What did it cost?

Simple question to the successful builders out there: how much did your truck cost? Please note whether you purchased scrap, new materials, and the price of the truck.

I’ll start: I came in at $2500 for my truck. Truck itself was $500, and Wayne had a lot of scrap materials already, so not counted in the price. I purchased around $200 in steel, all scrap or “seconds”. Blowers and plumbing were around $500. Welding supplies (including a cheap welder) were another $500 or so, although Wayne did a bunch of the welding which I haven’t included in the price. The rest was things like tires, new steering parts, brakes, timing chain, etc. to fix up the truck, but not directly for the gasifier. I also had a pile of supplies I bought for the first unsuccessful gasifier. Some things I reused, some were wasted. In particular, I have lots of 3" PVC fittings now. Those buggers are expensive!

I know my cost is artificially low. Building a Keith gasifier that cheaply is only possible in one place on Planet Earth. I am very lucky to have visited that place, and worked with Wayne.

So what did yours cost?

All scrounged parts = $ 0.00, labor 250 hrs = $ 6200,00

Keep in mind I did not have to purchase any tools they were already available.

Truck = $500 in 2000
scrap metal = $600
welding supplies/grinding wheels/cutting gas = $600
plumbing/blowers/gauges/wiring/switches: $600
miscellaneous: $500

total: $2800 (educated estimate, I did not keep all my receipts)

time: roughly 400hrs (build time). Started building in April and averaged 2-3 12hr days a week. Truck was running on wood by early September but fine tuning continues. This does not including internet research, and time spent scrounging materials. In this time I greatly expanded my knowledge of ICE/how my truck works, how to mig weld/stick weld, and how to use a cutting torch.

Driving on wood well we all know that is priceless.

Hello Chris,

The original total cost for the Wood Hawg was approximately $2000.

I paid $1200 for the 63 C-10 and about $800 on improvements, modifications and gasifier parts.
I used scrap material for most of the gasifier. I bought new blowers and 2" PVC.

I am currently upgrading the engine-transmission package. This will add about $1200 to the project.


New steel and all the parts is 3500 bucks at least. The truck cost is on top of that. Forget about scrounging parts for free or you will die an old person before that happens. In other words the scrounging thing is pure B.S.

Scrounging and free are two different things. While I agree that scrap is usually not free, it is cheap, and worth looking for.

Everyone on this thread so far has built their gasifiers using mostly scrounged materials. Not quite “pure B.S.”

lots and lots of free metal out there, just look at`all the “free metal drop off” containers. Just have to put some effort into advertising what your looking for and having friends join in the hunt. In my personal opinion scrounging for materials and building from recycled materials is a form of art and it fits well with the inherent philosophy of woodgas i.e sustainable energy practices, reducing environmental impact, and and utilizing waste products.

just my 2cents on that

I will update with final totals as the project progresses, but here’s where I am tracking.

I am mixing sources for materials as I have found no one size fits all;

New - steel (firetube, heat sinks, cooling fins, angle iron, 5 gallon drums with leverlock lids)
Scrounged / Scrapyard - (1/4" plate, condensate tank, 2"EMT for cooling rails, 3" tubing for uprights, sheetmetal for hopper condensate tank)
Craigslist wanted ads I posted - (2 NG Water Heaters, air compressor tank, well tanks)
Craigslist ads I responded to - (Three 55 Gallon Drums)

Home Depot - all sorts of fittings and accessories as per parts list.
Web Stores (Amazon, Boat Store USA, eBay, DiscountSteel, Omega, and others) for blowers, odd sizes of pipe, instrumentation, post caps, etc

I had to purchase my welder and plasma cutter, I would have eventually bought these anyway, but this project dictated they be bought now. I was delayed most of the summer re-wiring the house (this needed to be done when we bought it, but the 60A main service wasn’t tenable, especially given my need to run the welder, plasma cutter, and air compressor). I had to locate and purchase a truck as I did not have one. All of these challenges added time and cost to the equation.

