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Discussion Starter #1
HI All,
I'm in the process of buying my first Mog. I was referred here by a friend who knew I needed help. I do.

Right now my only question is how well my 404 will handle the 1800 mile cross country trip to get my new toy home assuming everything seems normal when I start the trip. I'm driving from Virginia to New Mexico. The vehicle has very low miles but I have no idea (neither does the current owner who just wants to sell it; it was included with his recently bought house) about its recent maintenance. It is not even licensed in Virginia. Yes, the title is present. Originally, it was used by the Belgium military where I assume it was regularly maintained.

Any thoughts about how to get this little gem ready for the trip? I'll have one day to get the job done. Anything in particular I should watch for (other than a sore butt-it's going to be a long drive at Mog speeds).

I particularly like the paint scheme. Olive Green. Unique, huh?

Thanks and it is good to be here.

Sparky
 

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BenzWorld UNIMOG statesman
Unimog 404.1 Diesel (sold :( )1995 LMTV 1078
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Your better off renting a lowboy heavy equipment trailer and a truck IMHO.

I've done what your thinking but much shorter trip. PA to OH. Cost me $2000 in repairs along the way. Mog's not something you can just get towed to the local garage to work on if something goes wrong.

If you got time and tools and lots of knowledge (or access to someone who does that can go with) then take a pilot car full of tools and have a co-driver follow you back wiht all the tools.

If you drive it at all. Drain all fluids including fuel and start with all fresh fluids. That includes all the differentials, tranny, portal boxes, engine, brake fluid, radiator etc. Make sure you read up on how to bleed a Mog of air from the brake system so your prepared. A mighty vac would be wise to have with you on this.

BTW the Mog can NOT be towed with out a rollback or trailer. Towing one on its wheels will burn out the tranny. NO you cant disconnect the drive line to avoid that issue.
 

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1967 404 Unimog (Belgian), 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid
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Gotta agree with Coach on the trailer thing.

Since you don't know the condition of the truck and don't have any experience repairing it you're almost certainly in for an adventure. Of course that may be what you want...

Also, a stock 404 gets pretty crappy fuel economy on the highway. I don't own a trailer rig so I can't say what they typically get for mileage, but I doubt it's worse.

This may sound really negative, but it's just that I'd hate to see a new Unimog owner (and forum member) get into trouble.
 

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'75 406.121, '79 406.121 & '80 406.120 (Lake Placid)
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Ditto. Low milage great; lack of use (if not maintained properly) bad. Trailer it, get it home, drive it locally where any issues that might come up can be easily addressed. Then you can be comfortable that you've got yourself a great machine.
 

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'62 Swiss 404
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145 Posts
The 404 has no air system to worry about, and the gas engine is pretty simple to get running compared to the diesels.

With all fresh fluids and a check of the brakes + steering, I would say the Mog will be fine. You however will be exhausted by the end of it.
Also with the amount of fuel you will use would probably make a trailer more attractive. I get about 25L per 100km sitting at 90kmh (26mpg at 50mph I think that is).
 

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1982 416 Doka
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335 Posts
The 404 has no air system to worry about, and the gas engine is pretty simple to get running compared to the diesels.

With all fresh fluids and a check of the brakes + steering, I would say the Mog will be fine. You however will be exhausted by the end of it.
Also with the amount of fuel you will use would probably make a trailer more attractive. I get about 25L per 100km sitting at 90kmh (26mpg at 50mph I think that is).
hmmm a little OT, but i was thinking the diesels are easier to get running with no carbs or timing & points....lol
that is what i get to do this thursday.....

oh Welcome BTW....
 

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'62 Swiss 404
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hmmm a little OT, but i was thinking the diesels are easier to get running with no carbs or timing & points....lol
that is what i get to do this thursday.....
Well true and false.

Carbs, timing and points can be annoying - but any mechanic who can see over the bonnet will know how to setup an engine as basic as the M180 :cool:
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
Your better off renting a lowboy heavy equipment trailer and a truck IMHO.

