplexed why I can not get any flammable gas in downdraft mode. I decided the next change would be another attempt in updraft mode.

With my trusty sealed lid and my previous success in updraft mode, and not wanting to disassemble my reactor yet, I decided to try updraft mode again. I cut two holes in the side of my wood hopper near the top and welded two short sections of 2 3/8 pipe in the holes. What I mean by updraft mode is this: I have six air nozzles going into my burn tube about 7" from the 9" restriction. I have a blower to force air through these nozzles. I can either seal the wood hopper and draw the woodgas through the grate and up and out the side of the reactor, or I can cap off the side and force air through the nozzles, up the burn tube, up through the wood hopper, and out the top. After I lit the fire, added wood fuel, sealed the top, and turned on the fan this is what happened: If it had any kind of forced air into the burn tube, the flare would go out. When I shut off the fan and let the gas come out, it would light and stay lit for about two minutes, then it would go out. If I turned on the fan at all during these two minutes, the flare would go out. That’s the best I had.

At this point I needed to decide if pursuing updraft mode was the way to go, or if I should focus only on downdraft mode. Since Wayne and everyone else uses downdraft mode, I decided to go with that, but I’m at my wits end on what to do to fix the unstable / low quality / not flammable gas.

I spent a few days searching for answers, and I came up with some ideas to help. I learned about proper restriction sizing, about removable inserts, and about cooling / cleaning the gas for a more stable flare. I also learned about sheet metal insulation from one of Wayne public build videos. Time to gut my reactor again.

Hello BrianW. I’ll start by saying that I have not made a single HP or Watt from woodgas.

I believe that an “updraft” wood gasifier is NOT reducing the Pyrolysis gases/tars so you are just burning the Pyrolysis gases, much like a campfire. I’m fairly sure that this either won’t power an engine or, if it does, it would only be a “one-way trip” before one needs a new engine.

Such gases need to be pulled through a hot char-bed to Reduce the gas molecules and crack any tars made in the Pyrolysis phase. This is why raw-wood gasifiers are almost entirely down-draft, with a very few “cross-draft” designs thrown in. I wish I could help more, but I just don’t have the experience for it.

It is best to heat up the hearth enough to crack the tars. However, even Wayne started his journey with open top downdraft gasifiers and created clean viable motor fuel. He also had barrels full of wood making charcoal, probably so that his gasifiers would burn cleaner. So it’s not necessarily necessary to have tar-cracking capabilities to drive a truck down the road (speaking from logic and second-hand experience). It’s just better.

However, due to the way that the flare reacted to the fan, I believe that I was, indeed, burning wood gas. I say this because when I turned the fan on, the flare went out. Then when I turned the fan off the flare would light and stay lit. But when I turned the fan on again, the flare would grow and rage violently until it would blow itself out in a few seconds. After the flare went out, if I kept the fan on, the smoke would thin out and then the flames from the reactor fire would poke up out of the top of the wood hopper. So there was a distinct difference between the woodgas flare and the hearth fire flames, so to speak.

By the way, I’m not too worried about ruining my engine because I already need a new engine. Compression is low on cylinders #1, #2, and especially #3, the bores are worn smooth on all the cylinders, and I get somewhere between 5 and 7 miles per gallon out of my 1973 360 ci engine. The truck weighs 6000 pounds. Also, I overheated the engine a time or two, and the oil has caked up the inside with carbon pretty good. I noticed this when I replaced the head gasket.