Toyota Corolla Charcoal Vehicle Gasifier Project

When I was a teenager in the 60’s, the movie “The Longest Hundred Miles” sparked a life-long interest in powering gasoline engines with wood. Part of the movie story line involved the use of WWII era charcoal gasification technology to power an old bus enabling a priest, a group of orphans and two American soldiers to escape advancing Japanese soldiers. I was intrigued by the novel source of fuel, but figured that it was probably a Hollywood creation. My dad, however, who was watching the movie with me, said that coke made from coal was used to power trucks when he was in England during WW II when gasoline in very short supply. You can see the movie on YouTube with this link: In 2015, I discovered Gary Gilmore’s SimpleFire YouTube videos and finally realized that charcoal gasification was within the reach of my limited skills, tools, and materials. In September of 2017, I built the “basic” 5-gallon SimpleFire which was eventually installed on a discarded push mower and is now used to demonstrate charcoal gasification for guests who visit my “house of curiosities.” Click on this link to see my other curiosities: I was able to get over an hour of run time with the 5-gallon SimpleFire when I used it to mow my yard. My original goal was to use the small SimpleFire to fuel my grist mill engine. After many attempts, it became obvious that the mill engine would only run on gasoline. So, one thing led to another.



Successfully running my 8-HP generator with the lawn mower SimpleFire, I built a 15-gallon version to provide a longer run time when powering the generator. I added a fluid drip to increase the power and later a cyclone filter built by Gary Gilmore.


A free shipping and a 25% off on my next purchase offer when I bought the 15-gallon drum prompted me to go ahead and buy a 30-gallon drum for a possible future vehicle gasification project. You can guess what happened next. As soon as I finished the medium size SimpleFire, I began work on the large 30-gallon size. I had my son’s 1989 Toyota Corolla with a 1.6 liter engine sitting in my shop where it had been waiting for needed carburetor repair since he bought it three years ago. I bought it from him for his original purchase price of $200 for this “future vehicle gasification project.” I had my first successful run of this large SimpleFire installed on the Corolla about four months later, in mid-February 2018.

Rear Corolla Gasifier 1st Edit

I am thrilled that my charcoal projects have been successful. God has blessed me in so many ways and given me the desires of my heart over and over again, including something I never really expected to do–power a vehicle with charcoal. “Thank you, Jesus.”

I also want to thank the many forum members, too, for your photos, videos, project descriptions, and responses to the few things I have posted; starting with Gary Gilmore, father of the SimpleFire. “Simple” is what made this project possible for me. Thank you, Gary, for your contributions. Also, thanks to Don Mannes, Bruce Southerland, Tom Collins, Dan Hartman, Kristijan Leitinger, David Baillie, and Koen Van Looken. There are others whose comments also made a contribution to my efforts, but most of these listed had charcoal vehicle projects which I studied very carefully.


You can see why I got a chuckle out of Kristijan Leitinger’s comment at the beginning of his description of the Charcoal Powered Seat Arosa project, when he wrote, “The goal was to make a gasifier that wuld not be a gigantic nuclear reactor looking thing on the back of the car.” Well, that’s exactly what I have. I admire his discrete gasifier construction. It takes a lot of skill, innovation, and engineering to come up with such designs. Interesting that he had to think outside the box to come up with his box-shaped gasifiers—very clever.

All three of my gasifiers were completed without any welding. As far as the Corolla gasifier construction is concerned, I followed Gary Gilmore’s SimpleFire very closely. Currently, I use a stainless steel pipe nozzle. My “poor man’s cyclone” is to the right of the reactor. Flex exhaust, muffler clamps, and iron pipe unions connect the “cyclone” to the double 5-gallon bucket filter housing on the left. Black iron nipples and fittings of 1.5 inches are used through most of the unit, except for the outlet from the final filter which is plastic. The lower bucket contains pine straw with standoffs to hold the straw away from the inlet and outlet which is accessible through the bottom Gamma lid. The upper bucket contains a pool filter with a towel wrapped around the outside of it and tied above and below the filter. The filter is attached to the top Gamma lid. The gas exits through the center of the pool filter into the 1.5 inch sump pump hose which carries the gas under the vehicle to the engine compartment. I used Dan Hartman’s Lumina van reactor mounting system and also his exhaust connection, but finally gave up trying to use his idea for gas connection and air/gas valve under the hood due to there being so many leaks in my air intake system. This is where it went beyond my abilities. So, I asked a machinist friend to make a T-fitting to replace the filter housing over the carburetor. The 1.5 inch gas hose connects to one side of this fitting, the cable controlled air/gas mixture butterfly valve is in the other side of the T where the pool “air” filter is attached.



