04 Astro van 4.3, first timer needs advice

Hello everyone, I have been reading up on wood gasification on and off for a few years and have sat down and decided I needed to just start doing SOMETHING. Some probably know what I mean. The only issue is the budget. I am trying to minimize cost by reducing mistakes and trying to source free or cheap materials. I have some materials and a start to a design, but want guidance on if everything seems to be designed correctly.

Right now I have 2 water heaters, a 55 gal barrel and some exhaust tubing. Not much of a start, but I think a good one. My current plan is to use one water heater tank as a hopper, the barrel as the combustion zone, then the second water heater (or something else maybe) cyclone filter, next railing across the roof of the van and back to a condensation tank, and then to the second water heater (or a second barrel, not sure) hay filter. Then (finally!) to the engine.

The transplant is my 2004 AWD Astro van with a 4.3 V6. Its got 215k miles on it. The plan is to use an off the shelf cargo carrier in the hitch or possibly a custom built carrier so I can leave the gasifier on there and still pull a small trailer.

Can you use galvanized pipe for the “radiator”? The cheapest source of tubing I found for a different project was top railing (diameter of ~1 3/8") for fencing @ ~$1.30 a foot. I would of course grind off the coating at the ends for welding.

How is the condensation tank set up? Does the inlet just terminate as soon as it’s on the inside of the tank? I assume the outlet is just welded to the outside skin as well?

I don’t have very specific details yet, but if it sounds good so far I will come up with something.

Thanks in advance,


Welcome to the site Matt.
Lots of people here willing to help you and you will be told
1 buy Wayne’s book if you haven’t already and at least a 1 year membership. Lots of information in the book and on this site.
It will give you info on materials needed to build a gasifier.

Can you build a wood powered vehicle on a limited budget. Here they almost all are. My first was $1500 us and that included the truck. Wasn’t much of a truck but it educated me much more than I can say
Things I recommend that cost you nothing, find a local fencing company and see if they have a scrap pile they will let you look through.

Make friends with the local plumber as they replace various sizes of water heaters. Look for barrels stacked outside of various businesses and see if you can buy barrels for the deposit fee. Around here $20 for closed top.

Again welcome and I hope this helps


Hi matt Welcom too DOW.or drive on wood. im not as much of an expert as the other guys up here. So i will limit my confusion.Though a few more things as materiel and you soon off too a great start, i too know what you mean about building it right the first time, not that there is a perfect way, but i bought WAYNE KEITH’S have wood will travel book and it saved me a ton of mistakes that i would have made otherwise. As far as cooling rails i used those three inch range basket ball hoop stand yard pipe for the bottom of my side rails and some 1"3/4 pipe on the rest. Galvinized works ok once you get it welded. Thin wall pipe is lighter and cools better, it will rust out in few years if too thin. Its a lot of trade of on useing heavy material lasting longer, or lighter material and building simpler, and through away after rusting through on the lighter material. Allways limit the material when posible with any design.I ran my s10 truck with 4.3 motor and had enough power too go 50 too 55 mph. Though the v8 Dakota WK USES has been ticketed well over the speed limit, about 90 mph the dakota can GO.If you want too pull a trailer any weight much at all other than the back roads the Dakota v8 is a better choice.


The only thing I wanted to pull was my motorcycle with up to 2 motorcycles on it. Probably total weight up to about 1200 lbs with trailer.


Hello, and wellcome, Matt!

Gasification can be made skyhigh expensive or allmost free. Depends on the amount of scrap you have, your skill and imagination.

A WK gasifier is a good choice if you want a good prooven system. If you decide to go that route, buy Waynes book and follow it to the letter, you will be driving on wood fast.
But it does involve more work (welding) and might be a tad more expensive.

If you want a simpler faster way, a lmbert gasifier is a option. A good lmbert gasifier can be made in a day.

But in the end a big factor in your decision is wood. What will you burn? Chunks? Chips? Soft or hard wood?
This will dictate allso how you need to arrange the pipeing. Some fuels dont need a condense tank at all per instance…

If those materials you listed are what you want to work with, l wuld use both water heaters for the gasifier and the 55gal drumfor a hay filter. A hay filter can allso be a condensation tank! You can drain it dayly.

A cyclone that big wuldnt work wery well anyway, better get a smaller vessel say 6" dia vessel if you want to install a cyclone (not nessesery either).

So gasifier, roof cooler, hay filter, engine rout is simplest.


That 4.3 van would pull them on the trailer, Though it would be ok for short distance back roads, would work when hybrid driveing getting up too speed, around 50 too 55 mph depending on how well truck runs on petro, and allso how dry and type / size of wood you are useing, varies the power available.As far as WK gasifier being heavier, it can be if you use too thick of metal around the firetube design, that you will get when you get his book, after the redesign of the fire tube cooling system, its not much heaver if built with weight saveing in mind. The WAYNE KEITH design has a nice large reserve of power’ That keeps it from going intoo heater mode/or overheat mode. Is one of the main benifits of the design, The rest of the book is just loaded with great building ideas, and all kinds of tested and tried knowege, Notes.


Welcome Matt!
For short: Pictures give proportions!

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Good morning Matt and welcome to the DOW :grinning:

At the top right hand side of the page you may want to click on the LIBRARY . There are a huge amount of information you may want read.

Thanks Wayne


I bought the book and 6 months of premium membership , but I used an email address to purchase it that wasn’t the one that is associated with my account. I emailed the contact email at the bottom of the page, but I haven’t gotten a response. Is there anyway to transfer the membership? Also is it a printed copy of the book or is it an e-book/ pdf?


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Hello Matt .

The [email protected] should be the right address

Also you might try the phone at the bottom of the page.

Not a e/book but a real book .

Chris ( the one in charge of this ) has been very busy with new farm ,new baby and new job. I’m sure he will get right on it as soon as he gets the message .

Thanks Wayne