Vulcan Scale Models
Zündapp K500 Motorcycle w/figure
Vulcan Scale Models 1:35 Kit #56003

Review by Terry Ashley

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The Zündapp K 500 (K standing for Kardanantrieb or shaft drive) weighing in at 180kg had a 498cc flat twin cylinder petrol engine producing 16hp @ 4800rpm with a 4 speed hand change gearbox and drive shaft to give a top speed of 105 km/h. More than 15,000 K 500s were built between 1933 and 1940 with most used by the German Wehmacht during WWII.

The kit:
This new kit from Vulcan Models of the Zündapp K 500 with one rider figure has 80 parts in light grey plastic, 24 etched brass parts and 4 stainless steel wheel spoke discs and 4 small seat springs. There is also a small decal sheet that has markings for 2 K 500s plus the speedometer dials and Zündapp name logo for the fuel tank.

Metal parts
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Decal sheet
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The kit is quite comprehensive with the major features of the K 500 included and the metal parts adding fine definition while on the other hand there is a number of sizable part location and profile issues that will need some good old fashioned modelling skills to deal with. I have added a few additional details as well as addressing the issues during the kit assembly.

The standard of moulding is quite good but there is a fair bit of fine flash about the place requiring careful cleanup of most parts before use, plus the odd pin mark and the usual moulding seams to be removed with care needed on the small parts included in the kit. The 24 finely etched parts are cleanly done but apart from the front and back number plates are all very small requiring the usual care when handling. The same can be said for the small springs included for the rider and pillion seats, being real springs they must be handled with care, just don’t compress with tweezers or they could quickly go into lower earth orbit.

Probably the standout feature of the kit is the stainless steel wheel spokes to add that fine touch to the wheels, being stainless steel they are stronger than the usual etched brass and should make assembly a little easier, the technical assistance provided by Swash Designs is obvious in these spokes.

The wheels themselves are the separate disc type made up of 5 disc segments that are sandwiched together trapping the metal spokes centrally in the process. There is some fine flash to be trimmed from around the other edges of some segments and it may be an idea to number the parts with a fine pen as you remove them from the sprues to ensure you fit the segments in the correct order.

When fitting the segments together there is a small amount of play and you have to ensure each segment is located evenly against the previous segment or you could end up with wheels with one tread section offset a little from the others. Also note that the three locating pins on the inside of the outer wheel segment for each wheel are not perfectly symmetrical with two located closer together than the third pin. This is to ensure once all the wheel segments and the spoke discs are joined together the tread blocks and spokes are correctly aligned, so make sure you align the locating pins without trying to force them if not lined up correctly. When they are aligned correctly the fit is good apart from the minor play of the segments as mentioned above.

The stainless steel spoke discs are preformed to shape thankfully as it is harder to work with the tougher stainless steel than etched brass so you only have to worry about filing the small bur where the discs are cut from the fret before assembly. Each spoke disc has a small notch that fits over a corresponding locating notch on the outer wheel segments to align the spokes but unfortunately this results in the spokes actually being misaligned.

The spokes ends shouldn't meet at the same spot on the rim but overlap and you will need to remove one (or both) of the small plastic locating notches on the outer wheel segments, I also found it easier to glue the two spoke discs together before fitting into the wheel segments as this made getting them aligned correctly far easier.
I didn't actually notice this until I had assembled the wheels resulting in the images having the wheels with the incorrect spoke alignment, apologies for that.

Image (left) showing the incorrect alignment of the spokes as per the instructions and locating notches on the wheels.
The image on the right has the correct alignment with the spoke ends overlapping as they should.

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The assembled wheels look good and a light sanding of the tread will eliminate any remaining flash or inconsistencies in tread bloke height ready to be fitted as you progress with the assembly.

Front forks:
The front forks have the central mounting that includes the moulded suspension spring bracket to which is attached the handlebars, top locking handle and small etched switch lever. The handlebars have the brake and clutch levers included but unfortunately the handlebars have the incorrect profile and lack the flattened W shape of the actual handlebars. Replacing the bars with appropriately sized wire would be one option?

Profile of the kit handlebars shown against an image from the K 500 Operator's manual
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Attached to the central mounting are the two fork frames with the front fender trapped between them, ensure the longest part of the fender is positioned towards the rear. Allow the glue on this assembly to dry completely and then fit the front wheel into place, I had to thin the locating pin on the right fork a little to fit into the hole in the wheel hub but other than that the fit is good allowing the wheel to rotate freely.

Added to the assembly is the rear plastic fender support with two small etched fittings and the two etched forward supports and two part front number plate, it’s best to leave the two part head light off at present as this has to be mounted level with the ground line after the fork assembly is attached to the body later.

The engine block is in two halves with nice subtle texturing including two weld seams and added to this are the two part cylinders which have cleanly rendered cooling fins. These could be a little deeper but are without pin marks or other blemishes, note the part numbers as they are different for either side.

The front profile of the engine is too squared and should be more rounded (see image below) but this is mostly hidden by the bike frame and front wheel forks on the completed model so may not be an issue with some?

