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1962 Swiss 404 S Troop Carrier, 1968 Swiss 404 S Command Box, 1956 French 404 S SWB Troop Carrier
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30 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hello,

I have an opportunity to pick up a pretty nice, and somewhat unusual, 404 variant, but the seller discloses it was towed on its back wheels at freeway speeds for around an hour. He was advised by a mechanic the back axle was damaged. The vehicle is not driveable due to this damage. Regrettably, I don’t know any more about this problem than what I am reporting.

I have other 404 S trucks and over the years I have needed to tow a couple of them for various reasons. When doing so, I used a bone-bar with all four wheels down and kept the speed under 25 mph. I also followed the manual as to the specifics of gear selection on the transmission when doing this. Therefore, I think it is also reasonable to assume the tow that damaged this truck took place with the gear selectors in the wrong positions.

I am leaving room in my offer to replace the back axle (along with some of the other common surprises). However, I am wondering if perhaps the towing also damaged the transmission. I recall there was a topic on this in our forum years ago, but I can’t find it now.

I suppose I could fly over and take a peek in person, but I wouldn’t be able to isolate the extent of damage with the time I would have and tools I can take with me on an airplane.

So, I’m curious if anyone has seen towing related damage on these 404 trucks and if they would be able to share the extent of it.

It’s always a gamble buying these old trucks, but that is part of the fun.

Thanks for any feedback the forum members may share, Jerry
 

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85' U1300L Holset Turbo VA A/C, 66' Propane 404.1 rock mog, 1975 416 Doka, G500, Volvo C303
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4,996 Posts
I don’t see how or why the back axle would have been damaged unless it was in poor condition to begin with. That said, the transmission is your issue and I can see the back axle being damaged once the transmission seized up.
 

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'78 Mog 416.141 DoKa
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3,404 Posts
Yeah - it's the trans that gets fubar'ed when towed at high speeds...
That said, I'm sure somebody has a whole pile of 404 transmissions somewhere
 

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422 Posts
Yes, both the rear axle and the transmission may have issues... The axle halfshafts use plain brass bearings and were not designed for 75MPH (and various people have reported issues doing long distance freeway speed travel). The transmission also is not designed to be towed as the reduction shaft (driven by the input) throws oil from the pan up into grooves on the sides of the transmission that then drain down into the input/output bearings and shafts. The output and idler/front output may be OK, but I would guess the sliding components on the daughter shaft might be toast. Only way to know would be to split the torque tubes off and test/inspect the transmission/axle separately.
 

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1962 Swiss 404 S Troop Carrier, 1968 Swiss 404 S Command Box, 1956 French 404 S SWB Troop Carrier
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30 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
Thank you all for your replies. It sounds like it could be a real job just figuring out what is broken, or nearly so, but expecting a transmission and back axle replacement, or time consuming repairs to both, should be considered in the calculus.

And Peakbagger, I believe it is the one you saw. As you reported, the ad did suggest it was nearly free, but not so. The owner enjoyed it until the tow truck event and that stiffled things. I have a sister vehicle to it which I really enjoy and use almost every day so having an extra copy makes sense. It’s definitely lesser-priced than some of the 404 S trucks on eBay, but I’ve never paid anything near those prices for my own trucks and most eBay 404 S trucks don’t seem to sell anyway. Plus, it’s not running and with these material problems.

Otherwise, in addition to what has been described in this post heretofore, the truck has sat unused outside for a period of years so who knows what might be afoot. My guess is a carburetor and fuel pump rebuild, brake lines, wheel cylinders, master cylinder rebuild, fuel tank cleaning, fuel line replacement, tires, fluids and new batteries will all be necessary before it’s ready for the weekend car shows down here. And while I didn’t read the manual yet, I think hoisting the cab is probably necessary to fish out the transmission. A lot of work on top of the routine stuff. One upside of owning it is I’ll get to reestablish my relationships with our great Unimog parts vendors.

I’m going to get a few more transportation bids and make a decision. I’ll report back what ultimately transpires.

Thanks again, Jerry
 

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85' U1300L Holset Turbo VA A/C, 66' Propane 404.1 rock mog, 1975 416 Doka, G500, Volvo C303
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4,996 Posts
It better be free at this point. 404’s are/should be cheap. I have been given several over the years and harvested the good parts, which is usually just the axles and body. Even if I found a decent 404 I wouldnt pay more than about $5k for one unless it was immaculate car show ready.
 

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1963 Unimog 404
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40 Posts
I’d like to know where you are finding these $5k mogs. I haven’t seen anything drivable going for under $9k.
 

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87 - 419 SEE,90 - 1300L
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147 Posts
I’d like to know where you are finding these $5k mogs. I haven’t seen anything drivable going for under $9k.

That ones definitely not drivable. Mogs are definitely a specialty vehicle in the US but on occasion folks who don't know any better pick up a "cheap Unimog" and haul it home then realize they are way over their head. It gets parked and stored poorly and slowly deteriorates Many folks don't want to admit they screwed up and would rather let it sit then dealing with it. Fast forward to an executor dealing with an estate and they just regard it as another piece of scrap. The craiglist ad for this particular 404 was more specific than most, they indicated it was damaged from towing and had sat for many years. It was also listed for "free" which is good indication that its rough. The big plus is it is an older Unimog and may have some parts that could serve as a donor to another.

I expect there are a crop of SEEs (FLU 419) bought at the Texas auctions that are going to turn into "yard queens". They were complex vehicles and expect many of the buyers were clueless on what they were buying. I expect they will slowly stop working and get parked (or end up on Ebay for someone else to buy a cheap Unimog).
 

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85' U1300L Holset Turbo VA A/C, 66' Propane 404.1 rock mog, 1975 416 Doka, G500, Volvo C303
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4,996 Posts
I’d like to know where you are finding these $5k mogs. I haven’t seen anything drivable going for under $9k.
You really don’t want to know what I just paid for an almost drivable 416 Doka :oops: Cheep 404’s are out there, you just have to be ready to snatch them up. Also, having so many mog’s and other weird vehicles tends bring the trucks to me as people, as mentioned above, realize they are not really prepared to own a mog or the like. But on average I would say I run across 2-4 very reasonable and drivable 404’s per year. That covers everything from Craigslist to freind of a friend.
 

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Unimog S 404.114
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882 Posts
the gear is definitely scrap, the rear axle also if the gear blocked.
the drive for the front and rear axles runs over two shafts running into each other. if they have different speeds for too long, the lubrication will decrease and they will eat up. a sudden blockage occurs, the gearbox snaps and the differential is overloaded.

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