The BIG decision "Y" in the woodgas road

I am starting this discussion up because all of my historical endeavor era’s reading says this is a re-occurring Did/Do: failed to gain traction, split point.
And I see this repeating now, 2007 to currently.

For the many English as a second language folks Y means a conscious-choice, branching chosen. Wye is a physical connection point.
And WHY is the:
I did this because . . .
I did not do this because . . .
I was forced to do this because . . . explanation. Justification.
To think out choosing WHY before hand is an important separation point too.

Very very distinct the pace, direction, self-measured success’s of those woodgasing-for-power for their own personal uses; for themselves and thiers.
Again; a bit of cultural language-use clarification: “thiers” meaning those in your immediate life/control/responsibility span.

The other woodgasing branch road taken is those doing it for others.
And too often these “for-all” direction decision made folks will insist that they are doing this for “thiers.” Thiers meaning the whole great big greater world. 2000 years of cultural histories say taking on responsibilty for the whole grater world will kill you, crush you, suck you dry.

The very best DOW pictured example put up of the differences in these two approaches was Wayne Kieth’s woodgassed pickup truck sitting next to a big shiny stainless steel CPS based, gov’mints funded, heavy trailer mounted all electronified, all-biomass power system.
Another contrasting approach comparison:
The Pegasus Unit publication book I recently highlighted out versus:
Producer Gas: Another Fuel For Motor Transportation
World Bank Technical paper 296
UN, FOA72 publication
The first, put up by two individuals for personal building use.
The others cheerleading for more public funds efforts/moneys to change the world. Explaining away, justifying the moneys efforts spent with no working results.

Which Y taken actually does get built and used? Stepping back this is easy to see.
Never too late to go back and take the different decision branch to working use/success.
A few hunders in Europe now. Afew hunderd in the US/Canada now. One, two or more in every country, every corner of every continent now showing that it is the DYI approaches that is actually getting it done.

Actually reflex, and think about this. Look in your mirror. Why are you here at this point in your life? Why are you reading this?
Most I see just going the way of the current popular currnets-spin.

My respect is to those in the past, present, and the future who will just DO It, Real.

Best regards to all
tree-farmer Steve unruh


I get the difference, Steve! Just realize some folks (Like me) are going to take longer to get to the point of “getting it” and will have to make our own mistakes, self-funded!


Yer O.K. in my book MikeR.
Doing, mistaking, self-funded “inspired” is the very best way to learn real-use woodgasing in my experiences.

On my contrasting the then same 10 years books published approaches let me detail out:
The Pegasus Unit book was a collaborative effort by two done-it experienced out fellows. They (with their own money) wrote this book/plan set. Set up a publishing/distribution company. Had these printed up by a regional printer on their own $'s capital.

Producer Gas; Another Fuel for Motor Transport was an actually printed out bound report by . . . fingers do not fail me now!
Report of the Ad Hoc Panel of the Advisory Committee on Technology Innovation
Board of Science and Technology for International Development
Office of Internal Affairs
National Research Council

This is transcribed out of the third flyleaf page in this book along with an financial support acknowledgement:
This study was supported mainly with funds provided by the Agency for International Development.

I am contrasting these two published out books intentionally. They are far back enough now that the principals are mostly all aged out and gone. Recent enough that their impacts and promoted technologies are very understandable and relevant. Many of their authors/contributors/promoters DID share common experiences histories.
Producer Gas is shorter, more compact with many more pictures - some unique to this publication. It had 18 writers/committee contributing authors. Pages 91 through 95 is their curriculum vitae (sp?) claim-fame credentials listed out. Then another three pages to list out the 38 various full committee membership of various professionals.
So pick an easy degree’ed professional annual remuneration of say, $100,000 USD each for these guys and gals; and STILL no one could actually build up anything working from this publication.
The Pegasus Unit book: two authors. Also degree’ed employed professionals. One college teaching mechanical engineering. The other college teaching electrical engineering. With their Plan-Set along with there book you could self-build, or have a metals fab shop build you up a proven working unit. And do this now, still, today.

Then you have the still alive and kicking-it fellow published out and released the Mother Earth News woodgasifier system. Current fellows like Ron&Ron have build these up. And work/used these.
Look Ma’ no specialized degree’s.
Waynes and Ben Pertersons systems and build-it books. No specialized degrees.
S.E.Werners site build diagrams and plans. With working units made up - proving.
Dutch Johns site formulas, pictures and willingness to share/help.
The commonality?
These fellows DOing it for themselves, and encouraging DYI-builder, self-users to do it for themselves too…
All living the ethic, “Wanna change the world? Change your world first.”

