Deutsch Motoren (German gas engines)

By Staff
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Kevin Hesse’s German DKW engine showing the operating instructions in German.
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The contents of the tool kit that came with Kevin’s engine including many spare parts.
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The case Kevin Hesse’s engine was found in in Germany.
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A side view of the engine, which was found in?Germany during WW II.
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The view from the top, faintly showing German writing.
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Karl Schwab’s 2 HP 2-cycle German gas engine as he found it in a roadside junk pile.

Ivan Zeeb’s father owned a farm equipment
dealership in Dixboro, Mich., so he was familiar with small
engines. While an infantry man during World War II, he came upon a
small generator that the Germans abandoned along a railroad track
while retreating from France. It was so much different than any
engine he had worked on back at his father’s shop that he and a
fellow soldier carried it back the two miles to the base camp and
had it shipped home. After the war was over and he was sent home,
he tried to get it running, but discovered that the magneto
windings were shorted out. He sent the magneto to a shop in
Chicago, but after several months and no progress he became worried
that he may not ever get it back. While in Chicago for other
reasons he picked up the un-repaired magneto just in time; the
company went out of business soon after.

Sixty years later he asked my dad and I if we would like to try
to get it running. We looked to see if there was any way to repair
the magneto ourselves, but it would have to be rewound. In the
meantime we temporarily converted it to battery ignition. The
engine is a single-cylinder 2-stroke and it had a couple of levers
on the carburetor, which we didn’t know what they were for. Also,
we had no idea what fuel mix to use. I copied all the instructions
down that were on the metal plate on the fuel tank and went online
to have them translated into English. They are very detailed and
complete. We filled it with fuel and, following the instructions,
gave the starter strap a couple of pulls and it started up. I put a
voltmeter on the generator to check the voltage. It had two
outputs. One was 12.5 volts and the other was 100 volts. I’ve been
told it was used to power a radio transmitter.

Inside the cover is a tool kit and spare parts that included not
only an extra set of points, a spark plug and other common items,
but also a full set of gaskets, extra nuts, bolts and washers,
piston rings and other items to overhaul the engine in the field.
Everything but a new magneto.

From what research I could do I discovered that DKW, the company
that made the engine and generator, was a forerunner of the Audi
automotive company. The four circles that Audi uses as its logo
came from the merging of four companies, including DKW.

The engine is very smooth-running and quiet. The base is
actually a large muffler. It has a tachometer and the governor
keeps the engine at 3,000 RPMs. The engine size and horsepower are
unknown at this time, but most likely in the 5 HP range.

Ivan was a collector of engines and tractors and belonged to the
antique engine club in Ypsilanti. While we have yet to have the
magneto rewound we have been running it on battery and were able to
display it at a few shows for Ivan before he passed away last

Contact Kevin Hesse at: 6028 E.Joy Road, Ann Arbor, MI 48105;

Junk-pile find connects German engine

By Karl Schwab

My wife was out of town for a few days, and
when it is just me at home, I don’t usually bother to cook just for
myself. It was a nice summer Sunday evening, so I decided to just
ride my bicycle over to a local fast-food restaurant a short ride
away. On the ride back, I was riding on the sidewalk of a main
highway, and down the way ahead of me I saw a pile of stuff at the
curb with cars stopping and people going through its contents. I
rode up to this pile, which contained some things that I wish I now
had. Between the people and objects, I saw an item that looked like
an air compressor pump. I stared at it just a little longer and
then I saw a spark plug! I then saw what looked like a carburetor.
Then a starting crank handle. Then a fuel cap held to the fuel tank
by a leather strap. It was an engine that I had never seen

I dropped my bike and grabbed it. It was dirty, greasy and
heavy. I had to keep an eye on my bike so as not to lose it in the
feeding frenzy. I could not leave my bike, it would probably be
snatched, so I climbed on my bike, balanced the engine on my thigh
and carefully rode the quarter mile home. I found out later that
the homeowner had passed away, and his collections were being
disposed of prior to putting the property up for sale.