$3,000.00 - Gasifier Construction Materials and parts (this may reach $3500 when I’m finished
$2,010.00 - Running Gear - Welder, Plasma Cutter, Cart, Cord, helmet, apron, slag hammer, etc
$3,890.00 - Truck and parts required to bring it back to stock and to reliable condition (not finished)
$6,200.00 - Labor (I’ll use Dave Bloom’s figure as I haven’t got an hour total yet, but he’s close)

Then there are the unseen costs - electricity (probably $300 or so), shielding gas, welding wire, etc and in my case (now) heating the garage (snowing today). Also, non-essential bell and whistle items I already had - PLC, touchscreen monitor, Box PC, automation software & other “toys”.

Not trying to frighten those wanteing to get started, at this stage of the build I feel that an individual who;

1 - Already has a vehicle suitable for conversion
2 - Already owns the required metalworking tools
3 - Is building the typical WK gasifier
4 - Is providing their own labor

Should expect to spend $3K-$4K, unless they already have a LOT of the required materials already in hand. This may sound like a LOT to invest, but given that fuel is (right now at least) hovering around the $3.50/gal range assuming you have a newer car that gets around 34 MPG that’ll only get you about 34K miles of driving (assuming a $3500 build cost). I’ve been known to drive this in 2 years…and the independence is priceless.

I have a lot of metal left from a welding business in the 70s and have accumulated materials through the years.
The out of pocket money I spend for the gasifier materials around $ 500-700. (On earlier tucks I used supercharges for blowers and there were over $300 but I don’t us those any more)
The labor about 250 hours (the last truck was about 350 hours because of filming and documentation)

The trucks cost $3,000-5,000

I have discovered there are a lot of expense and hard work building a wood gas vehicle and the memory of the expense and long hours vanished quickly as I cruised down the road passing the gas stations.

Summery for building a wood gas vehicle in my environment.

Materials, $500-700
Vehicles, $3,000-5,000
Labor, 250 hours
Giving OPEC the finger, Priceless

Sold my car to buy the truck and made 300 profit from that deal spent around 800 on parts for the gassifier but if you deduct the 300 profit from the car sale we are down to 500 for gassifier parts pretty cheep conversion.

new welder 1000.00
plasma cutter 325.00
like Wayne said sticken it to OPEC priceless

“All scrounged parts = $ 0.00”

"Scrounging and free are two different things. While I agree that scrap is usually not free, it is cheap, and worth looking for. "

PVC alone costs $150 to $200. Then there are gauges, fans, throttle bodies, tubing, screws, valves, silicone, welding supplies…the list goes on and on. Most of this stuff has to be bought. You might get a tank or so along the way, but plan on spending a lot of time prepping it to weld and shape it. Some coating on junk tanks interferes with welding. Buying scrap for 8 cents a pound isn’t reality for most people. Homemade valves and such will not work on OBD2 because they leak.

Wood gas trucking is not cheap and it is a time consuming job even after the vehicle is on the road. Different parts of the country and different personal situations yield different opportunities for a few people, but in the end the reality is you have to pay up to do this. Some people get the wrong picture in their head before they get started only to find out half way through they are in way over their head. That is not right. The faster you get one of these on the road and the faster you can process wood the quicker you can get back to making this an economical venture. Just deal with reality so you know where you are at and how far it is to get where you want to be.

Don’t forget the failures. New operators do stupid stuff. I know first hand. Those mistakes cost time and money.

Junk parts consume way more time to fabricate than new materials. We’ve compared each and found the expense paid in new steel is offset by the huge gain in the decrease in time to prep and fabricate.

People who have just started driving on wood don’t know what their full cost is yet and should keep this in mind when posting on this thread.

For someone just “starting to drive on wood” I admit I cannot predict into the future what it will cost to maintain the truck/gasifier. However my initial setup cost are accurate and answer the original question of this thread.

Different strokes for different folks when it comes to new vs reclaimed steel it seems. Some are willing to trade their time to save a few dollars and that is reasonable. Where others would rather just get welding and not have to fart around with rusty pitted garbage.

