Trailer-based Woodgas System for Conversion Van

I have been researching wood gasification for over a year, and being a poor boy the main thing that has held me back from building a system is the money. Other that that is has been cracking (pun intended) water to provide overunity Hydrogen and Oxygen gas to run an engine.

I found ready made systems that can run a car or truck costing thousands, and know my only option is to build one from scratch. I am not a welder and would have to hire a seam welder to join the components together. I know the basics on wood gas, reading terms and names of parts in posts from experienced wood gassers, I do not know what they are talking about.

This is the van that is going to be running on woodgas. Weighing in at 3 1/2 tons empty, with a 5.2L 318 Carburated gasoline engine; this is the rig that I am going to travel and live in.

http://www.harborfreight.com/1720-lb-capacity-super-duty-48-inch-x-96-inch-utility-trailer-with-12-inch-five-lug-wheels-and-tires-94564.html

This is the trailer I plan to put the System on with room for wood capacity and other stuff I plan to haul on it (like a generator).

I was convinced by Mr Teslonian (https://www.youtube.com/user/MrTeslonian); He has buit wood gasification systems that fuel pickup trucks. I know that I would have to have the woodgas System on a trailer, because there is no flat outside space on vans like there is on trucks.

I saw a system looking like the one I desire on this forum (minus the enclosed trailer): Charcoal powered van

I am located in San Jose, CA and can work with anyone in Northern California. I can not travel any further because I can not afford gas, this is why I am looking into building a wood gasification system to fuel cross country road trips.

The system I am envisioning is based on MrTeslonians pickup truck based woodgas system: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X3KipK49v7g
Requirements:
-System outputs enough fuel to this rig and trailer to travel at least 55 MPH on the interstate, preferably 75 MPH.
-Reactor has high biomass capacity, 50-100+ pounds (one pound of wood per mile) minimizing reloading/refueling stops.
-System has collectors for any usable byproducts (biocrude, ash, condesate water etc.)
-System takes up little footprint on the trailer, more vertical than horizontal.
-Most Important: Can be very flexible with fuel, can burn dry wood, woodchips, bark, trash, leaves, cardboard, paper etc.
-minimized hot surfaces on outside of System, can touch for a second without burning you hot surfaces.
-Low cost materials (under $400), Yes I know cheap and quality don’t usually go together! I am looking at smart cost cutting (in terms of System components) and upgrading the components later using the money that isn’t going into the gas tank. For example a quality gasifier and low-grade radiator pipes, the radiator pipes are easier to replace down the road. I am OK now with paying a few dollars more for signaficantly better quality.

I wish there was a “automotive wood gasification for dummies”!

Welcome to the fray Mr Paul. A few thoughts from me.

  1. I consider Mr teslonian a bit of a crackpot.
  2. I firmly believe that the Wayne Keith gasifier design is excellent and well worth the money for the plans. It is built mostly from used and scrap materials, which is great for those of us with little money.
  3. I wouldn’t trust one of those harbor freight trailers for cross country travel. they are really light duty.
  4. You better learn to weld. there is a lot of it to be done on a gasifier and if you have limited money, the cost of hiring it done will put you out of business in a hurry.
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Personally I don’t put much faith in anything that mr teslonian says or does… I know of a fellow that built a system inspired by his truck system and he couldn’t get it to make good gas.

There a wood gas book like you’re asking about… you can get it here on drive on wood…

Good luck on your system build.

Welcome to the site! Let me try to reset your expectations a little bit… Mr Teslonian puts on a good show but it’s not as simple or cheap as he makes out (I’m being generous guys). $400 is a VERY tight budget, I would much rather work with $1500-$2000 in materials. Hope you’ve got a decent scrap pile to draw on.

That decision alone has just put the price out of your reach. Labor to weld a gasifier, plus the new materials that your welder will insist on, will be several thousand dollars. Learn to weld, it’s not so hard.

Keith gasifier is basically your only option here. You’ll be consuming about 2 pounds per mile, consider where you will get and store that much fuel.

Not one, two pounds per mile. You’ll have a 100 lb hopper and refuel every 40-50 miles.

OK, but watch your weight. Top heavy small footprint means tipsy trailer. Also any extra floor space will be where you keep extra wood.

This is troubling. You can throw “some” of that in with your wood. But it has to be 75% or more wood chunks. The paper will have a LOT of ash and low fuel value by weight. Chips can be too small and cause plugging. “Trash” is too generic, not all trash will burn.

