With fuel and oil supplies being short all over Europe between the wars, all sides had to get creative powering their vehicles in the most efficient and fuel-saving way they could think up. In a lot of cases this meant they had to resort to gas-powered solutions. One of the most successful ways to do this was to fit a wood-gas generator on the back of your vehicle, meaning that it would no longer require precious petroleum-based fuel but instead ran on wood which is available in great abundance and grows itself.
The principle of the Gasogen (as the gas generator often was called.) is basically that you set fire to wood in an enclosed and low oxygen environment at around 900 degrees. This makes that the wood starts to emit wood gas, which in turn is fed to the internal combustion engine. The actual process is a bit more complicated but for more information there are a lot of websites explaining the principle in full detail. [For the science, try our old friend Wikipedia
- Ed.] A lot of vehicles across Europe and Russia got the Gasogen treatment, from cars to buses and even military vehicles of all sorts and shapes. One of the most important was the gas powered Stalinetz tractor of the Chelyabinsk Tractor Factory. The SG-65 which is the subject of this review was powered by the НАТИ Г-25 Gas generator and it worked in the same way gas generators worked everywhere. Fuel was cheap and available everywhere and as long as there was wood you could run it until the vehicle broke down.
But there were a few drawbacks to the technique. First, if you wanted to get to work it meant waking up very early to fire up the stove, loading in the wood, fiddling around with it a lot to get it up the right temperature, waiting a bit more for the wood to start emitting the wood gas, and fiddling around a bit more with the temperature. And finally you were ready to get to work. If you had to run these things alone it was probably as easy as eating a plate of spaghetti while driving a car. And then came the whole deal of really making sure the temperature would remain right otherwise the vehicle would run terribly. Also, a lot of extra work was involved since it used around 63 kilos of wood for one hour’s work – the stove was a very hungry one. This meant that quite a few times during the day you had to step off, get the axe, and head for the woods to cut some more fuel (or steal it from somebody’s winter stock).
Ok, enough technicalities. Back to the review. A few weeks ago I reviewed Trumpeter’s ChTz S65 tractor which can be found here
. My main complaint then was that it didn’t have an engine - a problem which was resolved shortly after, when LZ models released their engine set for this tractor, which I bought and reviewed here
. And now Libor returns with another really cool and much seen conversion in the shape of the SG-65 Gas equipment for the tractor. Of the 37,626 tractors that were built in Chelyabinsk, it is reported that around 17,000 were converted with the НАТИ Г-25 gas generator – significant numbers which are backed up by enough wartime pictures, and it makes this release a very welcome one too.
The engine set comes in a 13cm x 9cm Ziploc bag to which is stapled a piece of paper showing a picture of the Gas Generator set being assembled to the Trumpeter kit. Kit#, scale, parts number etc. On the back of it you will find some health and safety directions plus some information about the gas generator. Inside you will find smaller Ziploc bags holding 51 cream colored resin parts, a sheet of PE containing over 30 parts, several thicknesses of metal wire, and a mini CD with the instructions.
According to the instruction booklet all parts are numbered A1, A2, A18 etc, etc, but I will give each bag in this review a letter to keep things clear.
Bag A contains three parts. And they are the three biggest parts as well. They are:
• The radiator, which is modified a bit as there is a pipe that attaches to lower left corner (right if you stand in front of the vehicle).
• The Gasogen Stove
• A modified part with cylinders that replaces the fuel tank of the Trumpeter kit.
Bag B holds the rest of the resin parts – all 50 of them. And some of them are really small. Among them you will find:
• Five big cylinders that fit on the front of the radiator.
• The beams that hold the stove in place.
• A Lot of plumbing.
• Several plates.
• A new exhaust stack.
The tiniest parts are some wingnuts – all 15 of them. And they are really tiny so please take care not to lose or break them.
Bag C holds two lengths of wire of different thicknesses, used for the conversion.
You get three PE frets, two with radiator screens. The biggest holds all the parts that go on the conversion. Among them are several disks that form cooling ribs on a pipe that connects to the stove, parts that hold the cylinders on the front of the radiator, several levers and latches.
The CD holds the instruction booklet for this set.
I mentioned it in my earlier review of the engine set that the instructions were beyond good and a lesson for a lot of other AM manufacturers to learn from. And the instruction booklet for this set is absolutely no exception. On the CD is a PDF which has 17 pages where the whole build process is lined out in a series of very clear photographs with arrows and bits of text where extra information is needed. This conversion set is very different from the engine set in the sense that with the engine set it was only a matter of building it and dropping it in. For this conversion you have to make some cuts in the driver’s plate and also in the chassis. Some care is needed here but if you follow the instructions you should not encounter too many problems. The only nitpick I would have is that the instructions do not show how to build the set with the kit’s engine bay side panels in place to hide the lack of engine as supplied, but it shouldn’t be too big a puzzle to find that out since as far as I can see it comes down to a few cuts in those panels. (Or invest in the combi set of 35405 and 35408 which gives you the engine set with the gas conversion for 47 Euro. And that way you can build it open showing the complete powerhouse!)
Kit vs the Real Deal
Pictures of Tractors with the wood gas set up are to be found in abundance (which is not that weird considering the number presumably built) and all I can say is that again Libor seems to have done his homework very well. All the parts in this set are where they belong and in the right shape and size. The detail is really crisp and if the gas generator set is only half as good as the engine set you should not encounter any problem at all during assembly. And you end up with a really nice replica of a Gas Powered Son of Stalin tractor.
With such huge number of these tractors produced it is a very good thing that there now is a set to create this type. Libor also manages to keep up his amazing levels of detail. Again the parts come molded on the tiniest slivers of resin needed to cast the parts, which makes cleaning up a breeze. There are absolutely no air bubbles. The details are phenomenal and will pop out during painting and weathering. The only nitpick I really have is that of the instructions not showing what to do if you want the engine bay closed up with the Gas conversion in place. But I don’t think it should be a problem for most modelers to find that out. The only option you had before this conversion came out was the Wespe models S-65 Gasogen tractor, but when it comes to a match on detail and accuracy the LZ models kit with Trumpeter tractor wins with two hands in its pockets. I’d recommend this kit to anybody.