Steve Unruh


I get the self fonding Mike R ,I had too switch too a 4.3 due too transmission problems with the s10, at about 3 mpg difference it won’t matter much as the extra power from the v6 will allow me too tow small trailer with out hybreding much, I will problem end up changeing my cyclones too parallel for less restrictive as likely.They wanted 1200 too rebuild the Toyota transmission,and it needed a torqeconverter,275.$


Getting her built sooner or later,enjoying the Dow supporters on building design and effects, thanks for the build thoughts along with the HWWT book. were all learning till the day we die.My next challenge is rebuilding a 4l60 from utube vidio support, and there is a CD training vidio classroom certified for $99 bucks that has 35 hours and covers 5 main truck transmissions, 2 gm 2 ford and one chrisler transmission lesson.Enjoy the tree farmer life,and retirement times.


I Y er Ya

Y id do things the way i do ?

Y doing the same as others, nothing to learn … nothing to explore…

Y creating perfection if imperfection is the way of nature ? if i make something perfect, Y all stop learning, but if my imperfection inspires Ya to build things Y self… then world will change to the better… ( some great guy once used those words… i am to old to remember who’s, but i don’t claim they are mine… )


Very. Very good K.V.L.
I like this.
The best example of imperfection, driving learning/experiencing in the modern woodgasing era is New Zealand, Doug Williams published out, build-this-help.
He only gives just a cold-air three jet, very simplified, no-cones, straight walls-tubes, hearth outline dimension’ing.
Says he leaves up after hearth coarse separation/cooling/filtering to the DIY’s imagination/resource/capabilities.
Systems built up on his bases actually do work. Within their limitations. He even puts up simplified manual wood-bits shears. Engine heats and/or gas wood-bits drying stations.

With his own complete systems the ones commissioned to be built up and used for lab-grade gasses modeling.

His former boss/mentor has vilified him as “just a welders helper”. With himself the degree’ed superior master going onto elaborate, highly automated, high dollar financed, slit-hearth, supposedly all-biomass perfections. Powerhearth.

So just who, is fooling, who?
Which is the true inspiring master?
And only one: an ethical humanist. Like you.
tree-farmer Steve unruh


Short answer would be MEN.

sure isn’t to save money. I bet I’ve spent a couple billion so far. Just learning to weld took years.

Sure isn’t survivalist reasons. If I was a survivalist I’d learn how to feed myself! Not feed an engine.

Sure isn’t to get rich, see above.

No, just have a passion for simplifying a system until it is bullet proof. A million years from now I’ll have it nailed down tight ! :relaxed:


Jeff, you are so right on what you have said. Well not the billions, but a lot of monies for sure. I always point that out to people, I’m not really saving any monies. And all the work preparing wood and time. We are one in a million and that is a fact. DOW


Appreciate the thought Steve. I think there’s a big place for DIY, “Appropriate Technology”, etc. There are many who won’t develop (get it done) otherwise. Still, we DIY ers can only DIY on the backs of those who came before, which includes the other side of the “Y”. For example: my 8 yr old built a functional ram pump this week. Only way he could get that done was because metallurgy has advanced to the place where he can buy the ready made parts at Lowe’s—largely on the other side of the “Y”, the internet where he researched the project was developed and maintained by the other side of the “Y”, as well as being filled with ideas from DIY-ers. etc. All that is cumulative I’d say. That’s why, even though I try to teach what is known as sustainable ag, I still can’t say there’s not a place for agri-business in the world.
The fact is, the chicken litter I use to teach small scale sustainable ag comes from huge broiler houses that are the heart of Alabama’s agribusiness.

Seems to me there are a lot of things “not done” unless they get done by DIY-ers. For instance, not many corporations or govt’s pushing steam water pumps these days. Even though they may still have plenty of specialized applications in different contexts. Lots of times in developing situations we use AT stuff in place of the standard modern tech because it makes better sense in that context.

Also seems to me that there are a lot of things that are developed by big business, gov’t and industry that move the whole field “forward”. Sometimes they move it forward and leave things behind. Often it goes forward toward something better. EX: The same movement that caused the world to forget producer gas and steam power and ram pumps, and methane production, etc (which are still valid in certain contexts), is the same movement that makes it possible for an average somebody to go to Harbor Freight and buy a cheap welder and go to a scrap yard and collect some materials, and go to a hardware store and buy cheap uniformly milled pre-threaded parts, and then look up instructions on the internet, and order a book published by a country cattle farmer in central AL and build a machine that will produce that gas or pump or digester, etc.
So for me it seems we have to have both. Unless of course we define anyone who gets something done as one side of the “Y” . And everyone who sits around “not doing” as the other side.
I could be missing your point.

Anyone who builds anything (and has any sense at all) will looks for answers from where ever he can find them. I’m sure we all use tech first developed by DARPA, or big business, or some other grand group of some sort, as well as ideas from here and anywhere else.