No gasifier will burn on complete junk fuel. Garbage in, garbage out.

I think you’re better off paying what it costs, and saving the money later. It’s a false economy. The time you spend building and rebuilding junk will cost more than doing it right in the first place. Many of us have “cut corners” to save time and money on the first build… while the old timers are building stuff properly. Guess who’s putting all the miles down?

The place to save money is with labor. Do everything yourself (including welding) and you’ll wind up with a $20,000 vehicle for a thousand or two in materials.

Toot toot! :smile:
http://www.driveonwood.com/store/

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If you can get yourself to AZ, I’d check this out. Someone’s already built a WK and selling at near scrap price. You won’t be able to build this quality this cheap.

http://pueblo.craigslist.org/pts/5244368937.html

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“Personally I don’t put much faith in anything that mr
teslonian says or does… I know of a fellow that built a system
inspired by his truck system and he couldn’t get it to make good gas.”
" Welcome to the site! Let me try to reset your expectations a
little bit… Mr Teslonian puts on a good show but it’s not as simple
or cheap as he makes out (I’m being generous guys). "
Really? MrTeslonian woodgas system doesn’t produce good fuel??

"3. I wouldn’t trust one of those harbor freight trailers for cross country travel. they are really light duty. "
I hear the included 2-ply tires are the cheapest HF could find, this is how they can sell the trailer at this price point. I hear everything else about HFT Trailers is OK, considering their price. With the money I’ll be saving not filling up the gas tank I can upgrade to a larger higher-weight carrying trailer for even more wood travel range.

-Reactor has high biomass capacity, 50-100+ pounds (one pound of wood per mile) minimizing reloading/refueling stops.
“Not one, two pounds per mile. You’ll have a 100 lb hopper and refuel every 40-50 miles.”

I kept hearing from articles and videos “one pound of wood a mile”. This means my wood travel range in cut in half from trailer wood storage capacity.

-Most Important: Can be very flexible with fuel, can burn dry wood, woodchips, bark, trash, leaves, cardboard, paper etc.
“This is troubling. You can throw “some” of that in with your wood.
But it has to be 75% or more wood chunks. The paper will have a LOT of
ash and low fuel value by weight. Chips can be too small and cause
plugging. “Trash” is too generic, not all trash will burn.
No gasifier will burn on complete junk fuel. Garbage in, garbage out.”
Based on the YouTube videos I saw they were speaking like you could put any biomass in and get usable gas out. I can see what you’re saying.

-Low cost materials (under $400), Yes I know cheap and
quality don’t usually go together… I am OK now with paying a few
dollars more for significantly better quality.
"$400 is a VERY tight
budget, I would much rather work with $1500-$2000 in materials. "
"I think you’re better off paying what it costs, and saving the money
later. It’s a false economy. The time you spend building and rebuilding
junk will cost more than doing it right in the first place. "

If I had money to build it right the first time I would. What I was trying to say is I would use decent grade materials for the complex parts of the System, and for basic components go with what I can afford to get up and running. Once I am running I can work with the rig (thinking of becoming a uShipper for example) and pull the money needed to upgrade those cheap components to something that lasts years and years. I acknowlege will take more time and money compared to building it high quality the first time, I will be up and running sooner which makes up for it.

“4.
You better learn to weld. there is a lot of it to be done on a gasifier
and if you have limited money, the cost of hiring it done will put you
out of business in a hurry.”
“The place to save money is with labor. Do everything yourself
(including welding) and you’ll wind up with a $20,000 vehicle for a
thousand or two in materials.”
I don’t even have or have access to a seam, MIG, or TIG welder. Unless you can place a spool of seam flux inside an 15 amp eletric spot welder for a psuedo seam weld.

"If you can get yourself to AZ, I’d check this out.
Someone’s already built a WK and selling at near scrap price. You won’t
be able to build this quality this cheap.

http://pueblo.craigslist.org/pts/5244368937.html9"

I can’t get myself to Arizona right now if my life depended on it! I am still going to send him an email floating the idea of a low-cost freight person (like uShip) picking it up after I sent him the money. If the WK woodgasifier is what I need, Even with freight shipping costs it’s still a bargain!

“Hope
you’ve got a decent scrap pile to draw on.”
The problem is I am in the wrong part of the country for scrap yards, there is only one I saw in the Bay Area and it is too far to travel many times of parts.

Really.

