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Zundapp KS601 - An Initial Look Before Starting Refurbishment

   It's going to take me awhile to flesh this page out (hopefully we're talking months here, not years). It's winter in Michigan and the garage is stuffed pretty full at the moment. I picked up another Mercedes E320 4matic wagon, this one a '99 with only 105K miles and totally immaculate. One caveat; tranny issues. Got an unbelievably good price as a result, but I have some work to do before tooling around in it.

I actually should have had it fixed by now, but I've been a bit under motivated. It's easy to want to simply hunker down in the winter and hibernate. In any event, with the E320 filling the work stall in the garage there's no room to take "after" pictures of the Zundapp. So, for the moment, there are mostly only "before" shots, below.


The picture to the right is the Zundapp finally coming back home from storage after the lightning strike fire. In the background is my '65 WM300 Dodge Power Wagon. Along side the garage is my '62 Falcon Squire wagon, itself just recently returned.

Basically, everything you see on the garage except the concrete block walls and the rear window is new; roof, doors, everything. Amazingly, the ivy survived the fire and, even more amazingly, the contractors.

It took a year and a half to start bringing my stuff back. I had paid for a new concrete floor - myself, as opposed to the insurance company - and planned on covering it with epoxy, after the doors were up and before it got too cold outside, so I could have the doors open for ventilation. The contractors, who quote the insurance company and count on working under their bid for their profit, tried jerking me around on my garage doors. They thought they'd give me fiberglass instead of wood like my beautiful oldies destroyed in the fire.

   The Zundapp KS601 returning from storage after lightning strike.

  The KS601, returning from storage after lightning strike fire.

I finally told them to get the damned wooden doors on order immediately or I'd hire someone else to do it. They then kept trying to sell me cheap shit wooden doors, at which point I followed through on my threat. Unfortunately, it was now October, and there was a six week lead on the doors. They were finally installed just after Christmas, so no epoxy until spring.

I had planned on spending the winter cleaning soot off stuff in the nice warm garage, but no way was I going to risk contaminating my fresh new concrete floor before the epoxy went down. So I was screwed out of a solid six months of progress by those turds. Anyhow...

The bike doesn't look so bad in the picture above. Here, you can see both the effects of the soot, which always settled from above, and the years spent in the barn before my friend found and rescued it. So, as a general rule, black on top is from the fire, black on bottom is from years of use, and disuse.

Looking at the rear end, the black on top is from both soot and the shot final drive seal. All the crud on the bottom of the final drive and plunger suspension and all around the wheel and spokes, is heavy oil buildup from years of leaking.

The seat was in the loft where some of the worst of the fire was, being as how the lightning hit the peak. As a result the upholstery was completely trashed. Unfortunate, but the thing was ugly as hell anyhow, so it's trashing gave me a perfect excuse to put on a solo seat like I had always wanted to.

   The Zundapp KS601 returning from storage after lightning strike, rear right.

  The KS601, returning from storage, another view.

Here we have a view of the KS601 from the rear left. In addition to soot and grease, surface rust is obviously an issue.

The chrome generally did not hold up well at all. I have heard Germany suffered a severe shortage of chrome during and after WWII and they were forced to refine it out of coatings meant primarily for aesthetics to conserve it for critical metallurgical uses. It's a strategic material and pricey, so the post war sanctions and German economy probably conspired to restrict imports.

All I can say with certainty is the chrome is pretty much gone on my '57 Zundapp KS601. There is virtually none left on the fuel tank and 50% or more rusted off the air intake tubes, handle bars, and shift, kick start, and brake levers. The aluminum, on the other hand, is very high quality and held up well everywhere except the right fork leg where it is showing some kind of weird delamination.

   The Zundapp KS601 on the trailer, from rear left.

  The KS601 just arriving back home, from the rear left.

And another shot of the grubby Zundapp KS601. It's hard to imagine the bike literally held up part of the garage roof and was within ten feet of the worst of the fire. Oddly, being close to the fire protected it from the worst of the soot. Things further away looked like they'd had chocolate syrup poured on them. You'd far rather that's what it was, believe me.

