Woodgas or bust!

Hello all. I’m from northeast Alabama, near the Boaz area. About an hour north of Mr. Walter Keith. Looks like there’s a few other Bama folks on here also.

I have an old truck with a small V8 which I’ve driven on LPG for the past 12k miles. It’s been great, I love it, but now propane prices have gone crazy this year. Hard times are here for me right now as I have NO INCOME nor any hope of getting any in the near future. Been reading on wood gas off and on for a while, and have decided to go ahead and build a gasifier and convert this thing over ASAP, so I can keep on driving.

I’m a skilled mechanic/fabricator, though with no wood gas experience, of course.

I have plenty of free wood available and will hopefully get a basic wood chipper soon, so hopefully I can drive for free, except for the labor, which is no problem.

I don’t have any internet at home right now so I’ve been browsing through here and saving threads to disk for reading and research offline. As my time on here is limited which slows down research efforts, I was wondering if you folks could please link me directly to whichever threads would be most helpful in getting me going on this, with all the latest knowledge you have uncovered in your ongoing woodgas experimentation? I downloaded the contents of the library, but that information may not be the most up to date.

I am a junk collector and have a bunch of stuff laying around which could be useful in getting a gasifier going. 55 gallons drums, with and without lids/bands, 20 and 100 pound propane tanks, some other useful stuff. I’ll have to buy piping to plumb into the intake, flanges, etc.

Looks like an updraft charcoal gasifier like Mr. Ramos built would be a good place to start. I just need something simple and bulletproof, as this is not just fun and games for me, but pure survival. Would also be into running raw wood with a good downdraft design. My biggest concern is bulletproof reliabiliy and lack of tar production. Can’t afford to gum up the engine and wreck it, and can’t afford to be left stranded, either. I can keep parts on hand to convert back to gas/LPG while on the road, in an emergency, but the idea is to run 100% on wood/charcoal.

Any help/advice/assistance is GREATLY APPRECIATED!! Thank you…


Hi, Dave! Welcome to the driveonwood.com forum! I probably am not the best person to reply here, but here goes for a start. One of the first considerations is wood supply. You said you have lots of free wood available, that is good. You said you may be getting a wood chipper. Usually a wood chipper makes small pieces that are really too small to be your regular fuel. There are two basic roads to follow, as you have already mentioned, those would be raw wood and charcoal. Raw wood should be cut into chunks of the average size comparable to a cigarette pack. There are lots of pathways to getting those wood chunks cut up. DOW members have built their own wood rotary chunkers from truck rear differentials, hay baler gear boxes, heavy duty gear motors, and other things. You can also cut chunks with a table saw, chop saw, buzz saw, or band saw. there is also the geared “Rebak” chunker. JO in Sweden runs a lot of sapling poles through his. More machining and heavy matched gearset required.
Charcoal can be made in numerous ways, dozens of approaches on the forum. Crunch them up into thumbnail size pieces and a Gary Gilmore “Simple Fire” gasifier is about the most simple way to run an engine on wood gas. A Wayne Keith gasifier is best built by first getting the “Have Wood Will Travel” book and getting access to the premium content on this website. You said money is an issue. In this case you will have to invest a certain amount of time, talent and treasure into a drive-able project, so may have to start small and pull yourself up by your own bootstraps. Maybe start with charcoal and a lawnmower engine. You said you have a junk supply, that will help. There is no magic solution here, no turnkey system, you must build your own.
So read up, study, check out all the good information on the “free” side. That will keep you busy for a long time, and you will learn about what works, and what may be a waste of your time.


Hello Dave, wellcome.

What Mike sayd. If ASAP, bulletproof and cheap are the first words on your mind, l see no other option thain a charcoal gasifier. You can start a bach of charcoal to cook, and before its done you will have a working char gasifier built :grin:

Realy, just take a 55 gal drum, stick a nozzle on the bottom and a gas outlet and you good to go. For nozzles, l like to use a flute style, wich is a thick walled 2"ish pipe with 2-5 holes on top. Just stick that on the bottom.

Only thing you can mess up with a gasifier like that is fuel. The charcoal needs to be well cooked (even most BBQ chars are useless!) and most importantly, of a right size! A tad too big of a size literaly is the difference between runing good and not runing at all! We like to use everything that passes between a 3/8 and a 3/4" mesh


Welcome Steve!

Well put by Mike and Kristijan. I would just want to add one more.
Restore the ability to run gasoline as your emergency fuel.
If you happen to stall caught in traffic, you may be able to crank back up on woodgas 9 times outof 10, but…
If you want to move your truck only a 100 yards…
If someone else needs to drive your truck… etc etc.
Driving just about every day I waste 10-20 gallons a year. With little effort I could cut that in half , but it would mean a lot of extra work to use even less.
Not to mention extra wear on the starter, battery and blowers.


