1. Buckeye601

    Buckeye601 Loyal Comrade

    So, I have a 1969 601 that has not been started for at least 10 years now, perhaps a few more. I am hoping this weekend to get a new 6v battery, put some gas/oil mix in the tank and see if I can start the engine. I will probably buy and install new spark plugs also.

    Does anyone have advice for what I should do prior to attempting to start the car, or should I just give it a shot?

    Also, the gas tank is empty at this point, and looking in the tank there appears to be a seam that runs from front to back generally under the filler hole. It looks like there is a gap in that seam, and I am not sure if that is normal, or if that might be some sort of defect that will allow the gas to just leak out or maybe that is just the way the tank normally is. Has anyone seen that seam in their tank before, and should I be concerned about it? It might make sense for me to pull the tank ahead of putting some gas in it to see if it looks like the seam passes through the tank shell if the way the seam looks is unusual. Is it difficult to pull the tank out? Any tricks or “gotchas” about doing so?

    I can try to take a photo of the inside of the tank if that would help.
  2. Andrew353w

    Andrew353w Puttering Along

    I'd check that the engine turns over freely before attempting to start it and I'd then remove the sparking plugs, pour some 2 stroke oil into the cylinders and then turn it over again to give the bearings a good coating of oil before arranging to start the engine. Only then would I put the plugs back and try to start it. I'd expect a "certain reluctance", given how long it's stood, so maybe try pouring fuel directly into the carburettor, to help it start, before drawing fuel through the tank and pipes.
    trabant601 likes this.
  3. Buckeye601

    Buckeye601 Loyal Comrade

    Thanks for the advice Andrew353w.

    Should I be able to turn the engine manually via pulling on the belt? If so, is it advisable to remove spark plugs first to prevent resistance from compression, or is that not an issue with these engines?
  4. Andrew353w

    Andrew353w Puttering Along

    Yes, remove the plugs to start with and turn the engine over by turning the dynamo pulley, which will then turn the engine via the fan belt. If you pour some 2-stroke oil into the cylinders at the same time you'll give the bearings a good coating of oil. New plugs would be a suitable investment, too!

    Where's the car?
    trabant601 likes this.
  5. Buckeye601

    Buckeye601 Loyal Comrade

    Thanks again for the advice. Removing the plugs seemed like a good idea, at least given my experience with a Mercedes diesel car I once had. Without creating some sort of opening to the engine it was simply impossible to turn that high compression engine over.

    I am definitely planning on getting new plugs, though I am not sure what plugs are available locally that are appropriate so I probably need to do a bit more reading of threads on the site to see what my options are. I am open to suggestions in this thread too as to what are readily available choices in the U.S. It seems that there are lots of choices that may work, but I am not yet clear on what the "best" choices are, and what ones I might be able to find. The ones in the car are very likely ones that were in it when it was purchased in Germany, so I am not sure if I will be able to find the exact ones it has now, and of course, there is no guarantee that whatever plugs are in there now are actually "correct" either.

    The car is in a storage building near my home in northwest Ohio where it has been almost since the day it was imported by my Dad. My "avatar" pic is where it is sitting now in that pole barn, next to a mid-1960s Olds convertible. I have plenty of space to work there which will be nice.

    I plan to take a few pictures to post here soon.


    P.S. Newbie question here since I never have seen this car run: in which direction does the engine turn? I want to make sure I manually spin it in the correct direction. In other words, on which side should I pull the belt, and should I pull up or down on it on that side?
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2019
  6. Andrew353w

    Andrew353w Puttering Along

    Bit tricky to pop over then, given that I'm in north London, England! As to the direction of rotation of the engine, any description I could give as to clock or anti-clockwise, facing the car from the front or the rear would be too confusing, so I'd suggest you I've the starter motor a SMALL flick and see which way the engine twitches.
    trabant601 likes this.
  7. Buckeye601

    Buckeye601 Loyal Comrade

    It would indeed be a bit of a trip for you to come to visit. My guess is that it is anti-clockwise while looking at the engine from the passenger side (the side where I believe the belt is located) if it is similar to American transverse-mounted engines but since Trabants are somewhat of their own beasts, I am not convinced that is correct. Unless someone chimes in with a definitive answer before the weekend, I will have someone give it just a little bump on the starter using the key and observe for myself before proceeding.

    The car shows 21,500 km on the odometer, and the engine bay looks to be fairly clean, so I suppose it is possible that the odometer has not turned over once (or more) already, but there is no way to know that. I took a peek under the car (no lift, just laying down next to it with a torch) and I see nothing obvious that is rusting except the exhaust system and a few mechanical pieces under there unless all of that is hidden beneath undercoating. The rocker panels, the shock towers in the engine bay, etc. all look very solid. So, perhaps the car has relatively little use so far and getting this going *might* be a little easier than a well-worn engine, but sitting for as long as it has will no doubt provide some sort of challenges like almost certainly the brakes.