Nevertheless, I don’t disagree with you (if I understand you). Certainly, people who go do it get more done than those sitting around begging for money so they can go do it. But that thought will lead us back to a banished debate soo…
Also, I guess I am ignorant to the “The other woodgasing branch road taken is those doing it for others.” I just haven’t been around it enough I guess. I’m sure you are right about it, but I am unlearned on the subject.

As for living for others: “Thiers meaning the whole great big greater world. 2000 years of cultural histories say taking on responsibilty for the whole grater world will kill you, crush you, suck you dry.”

I suppose you’re right. It tends to be true that no good deed goes unpunished. That’s the world we live in. But then there have always been those few that find value in their willingness to be destroyed for the sake of others. Not sure if those are who you are talking about. I could be missing you there. Not sure. But if so, I’d say there’s no greater calling. We honor, and rightly so, those who are willing to sacrifice for the benefit of others…Sometimes those who think they are doing that actually aren’t. Nevertheless, there’s something good in the intent, even if not in the fruit…Albeit, I’d rather have both.

Enough ‘pontificating’…time for bed…


Y… Copy dumm or think smart ?

a smart thinker will copy the good things he see’s and share his idea’s about things he’s looking for a solution…

AKA team working…


This is frustrating me.
I came to that Y a few years ago when I discovered DOW. It was very exciting to know other options where available. I built my gasifier and built a machine to feed the gasifier. I know it all works but am unable to implement it. Reason being, I don’t have a garage anymore. Starting from scratch sucks at times but has it’s rewards. My goal was to get a garage built this summer but…life happens. So there sits my gasifier and chunker, weeds growing around both.
My homestead is growing and I’m learning a lot. All this is part of the big picture and wood gas is the reason. Hell, I didn’t even know how to weld before I built my gasifier. Here I am, welding neighbor’s stuff in trade for them helping me. Someday…
The path down the Y I chose is more involved than I imagined but so far is fulfilling. I lurk on DOW to keep things fresh in my mind in hopes to someday contribute again. I have 80-90% of what I need to finish the gasifier for my truck. I made sure I purchased what I could before moving into the woods. It’s all tucked in a shipping container of what will be a part of my garage. Someday…
Steve, you’ve been one of my motivators from the beginning and I thank you.


Bill, next spring and summer, set the goal and get ready to build that shop/garage. Mark it on the calendar and if the creek don’t rise. You will get it done. My hopes and prayers for you next year. You have accomplished so much in the past two years, WOW. You are there with the Top Doers on this site.


Apparently Isaac Newton, at the end of his days, having co-created (independently) calculus, originally denying credit, conceived of classical gravitation and orbital mechanics, and the properties of light, was asked how he had accomplished so much. He said, “if I have been able to see so far, it’s because I have stood on the shoulders of giants.”

Most progress is hard work and incremental, but over time it can lead to marked advance.

Newton was referring to being exposed to the ideas of the ancient Greeks, Arabs and Babylonians, knowledge accumulated thousands of years before he was born. Without their original thinking for him to take in while young he may not have accomplished any of his achievements.

Which is what I find attractive about this forum, many varied trials on an extremely complex mechanical and physics challenge, now drawing information and input from around the globe instantaneously, all adding incrementally to the body of knowledge in a documented form. So there’s hardly a bad question, or wasted effort in my view, as nobody really knows what the next step could be.


Bill, I built the MAN gasifier all outside. Still rather weld outside, in the shade, in the fresh air. Maybe a partial green house made from cattle panels and keep the tools in the container.



I know how you feel. Having to start from scratch is a tough climb. When I look back at all I have had to do just to be making parts again, hard to believe it took so long. But well worth all the effort, and I have a house to live in and gas heat. Really have enjoyed watching you change your life in the north woods. Your wife must be a very special person as well.

My Y is very clear to me. Few others around me or in my immediate family understand. All the skills I have ever developed wil be used in some way on the road to gasification. I can’t ignore the possibility this may be the only way to move around if something happens. 2 hurricanes and the price of gas goes up 50 cents a gallon. What if there was some type of disaster of great proportion? I remember the gas lines and closed down gas stations in the 1970’s. Made a huge impression on me. I will enjoy driving back and forth to our farms on wood without taking a nickel away from my family. I already have lots of wood prepared, sacked and stored away for this purpose. One just graduated from college, one a sophomore in college and one a sophomore in high school who wants to be a doctor. You can only imagine where all my money goes and not ending any time soon. Plenty of wood going to waste around these parts to keep me busy. I have always enjoyed going down the road less traveled, but I have never had to build the vehicle to travel down the road less traveled, I am enjoying the challenge Steve U, I know we all appreciate your wisdom of self learned studied, trial after trial, gasification knowledge and years of experience.



Thanks for the cornbinder Mother Earth News System pictures you put up Jeff Davis. Nothing teaches as well as doing it.
Another seems to be lost voice is Mike LaRosa’s. He’s the guy with virtually no welding but low temp brazing, furnace cement, duct-tape proved that newer modern electronic fuel injection vehicles could be DIY’ed and woodgas and driven.

