RV that runs on wood

Hello all. Thanks for the member approval!

I just learned about wood-gasification two days ago and can’t believe I had never heard about it, as I independently studied the alternative energy field for years! I’m just getting started after having watched about 50 youtube videos on different systems and am envisioning an RV that has the rear bumper framework extended out about another 4-5 feet and then mounting a roll-cage onto the back end to conceal the gasifier unit (hidden by sheetmetal attached to the roll cage. Also, to keep curious kids from walking up and touching it with their hands…)

But that’s just the beginning… (yeah, I go all the way or none at all…)

I’m envisioning that the top of the RV will be converted to a rain-water collection system that has several filters (probably Berkey unless anyone know of something better for the price?), where all of the filters tie together and meet at one PVC drain that runs through the walls and down to a collection tank underneathe that has a treatment-port located inside the RV in the floor where additional treatments could be added (chlorine-dioxide to purify to drinkable levels without the carcinogens of chlorine, test pH levels, etc). A collection tank with the dimensions of 27 feet x 7 feet x 9 inches tall would hold almost 1200 gallons of drinking water! They say the average American uses 100-200 gallons a day, but I tend to think we’re far more wasteful on grid than we would be off grid, so I’d expect that I would only use 5-10 gallons a day including showering, dishes, and drinking. But the cool part is, with the wood-gasifier, I could run a UV light within the tank that’s hooked into the RV electrical system without having to worry about running out of “gas”, for the most part. That would kill cysts and other things that UV water treatment kills. Also a small circulation pump to keep it from going stagnant. The benefits are obvious. Heat, A/C, fridge, shower, bedroom, water, and if I was stuck in a place that didn’t rain for awhile and was running low on water, I could drive to an area with a stream/lake/pond and 5 gallon bucket it into the filter area on top, then drive back home… in my home. haha

The idea of the grid shutting down only bothers me for two things: water and electricity. With those two things tackled, I feel that I’d be in pretty good shape. I’m an avid fisherman, and I don’t mind vegetables so, living on greens isn’t a problem. (We’ve grown our own crops since I was a kid, mom grew up on a farm). But I took it a step further! haha

I envision having a shut-off valve installed underneathe in the gas line that runs to the engine from the final stage of the gasifier, and just before the shut-off valve, there is a Tee connection that aims out towards the drive-side door with a 3/4 coupling that would allow me to hook up a gas-line to power gas-powered items outside of the RV such as a generator, chainsaw(maybe?), I’ve seen at-home saw-mills that use gasoline powered engines to turn the band blade which this could be hooked up to inorder to keep production going (again, in a grid-down scenario is where my thinking is). And I could just close the shut-off valve and divert it to the Tee out! How awesome does that sound!!

Again, these are all just ideas I’m playing with in the meantime and have no idea if the gasifier produces enough gas to power an RV down the road, but if it CAN be done, I want to do it!!

Any tips or pointers for someone like me who is relatively new to this would be appreciated. I’m a contractor in Virginia and work is pretty slow out here so, it might be awhile before I could piece this project together, but if it’s possible, I’m all over it!!

P.S. Convert the toilet to a composting toilet, throw some sawdust on that stuff and use it as fuel!! Also. This could be used for business purposes, ie: rental of on-demand fuel in the example of an at-home saw-mill or anything comparable that requires gas-fuel (drive-to-and-supply type service), shower rental services, fresh water supply services, etc. The possibilities are great!! And if the people use your bathroom while in your RV, they just gave you free fuel hehe.

Welcome aboard Jason!

As some of the old timers here will tell you, weight is going to be the biggest hurdle to jump. 1200 gallons of water weighs nearly 5 tons, and there’s a reason Chevy and Ford put 454 and 460 engines in motor homes. Do what so many real do’ers here will suggest - make your first project something that is copied from somebody else’s successful design, and that you are prepared to sacrifice the cost of. I would say start with Gary Gilmore’s “Simple Fire” small engine design, which you can have up and running over a weekend. Then, once you get your hands “black,” look for a single-cab long bed Dakota pickup for cheap, and try Wayne’s design. If you can successfully operate that, you’re off and running.

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and please for god sake don’t build a fema…

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Hello Mr. Johnson and welcome aboard sir,

First I would like to echo all that Alex and Arvid has said .