    Again, thanks for the reply.

  8. A Spooky Ghost

    A Spooky Ghost Loyal Comrade

    Hi Mark, it is a small world. My first Trabi came from Ohio! Now it is a trailer....;) Was from that big 700 vehicle auction a few years ago...

    When looking at the fan on the pass. side/belt side- it spins clockwise. Feel free to squirt some 2 stroke oil down the cylinders. I almost guarantee you the points will need the be cleaned/ gapped after sitting this long. So check for spark the first thing-when cranking. If it is adjusted right, you will need to choke it for the first start. Chances are it will smoke like a forest fire too!

    I use NGK BR6HS plugs. Can be easily found at any part store, gap them to the factory spec of: about 24 thousandths(.5-.6mm).

    Here is a owners, and service manual in English :https://www.dropbox.com/s/yq48woj2aacrg5o/Operating_Instructions_Trabant.pdf?dl=0

    https://www.dropbox.com/s/qzr18f610ysk5o9/Full Manual-edit_ver.pdf?dl=0

    I'll be happy to answer any trabi questions over the phone(I'm in VA). Just send me a PM, if you want.

    If your courious-Recently Walmart had a sale on 155/80r13 tires for these cars-($9.00 a tire..) A douglas brand-made by good year.

    Have fun with the first start! Here is my first try, car barely ran too....

    Last edited: Jun 26, 2019
  9. trondd

    trondd Loyal Comrade

    I would pull the plugs and crank the motor. Maybe others have looked inside the motor and can comment, but I doubt you could get oil into the bearings by pouring into the cylinders. I would do that too to get oil in there to start with and free up the rings. I would think the oil would need to be aerosolized in the crank case to get onto everything. Pull the plugs so they don't get fouled. And put something over the holes so you don't spray fuel and oil all over the engine bay. :)

    Regarding engine rotation direction, look at the fan blades. The engine turns in the direction that allows the fan to suck air in and blow it towards the cylinders.
  10. BillB

    BillB Loyal Comrade Administrator Forum Donor

    My .02
    Do not spin the engine over (not yet)
    Pull the plugs
    Buy some Sta-Bil fogging oil (see image) and fog the crap out of the cylinders down the plug holes.
    Let it set/soak for a long time (24 hours should be plenty).
    Now spin the engine over and fog again only now include spraying up the carb throat.
    Once everything seems free and easy, leave the plugs out and spin the engine over with the starter motor while fogging down the carb.
    Oil to the rings, cylinder walls, crank and rod needles will be really important at the initial start up.

    This may be a little over cautious, but I rather error on the side of not needing to pull/replace the engine.

    Fresh plugs (NGK's are great) and clean fuel.

    This may be a separate topic, but I would pull the fuel tank and clean it out before the first attempt at starting.
    Likely the carb has minimal garbage in it at the moment.
    Most likely the fuel in the carb evaporated well before it varnished.
    Attempt to start it with a tank full of rust and you'll likely need to rebuild the carb shortly there after.

    These are opinions, YMMV

    Attached Files:

    RogerDerSchrauber likes this.
  11. Buckeye601

    Buckeye601 Loyal Comrade

    Thanks so much for the offer to talk over the phone if needed. I will definitely take you up on that if I run into issues.

    Thanks also for the links to the manuals. It is amazing to have some sort of reference that needs not to be translated from Deutsch first.

    Lastly, thanks for the tire tip. It looks like there is one store which has two of those tires left no real far away. Everything else in a 60-mile radius is sold out, but two spare tires would be nice to have just in case, especially at that price.
  12. Buckeye601

    Buckeye601 Loyal Comrade

    Thanks for the advice trondd. Your help is appreciated by this newbie.
  13. Buckeye601

    Buckeye601 Loyal Comrade

    That seems like a good plan BillB. I definitely would like to avoid damage to the engine if at all possible, and sitting for that long is not healthy for an engine for sure.

    As to the gas tank, it is completely dry and empty, and either it was somehow coated in the past with a gray paint or something inside, or that is the way they look from the factory maybe? Peeking inside I do not see any loose debris at all. There is a seam in the tank, closer to the passenger side than the middle of the tank, that is uneven (it opens a bit more as it runs to the rear of the tank) which I am unsure about. I am not sure if that might be an indication of a tank that will leak when I put gas/oil in it or not, and since the tank is completely dry now, this would be the time to attempt a repair if it is needed but I am not sure it is an issue. I tried to get a picture of it to post here, and was mostly unsuccessful - either it was out of focus or the light I was shining in was in the wrong place. Anyway, I am including a copy of the best one I have which shows what the inside looks like and a bit of that seam. There is a somewhat larger but not huge gap just to the right of what is shown in the picture, so farther to the firewall side of the tank. I will see if I can get a better picture of what I am talking about to post here.