Many interesting comments and viewpoint alright.
Reflex on this.
It was working black-metal smiths who discovered wood gas. A working metal black smith along with a tin-smith could have made up an engine fueling system handily anytime from about the 1860’s and on.
Sure. American and European railroads and then the American War-Between-the-States did put available big-industry-made metals much more widely available. But B.Franklin made his first all-metal stove 50-60 years before that.
What that mid-19th century blacksmith/tinsmith lacked actually was the engine to run. He had no need to satisfy. For power-making if he had the urge, became a steam-boiler maker. And that originated before the Romans but with the Egyptians.
That engines-fuel-need got made apparent by 1914-1918. The evolution of the very first vehicle wood/charcoal gasifier systems in France and Germany.

Sorry fellows. We did not need a Newton, Edison or Tesla to make our world work. World worked just fine before these and others like current darling Stephen Hawking.
We needed practical application men like Westinghouse, Benz, Ollie Cummins. Fellows who made things of practical human worth.
Not in it just for curiosity itch-scratching; for “the science”, the fame-name-game. These the fellows(and gals) who developed explosives, electric chairs executions, the atom bomb and such.
I will worship none of these.
IF, every priest, prophet, seer-Sayer, sooth-Sayer, leader, scientist, artist had to sweat-hoe just a bit daily for their breads they would too become more practical, human too.
Mother Teresa did.
Nelson Mandela did.
Gandhi did.
Even Jimmy Carter did, and does.
Ha! Ha! And a whole bunch of DOW members!

Go read, and see the working results on the biomass list for the contrast.
tree-farmer Steve Unruh


I think I understand your original post a little better Steve.

amen to that. Lead from the front…ex: I have never met a mechanic that wouldn’t agree that things would be a lot better and more practical if the engineers had to spend a few years in the shop before they were allowed to do anything else. I might vote for it. :grin:
Actually, (I am pretty serious about this), I think our society and many of the individuals in it would be far better served if we had a little less emphasis on the university and a lot more emphasis on vocational training. Don’t get me wrong, I am glad to have had some higher education, but most of the education I use every day started on the seat of my dad’s truck when I was 3 or 4 years old, or hanging upside down in a 30 ft deep elevator shaft welding a drill rod back together because I was the only one who would fit down the hole when I was 10 or 11, or a hundred other things like that. Hands on. Go do it kind of stuff…
The classroom helps augment that nicely, but I think we have a general imbalance between the two.
That said, Most of the “practical application men” you list had the education too. So I’m not sure what makes the difference. Maybe they just wanted to impress the ladies like old Ben Franklin did. :blush: Maybe there’s a gene for git-r-dunners. Or maybe there’s actually a need for people that just think stuff up and hope someone else will do it. hahaha. (makes me think of a good line from the movie Armageddon. lol)

I think you have a point here too. Knowledge without the benefit of virtue is a dangerous thing. As a side note: It intrigues me Steve, that your quote here makes me think of my Mennonite/Amish friends and their views on technology in general. Albeit, their lines are a lot different from yours I think. They would tend to accept “technological advancement” very slowly and only for practical matters. Never would curiosity be much of an acceptable reason to pursue anything. I probably have a little too much Star Trek in me for that, but there’s probably some degree of safety in the thought. :relaxed:


I was in Rwanda a couple of weeks ago for my 10th visit. Even though they have cell phones, basic household stuff like cooking or crapping is 150 years behind our “advanced economy.” My Kinyarwanda is terrible, but building and designing stuff is it’s own language. Rwandan farmers have good creative insight. I was asked to speak at a startup church and “preached” about “money, technology and strong government.” My idea was that these are valuable gifts from God which we should desire and be thankful for, but each can also take over our affections and demand so much attention that they lead to ruin. Wonderful servants; terrible masters.

I am always concerned about how inappropriate it is to try to paste my opinions and values into another cultural context. The response to this “message” was much more positive than for any of my previous attempts.

I assume that Mennonite/Amish have their own culturally conditioned sins, but I find it hard to argue with the proposition that technology has been getting the upper hand at least since WWI. Maybe the quantum physicists who have turned curiosity into high art will be the prophets of the future as they are now claiming that reality is composed of invisible relationships between entities that are too small and unpredictable to be referred to as particles.


Now there’s a mouthful Billy. The hands that can have a massive advantage over those who keep their hands in their pockets. There is an old saying I know many of you have probably heard, but for those who haven’t,…

“We the willing, led by the unknowing, are doing the impossible for the ungrateful. We have done so much, with so little for so long, that we are now qualified to do anything with nothing”

And so goes the basic requirement for those who have built gasifiers and repeatedly run a wood gasifiers successfully here on DOW. As always, my hat is off to all of you.