When I got to my house, the engine was getting very heavy and it
was digging into my thigh. I rode up on the lawn and gently dropped
the engine into the grass. I had made a mess of my pants, but I
thought that this find may be worth it. Excitedly, I got out the
de-greaser and sprayed the engine down with it, following up with a
good spray from my garden hose. It looked much better now and it
had what appeared to be an aluminum instruction tag affixed to the
fuel tank. Great! But I had a big surprise; it was all in

At this time, I had the engine sitting on my driveway­ – a very
uncomfortable place and position to really get into it. I
remembered seeing back in the pile, what looked like a metal sewing
machine base; I thought I could probably mount the engine on it to
work on or maybe even run it on it if I were so lucky.

I quickly rode over to the pile once again and the base I was
looking for was still there. This was neat; it even had a faintly
painted pinstripe on the front of it. I quickly mounted a piece of
plywood to this base and mounted the engine on top of it.

The next day, I went to my local library and got a German to
English translation book. I was able to translate that this was a 2
HP, 2-cycle gasoline engine. The starting instructions were
detailed, and I went through the list and made the settings. This
was a complete engine, carburetor, fuel tank, magneto, muffler,
starting crank handle; it had it all!

Will it run, I thought? I put the crank handle in the starting
position and tried to turn the engine over. I could not. Then I
pushed down on a knob located on the cylinder head – a compression
release! Now the engine turned over easily. No spark, but lots of
compression. I checked the magneto, and it had an open wire in the
windings. I substituted an automotive coil and a 12-volt battery
and now I had a good spark. I made up a 2-cycle mixture according
to the instructions on the engine tag, added fuel to the tank and I
had a leak at the fuel petcock. The cork gasket sealing the
sediment bulb had dried out. I quickly made another and the leak
stopped. I set the carburetor settings to the instructions
provided, depressed the compression release and cranked her over.
After a few revolutions, the engine fired up and made a lot of
noise. I let it run for a couple of minutes, adjusted the
carburetor and slowed the engine to a nice steady idle. Now, I
thought, what do I have here? Now that it was running, I could not
stand looking at that old paint, so while it was all cleaned up, I
sprayed a coat of paint on it in a like color.

At that time, I was just getting onto the Internet and I got our
first digital camera. I took a couple of photos and posted them to
a couple of the antique engine websites. I got two responses; one
from a fellow in Indiana who had one like it and another from an
engine collector from the Netherlands, John Hammink. John
remembered seeing something like it in his travels but could not
give me any real information on it. I took it to a couple of engine
shows around my area, and some of the engine collectors there said
that they had never seen anything like it.

The next year, I continued showing and running the engine, and
at one show, a fellow came up to me and asked me where the
generator was for it? Finally, a clue to the use of this engine. He
said he had the engine, but the generator had voltages he could not
use, so he discarded the generator and hooked it up to a small
generator that he could use. Another fellow came over and said that
he had an engine like this one, but he had the complete unit:
generator, case, repair/replacement parts and all. His name was
Kevin Hesse. He told me his engine, however, had a different
starter system (rather than a cranking handle like mine) and he was
interested in the difference. He wasn’t able to bring his circa
1937 engine to this show, but he offered me photos of his on his
website. He also said that when his engine was running, it could
hardly be heard. As it turns out, the base this engine was designed
to sit on is also its muffler, which I don’t have. The generator
output is 12.5 volts/100 volts; probably voltages for tube-type
radio equipment of its time. The included tool kit contains a set
of gaskets, extra nuts, bolts, washers, bearings, brushes, rings,
points, plug and condenser.

The next year, my brothers-in-law and I went to the NAMES (North
American Model Engine Society) show in Southgate, Mich. While
browsing through the vendor area, my brother-in-law quickly said,
“there is your German engine stand!” What my stand turned out to be
was the legs and bed for a treadle lathe. The complete lathe was
being sold for $400 dollars, as I recall.

It’s a fun engine to show, and because of this engine and
meeting new people interested in engines, it got me started on
collecting engines. I went to Portland, Ind., this past summer and
bought my first hit-n-miss engine: a 1927 Economy 1-3/4 HP Model

Contact Karl Schwab at: (586)751-3117;

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