What's your motivation to drive on wood?

Hello all,

A subject often only briefly mentioned. Sure, mostly a woodgasproject starts with a thrill and once it gets you, there is no way back. Woodgas addiction (please do not inhale!) is surely one motivation to drive on wood. But there are more.

I’ll kick off with mine. For me it started with the magic of driving on an accessable fuel like wood. That never went away and probably never will, despite the drawbacks. Fuel cost is not a motivation for me. Invested money and labor would pay me enough dino fuel for the miles I drive. Taking it to a higher level, and proclaiming that wood is a more sustainable fuel, compared to fossil fuels, is only partly true. The manufacturing of cars and parts still needs a lot of fossil input. I consider driving on wood either as a crisis method, when petrol is temporary not availably like in WW2. Or, should we ever have to go back to low tech mobility, like driving horses, then motoring on wood is a nice way to use up old cars…

Other than that, an important motivation for me is developing a craft. Should necessity ever become urgent, it is nice to be years ahead of the mob. The small anarchist in my loves to put up a thick middle finger when passing a big oil gas station. So independency is also a motivation, but only a small one. Being independend of transportation in general would be much better. Of course in a small and flat country like mine that is easier to achieve, than in the US. Independency and self sufficiency are in general the key words in my life.

Well, so far my reasons to drive on wood, despite I have no real need to drive a lot. What are yours?



my main motivation is purely the technical challenge of doing something that no one locally has any clue how to do and get it to work right…plus i am an maintenance/fab engineer by trade and was impressed by your (DJ’s) stainless gasifier looks and apparant performance (carburation issues aside)… but a WK type hearth would better suit the softwood that is available to me

personaly i have no use for a woodgas truck, my driving cycles are too short, and apart from the morning 6 miles to work, are most of the time at no notice so i couldn’t spark up the gas generator anyway.

my parents on the other hand have a nissan civilian motorhome and think nothing of doing 300-400km to a nice place to stay for the night…well they think nothing of the drive, the fuel cost on the other hand is a constant irritation that seriously bites into the wine and cheese funds…and means they can only get away about every second weekend

So a trailer mounted gas producer is on the cards, if that works as well they seem to from evidence on this forum/site, my father is making noises of a turbo LPG/Woodgas conversion on the motorhome to try and regain the power lost when running on woodgas as between me and him we have nearly all the parts needed

my other motivation is an interest in the G3 type gasifier and wanting to try and see if it can be fueled on blocks of wood about 1/2" to 5/8" square-ish…the guy (client at work) that got me first interested in woodgas is running a genset 24/7 that is being fueled by a modified autofeed 7" G3 with venturi water scrubbers, he is using it to power his large dairy farms rotary milking shed and is grid tied, saving about $4000 a month in electric power…unfortunatly he has visions of making a fortune from “his” gasifier design and won’t let anyone look at it,lol its in a locked 12ft high walled enclosure with for real razor wire alone the top…i know his fuel blocks are about an inch and a half square, because i built the mechanical and hydraulic side of the processor that makes them…which makes me think 1/2" blocks might work on a smaller one around the 4" size.

Plus i have alot of wood on my land, gasifing it just seems more interesting than simply throwing it in a woodstove

lol thats alot of typing…i’d better go to bed

Great topic John!

My main motivation started out as just wanting one! I just wanted a wood powered truck, didn’t need one, just wanted it. Having little cash, you can’t buy what you want, you usually have to make it. So I designed and built a gasifier (what a flop). Later getting to build one with Wayne was a dream come true.

My other motivations fit closely together. Since I was very young I wanted to be an “inventor”, not even knowing what I wanted to invent. Favorite movie being Back to the Future, where Doc Brown builds this amazing flying car/time machine running on plutonium and banana peels. Now Mr Fusion has come full circle. I had a good selection of classic car books, studied books about engines, and began working on real engines about 3 years before this project started. Part of my fascination is just a love of cars.

Fire has always fascinated me too. I’ve come closer to burning the house down than anyone in our family, and there’s usually smoke or odd smells coming from my workshop area. I love smoking meat. Played at blacksmithing for a while. Any excuse to play with fire. Of course gasification is the most magical fire you can play with.

Another part of me is interested in better MPGs (my other car is a 50MPG Geo Metro). Partly to save the planet, but mostly to save my wallet, and for bragging rights. My first car was an old farm truck that barely got 3MPG piddling around the farm. Always pouring gas in that thing. So I started looking into alternatives. Homebrew alcohol was my first choice, but turned out to be expensive to make. Steam engines also intrigue me, but steam is very dangerous and making an engine requires a machine shop. Woodgas got a second look when I realized it was a way to control fire, meaning you could use solid fuels for a vehicle - talk about cheap! And anyone can get started with just a welder and scrap steel.