I've done what your thinking but much shorter trip. PA to OH. Cost me $2000 in repairs along the way. Mog's not something you can just get towed to the local garage to work on if something goes wrong.

If you got time and tools and lots of knowledge (or access to someone who does that can go with) then take a pilot car full of tools and have a co-driver follow you back wiht all the tools.

If you drive it at all. Drain all fluids including fuel and start with all fresh fluids. That includes all the differentials, tranny, portal boxes, engine, brake fluid, radiator etc. Make sure you read up on how to bleed a Mog of air from the brake system so your prepared. A mighty vac would be wise to have with you on this.

BTW the Mog can NOT be towed with out a rollback or trailer. Towing one on its wheels will burn out the tranny. NO you cant disconnect the drive line to avoid that issue.
HI,
Let's get some things out of the way. First, professional vehicle delivery is not an option. I'm getting a good deal on this vehicle but that will turn into a bad deal very quickly with that expense. Next, towing would have to be done with rented equipment. I want to avoid that if at all possible. I'm not that financially capable, and, I want to drive the Mog. The interminable hours in the Mog's driver’s seat does not scare me. My iPod and ear plugs are ready. After all, this is a German, Mercedes, military vehicle built to Mil specs with a legendary reputation and a long history. I expect great performance and reliability. Is this unrealistic?

I want this experience and adventure. I'm looking forward to it. I'm excited by it. It seems like a good way to get acquainted with my new charge. If I can't drive the Mog home without at least a pretty good sense of security, I won't go through with the deal. It's that simple. But I definitely don't want to break down. I don't want THAT kind of adventure. :p

Next, if I thought that the 404 was inherently incapable of such a trip I would not consider buying one. I am hearing a lot of pessimism about my little adventure and I am wondering why. Have you all had many bad experiences with your 404's? Sure sounds like it and it worries me. I do understand this is a vintage vehicle and age can bring its own problems no matter what the odometer says. I would not ask these same questions after a year of ownership. But now, I must.

Coach, specifically, what sort of problems did you run into? Can you be specific? Please don't scare me without telling me why. Could they have been anticipated meaning were there symptoms before you started? How did the problems relate to the trip you took such as time of year, weather conditions, temperature, road conditions, topography, etc.? Were you driving a 404? Did you think the vehicle was in good shape when you began the trip? Were you a newbe like me with a lot of (fatal?) optimism or did you make a well considered experienced judgment prior to the trip? Are you a good mechanic and diagnostician? This is not personal. I'm just trying to establish a context for your comments which concern me a lot.

Would you all discourage my anticipated trip no matter what? ITW, is the 404 EVER capable of such a trip or is the 404, by its very nature, not reliable enough for such long distance journeys? Boy, I hope that's not the case.

I am planning to try to hold the speed down to 50 MPH. I know that if I don't watch it the Mog will outrun Corvettes which is hard on American egos. :)

Also, I have seen mentioned that the portal hubs tend to overheat when used for extended trips at highway speeds. I was advised to buy an infrared thermometer and check the hub temps periodically. This seems to have something to do with inadequate lubrication in the hubs. Can you all confirm this? Who makes a decent thermometer that I can easily find? Do you all think this is a good idea? If so, what temps would indicate problems?

The same person (a former 404 owner) also advised changing all the lubricants. I was planning to do this anyway. He said to use GL-4 75-90 multi-weight gear oil for the entire gear train and 10-30 in the engine. Would you all agree? With my Jeep's I have stayed away from multi-weight gear oil on the theory that the components were not designed for them. But it might be a bogus theory. What readily available (NAPA, Auto Zone, etc.) oil filter can I use? Do you have a part number?

Edit: I don't trust belts even when they are new. Right now I don't know what belts I might need to buy but I want a complete set. I will buy them after I arrive in Virginia. Have you found that belts are generally available? Where do you normally buy them? Are they usually in stock? Do you have part numbers if you already know what I might need? End edit.

Finally (whew!, I'm sorry this is so long), does the 404 have any tendency to vapor lock? I think this is a good time of the year to attempt this odyssey but I could still run into temperatures in 90's through Texas and Oklahoma. A problem?