Not to be too cynical, but we’ve seen lots of gasifiers and can spot a fake a mile away. (I’m done being generous now…) If it ran for more than a couple miles after the video he made, I’d be shocked. Not surprisingly, that truck is now nowhere to be seen…

That’s based on a light pickup which is more fuel efficient. Wayne’s full size Dodge Ram at 7000lbs burns 2 pounds per mile. With more weight, a high profile vehicle, plus an older less efficient engine, you’re gonna get poor mileage - gasoline or woodgas.

Yeah, that’s the eternal pipe dream… I honestly wish they’d quit promoting it as such.


Now…

Then you’re kinda screwed. Sorry, there’s not much way around this one. Without access to scrap materials, and no funding to buy parts, what are you going to build this out of? With $400 you’ll only be able to afford a few hours of shop time, let alone materials. This build takes 250+ hours and about half that is welding up the gasifier.

I would try a little harder to get access to a welder. You can get the Harbor Freight cheapie for $90 on sale, it’s not great but it’ll stick metal together.

Spot welding isn’t good enough, all gasifiers need airtight welds. You’ll want a MIG welder. TIG is better yet, but hard to learn and way above your price range.

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Gee wonder whyy?? Does Mr. Teslonian do fake builds on purpose?

There is a SIMS metal close by, they sell various metal pipe and metal stock. I can afford the gas to go once or twice to the faraway scrap yards, and can buy things like 55 gallon metal drums for low-cost through Craigslist.

http://www.osh.com/Osh-Categories/Tools-%26-Hardware/Tools/Welding/MIG-%26-Arc-Welders/Forney-Flux-Cored-MIG-Welder%2C-95FI-A%2C-120-volt%2C-95-amp/p/7092240

This is the kind of welder I have access to.

I have three toolboxes worth of intermediate tools, plus a powerdrill with hole-saw sets and an angle grinder.

That welder should do the job. I’m not familiar with that particular one, but Forney is a well known name… I’ve done my entire unit with a $179 harbor frieght welder. no one will mistake it for a good welder, but with practice it can give acceptable results.

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Good morning Mr. Paul and welcome to the site .

I have read the above replies and agree with all . Hope the replies doesn’t sound a little blunt or harsh but they are honest.

Above you referred to Mr. Teslonian . I would challenge you to locate him and ask for a ride in any wood powered vehicle he has built and videoed . On the other hand with a few minutes notice I will give you a ride in three wood powered trucks and a wood powered tractor .

On another note learning to weld with a MIG is a lot easier than learning to drive a wood powered vehicle. May be about as easy as learning to drive any vehicle .

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Paul,

I’ll second everything said above. Especially what Andrew said about the welder. Just get in there and start “crack-a-lackin”. It really only takes a little knowledge, combined with a lot of practice, which you’ll get.

If you do buy the cheap welder, you might want to also get a dedicated blower motor to make sure you have constant air flow to cool the unit. Here’s the one I have:

It will extend the life of the welder, and increase your duty cycle. Obviously, if you’re MIG welding, the air flow needs to be on the welder, NOT the welding torch.

Hey Paul let me help you with some verification of advice’s given above.
Say your van gets 13 mpg on gasoline at a steady 60 mph. (I drove a loaded Dodge delivery van in the 70’s)
Fuel energy BTU-wise and practical actual used vehicle wood fueled gasifier guys say every US gallon of gasoline displaced consumes at least 20 to 30 pounds of very air dried wood fuel. So . . . yep, 92 to 138 pounds of fuel wood to go that 60 miles.
Want 1 pound of fuelwood per mile better base on a vehicle system/speed of travel able to get at least 25 miles per gallon on gasoline.
Face it. Your van at 75 mph does not get 13 mpg.
Start consuming over a 100 pound of “bio-mass” fuel and hour and the difference between a clean, clean 1% mineral wood to a 10-15% mineral ash waste-paper flow chokes down most any system.
With actual biomass leaf/needle and barks at 3-7% mineral ash in-between as being hard enough to system compensate for.

Mr Teslonian is quite serious about and believes his own presentations.
My problem with him is he lives in the middle of a very slow/no grow trees/brush area. His area could not even support HIM for daily living energy, let alone traveling around grown harvested energy. He should focus on the high solar energy that he obviously does have.

Paul many think traveling around that all of the trees/bushes/bramble that they see are just there for the taking. Not true. They are all owned, protected, or governed by someone. Just like fish and other wildlife. Go out and start “free” “harvesting” and the owners/governors will find you. Here in Washington State (and Oregon) harvest scrounging out of trash/recycle bins, water-side driftwoods will get you arrested.