To start the gasifier, I first fully open the air/gas mixture butterfly valve. Then, I connect the portable starting blower hose in place of the pool “air” filter and clip the power cord to the car battery. I turn the blower on and light the charcoal with a torch through the gasifier’s air inlet, allowing the blower to run until I can get a continuously burning flare. Then, I remove the blower, connect the pool “air” filter in place of it, adjust the air/gas mixture valve to a previously-marked run position, and start the engine. Controls inside the car include a knob to turn on and off the gasoline valve between the fuel pump and carburetor and a lever to operate the air/gas mixture valve on the T-adapter.



So far, the nozzle and filter arrangement have been adequate for test drives in my driveway. At the present, the car is not legal to drive on the highway, so my testing is limited. Also, due to serious problems with the carburetor, I’m leaving the gasoline valve turned off for now. I would like to be able to rely on gasoline until the gasifier is producing enough gas at the beginning of a run, as a backup fuel, and for extra power when needed, but until the carburetor is rebuilt and properly adjusted, it will not be safe to operate with gasoline. There are possibly other issues, too, which may need attention. Anyway, right now it runs better on charcoal gas than gasoline – go figure.

Future developments will likely include, having my machinist friend build a proper cyclone filter, adding a fluid drip, rebuilding the carburetor, and satisfying the legal requirements to drive it on the road. I may also try an adjustable timing control. I am pleased with the results so far. It is at a stage of completion now, so I can relax and enjoy the fruits of my labor for a little while. We’ll see how long that lasts. I’m sure I won’t be satisfied until I’m riding down the highway under the influence of charcoal.



Steve, these are the kind of stories I love to read! You have an excellent list of experiences from watching a movie to running your own car. Thanks for posting and keep up the good work.


It looks great. I’m amazed at the shape of the corolla. an 89! congrats!


What Don sayd. Keep us posted on progress. Great job!


That’s what I call a progress report. Love it. Keep reporting.


Hi Steve let me add, a very impressive presentation. Should be enough to inspire anyone.
Thanks for posting.


Hi Steve, loved the video and very nice gasifier build. I Also agree with what everyone has said in the above comments. From the front of the car it looks pretty stealth to me, and I have see many people going down the road with there trunk lid up hauling a idem in the trunk that would not fit in the car. Put a lugage carrier on top for extra bags of charcoal and you are set to go. Thanks for the excellent presentation.


Well done Steve!
I agree with everyone’s comments above. I especially agree with Bob. I would run that car into town if I had it my driveway. “It’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission”. I think if a cop pulled me over, he/she would let me go once he found out what it was.
I commend you on your creativity figuring out how to make these gasifiers without welding. Hopefully this will motivate you to get a small welder and learn like I did to make my gasifier.
Great job! Thanks for sharing this with us.


Hello Steve and welcome to the DOW.

Thanks for the videos and pictures !!

Looks like you have mastered another skill :grinning:


Hi Steve, and welcome to DOW, or in your case DOC. Great to see a car getting the “make over”.
Your other accomplishments are very entertaining and unique too. Thanks for the videos.