Thanks, Sparky
 

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1969 Swiss 404 - 1977 Porsche 911 S
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I don't think anyone would say that a 404 is not reliable or is not capable of making such a trip.

I think the reasons for the cautious tone of most of the replies are the fact that the vehicle is unknown to you and in unknown condition and the fact that you are presently not aquainted with the workings of a 404.

If the truck turns out to have no lurking previously existing problems I think you'll do fine as long as you take your time and keep an eye on temps. It will be a great way to become familiar with the truck, no doubt about it.

I would run 15w40 in the engine. I would check all the levels in the drivetrain and if the oil looks clean you don't necessarily need to change it before the trip. Just make sure its not contaminated with water.

There are filter numbers someplace in one of the stickies at the head of this forum.

I'm on the 'go for it' side of the fence as well.
 

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I agree with the other mog owners who say that although the unimog is a engineering marvel, they are 30 to 40 years old. I think after you have had the truck for a while and have worked through any issues that you may find, that a trip of that distance would be doable.

Let me pose a question to you. What is plan B if you do break down 1/3 of the way ? You indicated that you really don't have all that much money. Well that could be a problem in mog world. Some mog owners may be dirt poor, but many here have plenty of coin, just to let you know. This is a MB not a Chevy. Just the hard facts IMHO.

While I am asking questions, have you ever driven a mog for an hour before? how about 4 hours ? you say you are up for the adventure - great, but does the adventure have to be when you first buy it?

BTW - holding the speed down to 50 is a joke. the mog will hold the speed way below 50 on almost any hill. some will have you crawling at 25 or less, if they are steep. this is a ~80 hp motor

404's have a bad habit of vapor lock in hot temp. some, like myself get around that by using an electric fuel pump. some suffer with it.

will you make it to your destination? you might be fine. but if you can't afford to trailer it to begin with, what makes you think you will be able to pay for when you have no other choice and can't shop around for prices.

you asked for opinions. no disrespect meant

best of luck
 

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Discussion Starter #13
HI,
So it seems that you are saying to pass this by. Maybe, that is a good idea. However, I guess that I'm more optimistic. As for money, I'm OK. I can afford road side repairs. I just don't want to pay some one else to do what I can do.

The arrangement I have with the current owner is that my check won't be cashed until I have given the vehicle a full inspection, road test, and what ever else that is needed for my complete satisfaction. If I am not satisfied completely, the owner will simply hand my check back. I really can't ask for more. This reduces my risk to the cost of a plane fare. One might wonder if this person can be trusted. That's always a good question, right? I think the answer is yes. I like this person a lot.

Thanks for your concern.

Sparky
 

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560SEL 560SEC 300SEL E320 Cab. MB Metris Van / 300TD 300TE 300SDL, 300D, Unimog 406 (Gone)
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What I got from his comment was that you might be better off trailering or shipping the Mog back to NM (have I got that right? Va to NM?). Anyway, I agree. Your first week of ownership shold not be a 2000 mile road trip in an unknown vehicle. I''d say give somebody $500 to borrow their F250 for a couple of days (or get a 28' Uhaul and run it empty wth the trailer behnd it), rent an equipment trailer and have at it. Or, pay someone to ship it back for you. Now if you try to drive it back yourself, and you get stuck in Cincinnati, give me a call and I'll come and at least get it off the highway for you even though I wouldn't be competent to put the wrench to it! Good luck! :)
 

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1976 416.141
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Sounds like you'll be able to do an inspection before purchase here's a Unimog Buyers Guide-Good info-It sounds like you're in for a great road trip, make sure to take pictures!

Buyer's guide

RMontez
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Now if you try to drive it back yourself, and you get stuck in Cincinnati, give me a call and I'll come and at least get it off the highway for you even though I wouldn't be competent to put the wrench to it! Good luck! :)
HI wilson,
What a nice offer. I truly hope I don't have to take you up on it.