You can verify this all by starting small with a wood chunk, bought pellets/chips/charcoal fuels feeding a suburban garage generator set.
Now that can be done in your $400 budget.
Ha! Neighbors get real cranky you start “thinning” their yard trees for the fuel wood to feed your scream-a-matic wood-hog beast. 'Cause you will fine buying out gasoline is motor fuel cheaper than any open market solid fuels in urban areas.
Wood-for-energy is only cheaper if you own and control the land to grow your own wood-for-fuel. Or have a wood products mill in your hip pocket.

Steve Unruh

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That’s a bit high in my personal experience. Bone dry wood seems to be 16 lbs per gallon, somewhat wetter wood more like 20 lbs/gallon. That’s of course from an efficient WK gasifier, with lots of heat recovery.

So with an 8-10 MPG rig, you’re spot on with 2 lbs per mile. That’s a LOT of wood to go any distance.

I’ve built complete gasifier systems with a Flux core machine. It can be done, but good metal prep is your friend. Everytime you stop and start to carry on with the same weld you need to take off all the Flux if you want it to be air tight…

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Last I measured fuel economy, super loaded down for Burning Man with detuned carburator it was about 7 1/2 MPG highway.

Obviously not everywhere, I had a clue about this.

The government is commiting the crime when it’s illegal to rescue wood from trash & recycling bins. I would imagine in the Pacific Northwest people would either have way more wood than they know what to do with or be burning it all in the winter to keep warm.

http://sfbay.craigslist.org/search/sby/zip?query=wood

Loads of free wood to pick up in and around San Jose, all throughout the year (I check every so often) Equipment costs ignored (woodsplitter, chipper), much cheaper fuel per mile than gasoline. I don’t know about other parts of the country though, I would imagine places with trees it’s the same story.

I know that in order to have more wood travel range I will need a larger trailer with much more weight carrying capability. This so a dry stretch (no free wood) on my route is easy to weather. Also more room for 4 stroke equipment like woodsplitter,wood chipper, and generator (yes I know this means less space for wood).

As for weight and size, what weight range per cubic foot of solid wood can I expect (pounds per cubic foot of wood)?

Well Paul
Then an easy way to prove your San Jose lots of scrap wood premise.
Fire place heat with sought out available wood that place the van is parked in front of.
Go ahead and use grid electricity for shipping pallet breaking down.
Run your wood fuel use up to what it would need to operate a vehicle.
Gen=set for an urban house like that would be ~15 pounds of processed wood an hour.
Power for 15 hours a day that would be 300 pounds of wood a day for urban energy.
Folks RV traveling usually figure an average of 250 to 350 a day traveling.
300 miles going visiting you’d need between 600 and 900 cubic feet of wood if chunked. 50% more if lower density chipped.
Burning (in any way) Processing and Sourcing is learning wood energy the real way. All else without the wood-sweat is just talk.
Mr Teslorsian never shows him self wood sourcing, processing sweating then using on-gong usable amounts of wood fuel energy. Why he is not real. Not Relevant.
Regards
Washington State Steve Unruh

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What are you trying to say?

I don’t plan to use woodgas for a suburban house. Now on trips when I need power inside the van, the ideal scenario is I would get out the van, top up the Reactor, and divert the woodgas to the air intake on the generator. Then I would start up the generator, go back inside the van and switch on the loads inside the van after a few minutes. Then I would let the reactor run out of wood if I wasn’t going any further for the day.

A generator with a small engine would need way less gas than the van. How do people reduce the reaction rate in their wood gasifiers so the small engine isn’t running rich and wasting wood?

For me it would be more or less distance per day.

“300 miles going visiting”? that is 5-7 cords of wood right there! How many pounds is an average cord of wood? Weight, not space will be my restriction on the trailer.

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Don’t expect to be able to run a small genset engine on the same gasifier you’re running your van on… you may be able to for a very short time but it won’t draw hard enough to keep the reaction hot.

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Well now if I remember correctly a cord of dry oak is supposed to weigh about 4000 #
Now my experience with craigslist and free wood is this. It is either softwood which nobody wants for firewood, or they want a tree right next to their house taken down and you can have the wood for the work.
In other words, they want free tree service, complete with cleanup. It’s true that you can gasify soft woods ok, but if you are traveling you will want the most weight per fill up ie hardwood.

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Does anybody near San Jose, CA have a functional Wayne Keith gasifier that runs a car, truck or van they can show me? I am a visual learner and it would be very helpful to see a few wood gasification systems in person before I build my own.