Forgive me, I'm new... (Thinking of buying a 404s) - Mercedes-Benz Forum
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post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-08-2019, 04:15 PM Thread Starter
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Forgive me, I'm new... (Thinking of buying a 404s)

I love the forum world and in the last week I've been reading this one. A lot.

Pretty amazing to see a forum on basically anything where people actually seem to speak kindly to each other and be genuinely helpful. I admire it.

So I live in Alaska and am contemplating a 404S that is for sale here. I'm learning all about the machine, though I have read significant amounts about Unimogs in general in the past.

In an ideal world, I would like to build some sort of camping set up on the back of one and reality is I would use it to travel mostly around Alaska - in the summer predominately.

I've read some on this forum about speeds... This one, according to owner, tops out at 40mph. Is a 6cyl and 6 speed transmission, but is always trailered on highways. I've read various information about top speeds and do wonder about this. Trailering would be tough as wheelbase is wider than my car hauler.

Any thoughts on this or other advice is totally welcome!
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post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-08-2019, 04:34 PM
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404 Unimogs are neat trucks. They are nice in cold weather because that little M-180 engine will start in cold temperatures in which a Diesel won't think about starting. That one is certainly slow though. A normal 404 will reach about 60 mph on the flat or down hill, if given enough time.

Would this be the 404 converted to Ford 6 cylinder I remember hearing about in Alaska?

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post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-08-2019, 04:35 PM
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Top speed of 404’s highly depends on how well it’s cared for. I have been part of purchase where the owner says “ it tops out at 35mph”. Well, they are right at that moment, but shortly after once tuned up the same truck will do 50-55mph or depending on altitude and such they can do more. Regardless, they do not go fast uphill. Once loaded with camping gear etc they are dogs for sure. They work great putting around local areas, but if you start breaking out maybe 50-100miles or more you will feel it. Love my 404, and would buy another in the right situation, but they are a chore to drive sometimes.
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post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-09-2019, 04:56 AM
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Guuden,

It's a very good idea!
The 404 runs with 275/80x20 tires up to 100 km/h,
with 60-75 km/h it is comfortable.

the track width is 1620mm, tire outside to tire outside is 1890mm, the wheelbase 2700mm.
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post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-09-2019, 01:36 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for all of the responses, guys.

It isn't the one with the Ford engine. It does look like it is in pretty good shape, but I know so little about them. In comparison to the average guy, I have definitely read a ton over the years, but so much unknown.

I've rebuilt and done lots of work on old Land Cruisers... never anything like these. On the scale of old Land Cruiser simple engine to brand new computerized Ferrari, where would you guys put this on the scale of difficulty in maintenance and repairs?

If I built a camper for the back, with the aforementioned proper tuning, could I get it to run 55 on the highway? Or is truly any amount of weight going to be a major slowdown?

I liked the quote I read that said they are fast tractors... I'm not trying to get it to magically do what I want, I just want to know if I'm going down the right road.

Thanks again so much for the responses....
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post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-09-2019, 06:29 PM
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The unimog can be compared to the maintenance of a light tractor. Generally pretty stupid simple with the occasional heavy awkward part to work on. But they always run and always drive assuming they are largely intact. I have never been left out in the cold with any unimog I have owned.
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post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-11-2019, 09:00 PM
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What part of Alaska do you live in? If your located near Anchorage, your welcome to drop by for a Q & A session and a look at my 404. I’m no expert but have learned a thing or two over the years of owning and maintaining one of these beasts.
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post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old Yesterday, 10:58 AM
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Maintenance wise the 404 no more complicated than an old domestic pickup. Drum brake axles, carbureted 6cyl with overhead cam, an easily converted ignition and the integrated transfer case and transmission.

Honestly with the manual and a working understanding of hand tools you could take it apart and ferry it across a river and reassemble it with an extremely high confidence index for success.

The biggest fear inducer for the lay owner I think is the transmission, scary tales of yellow metal degradation, high speeds melting bearings etc. And yes all of this is true to a degree, it’s also very preventable and corrected.

As a primer, the standard 404 will have a battery shut off on the floor, a main power switch and an ignition switch plus push button for starter.

The three pedals need no introduction. The transmission is a 2+4 shift pattern; 1 and 2 are in the low range and when you move right past the double gate you shift into high range and have access to 3/4 & 5/6. In other words you have a 4 speed in high range and a 2 speed in low range. It’s a torquey engine and you can start is just about any gear you want if it will move. To select reverse you have to go back to the low range side of the pattern. The reverse selector is a forward backward selector allowing you to use 1 or 2 this way or that way. More on this in a moment.

The 4wd & locker selector is fairly straight forward, it will shift on the fly into 4wd, nudge it again and the rear lockers will engage, once more and the fronts and rears. Not advisable on hard surface unless you might be starting a heavy trailer moving and need maximum torque.