In the end you have to pay somewhere either your time looking for materials in the scrap yard and refurbishing them to a usable condition or slaving at the regular 9-5 to pay for all that shinny new steel. Perhaps there is a trend that can be seen in the website that the newest members that join the drive on wood club prefer to use scrap materials vs new. My hypothesis would be that this is because for the first time builder/operator they would much rather part with their time than their wallet especially when they have no firsthand experience with building/operating these machines. this action seems to redistribute the risk in undertaking this type of project. One could still retain ones pride and most of their wallet if the machine did not function and they were only out their time. But it would be a different story if you were out thousands of dollars + your time, injury to insult.

but then again what do I know I haven’t been driving on wood long enough to know my ass from a hole in the ground,

Steel cost for me were very low because I have a brother that is the general manager at a steel fab shop other wise I may have spent more. But I did get some second hand parts, tanks,throttle bodies,got my 55 gal.barrels for 10.00 each and my 30 gal. were free from a simi tractor repair shop.It may take longer to look for second hand parts but that is the best way to keep cost down.

WOODY, I love your posts.
You know what you know; You have your opineins ;and you say what
is on your mind.
I bought truck and I started to build my GASSER
I find myself crawling underneth it with a torch that is going to burn me.
I hate it; It hurts; and it takes a long time
Every time I am faced with a new job; I dred it and stall as long as I can
But then I do it inspite of the pain.
And when it is done; I brag about it to anyone that will listen.
Most people will never try.And they will never know the satisfaction
of creating there dream.

Hi Woody,

Yeah after a year we still don’t know the full picture of the cost associated with each of our builds. There are so many parts pieces, sheet metal, shielding gas, wire, nuts bolts, drill bits, saw blades, grinding disc, cut off wheels, blowers , plumbing parts, seals, wiring, switches and on and on and on. If you can really figure it out after just one build your a better man than I. We now have months of expense reports showing our total average cost and it is much more than I have tried to calculate.

But then again Im building eight machines a month so keeping track of cost is complicated. :slight_smile:

I didn’t itemized records, just what was spent. Junk yards and repair shops were good to me, but then I’ve known those boys since they were in H.S. Ebay was my single biggest source after the local hardware. I do know it took over 3 rolls of .025 wire and lots of gas. I didn’t have much here as I had hauled it all off for 10 cents a pound. :frowning: Truck was $3100 and right at $2100 for parts including plasma & MIG.

Trying to establish value based on one’s ability to recover salvage or obtain one off deals seems a bit difficult & deceiving to the new builder. I think that a complete material price list based on cost new would be far more accurate. Labor rates should be based on cross country professional fab shop average hourly rates.

By no means do I suggest that new materials & outsourcing labor is the way to go, just establish an accurate baseline on paper. At this point, a truly accurate value could be realized by utilizing salvage, shopping out deals, do it yourself labor, purchasing equipment etc. Longevity & resale value are also important considerations.

With on site builders from one side of the country to the other, average pricing could easily be compiled.

There’s a reason we’ve never stated what the Keith gasifier costs to build. It varies! Even prices of new parts will be different in parts of the country, labor will be different, trucks will be different.

EDIT: This suggestion is a really good idea Peter, and we will be pursuing it.

I was referring to a paper baseline only for cost analysis.

Sorry I posted my suggestion.

For instance. I can buy a 4X10 foot sheet of 20 ga. steel for about $40 and it is brand new. I can get the filter and the heat exchanger out of that one sheet and the tops and bottom or close to it. The weld is one seam 4 foot and the bottoms, the tops can be sealed on with silicone and sheet metal screws. The thing can be braced inside so it won’t collapse for another 10 or 20 bucks. The time is about 4 hours to fab roughly. Steel is delivered if I want. Compare that to a trip to the scrap yard, time at the yard, finding the parts, prepping the parts to fit your needs. etc. Now add in the time for welding and don’t forget the cost of gas and weld, these things add up.

This is just one example I could go on. Someone will have to go a long way to convince me scrounging is cheaper in all ways.

The only gasifiers I have had fail so far are the ones built with all different types of materials.

In spite of all this I wouldn’t trade the experience of driving on wood for anything. It is priceless once you get it going and it keeps going.