“ I just learned about wood-gasification two days ago and can’t believe I had never heard about it “

Gasification has been around for quite a while but 99% of the population here in the States has never heard of it. When I mention that my vehicles run on wood vs gasoline most of the people don’t believe me. One question they might ask is , if a vehicle can run on wood how come more people are not doing it, sorry I don’t know and can’t answer that question.

Several years ago I was at an event where a little alcohol was being consumed and a guy ask what was the rig on the back of my truck . I answered the truck doesn’t run on gasoline but wood and the rig was a device to transform the wood into a gas to run the truck. He thought I was being a smart a-- and insulting his intelligence and I was forced to go into the fight or flight mode quickly . I chose the later which proved to be less bloody .

Chris was kind enough to prepare a flyer that I have printed and keep a few and will just hand inquiring people a copy before I answer .

In one of my first trucks I would give people a ride and they still refused to believe we were running without gasoline. I would disconnect the fuel line to the carb and one guy crawled around under the truck looking for a hidden line.

As for the rv gasification I would suggest doing a lot of reading on the site before you make a decision. As already stated the weight to hp ratio is important and I just don’t see a gasified rv with a standard motor being able to keep a highway pace . However if you choose the right motor I think you could run hybrid ( mixing in gasoline ) OK.

I think it might be beneficial to build a less complicated system like a pickup truck and use it as a learning tool before going with the rv. There is a long learning process that we refer to here on the DOW ( driveonwood ) site 25%/75% . The machine and the gasifier being 25% of the equation and the 75% learning to operate and maintain it . One master builder and operator here on the site ( Dutch John) refers to a gasifier as being female . There are so many variables that makes them tick or shut down that we may never fully understand them . After ten years of gasification and 45 of marriage I’m still learning each day what to do and what not to do .

Also the fact that dry processed wood may not be available as we are out traveling makes the gasified vehicle operate better in a certain radius from home ( wood pile ). A 1000 mile trip with a rv would require 2000-3000 pounds of dry wood.

“ P.S. Convert the toilet to a composting toilet, throw some sawdust on that stuff and use it as fuel!! “

I have my wood piles in the pasture with the cattle and let them hang out around the wood as long as they want!!

Driving down the road without gasoline may sound like a bunch of bull sh-- and in certain cases may just be !!

SWEM ( smile with every mile )


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All things considered, and thanks for the input.
Just something to throw out there… as far as being able to keep up on the highway. In a grid-down situation, I think the highway would be such a nightmare that me poking along in an RV would go unnoticed. But I’m also the kind of driver that, when I have my 6x12 trailer hooked up and loaded with thousands of dollars worth of kitchen cabinets, I drive 40 mph and just let the fingers roll right off of me as the angry folks drive by. shrug Point being, as long as I get from A to B, the others can go around me. I’m at least courteous enough to utilize the far right lane :wink:

But yeah, these are just the ideas I’ve been daydreaming about and I saw the great potential if it was a practical build. And I figured you guys would probably know best (if not at very least know alot more than I do at this point!) I think things like this play more on my mind being my mother just lost her job (owner had to shut his business down due to the economy) and this is the second time in the last 4 years that my mother has lost a job due to the business going under (dry-cleaners). So now, I’m searching for a full-time job around here and will pursue my construction business on the side. :confused: It’s just really that slow here. I don’t give a sh__ if I have to go flip burgers but, the unfortunate thing is I have so many skills, especially in the trades that, it’s difficult for me to “pursue” that as a path when I know I can be far more useful to society in other places. shrug I guess we have to do what we have to do sometimes though.

Anyways, the idea of things getting to the point that the grid has no choice but to shut down has me wanting to prepare so if and when it happens, I’ll still be able to live a relatively comfortable life (and even help out local people in need with showering, drinking water, etc) Thanks for the inputs!

Jason, Motor homes have cushy rear springs and don’t like weight on them. Jonathan (woodgas.net) converted a motorhome first and had the sag problem. There may be some pictures on his site ?? They are however designed to pull trailers or a backup car etc. Consider building a trailer to carry the gasifier and maybe a water tank. I broke my 55 willys in two driving 300 gallons of water up the hill to my garden. The rear 15 inch tires looked near flat with 40 psi in them. You will need a very large trailer. You should have seen that tank knocking over trees as it rolled down the hill after it slid out of the bed yanking 200 feet of hose as it went. I laughed my ars off watching it in the rear view. I was still able to drive the truck but my cab was 4 feet above the ground. Saved by the driveshaft making a triangle out of the truck. Brake lines got tore loose. I was able to fix the frame. Fortunately I could just pull it up behind an old apple tree and deal with it later. Just take it a day at a time. Keep the grandious dream but don’t try to do it all at once. Trust me … Mike LaRosa
BTW, I sleep like a baby (4" thick foam mattress) in the back of my 98 S-10 (2.2L with 5 speed stick) and it runs perfect off a trailer … Very fuel/wood efficient. http://www.intergate.com/~mlarosa/images/woodgas/?M=D

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Thanks Mike. Appreciate that.

