"Wood Burning Tractor" manual reviewed

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I received my copy of "Construction of a Simplified Wood Gas Generator for Fueling Internal Combustion Engines in a Petroleum Emergency" from FEMA yesterday. (Only took about 10 days!).

On the cover of the 68-page manual is a photo of a guy on a small tractor with the wood gas generator mounted in front of the grill.

From the documentation page: "This report attempts to preserve the knowledge about wood gasification as put into practical use during World War II. Detailed, step-by-step fabrication procedures are presented for a simplified version of the World War II, Imbert wood gas generator. This simple, stratified, downdraft gasifier unit can be constructed from materials which would be widely available in the United States in a prolonged petroleum crisis. For example, the body of the unit consists of a galvanized metal garbage can atop a small metal drum; common plumbing fittings are used throughout; and a large, stainless steel mixing bowl is used for the grate. The entire compact unit was mounted onto the front tractor and successfully field tested, using wood chips as the only fuel . . ."

Some comments on first reading:

a. The procedure is well documented with several photos and numerous diagrams. It seems that someone with mechanical/welding skills could construct it at a cost of less than $100 or so.

b. The improved version of what was widely used during WWII was developed at the Oak Ridge lab during the early 80's, according to the manual.

c. Chunks of solid wood or wood chips can be used. It says 20# of wood chips is about equal to 1 gal. of gasoline.

d. This generator can also be used to run stationary engines such as electric generators.

e. The wood "downdraft stratifier" is connected to the engine manifold, and gas enters the carb. Apparently, no gasoline is required to start it.

f. This can also be used with diesel engines, but they require some diesel to start the engine.

The free manual can be ordered from FEMA's toll free publication number, which appeared on this site some time back. Unfortunately, I don't have the # anymore but I'm sure it can be found on the net.

Does anyone else have a copy of this and is actually building a unit?

-- woody (wood@gas.com), December 08, 1999


Just a quick note to let anyone that never heard of this kind of thing, check out http://members.tripod.com/~costich/gasifier.htm for a commercial one, including a diagram.

-- Gary S. (garys_2k@yahoo.com), December 08, 1999.

Lindsay Publications at www.lindsaybks.com has reprints of the WWII era book "Producer Gas for Motor Vehicles" for $12.95. While not a "how to do it" book, it could be used by an informed tinkerer to make his own setup for making producer gas.

Coal and wood are both used.

Best regards,

-- Joe (KEITH@noosnet.com), December 08, 1999.

I received my copy on Monday this week. Unbelievable! Not only do you get a pretty good history of wood-gas generators, but you get plans for the orignal style used during WWII and a newer "simpler" version.

I just called and ordered 4 more from FEMA, turnaround time was only about 7 days in my case. Excellent Christmas presents.

I have not built the unit, I have too many other things to do. but I do have all the elements necessary laying around, including the pipe fittings. You don't need to weld, you need to braze though. Now, if necessary, at least I have the plans so I can build it to run the house generator that charges the batteries.

There is a chart for proper diameters of fire tube (steel pipe) to use for various HP engines.

For those interested, the phone number is
The item number is 8-0835 RR 28

-- plonk! (realaddress@hotmail.com), December 08, 1999.

Having an interest in these matters I just ordered from Plonk's address at FEMA the gasifier publication.

Nice woman, a trifle "english impared" but a pleasant person.

It was a little disconcerting when she asked my telephone number and apparently was "confirming" my mailing address from some database, possibly internet.

The publication is ordered, however and I will receive it shortly according to her.

Best regards,

-- Joe (KEITH@noosnet.com), December 09, 1999.

I read the report too, and it does seem as though the unit is buildable. However, somewhere, somebody else pointed out that there is a danger of carbon monoxide fumes, and that there could be a fire problem, if, say, you are mowing hay.

Can't you just see some of those garbage cans tied onto the front ends of the neighborhood BMWS, Rolls, etc.?

-- Mary (CAgdma@home.com), December 10, 1999.

Thanks woody,

Great stuff, it took less than a week to arrive. Interesting side note, the postage metering date on the mailing is Dec 30, 99. And I got it on Dec 15. Now that's efficient! Imagine that, the postoffice delivering it 15 days before its mailed.

(Wonder if FEMA's postage meter passed its Y2K test....)


-- john hebert (jt_hebert@hotmail.com), December 16, 1999.

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