What to expect driving through the city

Hi guys, newbie to the forum, I’ve built some smaller scale gasifiers in the past and am preparing to make the jump to driving on one. I have one question, am I going to get bothered by law enforcement? especially in the city? I’m a student so I have to go to class a few times a week downtown. I don’t see why I could get ticketed but I can see why I might expect some trouble (or just curiosity), especially if I have to refuel. “whys he got all that smoke coming out of that thing on his truck?” and "your driving with a bunch of burning wood in your truck?"and other such things. Some questions won’t bother me at all, I’m just young and have gotten headaches for little to no reason before, thanks!


Welcome to the DOW ConnerH.
What city; in what province/state; in what country; please?
What intended vehicle?
tree-farmer Steve unruh

Hello Conner and welcome to the DOW.

What city ?

There is a chance I may have driven through there . I have ran on wood through AL , AZ, AR, CA, CO, FL, GA, IL, IN,KS, KY,LA,MI,MS,MO,NE,NV,NM,NC,OK,PA,SC,TN, TX, UT, VA, WV, WI, and WY

I have driven somewhere between 200K and 400K miles . Lot of the miles where unnecessary but fun :grinning:

I have run into road blocks several times for drivers license and insurance checks but none of the officers have ask about the apparatus in the the bed of the truck. However I was stopped by an Alabama State trooper but he didn’t question anything about the truck but he did give me a speeding ticket. ( 75 mph in a 55 zone ) Until this day he doesn’t know he gave the first woodgas speeding ticket in the US :grinning:

Driving on the countrfy roads are more enjoyable than the city but that is true with me gasoline or wood.

If the gasifier is built right there should be no smoke to get any attention. With a little practice you can learn to run your gasifier down to where there will be no smoke even when refueling.

Also there is another trick of driving in tight areas if you have an auto trans . Learn to do the braking with your left foot so you can hold the throttle smooth .

I hardly ever get any attention with the truck .Below is a pick taken just an hour ago at Walmart. Grown men walking within a couple of feet of the truck and not even notice .



It’s good to be here, and I’m glad to hear it! The city would be Detroit. I plan on modifying my automatic 2.2l s10 (wish I had manual…). I learned about gasification in school and planned on doing a modified Imbert design that I can run on chunked wood pallets since I see them for free everywhere outside shops in and around town.

I have most of the specs worked out to where I could theoretically get up to 70, but I just came across this site and learned about the WK gasifier, so I may head back to the drawing board. I’ve only ever had smoke while refueling on the small propane tank model I built, I guess I’ll have to get the book and find out what I’m doing wrong! Thanks for the input and advice Wayne.


Welcome. What about starting cold, after school? Start up smoke that is. I guess the engine, on gasoline, could eat up that smoke.

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Hello Jeff .

If you light up right on the grate there will be no smoke, or so light it shouldn’t be noticed .


The availability and ease acquiring and preparing wood is a big factor in the wood gasification daily use !! If you drive lots of miles you need lots of pounds .


If you can avoid the nails. The hearth temp is high enough that the nails will tend to fuse with ash. This makes a cleaning mess on top of the grate, and will lead to impaired function.

Two other issues with pallets - nails would be hard on a chunker, and pallets get drug around on dirty floors etc, they generally have embedded dirt and grit on the bottom.

Edit. 3 actually, the nails can be a significant poking hazard. I once had a board slip, came down against my leg driving a nail into the front of my thigh. Took some force to get it out. Luckily it didn’t drive pant fibers into the wound and get infected…

I’m not saying they aren’t a good source of wood, but just keep in mind that the wood is best cut from the clean side, and cut out the parts full of nails.

Btw, I find putting a pallet flat on cleats on a concrete floor, and knocking them apart with a sledge held like a tamper is most effective.


When i cut pallets up for gasifier, i cut around the nails, save the boards with nails for my house wood heating. Though chunking wood works best with green wood if useing a chunker, most just start out with table saw and hachet for sizing if needed.The hard wood skids go twise as far as soft wood.