Nice job Steve! Thanks for such a nice post and showing how you turned charcoal into chargas to run an engine. I really like the push mower setup grinning:
Gary in PA


Greetings All,
Thanks Don, David, Kristijan, Jan-Ola, Richard, Bob, Bill, Wayne, Carl, and Gary for your kind remarks. Glad you enjoyed my gasifier story. I hope I turn out to be as good an engineer as a presenter. I got a chuckle at Bill’s “It’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission.” What you don’t know is that presently the title is not in my name, there is no valid registration in anyone’s name, the county taxes and title tax will have to be paid before it can be registered. It will need to be inspected and insured . . . they’d bury me under the court house. The other fear is that if I had to rely on gasoline to get back home, the carburetor would dump so much gasoline into the engine that the the oil pan would fill up with gasoline and start dripping onto the exhaust pipe probably causing a fire. All of that has happened, except the fire part.

The next step is to get the carburetor rebuilt and adjusted. I think I now have connections with just the person to do it. I have also shared plans for a cyclone filter with my machinist friend, so hopefully that will be in the works soon. I have had a couple more test runs including yesterday evening when I ventured out of my driveway across the road to a larger area where big rigs sometimes park–still not enough room to build up sufficient gas to have much power. I am seeing a little nozzle deterioration now, as you might expect. I’m thinking of trying the Leitinger Nozzle. That seems to be the next step beyond the simple open end stainless steel pipe in my opinion. It is still quite simple and could be screwed in place of my existing nozzle. I’m just wondering if 4 one-half inch holes would create more restriction to the gas flow than the 1.5 inch open end pipe and if that would cause a problem. I also like the simplicity of the Kent style nozzle. Anyone have experience with that?

The consumption of more charcoal will soon require better charcoal production methods–but, I still want to keep it simple. So, what is the simplest, effective, efficient, and practical method of grinding charcoal to engine specs without using a machine?

Finally, I received a post from Eddy Ramos in my email, though I haven’t seen it appear here yet. Eddy, go ahead with the drawing offer if you would like. Let me know if I need to provide more information.



Way to go! How did I miss this build all week?
I’m on to you now and can’t wait to see how it develops. Keep it up.


Hi Steve!

4 half inch nozzles are more thain enough csa. Eddy Ramos made a drawing of my nozzle pipe recently, look it up on my Mercedes-Benz thread. It shows the importance of decreasing nozzle diameter towards the end of the nozzle pipe becouse of the hydraulic ram effect. Or, you can go BruceSs way, have the pipe open both ends.
Dont worry for drag, if anything, l wuld go with smaller holes. I eaven run on only 2 10mm nozzles just fine with my 2.3l engine.
You want a certain air velocity as this pushes the reaction further away from the nozzle and makes better gas.
If l open the 3/4 serviceing cap on my gasifier while the engine is runing idle, it acts as a low welocity nozzle. After a while the idle speed will fall conciderably becouse low velocity creates leaner gas.

As for grinding, nothing beats Garry Gilmores grinder. I have built one that is tractor powered and it workes like a charm, crushes faster thain you can load it :wink:


Could you link some pictures to this thread with your gasifier Kris?

What exactly did you had in mind? Ha, lm not realy good with this stuff :smile:

1 Like


Thanks for the response, and I will keep all your information in mind. I am looking for a 1.5 inch threaded pipe nipple about 12 inches long for your nozzle design. What type of pipe would be best which is available in that configuration? I have seen a schedule 80 pipe nipple available in that size. I think the wall is slightly thicker than a regular black iron pipe nipple. Stainless steel would be another possibility, but I’m not likely to find the thick wall pipe some are using already threaded and the right diameter. Any thoughts?

Ha ha.
I was asking about you gasification unit!


Well l never used stainless. It shuld have better corosion propertys but allso has less heat conductivity.
Idealy, at least 1/4" thickness is what you want. And look for a bigger pipe diameter, the bigger the better. This way you will have biger iner surface area for the heat to be conducted from the nozzles to incomeing air.
Wallace, plenty of those on my thread, but l dont realy know how so repost them…

Hi Steve and Wallace, Kristijan is refering to his topic posted in this forum call:
“Mercedes-Benz E230 vol. 2, charcoal powered”
Here you will find photo, videos, drawings, questions, answers, etc all regarding Kristijan project.
You will need to be patience because this topic became so famous that has 363 post, up today and increasing…
Eddy Ramos (Argentina)