Surviving a gas shortage |

Surviving a gas shortage

Gerard V. Conway, Eagle-Vail

Your report on the Swedish man running his car on wood reminded me of a very similar system used in Ireland during WWII when there was no petrol.

Cars and buses ran on water gas. Water was dripped onto burning charcoal producing a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen, which was fed into the carburetor in place of petrol. Cars had a charcoal burner mounted on the rear bumper and the driver controlled the rate of water drip. Single-decker buses had a larger burner and a steady water drip system mounted on a small trailer, and the gas was fed into a balloon mounted on the luggage rack on top of the bus. Gas was produced even when the bus was stopped and was fed from the balloon to the engine carburetor under driver control.

I remember that the limiting factors on keeping cars running were inner tubes and tires. Dunlop managed to maintain supplies of tube repair kits and tire cuts were patched with pieces of many materials including leather tongues from old shoes. When tires became unrepairable, cars went up on jacks “for the duration.”

Bicycles lasted a little longer, but eventually became useless. In rural districts every family then had a pony and trap and these were also used by professionals such as doctors. Goods were moved on canals by horse-drawn barges and on roads by horse carts and trailers. All wheels were steel-rimmed. Farm animals were moved on foot by drovers.

Life went on without petrol!

Support Local Journalism