Woodgas for a short commute

Howdee folks. I’m way tied up with life in general, but I can still look to the future.

I now have a steady commute of 7.7 miles each way, and will for the foreseeable future. This will be my daily driver.

What do you think? Should I get back into a WK Dakota build, and just accept the extra wood burned for warm-ups? Go for something small and charcoal based? Or just burn old dinosaurs for the commute, and save the woodgassing for farm work and trips into town?

I also realize an electric vehicle would be perfect for this short of a distance. However I have no inclination to invest that much money in transportation at this point. Bicycling is not really an option, because 4 of the miles are on a busy highway.

Looking for feedback from both sides of the aisle… :smile:


Hi Chris, congrats on all in your new life. Being your short commute, why not double duty a bigger truck you could also use on the farm?


LOL. I have kicked around the idea of first learning about CNG vehicles. Then, once I had that under control maybe looking into ways to put filtered, compressed woodgas in the tank. NG IS the cheapest commercially available energy source. :slight_smile: But this would cost money, and you have a young family. Just burn some dinos and read and study for the time being until you get a little wiggle room. Hands on is great but it costs.

I would vote for a 90s car, probably a 2L, to have the excessive factory horsepower for downrating, and go for charcoal.

@KristijanL has basically written the manual on compact charcoal builds. I’d likely do a hitch mount on a Cavalier or Neon.

And be watching with great interest, as that is a project I wouldn’t mind taking on… :slightly_smiling_face:

You’ve got the land to be able to get into large scale charcoal production…


I guess it all depends on the size of your wood pile and the size if you junk pile. If you can get things going almost for free it’s definately worth it. I like @trikebuilder57’s idea - one for all. Not everyone can afford having a separate Sunday truck :wink:

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Wood gas electric? Find yourself a fiero and electrify it. Billy has the motor that you need. Then build a home stationary unit for charging it and also for home off grid charging. You now have a wood gas vehicle that goes at the flip of a switch.

My S-10 project may become electrified at some point.


Good Morning ChrisKY,
I myself have been impressed with those having fullsized WK’ed trucks to be able to hours fuel electric generators.
And now very realistic just how hard it is to tiny-bits-sized fuel prep, operate and maintain a small bulk wood gasifier for those same electrical generators.

You need/use electrical power at home and on the Farm.
You need /use electrical power at your work.

I’d say build up the truck system you’d need for your farm work.
Pre-lite-off that loaded hard on the farm electrical generating/water pump-lift storing and even air tank storing until you would drive this rig to work.
“Convince” them at work you’d set up a generator battery system to use the heat-gas-making run-down on this truck system for thier benefit. Or if they use compressed air. . . parallel salvaged tank them up with a day supply of air using down the big truck gasifier production.
Could be a business green-energy promotion and even a tax write off.

Have a dino car for the family outings.

“Go with what you know”
Steve unruh


Hi Chris, good to hear from you. My commute is 5.5 miles, and I can’t help but wonder if the “miles per start-up” ratio is what is causing my acid attacks on the system. Do short trips rob you of the proper condensate managing requirements to maintain a healthy system? Just a thought.


In North America an older car like a Cavalier can be found in excellent shape and low kms for maybe $1,500 (Cdn). I would say the Cavalier was about the best built north American vehicle in the last 25 years. And parts were interchangeable for a number of years, lots of parts vehicles. The 4 cylinder Japanese engines were tank grade. Insurance might be an obstacle, but in some places maybe not.

The Cavaliers seat 5, so there would be family expansion room… :wink: And at least here I know small children can’t ride in the front part of a vehicle…


I am with Matt on this one. For a short range you could make an electric car. I would probably go old school on the project find an old fork truck for the doner. When I was in college in the mid 90s we built an electric car with a 100 mile range on 10 lead acid deep cycle marine batteries which would hit highway speeds. You can find a used forklift pretty cheap. Then like others have said you can use a WK setup on a farm truck and generator.

Ok it just hit me you can pick up a used Nissan leaf for around $5,000 which will still have something like a 60 mile range. It would do your 7 miles for sure.


This is exactly how we look at our old Volvos.

When I mentioned “afford” I was even thinking in terms of time and effort maintaining two woodgas vehicles.
Might be a little easier in a non-inspection area.


