Mike LaRosa is gone. Approximately 2 weeks ago, he passed away from a sudden heart attack.
His daughter called me today, and asked me to pass along the news to the woodgas world.
Please share your stories of your memories of Mike, and how he got you into woodgas. I’ll write some when I get some more time.
Be respectful. I know Mike rubbed some folks the wrong way - this is not the time or place to vent.
Just FYI, liking this post means “My condolences”. Let’s show Mike’s family some love.
Mike’s gasifier trailer is available to a good home, but it needs to move quickly. EDIT: Thanks folks, it’s taken.
Soo sorry to hear this. Mike was the single greatest influence that got me into wood gasification, also starting the Argos meetup.and the first ride in a woodgas powered vehicle, in his own way he was great.
Even though rightly controversial I will miss him.
Mike LaRosa; It was so long ago that I met him that I don’t even remember how it came to be-- as I recall we were both posting on Yahoo Woodgas group and he out of the blue called me. From then on we talked a couple of times a week. I remember best the weekend he drove up in his wood truck ( drove up— the last 6 miles on wood). What a shock when he climbed out of the truck— the old hippy. He helped me a lot. That was back in the day when most information on woodgas was written in foreign languages. Mike had quite a list of friends from Europe, like Max Gasman, Dutch John, and several others that I have forgotten. ( one drove a jeep station wagon with a gasifier on a trailer, and another came over to Canada and documented building a gasifier back in the bush) Mike had done a lot of studying and playing with gasification, and these European gave him much more in formation. His builds were rather crude because he was the originator of the term “obtainium” ( meaning anything you could find in a scrap pile) I believe ALL of us are still following his example of using “obtainium”. He was at the first “woodgas get together” in Calumet, Mi. Three people. The second, which gained more people, in Goodyea,Mi. After that he came to several in Argos.
I always had to take his stories with a grain of salt, but he was a fun guy. The woodgas group will not be the same without him. TomC
My first impression of Mike was a little interesting…Let’s just say not the southern hospitality I was used to. But later during the weekend we talked a lot at Argos and had a lot of fun. I really appreciated his skill with a violin. “Old Hippie” sums it up pretty good, and his talent with the bow surprised me. Billy, Alabama
I think it would be cool if somebody could get his gasifier trailer and fix it up. In memory of Mike, and to preserve his unique design.
You can tell from the picture at the beginning of this thread that Mike and I go back a long way .
He was the first person I met in the gasification circle . He introduced me to the yahoo woodgas group .
He will be missed .
The thing I remember most about Mike was his contagious belly laugh. He even had some of the young ones imitating it one year.
I stopped in for a visit at Mike L’s house after dropping a vehicle off in NY about 6 years ago. He gave a tour of his place. Around his yard was all the projects he has done in the past including an electric vehicle he built years ago. He also had some really nice old vehicles he aspired to restore. In his shed was an upper level of a bunch of electronic parts. I forget if it was for ham radio or what it was. Mike was a very creative person on a low budget yet was able to make it work. I for one appreciated his ‘obtainium’ approach.
I would very much like his trailer but am unsure when I could pick it up. I think it would be great to tear it apart and put it back together in operating order.
Mike actually had quite the hands-on applied technical background boned-up by studying/corresponding with only a limited reading possible to him because of his severe reading dyslexia.
He WAS a high watts Ham radio builder operator. How he got so good at soldering, know by feel wattages, and EMF/I’s and such.
He HAD done commercial H-VAC working. Residential/small business heating/ventilation/air-conditioning. How he got so good at knowing brazing and gas/liquids pressures, dealing in inches H2O of pressure differences.
So . . . woodgas an EFI car? an EFI pickup truck? Mike had no fear. Did not need others roadmaps. He just did-it. Cut, fit, and try; until workable enough for him.
We can all honor Mike: those who written corresponded; phone talked to him; and faced-to-face with him by remembering him.
By carrying on his core ethic of making woodgasing engines as a connection bridge Redneck/Hippy personal FREEDOM shout-out.
“We will not go silently into the Night!” Remaining sheeple humbled energy dependent like previous indoctrinated generations.
Regards to Mike. I’ll have two strong Irish whiskeys downed in your memory, man.
I met Mike at Argos with his truck and trailer with tanks strapped on with wires going in every direction to keep it upright to get down the road he had duck tape on every valve,hole and crevice then on top of that furnace tape I don’t know if he could go down the road with his gassifier now police may think it’s a meth lab.I told him that we had a pizza shop called LaRosas wondered if he was kin to them he gave me that look said no I told him next year that I would bring hjm a pizza . The next year I brought hjm a pizza he said he didn’t think I would remember.He always liked telling how to build and some of the problems to stay away from .I made him up some buttons
No blood for oil and Rat Funk those buttons will have a more special meaning to me. Dan
Mike was also my single greatest influence on woodgas. I always wanted to meet him.
I guess I’ll have to wait a spell. Darn it Guys, don’t WAIT! The next number called may be yours!
Go in Peace, Mike.