I added the two spark plugs and wire as these seem very conspicuous by their absence to add a little additional detail to the engine block.

Added to the engine is the gear box with separate gear change lever and engine start pedal along with the battery and it is advisable to test fit these as a couple of locating holes needed enlarging slightly for a better fit.

The lower sump (part B6) is added to the bottom of the engine block but this appears to be positioned the wrong way around in the instructions, more on this below.

Main Frame:
The two main bike frames have a little flash to be removed and the instructions show to add the foot plates, foot pegs and the right side foot brake pedal with etched connecting rod. This needed the pin on the brake pedal thinned to fit through the hole in the etched part and there are also two small etched Zundapp badges to add to the front of the frames.

It may be an idea to leave the foot pegs off until the frame halves are joined as they can easily be damaged during the final frame assembly, other than that there were no other problems encountered.

The final assembly of the frame halves has the assembled engine plus the rear wheel and fender trapped between the frames in the process, the right pin hole in the wheel hub had to be enlarged (drilled) a little to fit the pin on the right frame brake drum. There are two lower edge brackets on the frames that join together and the forward of these fit into the recess in part B6 to secure the engine in place.

This unfortunately results in the engine being about 1.5 to 2mm too far forward in the frame with the cylinders hard up against the forward frame when they should be the same 1.5 to 2mm further back inside the frame (see images).

It appears the lower sump (part B6) should be fitted the opposite around than that shown in the instructions with the recess to the front of the engine block as this would see the engine set further back. I am assuming this as I had glued the engine in place before noticing the incorrect position requiring some minor surgery to fix.

Position of the engine within the frame when assembled per kit instructions (left)
and the corrected position shown against an image from the K 500 Operator's manual (right)

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K 500 Operator's manual image showing the correct position of the engine within the frame
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As a consequence of repositioning the engine the rear drive shaft (part B12) and the two exhaust pipes also need to be shortened, the forward bend contours of the two exhaust pipes also have the incorrect profile being too square when they should be a smooth curved profile at the front. To fix both the pipe length and curved profile I replaced the kit pipes with copper wire of the appropriate size.

Kit exhaust pipes with incorrect profile and correct pipes below
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Final Assembly:
The instructions show to attach the front forks to the main body at this point but I found to better to leave these separate until last for easier handling while adding the remaining details to the body.

These include the top fuel tank with four parts and the rider’s seat and rear luggage rack with rear pannier seat. Both the seats have the small metal springs for excellent definition and attaching the ends of the springs to the seats with cyanoacrylate will make sure they are not lost while fitting the seats. There are a series of small studs around the back of the seats but after cleaning up the mould seams these weren’t in the best condition and I replaced these with small resin round rivet heads for better definition.

Other items added are the small auxiliary tank, front mounted horn and rear stand in plastic along with numerous small etched fittings plus the rear fender supports and number plate, these etched parts add nice definition to the final model.

The two rear luggage pouches can be attached to the luggage rack if you wish to fit these to complete the main body assembly.

Lastly the front fork assembly is attached to the body and this required the pin locating holes in the body frames to be enlarged to take the fork locating pins. The upper pin is included with the central fork mounting while the lower attachment bracket (part A21) is attached to the forks, the locating pins on part A21 are way too small for the opening in the forks so you should align these as you glue the bracket to the forks after inserting the pin into the underside of the main frame. Once the forks and frames are assembled you can attach the headlight ensuring this is fitted horizontally to the ground line.

Rider figure:
Included in the kit is a standing rider figure with one leg over the bike and his right hand holding the handlebars, this is broken down conventionally with two separate legs, upper torso, two arms, head and helmet. The uniform detail is quite well done and the fit of the parts not requiring any trimming or filling. Additional items include a pair of goggles plus personal equipment of bread bag, water bottle and gas mask canister but it is best to leave the bag off as this doesn’t allow the figure to sit properly over the bike.

The overall appearance of the assembly kit is good due to the numerous metal parts especially the wheel spokes but there are some sizable issues to be addressed. The most serious being the position of the engine in the frame although it’s not that difficult to reposition as well as dealing with corresponding drive shaft and exhaust pipe alterations. The only other issue is the shape of the handlebars which again is not too difficult to rectify but the work needed with these issues does detract from the kits appeal.

There is also scope to add the additional engine wiring and control cables to the handlebars to finish off and the inclusion of the rider figure is a nice touch.

If you are prepared for some extra work a very nice model of the Zündapp K 500 will result but as said the issues do distract from the build ability of the kit as it comes in the box.


The Sprues:

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Assembly detail Images
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Sprue detail images
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Heavy Sidecar Motorcycles
of the Wehrmacht 1935-1945

Schiffer Publications
ISBN: 0764312723
Motocykle Wehrmachtu
Tank Power Vol.LXVIII
Wydawnictwo Militaria No.300
ISBN: 9788372193001

Thanks to Vulcan Scale Models for the review kit.

Page created July 12, 2010

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