Yeah I think my ideas might be a little bit outside of reality but, maybe 1200 gallons of water is too impractical to pursue. I was just hoping to be able to load up a good amount and maybe make a trip to the stream every few months if there was no rain. But really, if I was careful and consumed 5-10 gallons a day, I wouldn’t need anywhere near that much water on-board (again, unless I chose to use it as a bartering item of on-demand fuel/water supply).

Great story though. :stuck_out_tongue:

Oh, I almost forgot. I did have one other question about fuel injection. I noticed that alot of the vehicles were carbureted and it had me wondering if the sensors on a fuel injected vehicle would be going hay-wire without any gasoline coming in, as well as, the oxygen sensors. That would be one of my first concerns messing with a somewhat newer model RV (definitely would buy used, but not lookin for an all out beater).

Mike I checked out some of your pics and it looks like the 98 is fuel injected. No problems with that huh?

Jason, I would hate to go back to a carborator. I really like the OBD2 system on that 98. I can plug in the diagnostic tool and keep an eye on things. It let’s me know the timing advance and a pile of other stuff coming in from the other sensors … I keep a few carborated vehicles around in case we have to go to Mad Max times … Mike

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Oh, Jason, Right now it is 15 degrees F here and going down. The snow we got yesterday is still on the ground despite a sunny day. Our pool is already frozen. The water bottles in all my vehicles are solid ice. Forget storing water around here unless you are into making and selling ice … What part of the USA are you in ??? Thanks, Mike

I’m in VA near the North Carolina border. We see freezing temps every year, and usually at least some snow. But I was thinking, a small submersible water heater wouldn’t be terribly difficult to incorporate into a holding tank. (Kind of like the electric elements found in an electric water heater). Obviously I wouldn’t want to heat the water too much, as that would be the cold water supply, but I’m sure something could be rigged up to keep it from going into a freeze.

I planned on fabricating the tank from scratch anyways from HDPE (?) the food grade material, and plastic-welding the seams to include the treatment-reservoir inside the RV. I’m sure it wouldn’t be too much work to add a port that would allow an electrical heater element to be pushed into place and twist lock in same as a water heater. I’m also pretty good at casting molds (smooth-on is a great company), so just cast a mold of a water heater element inlet and make a replica out of HDPE? Plug in the element and go.

I just came across this article today from “I F**king Love Science” that reminded me of your post. It’s a new recycling shower system like they use on the International Space Station, but built for earth gravity. You’d be able to get away with FAR less water storage and still barter for hot showers. They are still in the prototype phase though so who knows when they’ll be available/affordable. www.iflscience.com/technology/innovative-shower-reduces-water-usage-90-electricity-80

Yeah man! That’d be perfect! Though I’m sure it’d cost an arm and a leg for that system haha. Hopefully not though. I actually had considered some kind of recycling system, but with my ideas I was still too concerned to dump bathing water back into my drinking water. But if anyone can engineer a system safe enough to do that, I’m sure it’d be those guys/gals!

A thought about RV Gasification

I know RV Gasification is generally considered impractical, or at least very challenging.

However, it occurred to me that it might be more practical with the the new “toy carrier” style RV’s that have a big “garage bay” in the back for motorcycles, ATV’s etc.

This would provide room for a big gasifier, wood storage, etc.

Just a thought.

Jason, I have to agree with Mike La Rosa. You need to build a good tow vehicle and pull whatever trailer suits you for the job at hand. No sense in hauling around living quaters when you just want to move a water tank. I worked for several years as an engineer in the RV business. I also took RV caravans to Mexico and Alaska for 10 years
. They have made a few lightweight RVs but, they are rare. The Ultra Van was powered by a Corvar engine. There have been a couple of brands powered by the Dodge slant six. The Cortez was one.
Since most big RVs have the engine in the driver’s compartment, it is way too problematic. Some old buses like the Flexible have a rear gas engine GMC, V6 Buses are heavy but, available.
All things considered, I think that a Dodge V-10 flatbed would be the most flexible unit.