Woodgas for a 30' boat

Pretty simple, I’m going to be making a 30’ boat and I need help finding a good type of engine thatll run off of woodgas. Iv looked threw the internet but at this point i’m pretty lost. The boat doesn’t need to go fast and around 150 HP (Inboard) is good. I don’t know much about engines. Halp
-Edit: this’ll be a sailboat and the engine wont be running constantly.

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Hey Caiden. I don’t know the answer to your question, but I thought it kind of ironic that “God Himself” would have to ask such a question. LOL


Hello Caiden .

Here is a link you might read over and get some ideas .


If I were looking for a motor to power the 30 foot boat I would go with a V-8 with over 200 HP ( gasoline )

One that you can advance the ignition timing when running on woodgas .

Also multi-port fuel injection with the ability to run gasoline, woodgas or a mixture of the two.

The motor that I personally would look for would be a 5.2 L dodge, years 1994 -96

There may be many others that would be just as good or better but these are the ones I know will work good from my experience .


Welcome to the DOW Caiden.
You will need to define just how you want this 30 foot boat to serve your needs.
Many, many historic examples abound about 30-40 foot boats that were powered with wood. Steam side-wheelers, screw prop jobs. And later spark ignition engine types needs-must converted to be fed wood gas.
Some of these 30 foot and better boats were inland canal boats. Some rivers boats. Some big lakes boats. And even some; 1930-40’s sea’s fishing boats.
Can’t say many had even 100 horsepower shaft engines. Real-use marine is heavy loads carrying and get-you there past currents, winds, tides; dependably.
Pictures of all of these shows decks stacked with wood-fuel. Wood fuel is space taking up bulky compared to fossil coal, liquid fuels.
Mayhaps you will need to be building a 50 foot, and a wide beam boat to accommodate the fuel wood and woodgasifier/filter space needs to have adequate space left for living quarters and cargo.
How they did it up here in the Pacific NorthWest on the Washington, Oregon states; British Columbia, and Alaska territory river cargo boats fueled with wood. Shallow draft, stern-wheelers to be able to bank nose into. Protect that stern-wheel from river trash damage. Shallow draft and shallow capable stren-whell to be able to go up these rivers as far as possible. There is an excellent picture/stories book available about these. Copy suscess.

So? What are your boating needs, first?
tree-farmer Steve unruh


Hi, Caiden!

Welcome (as a “human being”) !

A 30’ boat can have many shapes, depending on intended use on inland/coastal waters.

Displacement and hullshape determines the fuel consumption/hour.
Speed determines the power demand exponentially much more pronounced than on land.

The wood volume loaded on board gives more miles for a displacement boat than a half-planing one.

A 30’ displacement boat with a smooth hull makes ~10 kn with 15 - 30 hp…

150 hp talks about planing or half-planing ambitions, which does not give many hours long trips.


The boat will be a sailboat, so it wont be using the engine much, so it wont need loads of wood or anything like that. Engine just needs to be able to move the boat past currents at harbor entrances and take me to the dock and all, wont be running very long tho

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That’s what I thought too, but everyone been saying I need a billion horsepower engine. Maybe ill think about getting something smaller

If I were to build a gasifier for a boat, the boat would be a pontoon.

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Hi Wayne

the multi port injection is better than the central injection? (for a hybrid conversion, gasoline / wood gas)


Thank you.
This helps much to define your needs.
A live-on motor-sail boat. Those in 30 footers that I’ve know were powered by 9.9-15 horsepower watercooled(warming) engines. You WILL like the abilty to have hot water and space heat!
There has been several actual small water cooled marine engines packages that have been woodgassed with good results.
Westerbeak (sp) comes to mind. Volvo’s.
Once you narrow down to an engine/hp then you can bee steered to the expected woodfuel use consumption.
Regards simple humanist
Steve unruh

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Correctly spelled Westerbeke.
this site link will give you the old model numbers. Cylinders. Power. Displacement. Check fuel types as many will be compression ignition diesel. You want a spark ignition gasoline/propane engine package. These do exist. Site search for gasoline fueled systems. It will take you to intended on-board installed engine generator systems. Buy one of these used. Drop off the generator head package and and engine install up to the marine transmission. Download their very comprehensive installation manual for guidance’s.
You said inboard installation. IF you go with original marine designs you will have much availability for pre-designed and manufactured engine to prop systems power-trains.
Adapting over an automotive to marine prop-shaft will make a whole 'nother project in and of itself. You want to avoid as many sub-projects as possible. Woodgasing-for-power becomes it’s own hurdles challenges-set.
tree-farmer Steve unruh


Hi, Caiden!

Be aware of the O-ring fitted heatexchanger tubes and electrolytically critical metal tubes of different metals!

Below elegant shining laquers there are somtimes horrible missmatching metal joints… electrolytically thinking.

They are eating metals in a few seasons, and places below the waterline inside the hull can “arrange” cathastrophical leaks when you are off board, noticing nothing.
Close all feed throughs when leaving your dear boat!

Interconnected grounding systems can ruin even perfect SS fittings and feed-

A sunk boat is expensive to restore…