Welcome to the site Dave. First I’d see if I could line up a visit to the North family. They also live in your state. I know they are busy but you could learn more from them in a couple hours than a month of reading will get you. Watch the Gary Gilmore video’s on Youtube if you haven’t all ready. Charcoal gasifiers can be very easy to build but nozzles are always a learning and experimenting challenge. The Nozzle threads on the site are long but primary. The one thing every builder on the site will tell you is get off your ass and build something. Reading without trial and error is a dead end.


Good morning Dave and welcome to the DOW :blush:

Yes if you are around Boaz you are close by. I have driven through Boaz and Albertville often. Very nice drive up through your neck of the woods and on up through Guntersville and Scottsboro and then over the mountain through Skyline and on into TN . ( Davey Crockett neck of the woods )

If you will drop by I will show what I am doing and give you a ride in a couple of vehicles . If you would like we can load you up a load of processed wood to take back with you .

Wife and I will be chunking wood today . :blush:

Fun, fun, fun.
I mention to wife now and then about your chunking co-operation. Also, showed her your videos of chunking and Lisa shoveling and bagging.
No sign of message recieved yet :thinking:


The same with my Dana, preparing wood for wood gas, it is not her thing. Ha ha. But she is all about a camp fire and cooking over it. Especially out in the forest camping. Go figure.


I don’t think you guys understood what kind of wood Wayne was planning to chunk.


Why is my mind always in the gutter? :roll_eyes:


Thank you everyone for the warm welcome! Lots of wisdom and knowledge on this forum. Seems like a great group of guys. I love reading the experiences of different folks around the world.

Been doing a lot of reading last night and today, and also experimenting with charcoal production all day. I have several good sized piles of (small) wood chips already dried and ready to work with. Did make some charcoal today in an open drum but of course there is much room for improvement in the process.One step at a time. Going to continue experimentation and practice this weekend. Looks like using good char is the #1 most critical part of having a good running truck with no tar issues, so I will concentrate on getting that right, first and foremost.

Have decided to run the truck dual fuel on LPG/wood gas. I just didn’t want to run the wood gas through the mixer, for fear of corroding or gumming it up. Will build a wooden box to replace the existing mixer-to-throttle-body adapter, with a home made throttle flap inside to shut off all but about 10% LPG flow, or shut off the wood gas and run on LPG, as the situation requires. The hydrogen rich LPG should help keep the engine cleaner inside and greatly economize on gas usage. The truck gets 12-15 MPG on LPG now depending on conditions, so at 10% mix it should be more like 120-150 MPG equivalent, which means a 500 gallon tank should last me YEARS! Of course, I will do a lot more driving if the fuel is (mostly) free. :smiley:

Can someone please link me to a good thread discussing the benefits/drawbacks of a flute style nozzle vs. ye olde basic plumbing ‘cross’ like Mr. Eddy Ramos uses? Wouldn’t it be more likely to slag up, or would the smaller holes help prevent that?

What kind of cooler setup is best to use? I have a couple large-ish fire extinguishers, but can I skip the cyclone and oil bath for now and just use a large oversized sock filter only, just to get me started? Any homemade oil bath cooler plans on here? Not sure I can find a premade one locally.

I have a bunch of 3" PVC on hand; is that OK for cooler to engine connection?

I also have a nice 6.0L Powerstroke intercooler on hand; should it be plumbed in after the cooler, or just skip it?

Thank you Mr. Keith for your kind offer. I would very much like to ride your way here in the next few weeks perhaps and see what you’ve got going on. Springville is one of the most beautiful parts of Alabama IMO. Always loved driving down through there, on highway 11, and the road which crosses it, going over the railroad tracks from the interstate.

Got to run…thanks again to everyone! Will post more in a few days and let you know how it’s coming with the charcoal production.


The main advantage of a flute nozzle is you have an easier way to bring in a water drip. In my Mazda B2000 truck I used a 5 hole flute with a simple water drip running into the pipe. You could also combine the idea of Mr Ramos’ single upward nozzle and the Flute, meaning your air enters from the side so you don’t need a way to hold the bottom of the reactor from the floor of the bed, and you have one single jet to provide the best heat insulation.

I noticed with 5 holes that I did have a little bit of warmth coming from the sides of the barrel, I probably should have stuck with only 3 holes but in bigger diameter.

The added benefit of multiple holes is a wider surface area to make gas. Once I dialed in fuel size I had plenty of gas on demand. I hadn’t reached my final top speed but I really think it could have gone over 55mph with that wimpy 2 Liter 80 horsepower engine. Was going 55 during my speed test but a slowpoke got in front of me so I had to match their pace.

I really like Ramos’ design but my only gripe is the fact he needs a stand to hold the bottom off. Another benefit of the flute nozzle is you have more mass to absorb any heat which prevents it from deteriorating.

Either of these designs are better than a standard side entrance nozzle, because they are below the heat and any slag or ash that develops will form a volcano around the edge almost adding more heat protection. I think a single large opening in the center of a side entering pipe(think an L shape or upside down T shape

Here’s some drawings to flesh out what I mean.