Welcome to the group from one Michiganders to another. We would like to hear more about the gasifier you built and what you did with the gas generated. Now to your question----- of all of us running on wood gas , no one has reported a problem with police outside of those who have to have annual inspections. You will be working with what I would call a small engine so you could think ‘‘small’’ in the design of a gasifier. This plays into your concerns about driving in town. There are many builds in this group of gasifiers for small engines but if you want to keep your gasifier where it won’t be conspicuous, look for Kristijan’s build. He put an entire system in a container on his back bumper of a car. In one build he hid the cooling pipes in the frame that held the pacifier box. Another, he ran cooling pipes under the car. TomC PS. Just for giggles, you might try hooking your first built gasifier to your truck. There are several videos of members doing that.


Hi Connor,
another possibility might be a charcoal gasifier. Have a look at Kristijan’s Mercedes, Bruce’s MGB, Don Manne’s GeoTracker or Gary Gilmore’s Ranger.
Also Koen’s and Bob’ gasifiers.
Chracoal benefits for city driving and a small engine: Smaller and lighter gasifier and filter, no smoke during lighting, fast lighting process.
Downside: You have to make your own charcoal. You can use the pallets for this at well, but you need a charcoal retort.
On the other hand, you have to process the wood for a gasifier also somewhere.
Personally, I would tend to charcoal, but that is a personal taste and choice.


Til has sayd it well. I drove 4 vehicles on biomass by now, both wood and charcoal and l can say both have their advantiges but in your case, l wuld go with charcoal. As for fuel prepping, its actualy easyer for me to make and process charcoal thain wood. And certainly faster! It is possible to make charcoal out of green wood, while a wood gasifier requires seasoned wood. Easyer to extract nails out of charcoal too


Wow, you guys are chock full of ideas. As far as pallets go I can find 20 or so a day if I needed that many by just looking on craigslist within a couple mile radius of my house. I also know of a few fabrication shops that have scrap wood bins out back that are free for whoever wants them. If I need to supplement beyond that I have a few dozen acres of woods nearby that I already scavenge from. The local DNR site also has a 10-15 foot tall pile of various wood scraps that they told me I could use. As far as nails I already planned on disassembling the planks and removing nails before breaking them down, that’s what I do when I chip them for my smaller version. While I do appreciate the concern about cuts, I was a roofer during the summers in Highschool and for few years after. I’d like to think I’m somewhat versed in the art of not getting stabbed, but you can never be too careful.

I never thought about the dirt! I figured a cyclone and filter combo would take care of any particulates but I can see how it might cause problems in the gasifier before it ever got to the engine, especially if any metal shavings get in. I may end up relying on the woods/DNR site and supplement with shop scrap/pallets as needed instead.

As far as charcoal I was already really considering it but my problem is I’m not far from lake St. Clair and the prevailing winds here are pretty strong, they tend to keep smoke low to the ground and send it to my closest neighbors house. I would be pretty limited on the days I can make fuel unless I wanted to be a jerk. Although I guess I could probably just set up a retort in the woods nearby, just have to make sure it’s out of sight as there’s a homeless crowd that camps back there sometimes and I’d be worried they might scrap it or something.

The small gasifier which I built was overkill for a class project and put out enough to run a 7.5 HP generator, It should work with quite a bit more but that is what I had to test it on. I also don’t think it burns the cleanest since its just a FEMA with extra filtration, so I’m scared to run it through there for long. Thank you everyone, I really appreciate the input. I’ve already got lots more to think about.


Hey Connor,
I am liking your ideas. I intend my wood supply to come from scrap pallets and slash / scrap piles as well. I am planning on building a WK Style gasifier for my pickup. They guys on this site are saying to me “get started already!”. Great bunch of people on this forum. You should plan to go to the Argos, IN “Family Reunion” wood-gas meet in mid-May. Sounds like you live in the 'burbs and commute to WSU or UD or somewhere like that. I am a Detroit kid from the north suburbs also near Lake St. Clair. Used to go out on the ice with my motorcycle in winter, near Metro-Beach Metropark. That was 1970’s :roll_eyes::smirk:


You a Macomb county boy too? The house I grew up in was right in between 16 mile and Jefferson about a mile from Metro beach, spent a lot of time out on the ice with atv’s and a truck a few times. Some crazy guy I know even brings a semi out when it’s thick enough, don’t know how he works up the nerve for that though. I’m just north of the air base now but you got it right, I go to Wayne State. I may just have to try and get out to Argos if I can get this thing up and running in time.


