Monday, December 5, 2011

Trip to Wayne Keith's

I decided to take a trip to Alabama. Wayne Keith is the acknowledged master of building and driving wood gas vehicles in the U.S. He has built nearly ten trucks, and driven nearly 200,000 miles solely on wood power. This is the mark of a refined system, one which is capable of running long distances without failing or needing major service. Since he lives only 300 miles away, I decided to take the trip down there and see his setup for myself.

When I got there, Wayne was running his bandsaw mill, an interesting contraption that he built out of old car parts. Sawing lumber provides a significant chunk of his income, and the scraps provide the wood supply for his trucks. We went for a ride in his latest truck, a Dodge Ram V10 with 4WD, which Wayne is using for a farm truck. At 8 liters, it's easily the largest engine converted to woodgas in the States. Firing up consisted of lighting a propane torch and sticking it in the hopper for a few seconds, running some blowers, removing the torch and filling with wood, and shut the lid. Within two minutes he said it was ready to fire. We loaded up a bale of hay, and took it several miles down the road to feed some cattle. The truck fired up on gasoline, and within a few seconds he switched over to woodgas. The truck ran smooth and had plenty of power. When we got to the cows, Wayne demonstrated the drains. He has three places he regularly drains condensate from, with plenty more places which can be opened when washing the system out. He only has to drain the system every 500 miles or so. He also has to clean out the ash bin every so often, which contains a mixture of charcoal bits and black char-ash powder.

I studied his trucks carefully and tried to determine the differences in his and mine. There were plenty. His system is built to last, and has the mark of a builder with a lot of experience. My system pales in comparison, since I don't know what I'm doing and I am relying on information found on the internet and elsewhere. But! Now that I've seen all that, I have a lot of things to implement on my own truck. I will be taking the long hard road, instead of trying to fix up what I have to where it will putt-putt around. I want a reliable daily driver like Wayne has. I think I have the info now.

In the next months I will be undoing a lot of the gasifier, to be re-done in a better way later. I will probably put the gasoline system back for now, so I can get some work done with the truck.  Minor overhaul has escalated into major rebuild. But it will end up much better in the long run. Stay tuned for Part 2 of the gasifier saga.

Some pictures of the trip:

More photos can be found here:

I took some video as well.

Ride with Wayne in the Dodge Dakota:

And a walkaround of the V10, with a bonus clip of me driving the V10.

Did I mention I got to drive the V10?