For extreme fun you can perform some surgery on the shift logic plate of the transmission and can do a number of fun things: convert to a 4x4 shift pattern, 4 speeds in low and 4 speed in high with selectable high and low range and/or unlock reverse in all gears. The reverse thing is more of a party trick but depending on how you play the pedals it might come in handy.

Common modifications are high compression engine swaps, twin carb swaps, propane swaps all of which have a purpose and place. Additionally it’s not uncommon to see the 4wd selector divorces from locker function and the lockers engaged either via aircraft cable pulls or solenoids of some type.

12v rewires are also desirable if 24v stuff isn’t common or accessible. Also makes add ons more approachable. Your mileage may vary.

The 404 is just about the fastest out of the box unimog and it might also be the quickest. 55mph is possible with a good state of tune and not too heavily loaded. Weight penalty plays a part as does what it was designed to do, low compression heads and a tractor carb mean it can chug along on low quality contaminated gasoline in rough field conditions for as long as you can stand it but this trades off against blasting down the highway at 60. The high compression twin carb model as seen in fire and municipal service can get fussy in back ass nowhere. Such is life.

I would’t call the cab roomy or spacious but depending on your size it may be cozy if spartan. The ride is manageable and suspension can be tuned with new dampers and springs, how far do you want to take it? If you can stand an old full size Jeep truck, a 404 might even seem civilized. The coils and torque tube suspension/chassis flex means it can handle variable terrain surprisingly well and will do better with a load on to aid in flex. Heating and cooling are kinda the same function, how much more additional heat can you stand right now? The pressure tank for the coolant loop in the cab doesn’t help this at all but overall air flow can be great if you open it all up.

You can make it as luxurious or as spartan as you would like and it’s a wonderful clean sheet to build on, even more so if you get the bed you need from the start; troop bed makes a great pickup, radio box makes a great shelter or camper, the fire pump body can make a good working utility body. There was also a larger crew cab type fire body which can be a big camper for one and then a number of specialized fire fighting decks for dry chem or foam etc.
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post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old Yesterday, 01:55 PM
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Originally Posted by ACAD_Cowboy View Post

The 4wd & locker selector is fairly straight forward, it will shift on the fly into 4wd, nudge it again and the rear lockers will engage, once more and the fronts and rears. Not advisable on hard surface unless you might be starting a heavy trailer moving and need maximum torque.


The 404 is just about the fastest out of the box unimog and it might also be the quickest. 55mph is possible with a good state of tune and not too heavily loaded.
Are the lockers separate on the 404? All the Unimogs I've owned (admittedly, never a 404..but I have wheeled and convoyed with several) the lockers are usually both on, or off, unless optioned with a code to separate them. Genuinely curious if the 404's are engaged rear, then both or not, that's a great feature if so.

Also there are many, many, faster, and quicker Unimogs than a 404 from the factory. 437.100 for instance the final drive ratio is 6:38, combined with factory 445 or the larger factory optional 495 series tires (as mine was optioned) and 170 hp, I assure you it will both outrun a 404 in top speed (OM366a factory set at 2600rpm on the 437.100, and up to 2800rpm on other models) as well as out accelerate one. all the 405 series, many other SBU's and MBU's will be much faster from the factory.
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post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old Yesterday, 05:25 PM
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Originally Posted by ACAD_Cowboy View Post

The 4wd & locker selector is fairly straight forward, it will shift on the fly into 4wd, nudge it again and the rear lockers will engage, once more and the fronts and rears. Not advisable on hard surface unless you might be starting a heavy trailer moving and need maximum torque.


The 404 is just about the fastest out of the box unimog and it might also be the quickest. 55mph is possible with a good state of tune and not too heavily loaded.
Are the lockers separate on the 404? All the Unimogs I've owned (admittedly, never a 404..but I have wheeled and convoyed with several) the lockers are usually both on, or off, unless optioned with a code to separate them. Genuinely curious if the 404's are engaged rear, then both or not, that's a great feature if so.

Also there are many, many, faster, and quicker Unimogs than a 404 from the factory. [IMG class=inlineimg]/forums/images/BenzWorld2/smilies/tango_face_devil.png[/IMG] 437.100 for instance the final drive ratio is 6:38, combined with factory 445 or the larger factory optional 495 series tires (as mine was optioned) and 170 hp, I assure you it will both outrun a 404 in top speed (OM366a factory set at 2600rpm on the 437.100, and up to 2800rpm on other models) as well as out accelerate one. all the 405 series, many other SBU's and MBU's will be much faster from the factory.
Okay smarty pants, what I should have said was for its era it was a speed demon compared to the typical 421 or 406.

Newer trucks benefit from a heap more power for sure as well as better gearing options.

The 404 lockers, from memory, share the same goofy bent sheet metal handle as the 4wd. But now of course I’m questioning. I know on the later square cabs they have a rotary dash knob for this as shown by saint truktor himself

https://www-benzworld-org.cdn.amppro...1&d=1412129597

Either way, it’s a snappy mod to replace the crazy linkage rod setup with cables or solenoids.
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