    I will do some investigation this weekend when I have time, but does anyone know how much is involved in pulling the tank from the car? Is it relatively easy to get out, and would I need any gaskets/o-rings or anything to replace if I remove the tank and disconnect things to make a closer examination?

    Thanks again to everyone for your advice. I am very interested in trying to get this going, but also a bit apprehensive, as I do not want to make any big mistakes that I will regret.

    Attached Files:

    • Tank.jpg
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    Last edited: Jun 27, 2019
  14. trondd

    trondd Loyal Comrade

    Pulling the tank is super simple. I had to remove and clean my whole fuel system over the Winter.

    2 nuts hold the retaining hooks on either side of the tank. The hardest part is then wiggling it around right to unhook the fuel shutoff knob from the valve under the tank. You get enough wiggle room to do it, though. Feel around back there and make sure the bend in the rod is horizontal before you start.

    A nut joins the valve and filter assembly to the tank with, I think, a copper washer in between. If you take the banjo fitting off the value, there are washers on either side.

    This is what the value looks like

    And these are all of the filters and washers and replaceable bits that exist as part of it.
  15. Buckeye601

    Buckeye601 Loyal Comrade

    A bit of a mystery here. Just stopped by the car to pull the spark plugs. They look relatively new from all appearances and are Champion brand but I do not know what the model number is since I could not get a good look at it. I did not have the correct size socket to pull the plugs, since they were larger than I expected, probably around an inch instead of a more typical size of around 5/8ths.

    In the car were some old plugs, probably the ones that were replaced. Those plugs are a much different size than the ones that seem to be called for in threads on this forum, including this thread. They are labeled Isolator M18 260. They are definitely vintage plugs as they include markings that indicate they were made in East Germany.

    Update: I went back was able to remove the Champion D21's, which according to sparkplug-reference.com are indeed 18mm thread diameter and not 14 mm like the BR6HS which I thought was the correct size. The hex size (the socket size needed) is a crazy 23.8mm for some reason, but I was able to get them out with a socket I had in the garage. The Champion plugs were gapped at about the correct amount posted by A Spooky Ghost, whereas the Isolator one that appeared to have been used previously was at around .045, so super wide in comparison. Seems like the car would not have run too well on those. The Champion plugs look like they had been used to run the car a little bit, but were really quite clean overall so my guess is they were used very little since they were installed.

    In any event, any idea why this engine would have a different size plug (is there a different head that would fit somehow but be from a different model), or am I just thoroughly confused?

    I uploaded three pics of the original plug (in case anyone is interested), and also a pic of the seam inside the gas tank I referred to earlier. The inside of the tank looks really black in the picture, but it is actually a silvery gray color and looks really clean inside. I looked and felt underneath the tank and there is no split or seam on the outside so I think I am OK with the tank at least for now. I don't think it will leak at this point.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Jun 27, 2019
  16. A Spooky Ghost

    A Spooky Ghost Loyal Comrade

    Unless the early cars used a different thread size(I have no idea), someone stripped your plug threads by cross threading -or over tightening.... Then they probably ran a drill, and a M18 tap. Might want to find a set of heads down the road.

    Almost forgot, if your engine is as old as the car, you should be running 33:1 fuel/oil ratio. Somehow, I doubt it is original. Seems most all have been swapped around a few times. The later engines use 50:1.

    Personally I run 40:1(makes me feel better about super high speed runs!:D).

    Very good idea about the fogging oil, I'll get a can myself for other projects.

    Take your time, then when it gets going-" the real fun begins!"
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2019
  17. Buckeye601

    Buckeye601 Loyal Comrade


    Your theory makes sense, though whoever did that managed to bugger up both cylinders if that is the case. Not out of the realm of possibility for sure, but someone with bad luck or had no clue what they were doing. Generally I would expect just one side to be accidentally damaged but that seems not to be the case.

    I plan an order of parts once I figure out what I really need. It looks like the heads are not too expensive, and I assume I need little more than them and new gaskets for that replacement. It looks like pulling the heads is not a super complicated job like it would be on most modern, water cooled and overly power accessory laden vehicles. Maybe a good winter job to take on.

  18. Buckeye601

    Buckeye601 Loyal Comrade

    Spooky Ghost:

    I stopped by the one Walmart that showed those tires in stock, and they had three of them (too bad it was not 4). I got the three for $31.50 - such a deal even if I may need to have mismatched front and rears. The spare wheel I have has a good tire on it, so if I can match that tire, I will have mismatched front/rear pairs, but good rubber all the way around, plus the third tire I got today will make for a nice spare.

    Thank for the heads-up!

  19. A Spooky Ghost

    A Spooky Ghost Loyal Comrade

    Seems most any Walmart, that has a tire center-had these tires at one point. Even if they are not listed online, give them a call....
  20. Buckeye601

    Buckeye601 Loyal Comrade

    They said they were phasing them out of their inventory, so they were liquidating them. I might call around to a few others just in case to see if their inventory is not correct online. I would love to get one more if I can.

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