Trailer-based Woodgas System for Conversion Van

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.

Hi Paul, I think what Steve was getting at is you should grow into wood gas. A huge part of this crazy hobby is the wood itself and everything about it. What kind what size how its dried how its processed where we store it; we get downright crazy about it. Wayne’s systems are the gold standard so he gets more flexibility but notice that he processes wood for income and has access to huge amounts of offcuts. He has a downpat system and all the kinks worked out. While he travels on wood a lot and does road trips he generally has an orbit around his home base he sticks to. I have ten acres of my own woods and do property management on 400 acres so wood is not a problem for me. I can think of many more on site who have connections to wood. So to get back to it Steve’s suggestion is take the rough consumption numbers you worked out, collect that amount for a certain length of time, say a month and grow your wood processing abilities. Can you find enough, cut enough, store enough to make your plan work? If you have not done it you simply do not know. I would suggest you look up the charcoal section especially Gary Gilmore’s 2 barrel charcoal maker and his small engine and Ford ranger charcoal systems ( maybe mine as well). They are more entry level systems and are more flexible with raw biomass since you are converting it to charcoal first. At the very least it will give you something to do with your wood gathering test runs.
David Baillie

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He doesn’t travel outside of a certain radius on trips? What?

I only want to build one wood gasification System, so if Wayne Keiths gold standard gasifier can be slightly modified to burn charcoal it would be nice for dry stretches. Charcoal costs money like Gasoline but it’s a denser fuel. My question is it cheaper than gas per mile? If cheaper than gasoline, how much cheaper?

At first I will have to process wood the hard way because I will have spent all my pennies to get the wood gasification System up and running + HFT trailer to be mobile. I do have access to a gas powered and electric chainsaw so that will make the processing easier at first. First priority with the money saved from not burning gasoline is to build high quality versions of the components I cheaped out on in order to get up and running quicker, then acquire a wood splitter, wood chipper, and a chainsaw.

My plan is to start building the wood gasification System as soon as the SSI rolls in next month, doing whatever it takes to get up and running with a decent built System, as soon as possible. I really can not afford bad advice or building from the wrong plans. I plan to become a premium member for six months to access Wayne Keith book and gasifier plans. For those who are already premium, is the premium content downloadable? I hate the idea of paying for information, but this is an exception because I need to get started with the right information ASAP. I can not afford to wait and I know I’ll pay more because of this.

"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.html93"
The guy replied and says he might be OK with having a shipper pick it up after I send the money. Can I trust the users on here? By the pics it looks like a wood gasification system in pieces, with huge rust patches on those pieces. If I buy this and pay to have it shipped to San Jose, CA it has to be the right thing or else I am severely set back.

Has anybody have experience with paying a shipper to pick up items from someone through craigslist then deliver them to an address in a different state?

The link to Craig’s list is broken. It goes nowhere.
The suggestions and opinions you have been given here so far are solid and from experienced people in the hobby.
I use the word hobby because this isn’t a plug and play system. You will constantly be tinkering, adjusting, fixing. I sense you have a high level of expectations on a very limited budget. This to me, is a formula for frustration. Wood gas challenges every creative part of one’s self. It can be very humbling. But the people on this site can fill in the blanks for when you get stumped. This will be where you find the $200 lifetime membership isn’t enough. They should charge us more.
To put in the time to gather materials, cut and weld them together and reading all the posts is when you will start to understand why these guys are suggesting to you what they have. You are making a refinery that is constantly wanting to find your next weak spot in the system. It’s the person that enjoys that challenge that will be driving on wood. The Drive on Wood community here will be available to cheer you on and offer up suggestions as needed.

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Good morning Paul.

The closer the gasified vehicle is operated around the wood source the easier the operation becomes . Several on the site use their vehicles to drive back and forth to work . They know how much fuel to load the hopper and know if more is needed to be hauled .

On short round trips only the hopper needs loaded . On longer trips extra wood will need to be hauled . Once you get out to around a thousand mile round trips a trailer may be needed .

When having to carry fuel there will be distances you will reach diminished returns from hauling wood . When finding fuel on a trip it has to be processed and dried . This takes a lot of planning .

I have made a trip of near 7500 miles and drove right through your town but it took a lot of planning . David is correct . Operating a gasified vehicle works much smoother in an orbit around the wood pile .

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I found the ad still in a browser tab, so I took a screenshot and saved the pictures which are in this PHOTOBUCKET album:

RubixCS's Wood Gasification Pueblo Craigslist AD 2015-OCT-27 album on Photobucket
[quote] They should charge us more. [/quote] To me that reads "They should raise the barrier of entry into wood gasification". what we need is more people into woodgas, refined plans so woodgas systems are cheaper to build & financing options for people with no credit history to finance ready-made woodgas systems & essential equipment. [quote="Wayne, post:24, topic:2050, full:true"]

The closer the gasified vehicle is operated around the wood source the easier the operation becomes . Several on the site use their vehicles to drive back and forth to work . They know how much fuel to load the hopper and know if more is needed to be hauled .
[/quote]
They stay local?

This is my what my System is built around, a trailer with 1000 pounds of wood capacity. Which means burning 2 pounds a mile, I will get 500 miles on one load of wood. Of course I will be topping off the pile often when I am unsure what the next few hundred miles is wood wise.