So I got hooked on woodgas. An addiction I will find hard to break. :slight_smile:


Haven’t ever actually driven on wood, but have high hopes to change that within the next several months.

My motivation is not so much to drive on wood, but to capture every area of my life and bring it under the broader heading of “participating in life’s essentials.” We had our babies at home because we believe that childbirth is not a disease to be treated, and wanted to participate in the process rather than just pay the “experts” to do it for us. We school our children at home because we feel like it’s our responsibility to have a first-hand role to play in their formative development. We raise a lot of our own vegetables, and raise and slaughter our own animals because we like to have some say about what goes into our mouths. Driving on wood is simply another small brick in our wall of “life participation.”


Hi John, Good to hear from you again. Basically when we invaded Iraq and Afghanistan I converted a car to electric to show there were other ways to get around. Then when Katrina hit a few years later and there were 3000 bloated bodies floating around while our national guard were busy fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan instead of being here to help, It was time to drive on wood again. Those folks never signed up to be shipped overseas … Every time I’m driving down the road on 100% wood I just laugh my ars off. It is one of the simple pleasures in life. Cost is irrelevant compared to the cost in lives to deliver the cheap oil. I enjoy your stainless work … It’s way beyond my abilities. The years are catching up fast … Mike LaRosa


Ok Its the Money. As in not useing my money to drive = more independance. I often experiment with the weird so this is on the normal side for me.

I do it for the same reasons I raise bees, keep a garden, brew my own beer, and raise chickens. I just don’t like the thought of being dependent on someone else. This mentality does not always result in spending less money. In fact it would be cheaper for me to buy my eggs from Weaver Eggs than to raise my own chickens. Likewise, I am still upside down on cost to build a gasifier vs. savings from using less gasoline. I expect this gap will gradually close this coming summer as gas prices continue to rise and as I drive on wood more frequently with the warm temperatures. If the supply of gasoline ever dries up I will still be able to get from here to there. Knowing that gives me peace.

A secondary reason is that I believe the human brain is always either growing or wasting away. I choose to keep challenging my brain to learn new things while most of my peers sit on the couch and watch television. We only get one shot at this life and I want to do the most with the time I have on this planet. Taking a foreign idea like using wood to power an internal combusion engine, and running with it until I sat there and saw it happen right in front of my eyes definitely challenged my brain to think in ways it was not used to thinking. I believe that is a very good thing. I like this thread. I am glad you brought it up Dutch John.


Hello DJ, great to hear from you and hope all is well on your side of the pond.

The reason I got into gasification was because it was something new to me that I didn’t fully understand but I knew it had been done by many in Europe during the war years. If it had been done then why was it not in use now? I have always like to build and I blessed with plenty of wood so I made a go at it.

At first the gasifier was a toy or novelty and pretty much a hobby. Over the years the gasifier has evolved into a tool that I use every day. Over the years some of my other jobs and profession I would start out wide open with plenty of enthusiasm and learn every detail like the palm of my hand but after a few years the new would wear off and it would be just a job.

Even after eight years of gasification I can’t wait to get out first thing of the morning and put the fire to the gasifier and do all the farm chores . Also I never thought I would be volunteering to drive the wife on all her shopping and to drive into town to pick the son up from after school activities but I do and I enjoy it.

I think one thing that keeps me motivated about the gasifier is along the same lines as John C. pointed out, the gasifier keeps us thinking. I doubt that any of us will live long enough to learn ALL the tricks of a gasifier , I know I won’t. There are so many variables with a gasifier vehicle combination that they are too numerous to mention. The motivation is like an addiction to the game of chess . We can lay awake at night trying to plan our next move on the gasifier and when we really think we have it figured out the chess board will changes a little and we start the thinking process again.

Keep in mind the other 99.9 % of the population has to bow to the oil cartel , this group may choose to gesture otherwise .


I couldn’t have said it better with my own words than Alex did:

"My motivation is not so much to drive on wood, but to capture every area of my life and bring it under the broader heading of “participating in life’s essentials.”

All my peers tell me I’m a backwards thinker, that may be true in the eye of the beholder. If you break the mold of what society defines for you, I guess you could be considered a little backwards. I just don’t like being dependent on everything as they are. I tell my peers about a guy in Alabama running his truck on wood and they shake their head as if I had three. When the power fails in a storm I seem not to be so backwards at all for I am prepared while they sit in their house cold - complaining and want to come over for a hot cup of tea. Some things I grow myself like apples, cherries etc but as John C said I could probably buy them cheaper at the suppermarket. Price isn’t everything - “give a man a fish he will eat for a day, but if you teach a man to fish…” . .
I may or may not build a gasifier, I may never need to drive on wood but I certainly want to know how, and have the knowledge at my fingertips.
Wayne’s book will be a very important tool for “participating in life’s essentials”
I’m also tickled to finally find a group of people on this site that push the envelope of what is possible with common everyday resourses that can be found just about anywhere and don’t mind sharing what they know with others.
Hat’s off to all that have tackled the building and operating of a gasifier, I thank you.