Hello Chris and Family,
Are you still working with the BCS equipment folks? The Waco Texas BCS Homestead Maintenance (Mr. Shahar Yarden) has been repairing Nissan Leaf battery packs for customers, and I think his family drives some of these Leafs. Last time I emailed him he was heading out to do some work in New Zealand. His phone number is 254-829-2474, and he might be someone you should talk to about electric cars and battery pack repair.
I own a 2011 very early Nissan Leaf (original battery) which now has a total range of about 45 miles at best (73 miles when new). This car seems to be bulletproof, and has never been to the dealer for anything other than to have the battery analyzed, just before the warranty expired. We also own a Tesla (range of over 315 miles, 155 mph top speed) for longer trips, but the Nissan is our “grocery store and errand runner”. It has a trailer hitch for a small Harbor Freight trailer, but the large hatch-back door is quite useful for hauling bulky items.
Charging is done mostly with 115 volt ac where it draws about 1300 watts, so no special EVSE is required. We don’t have the Fast Charge option. That means it charges at slightly over 5 mph, vs the Tesla which charges at 500 mph. I charge both cars from my grid-tied PV array, where excess power is only worth 5 cents/kWh, so I can drive for about a penny per mile.
Perhaps you can locate a salvageable EV that you can purchase and repair. Use it to get your feet wet.
I emailed Mr. Yarden about finding a junk yard battery pack to replace the one in my old Leaf. He implied the labor cost would not be very much to swap them out.


Yeah, in a non inspection area, even here, a vehicle like that could just be driven till it falls apart. It could be a simple project.


Hi Chris
I would probably suggest a charcoal powered car or a wood burner to use on the farm as well. Kristijan and Don Manes both have good charcoal designs. Charcoal takes more time to make than to chunk wood. With a single vehicle you are not buying a tag or paying insurance on another vehicle. Wk’s take 250 + hours to make; so do you have time to build one? Charcoal set up would probably be faster and cheaper than a wood set up. Just some thoughts. Jakob


Just a quick note if you have more cars then drivers the insurance for a second car is almost nothing. I have had a sports car and a pickup for years and the multi vehicle discount basically makes the policy the same cost as if I had a single vehicle.


Hi chris good Questain, i was thinking maybe an old fashen toyota corola or any hi powered little 4 cyclinder car, bake the wood in an oven too get it down extra dry so it would be hot enough pulling with the 4 cyl cars 2.0 2.3 or less.too not have any tar build up. maybe a little extra filters would be easyer than running through a lot of wood just too have too size whats left in the char barrel.? maybe just a small lugage trailer. A 15 inch hopper and what ever size WK BURN TUBE assembly and a small ash area should be out of the wind OK. Of coarse a charco set up would be lighter posibly with nearly no cooling needed.


I know everybody situation will be different and it will be hard for me to put myself in Chris’s boots. For me if I needed to do short trips of 10 miles or less I usually drive my big truck 2500 dodge ram 4x4. I have enough wood available that using extra for the trip compared to a small car or truck will not be noticed .

The bigger truck will work OK for the short trips but most of all it is a work horse around a farm or homestead. Here where I am there are no tags or insurance for trailers . With the truck and different trailers there are a lot of work that they can done. I use 9 different trailers for doing several jobs. Noway I could afford several different trucks to do these jobs.

In short I think any homesteader or farmer needs a work truck and if that farmer has plenty of wood let that truck handle short trips and commuting also .


I had a 69 or so stick shift (floor) Corolla. It was a little tank, one of the best used cars I’ve ever owned!
Great in snow, too!


And older friend of my dads gave me a old corola and it really got good gas milege and ran great sounded good and smooth tuned. the rest of the car companys are all as good the same now day i think. That car does bring back gas saveing memorys in deed. Though i agree with Wayne on keeping the truck rolling, once you drive a little buggy, you allways wishing you had the truck for unsuspected work or fun.The power too weight ratio might not be there on small fuel mizers, so end up screaming the rpms too move around on wood, An electric car would be good on that distance and could be charged with wood or like koen said electric hybrid chargeing on charco, A lota rigging and charing in limited time frames and still feed the cows hay/water/vitimins/


Hi, Carl!

You have documented this phenomenon for years. Have you reduced the silo-filling to suffice for this 10—12 minute trip just above the nozzle plane?

If you maintain higher levels, the “distillation” zone will just satturate the higher levels which still are cool enough to function as a good surface-condenser for the up moving steam…

This is like a snake eating its own tail…

If you keep the cold wood there at every close-down, you develope a constant
accid atmosphere… Hand-warm wood does not dry without open ventilation, but that needs bayby-sitting to avoid open flaring. Not under trees…

Pre-dry the daily wood at home?
One part for driving to work, and
the other part for driving home; to be kept dry outside the gasifier during workday.