Do you mean the weight the van is pulling needing to carry more than 1000 pounds of wood burning more fuel in the first miles than the last miles? I see what you mean. As long I can travel thousands of miles without burning a drop of expensive gasoline, I will have way more options, leverage, and freedom than I do running just on gasoline.

I plan to leave the whole gasoline fuel system in the van untouched, so worst case scenario if I am out of wood far from San Jose, I can sit it out and scour craigslist and other potential free wood sources then find a good offer (if I am a wood scarce region) then travel there on gas to get the cheap fuel. Or just buy logs from the hardware store to get me through to a region with lots of trees. Yes I know packaged wood costs way more than processing it yourself, this is just to get fueled up in a hurry.

Are there ways to expedite wood drying? Like placing the wet wood in a shed with a circulating fan and dehumidifier?

“Orbit” means circling around something. It would be more like criss crossing the woodpile, crossing over it when low on wood.

Paul,

Seems to me you have two things you need to do before you do anything else:

  1. Buy Wayne’s book, read it cover to cover about three times. Watch ALL the build videos and read all the premium-side build threads. Once you’ve done this, most of your questions will be answered.

  2. After that, if you still feel inspired, then look for a welder you can afford, and learn how to use it. As Chris suggested earlier, you will NEVER build a WK gasifier on the cheap without this skill. In fact, unless you have as extensive a scrap yard as Wayne does, you will never do it for less than a couple thousand dollars.

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Hello Paul.

You are correct , Orbit was a poor choice of words , I should have said certain radius of the wood pile.

" Are there ways to expedite wood drying? Like placing the wet wood in a shed with a circulating fan and dehumidifier? "

If you will pull up the these two topics you can see how most of us dry our wood .

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I would say that was poorly worded. He means, “it would still be a bargain for a higher price, just because of the 1,000’s of dollars and hours that Wayne and others have already put into researching this fantastic device and working out the kinks.”

They really don’t want to raise the barrier against lower-income newbies, and so they’ve decided to just barely cover their own expenses.

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Mr. Paul; Some times I am just to blunt. All of us want to see more people get into the beauty of woodgas. But by not coming right out and telling you how it is, I believe they are misleading into an impossible situation,
To start off a 7,000 lb. van with a 318 will not cruise down the road at 65 mph. With a 1000 lb. gasifier on the back bumper, you would be lucky to get 60 mph. Put the gasifier on a trailer and load 750 lb of wood and your are going to be limited to 50 mpe. Now try to climb up the slighest grade and you are looking a possibly a top speed of 40 mph.
To build a gasifier of any kind you are NOT going to buy a couple of 55 gal drums and have a welder weld them into a gasifier. To start with you say you don’t have a welder. Even if you get one, you have been told it isn’t hard to learn to weld. I’m here to say you couldn’t pick a harder project to learn to weld on. The welds have to be perfect so that there are no pin holes air leaks in the welds — we aren’t just “sticking” two pieces of metal together. I don’t know of anyone who has built a gasifier with just a welder. You also need a way of cutting metal such as an oxy-acetene torch or a plasma cutter. Then you need a bunch of hand tools including grinders and clamps, vise grips etc.
I presume you are retired so you may have the time. For a compitent craftsman it has been said that it takes 250 hr. Working steady that is 6 1/2 weeks. Working part time that number goes up to “months”. In with that are trips around to scrounge materials. This stuff does not just fall into your lap.
Now you get it done and the work continues. Contrary to many beliefs, you don’t just throw any old material into the hopper. I am going to say," you have to have a specific size of properly dried wood blocks/chunks". No chips or just busted up limbs. You will have to have chuncks around 2x2x3 to 2x2x6. You will not find wood of this size free for the picking up. You may get good dried wood at a construction sight that is 2x4, but you will have to cut it to length. If you get tree cuttings limbs will have to be run through a chunker, that you will also have to make. If the wood is logs, you have to cut them into 2 inch slabs and then take a hatched and chop them into a usable size. If it is limbs or logs, then the wood has to be dried ( after processing to size)
And finally, you continually have to do maintenance work on the gasifier, such as empty ashes, drain condensate tanks and clean the soot out of the cooling pipes.
I am NOT trying to dissuade you, I just want you to have real expectations.TomC

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This will be my last response.
I believe from the context of my paragraph one could deduce that the information given on this site is worth far more than what we pay for.
Wayne has spent years on coming up with a system that anyone can put together and yet he continues to improve it. He then goes ahead and shares these new ideas with us. Add that up with all the other systems from his design that others in this community have built and driven. They too share their experiences and some problems they have overcome so the rest of us can learn.
It really is an open source. The donations we gave allows us to have a book to carry with us and some extra to keep this site up and running. I even developed some friendships from it all.

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Thanks for the kind words Mr. Bill,

Good morning Paul.

I read over Tom Collins reply and I think he is very accurate with his statement . He is one of us that has " been their done that " as far as building and operating a gasifier .

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This is my last post as well. You’ve heard what we all have to say… Until you start building something there’s nothing left to discuss.

Feel free to start a new thread documenting your project. The present discussion has run its course.

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