Good morning Connor

If you use a stainless steel grate I wouldn’t worry too much about a few nails. You can run a strong magnet down to the grate and bring out any that doesn’t past on through .

You can go to our Wood Supply thread and maybe get more ideas on wood supply . I just stress if a woodgaser does a lot of driving it takes a lot of wood.

Just another note . I think I would feel at home at Lake St Clair.

My farm is on St Clair road in a community of St Clair Springs in the county of St Clair. :grinning:


Hi Connor,
you’re right, under this conditions charring some wood is challenging.
There is a thread about avoiding smoke during charring because of the same problem.

Maybe this can give you some good ideas?

With a wood-gasifier it is also sometimes impossible to avoid some smoke during lighting, refueling or working on it. Of course it can be limited by proper handling.
Just keep this in mind.
Not to discourage you, but as many others already said it, be realistic on your situation (wood supply, vehicle limits, neighbours and so on) to avoid later frustration.


Sounds Like you grew up in my old house. I am living / working near Ft. Wayne, Indiana now. Come to Argos just to meet people and see what they have built. It is a 3 day long brainstorming session, with good food and fun. I can’t over-sell the benefits of attendance. There are some overseas folks that would give a tooth to be there. I figure for you its about a 4 hour drive.


All good advice’s ConnerH, now that you have clarified your where, what and why’s.

Mike LaRosa in Linden Wisconsin has woogasifies two? different Chevy S10 pickups. He did a modified Inbert constricted hearth system. Chunked up site tree woods. He came to like his GM OBD I electronic systems in his pickups. Woodgas engine power was the limitation.Two lane county/country roads he said. Then he went to GM EFI V-6’s for highway capability…

Your “legal” problems will fall into 3-4 different broad areas:
Cops looking for reasons. Do not give then reasons with bad tires, lights and shabby body work. Do not give them reason with erratic driving. Fire Marshals and Fire-Forestry is another do-not-give-them-reasons to see you as a fire-hazard problem.

Second area would be using a non-factory certified fuel creating “emissions”. Mandatory emmisions systems inspected areas, maybe a problem . . .maybe not. Surprising to most here but in the very “Activist” parts of the US just using tree-woods-for-fuels will set off many fellow road users, neighbors, and events folks. I know of one Seattle Metro area guy (a welder) had beverage cans thrown at him and follow him home Eco-Activists; agitating. He pulled off his vehicle signage. Too late. Ended up leaving the state completely.
THINK before you out in public promote; or allow yourself to be “news” highlighted.

The third area is vehicle insurance. One western European fellow wishes he NEVER had asked. Just done.
One in Wales fellow now has gone hidden silent. Safety and Fitness hammered.
And any vehicle registered to me gets called in physically inspected twice a year by my insurance company.

So it is the one’s who think they can change-the-world who get hammered the worst.
I actually in the “woodgas” efforts know of at least 12-15 had to quit, move-away, go very very quiet.

Mum-the-word on all things fun/interesting/and exploratory that would frighten the current established mainstream lock-steppers
tree-farmer Steve unruh


Sorry about that . . . . phone dragged away by the wifie before I could edit above.

Fourth area is road fuel tax not “contributing”.
Big, big deal by state enforcers in some areas. Even in lax enforced areas neighbors and fellow road drivers can make this an issue as you “evading your fair share”. In your face directly. Or by squealer hot-lining.

I do not wish to frighten you away. DOing with no problems is more that just luck. YOU can control this by vehicle years selection and you own promotions.

I’m from the do not ask (openly promote); and do not tell (openly promote) era. Older version of the same was, “Better to ask for forgiveness, than to ask for permission.”
tree-farmer Steve Unruh