Personally I think either an L shaped or upside down T as I showed would work really well for a larger sized engine like yours. More natural insulation provided by the charcoal to keep from heating up the sides. Or maybe two or three large vertical jets. Using a T shape would allow you to have more air to enter the reactor.


That will work fine @JocundJake and @mggibb are both running single 3" to the engine and works good for them, my own system is pvc after the cooler rack up to the engine, at this point the gas is ambient temperature and pvc works well. Biggest enemy of a proper functioning system is leaks, so glue or tape up joints very well

This has been tried and yes it does work but very difficult to keep soot from going through the whole system, intercooler passages are small and will soot clog and then turn no flow heat insulated counter productive. Not highly recommended Tubular coolers are the most tried and true proven, preferable take apart friendly for soot removal as they will over time build up and stop working as a cooler and stop gas flow

Cyclone is not completely necessary, it acts as both a cooler and filter for larger particles, drop box works very well and creates opportunity for added heat reclaiming. Oil bath same problem with soot, quick to clog with soot
Sock filters work fine but they will clog in time as well. Some will build up and scale off but never really self cleaning like Wayne’s hay filter. Soot deposits on the hay, condensate builds up and washes soot down off the hay, clean out port on the bottom and occasional wash down with a garden hose, annual hay change and good to go

Welcome to the forum have you purchased Have Wood Will Travel book yet? Picture learning and many things explained in the book with tried and true miles to the road working proven goods, applicable to both direct wood for fuel use and char gas


I don’t use a cyclone or oil bath filter for my Mazda. When I finally made a large enough sack filter I didn’t have any issues. It’s really just a matter of maybe once a week or two taking it out and dusting it off if you’re that concerned about it. The problem with charcoal gasifiers is you can’t use a hay filter alone. You could maybe use a hay filter as a sort of rough filter, and then finally a sack filter, but as Kristijan has said a few times, sack filters get better the more they get covered in the soot. The main issue is making sure you have enough surface area to start out with.

Also with an updraft charcoal gasifier you don’t need a cooler, but if you’re concerned about gas temps coming right out you could maybe do one single route of steel piping around the edge of your bed leading to the filter. I just used a 6 foot length of flex exhaust and it never bothered my PVC routing to the engine.

If you route the gas to the filter, I suggest making the gas go from outside of the sack to inside of the sack, that way as you go down the road and hit bumps it will shake off excess soot and settle in the filter box instead of piling up inside the sack if you were to route from inside to out.

I used a tall ammo can, gas entrance coming from near the bottom on the side, and gas exit coming through the lid. You would probably want a bigger container, maybe two 5 gallon buckets welded together or one of those tall 16ga grease drums?


You have some decisions to make before you go to far Dave. Wayne has made you a very gracious offer. I’d pay that visit before I spent any time working on plans for an actual wood gas/char gas vehicle. Updraft charcoal is easy and clean. I am not aware of anyone running a V-8 on it though. Most of the charcoal drivers are running smaller engines. You need a significant reactor to produce enough gas for that much engine volume. Now that I think about it, Ben Peterson ran charcoal in his 289 mustang. Not DOW but he has books you can buy. Any filter requires maintenance and cleaning. You should look at the ones Matt Ryan is using. Check his Thrive off Grid thread. The filters I talking about will be way down in this long thread, at least the last few months. While you are getting set up and researching why don’t you take one of your small tanks and build a simple fire unit. If you have a small engine that you wouldn’t be too concerned about messing up a little, run it off that simple fire and learn a ton that you will use when you build a more complex system. Start with the basics. You will read in the new posts, where a lot of guys are working on different designs. These are guys that are already pretty well versed in gasification and already know how to run their systems. You would be wise to just start at the beginning. You are admittedly short on cash but for the price of a premium membership you can get the Drive on Wood book and have access to even more input from members. I doubt Marcus would have been able to build his very professional looking system without that extra help. Also you are within easy driving distance of some of the best builders in the world. You are a lucky man.


Welcome to DOW. You are right about these guys. They are great. I was going to chime in, but Cody, Marcus, and Tom have done an excellent job of answering your questions. I run my Toyota Corolla with a SimpleFire. I would call it a bi-weekly driver as opposed to a daily driver, and it kind of doubles as a “show car.” It continues to be a lot of fun. My project thread is on DOW if you want to check it out. You are in good hands with these guys. Good luck! DOW is my favorite form of entertainment. Thanks Wayne and Chris for making it possible. By all means visit Wayne. I would if I were that close.


Welcome Dave,
If you classify (sort-by-size) your chips, they can be turned into engine grade charcoal in a simple TLUD (Top Lit Up Draft). I use chips that remain between 1 inch and 3/8 inch screens. I pyrolyze these presorted chips in a 100 gallon tank, then screen out < 3/16 charcoal dust before pouring the rest into my gasifier. Pre-sizing the chips not only gives the right size charcoal, but also allows the primary air and pyrolysis gases to flow through more easily and evenly. A speed controlled hair blow-drier plumbed to the bottom of the tank provides for a quick, clean process.