I first got to know Mike on the Yahoo Woodgas group, and then received quite a few telephone calls on the Landline, using the old fashioned real telephone. We both had Amateur Radio Licenses, so we were experts at “chewing the fat”.
In 2009, Mike wanted to take Sue to visit the Gulf of Mexico, and we made arrangements for him to stop here and stay in our basement guest room. Unfortunately, most of his vehicles had 198,000 miles or so, and one thing after another would break, delaying the trip. Finally, they decided making the trip in one of their rattle-trap cars would be too stressful, so the trip was cancelled. Here is what he wrote on Oct 5, 2011: "The car we would take (95 olds) occasionally drinks coolant and is now leaking brake fluid from the master cylinder. The transmission slips occasionally as well but I don’t worry about that. I know when to downshift it. I plan to take care of the master cylinder this upcoming week. Of course there is finding someone to feed my stupid cat. I can’t believe she hasn’t killed every chipmunk in the area yet. I think she eats 3 a day and leaves a few around for the ferrel cats that also live here. "
So that trip never happened, but a few years later, we made a trip to Minnesota (June 2013), scheduling a visit with David and Judy Bloom to see their woodgas setup. When David mentioned my last name to his wife, she replied that her Aunt had married a Menke, and it turned out that he was my Grandfather. (We brought Judy so 8 X 10 photos.)
From there, we drove right past Bill Schiller’s previous house near Anoka, MN, and then a spur-of-the-moment trip to Madison, Wisconsin. There, I had some time to look at maps, and decided to visit Mike, and sent him an email to his Yahoo account. (An account he hardly ever checked.) On June 24, 2013 we arrived at Mike’s place, and spent several hours waiting in the driveway, and doing a self-tour of his gasifier projects and walking up and down the hill between the house, shops, and the place where he did his survey computing. We had no cell-phone service there, so at one point we drove around looking for a signal, but had no luck and returned to his driveway. Eventually, we left a bottle of wine and a bag of Mesquite BBQ wood on the porch with a note, and headed for Texas.
Later that day, Mike wrote, “I was never more than a few miles from here today (Monday). Wish I had known you were in the area and would have come home. I left 2 messages but don’t know if you have phone or computer .
I have to have my truck worked on tomorrow (uptown) and I walk uptown to get the mail usually around 10. But I will probably be working in my office during the day except for those short excursions. I have to get some stuff computed for Wednesday. We have to stake a job about 35 miles from here. The trailer is just one of my workshops and I don’t live there but spend a lot of time there. My office is in the pole shed about 200 feet down the hill from the trailer and I live in the house around 700 feet down the hill from the trailer all on the same side of the road.”
With better planning, we could have had a great time doing Face-to-face. Our trip to Madison was a spur-of-the-moment thing, and was not on our itinerary, else we could have worked it out.
I believe Mike mentioned that his property used to be a Lead Mine. Deer used to stand around the outside of his shop.
One thing I learned from Mike was the value of good old Duct Tape for sealing joints. I wrap joints with the tape, and then use the elastic band from a pair of old BYD’s to hold the tape tight over the joint for a long time. It works.
Mike could make things work! Rest in Peace. Ray, WX5D
I am sad to hear the news. I met Mike at the first Argos meeting we went to (2012?), someone pointed him out to me when they found out I was a surveyor, knowing that he was also. At first he seemed aloof, until he found out about the surveyng and suddenly I was his long lost brother. Mike would often call me or i’d call him during my long truck driving trips up north to Aroostook County, probably kept me alive from falling asleep more than once. Guess I could say I might have owed my life to him. Getting details about some of my gasifier questions sometimes seemed like pulling hen’s teeth, but he and I could talk hours about the shared miseries of ticks and lymes disease. I will miss him, and I wish his family and Sue all the best.
This video is from the Argos 2016 Woodgas Meetup. I think many have seen it, but here is the link. This was the first place I had the privilege of meeting Mike in person. Sorry about the wind noise, but this is what I have. Rest in Peace, Mike.
Thank you Mike Reynolds; THAT really depicted Mike LaRossa. Right down to where he was politely asked to end his discussion so they could get on to the next truck. He was a talker. TomC
I noticed my son Jesse in that video above being very interested in Mike’s machine. That was two years ago at Argos i think. I guess we’re going to ride up and pick it up this weekend. Jesse wants to rework it and get it going, so maybe he’ll make a thread on his progress, or maybe post it here. Also, I’ve been communicating with Mike’s daughters and they are very appreciative of the things people have said here. Turns out he did not pass in his sleep, but it was not a very long process either. It appears to have been a sudden heart attack. Billy
Amended the original post. Thanks.
This is hard for me. We really jelled on most subjects and I really liked his personality. Refreshing to find a bluntly honest person! We had our phone calls but meeting in person at Argos was a blast. What can I say,“Mike was a fellow Dead Head!” One time, on the other forum, he thought that he ticked me off but in reality I was having fun jostling with him. Mike will be greatly missed ! ! !