Hello Steve,

Some of my peers here I call the 911 culture. They believe what ever happens they just dial 911 and all will be OK. They refuse to make any kind of preparedness and to take the advice of any warnings.

Playing with wood fire was always a facination to me and wanted to make wood alcohol to run an engine but never made it work.When I was a kid,I wrapped toothpicks in tinfoil and set them on the hot element of our electric range and lit the smoke and watched the flame till it went out and then opened the foil and saw the black toothpicks.Went hunting a few years later with my dad and uncle and while they napped after a morning hunt,I put a bunch of twigs into the pot and set it alongside the fire and watched it burn off.They made me scrub the pot out when they saw the tarry mess inside.
Over the years I observed that as our countries have prospered,we became lazy and dependent on outside sources for our goods such as food,clothes and fuel much like a lab rat that presses a button and food drops out,we don’t give much thought to where our supplies come from or how secure they may be,When our town was flooded and cut off from the world for only three days a few years ago,many panicked and there were runs on the grocery stores and gas station.We had plenty in the pantry to go around.
We have been watching a series called Wartime Farm and it is interesting to see how Britain had to pull out old technology to survive in the early part of the war as supplies were cut off by U boats and how the people rolled up their sleeves,dragged out ancient farm equipment from the turn of the century and prospered.(most of their food at that time was imported.)
To me the economics don’t play into it at all,instead it is a shot at independence and possiblility to be a help in a crisis instead of helpless and it’s enjoyable to show local people that there are alternatives to petroleum.Some wag commented how it was time consuming and impractical and I told him it beats walking anyday and one pound of wood propelling a truck,passengers and a load down the road at 50 mph isn’t too shabby.

But the #1 reason is,it’s a gas!

WOW, Great topic. Thanks D.J. Just last week a high school boy asked me: “Why did you build it?” I wasn’t sure why. Money is always a consideration, but it will be a long time before it pays for itself, so no, that’s not it. I’m not a show-off or a “groupy” so it’s not for attention. I’m 67, and guess I’ve just always enjoyed the “build”, the challenge, and the sense of independence when you can “do-it-yourself”. I built my house, built my business, invented machinery to do the job, and now, by the generosity of Wayne and other, I’ve built a wood powered truck. It’s the road less traveled, but the ability to create is very satisfying. I hope I can help maintain a proud legacy from WWII to today, of those who can produce, and will not quit. I guess I did it because I never had, I knew I could, and I wanted to.

But, that said, we are saving money, we are a great group, we do get attention, fame even, and we are having too much fun!

Well, so far I see mostly likewise minds. Carl, I recognize the “Why did you build it?” question. It still is difficult to explain it to the average person. Many engineers do understand it. Sometimes they even understand the magic that leads to the addiction.

Like Alex, my wife and I try to get as much out of life as possible, not by brain killing consumption, but by exploring out of the box. Butchering your own raised meat gives great respect for food. Every meat-eater should once in a while slaughter an animal. If not, he or she should become vegetarian. Chopping your own car fuel is time consuming, but gives that same respect for resources.

Mr Wayne, I too can have nightly eureka moments. On the other hand, it is good to step back a few months from time to time. Do some completely different stuff and look again to gasification with a fresh mind. Rereading wartime literature with an open mind also gives new insights.


Here’s a picture of me, my second oldest son, and one of the neighbor kids moving our meat birds from a small coop to a bigger one.

While not exatly driving on wood at this time I am developing simple methods of using wood to power devices such as log splitters or electric gen sets. Wife thinks I am obsessed with charcoal and charcoal gasification and in a way she is correct. Also lets me know how “cumbersome” it is to use charcoal as a motor fuel. So with this overwhelming support why do I continue to sink money time and energy into it? Many of you have hit the nail on the head. A sense of independence (the comma isn’t working) a sense of discovery a sense of finding something that has no or little value can do the same work as something that has high value (wood vs gasoline) and sense of purpose. We know what we are doing has meaning even if others are mocking us. We tend to see a bigger picture and realize we need to help ourselves first before we can help others. Wayne’s observation of the 911 culture is all too real. A disaster hits who do you call? FEMA and ask for a bail out? No not this group. We also share a sense of excitement of discoveries and a willingness to share. We all realize there is not a lot of money to make in this small scale gasification endevor. Wayne could patent his firetube design but hasn’t. I could patent some of my charcoal gasifier ideas but won’t. Others of you are sharing ideas and knowledge that is extemely valuable. What ever the reason we “drive on wood” the bottom line is we enjoy it for many reasons but in the end it sure is a GAS!
Gary in PA


Thanks for bringing this up DJ. I am like minded like all who dwell here. love to learn,build,think,eat what you cach, grow what you eat,ect. This is a phrase I like to use when the question is asked why would you do that?..Cuz I can.