The van across the alley is also ours. My wife owns a number of rentals in town and that's the parking area of one of them. The van is a hoot. Got it for $900 many years ago with 400K miles on it and it's still going strong. Some expediting company had it and took mighty good care of it. I added Goodyear air springs. It hauled everything from the fire to storage. I mean the mill, lathe, 15 ton press, shaper, and all manner of smaller stuff. Never a whimper. A little temperamental for the first mile or two, after that it's never less than eager to go. I'd load it and the trailer till the tires were all equally squished as far as I cared to see them. You can put 14' lumber in it. I hauled all materials for a five square roofing job in it; 270 Lb squares, tar paper, freeze guard. That was before the red Dodge 2nd Gen Cummins, top left.

   The Zundapp KS601 on the driveway, home from storage after lightning strike, front right.

  The KS601, finally home on the driveway, another view.

Now, Some After...

The grungy Zundapp KS601 brake lever and shifter linkage.    More of the grunge on the Zundapp KS601 brake lever and shifter linkage.
Here's a look at the rear wheel after the initial degreasing and soot removal. Not a real direct comparison shot with any above, but still pretty clearly illustrates the first stage of improvement. Compare specifically the rear wheel here and the second image from top. A pretty easy improvement. Low hanging fruit.

This is the result of cleaning the bike overall with SNB-130, a super wicked degreaser. As nasty as this stuff is, it was not terribly effective around the brake lever the lower portion of the plunger.

Now, compare with below, after extensive disassembly and lots of elbow grease. Check out the rear brake lever and adjuster.

This shot reveals a little more of that hard tarry grunge, but it's mainly here to illustrate the condition of the chrome on the brake and shifter linkage levers.

This was pretty typical of all the chrome on the bike; heavily flaked and missing, with deep pitting left behind. Took substantial power wire brushing to knock the loose stuff off and try to buff the underlying metal down to some sort of decent patina.

Generally speaking, as seen below, the efforts paid off. Wish I'd taken a shot of the air intake tube before cleaning. It now has a surface I would intentionally try to duplicate.

The Zundapp KS601 wheel and brake lever looking a damned site better.    The Zundapp KS601 brake lever and shifter looking pretty damned nice.
You may have noticed the mufflers are going to need some attention, although I was riding it with straight pipes and it really was not terribly loud. Still... I had just enough of the innards intact to determine dimensions and positions of tubes and baffling. I have parts to fabricate new innards and intend to weld patches into the openings evident in the pictures. This is going to be some tricky work to have it come out looking good.

Note the muffler clamps are actually air intake tube clamps. You may recall I have most of two of these bikes. It appears a previous owner married some components. I have a pair of the clamps in pretty nice shape for the air tubes, just had not yet been cleaned up here.

I guess the whole intended effect is going to be that of the rat rod, but that doesn't mean any junky shit will be good enough. I have very little experience producing compound curves, but that's going to change. I intend the finished product to have a solid quality look that no one will dispute. They may wonder why I took this approach, but they aren't going to question the quality of the result.

This is what literally weeks of major disassembly, wire brushing and huffing kerosene fumes can do.

The only thing I regret at this point was not taking more "before" pictures. The build up of crud, complicated by soot, was just incredible on the entire underside of the bike, particularly the engine.

The kardan boot covers were actually up in the loft, the worst area of the fire. They were in a heavy cardboard box which protected them, except minor discoloration. I have to tell you they were a true mutha' to get onto the shaft, over the kardan joints.

I need to figure out how to deal with the surface rust on the frame, fenders, and fuel tank. There is no way I'll paint them. I tried oiling them a bit, and that just might be good enough. I don't plan on ever riding it in the rain, although I do want it to be my local daily rider, just around town with occasional forays into the country.

   The right side of the Zundapp KS601 startig to look pretty good.

  The KS601 right side, significantly improved.

Last updated 11-16-17
Email:  mechanique at wmol dot com

Zundapp drive shaft, U-joints, and pinions.