Thanks, Sparky
 

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1967 404 Unimog (Belgian), 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid
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I'd say GL4 in the tranny and GL5 in the portals and diffs.

I've never heard of the portals over heating. The transmission can definitely overheat at highway speed on a long trip. That's probably what the guy meant.

IMO an IR thermometer is not a reliable way to measure the transmission temp. I've tried and never got a reading over 85C while the transmission oil (I have a gauge installed) reads 110C. Steel is a poor conductor of heat. However, if you're dead set on the trip it may be the best you can do. Just remember the reading will be much lower than the actual internal temp.

A 404 in good running order would make the trip no problem. I'd recommend a tranny cooler and some sound and heat insulation for the cab, but that's me.

If my 404 got 26 mpg on 87 pump gas I'd be driving it to work every day! :-D 9-10 mpg is not bad for that truck though.
 

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BenzWorld UNIMOG statesman
Unimog 404.1 Diesel (sold :( )1995 LMTV 1078
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Dont forget to carry alot of engine oil w/you. If I recall right these engines use a lot of oil. Part of the low compression engine setup makes it use lot of oil if my memory is correct.
 

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63 UNIMOG S404.115
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First, professional vehicle delivery is not an option. I'm getting a good deal on this vehicle but that will turn into a bad deal very quickly with that expense....

After all, this is a German, Mercedes, military vehicle built to Mil specs with a legendary reputation and a long history. I expect great performance and reliability. Is this unrealistic?

If I can't drive the Mog home without at least a pretty good sense of security, I won't go through with the deal. But I definitely don't want to break down. I don't want THAT kind of adventure.

Next, if I thought that the 404 was inherently incapable of such a trip I would not consider buying one... I do understand this is a vintage vehicle and age can bring its own problems no matter what the odometer says.

Would you all discourage my anticipated trip no matter what? ITW, is the 404 EVER capable of such a trip or is the 404, by its very nature, not reliable enough for such long distance journeys? Boy, I hope that's not the case.

Also, I have seen mentioned that the portal hubs tend to overheat when used for extended trips at highway speeds.

does the 404 have any tendency to vapor lock?

Adventurous advice from Gonzo but seeing as he isn't you........

If you look back over this and other forums you'll find a wealth of stories from people who have purchased their 404 many miles from home and then driven it back. Some successfully and some not. Each vehicle is unique but you can get a feel for what problems they encountered and make up your own mind. All your questions are covered in previous posts.

On one hand you expect great performance and reliability and then you agree that it's a vintage vehicle and can have its own problems. Time for a reality check here, a 404 will do the trip but because you don't know yours it may break down or you may cause some mechanical damage because of an existing problem.

Mine had been in regular use as a fire vehicle, had >30,000 Km and was registered in Germany until mid 2005 with the associated registration safety checks etc being required so you would think that it would be a turnkey driver. Over the last few years I have found a good many wear issues that would likely have stopped it on a long delivery trip such as yours but they were relatively minor issues solved by some R & R. I shipped mine some 1200 Km to get it home where I could check the small things carefully and make sure its safe.

Problems I found included a rotten tube in the spare tyre, the rest of the tyres looked new but were quite old and had a 80 KM speed rating, metal in the oil lube sumps for the various idler pulleys, significant interior corrosion in the wheel cylinders (single system so any failure is NO Brakes) and so on plus of course a need for a full oil change and grease, tighten or check fastners. In short, many of the things I found were not on the list of recommended "fixes" before setting off home.

You won't be sorry you got a 404, but it isn't a Porsche, its a road going tractor with extreme capabilities off road. Any 40 year old vehicle requires constant attention from new. If you're old enough you would remember that even your new car required very regular maintenance, very different to the cars of today.

I wouldn't recommend that you don't do the trip, it's possible. What I ask is do you have the knowledge and skills to do the trip, possibly without any real understanding of your prospective purchase. I'm sure all the members of this forum will be keen to see you as a long term Mog owner, happy with your truck and I expect that is why the overwhelming advice from existing owners is get it trucked home; we've been there before.
 
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