Hey Thanks GaryPA
As a fellow never ever having driven a mile on woodgas I have been standing aside on this one.

So, if DJ will forgive me, let me rephrase his very appropriate WHY topic lead into my own words:
“What is my motivation to power my life with wood?” O.K. . . . .

Look at this picture set . . . . sigh, this format will NOT let me insert them here.

All these pictures are a just a few of the other fingers on the full two hands of a Life my wife and I were raised in, and have chosen to go back to, to be better, responsible, Human Beings with a stewardship for the Future - - for what We would leave behind to those who will follow on after us.
If you understand these pictures you will know wood gasification should never be more than just one finger on the the full two hands of capabilties needed for living as personally, responsibly, free, and independent as possible.
All my Internet blabbed gasification efforts are to show people who would understand these pictures that they are not alone, not crazy, not stupid for wanting to get back some personal control over thier lives.

Anyone interested I can lay out valid reasons heating with your own wood WILL add ten years to your life. Proven. Priceless.
Growing at least a percentage of your produce, your own eggs and meats IS actually cheaper and healthier for ALL: you, the critters, your neighbors and Mother Earth. Priceless too.
Doing these things along with personal use wood gasification means you chose to be an active responsible productive Producer in Life instead of an always in debt passive spirit numbed down Consumer.

As far building to drive on wood . . . I have been very skeptical that loosing out again this capabilty would lead to the short sighted raping of trees AGAIN. Naw. ArvidO is correct . . people are far too numbed, too dumbed down, too myopic push button lazy now for more than a percent of a percent to ever actually get to the point of needing to use the woodfuel for driving.

My last picture veiwed past the apple tree has our woodlot in the background.
I will build now to drive on wood to offset the Caesar dollars I must now pay out for the Caesar Blood Oil and use my tree wood fuel instead - WayneK and others here have shown me now this is realistic today DOable. The then those freed up Caesar dollars can go instead to pay the unavoidable annual Caesar dollars needed for the annual Caesar taxes to keep our tree property we already own.
Ha! Ha! No. They will not take eggs, meats, produce or even firewood as Direct Barter.

Steve Unruh


Steve, My neighbor is raising chickens and has a very loud rooster despite it is against the law to have poultry within 1000 feet of a residence in the Village. Best eggs I have had in years and all the immediate neighbors like the noise. Another neighbor’s barking hound dogs need to be moved to his basement or shot :o) … I hope no one will complain about the chickens. I see people smile when they hear that rooster crow. The neighbor is very considerate and doesn’t open the hen house up until most people have gone to work and then scoots them back in when he gets home from work. I have a 10 year old cat that I’m waiting for it to croak and I plan to have no more living things to take care of after that so I can travel some. Trying to survive the flu right now. Have had it 2 weeks … Not fun … At least I have a big woodpile and can stay warm. New grand daughter born this morning in Milwaukee. Wifey is with kids there. I hope my left lung survives this assault … I have no sense of smell or taste at the moment … Next year I think I will get a flu shot and a pneumonia one despite the controversy about them. Supposed to get 6 inches of snow tonight. Wifey took the snow shovel with her so the snow will be waiting for her when she gets back. I will just stomp it down where I have to go … ML

Hey MikeL
You hang in there man. You the one of the ones to know the real vaue to woodheating. Bone warms you yeah. Then makes you get up and about every couple of hours to move around, bend streach and restoke. For me it also once a day a 200+ pounds of block pick up’s to the splitter, fine split it, wheelbarrow it and then into the houses armload pack this 200 pounds of aerobatic exercise.
Only wifies ever complained about any one of the roosters, the white Junior III in the picture for morning 4:30 dark crowing. Nice old fellow - I reprievd him and gave him to a more rural neighbor. Ha! Ha! Only neighbor crowing complaint ever voiced to me. Having a rooster around ups my lay rate by about 20% year round. Shhh. Secret. Along with daily cut up fruit/melon/pumpkin treats even snuck blueberrys. 150 watts of red heat lamp. 6 hours daily out and about scratching. Real pampered critters, eh?
Yes we and others really like our eggs. My wife is much tougher than me and uses give away eggs as people worthiness qualifiers.
No cartons back, no empty canning jars back and you are out in her book. Just get the smile then.
Worthy: they then get meats, wood, trust and even some directed “Husband Steve’s mechanical and bodyguard service”.
A couple of photo’s of some of the other dogs and cats in the family. We age overlap for continuity.
Congrats. Clean new baby things are one of the best things to life to keep a fellow going.

Steve Unruh

Steve, That’s quite the rat. Puts meaning into the phrase “well I’ll let you get back to your rat killin” that Wayne always uses … M