Heinkel Engines: Part 1

Heinkel Car Engine
Rebuilt Car Engine

Heinkel Engines have a number of virtues as well as drawbacks. Their greatest virtues are that parts are readily available, and that they are very durable. In fact, the engine of my Heinkel scooter started up after 30 years of sitting, even with a hole in the piston! Another virtue is that with the proper tools, they are pretty easy and forgiving to work on.
Their drawbacks? They were generally undermatched for the cars they were used in, and they all seem to leak oil from any number of orifices. The resulting patterns they leave on your garage floor are not pretty, no how enamored you’ve become with your Heinkel.
Heinkel engines have a single cylinder, four stroke, overhead valve design with splash lubrication.  This design uses relatively few parts (compared to some other vehicles I’ve worked on, like a Honda 350). They put out about 10 horsepower at 5500 rpm.
In my collection of parts I had two complete engines that would turn over freely, another two complete engines with the top ends removed, a disemboweled engine case with the parts in a bin, several other swingarms, and a collection of miscellaneous gears and chains that I think belonged to an Isetta. I decided to rebuild a 200cc engine that I knew would turn over.
I do all my engine work in the basement, so lugging the engines downstairs isn’t exactly easy. After several years of struggling I found a good and inexpensive solution- I use large Rubbermaid storage containers. It’s not hard to get the engine into the container, pop the top on, and the either put it on a moving dolly or just slide it around. You can also slide them easily up and down stairs, even by yourself, but preferably with a helper. I use the large size, which is about 18” wide and 4” long. You often see them in storage areas and cost about $20.  
Engine in a Rubbermaid Container
Once I get my engine downstairs I prepare the workspace. Maybe I’ve seen too many episodes of Dexter, but I like to cover surfaces with plastic, layout my tools in order, and use nitrile gloves for everything. It’s taken me a few years to get into this routine, but ultimately it saves time, your clothes, and your hands.
Some other non-tool items you need to successfully work on a small engine:
  • Heinkel Workshop Manual (available on the internet)
  • Exploded Parts Diagram
  • Camera
  • Notepad
  • Headlight
  • Engine Stand

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