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86 U1300L camper in Africa
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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all,

we're slowly heading north in our Unimog but I've noticed that one of our portal axles (right front) has developed a leak and it's getting worse. I'm topping up with oil everytime we move now and have decided that it's time to sort it out.

Our next major town is Walvis Bay/Swakopmund - does anyone know of a reputable garage (preferably with Unimog experience) that could handle this type of job (I've got the spare parts and workshop manual, just need the expertise/tools/space)? I know that there's a place at Kamanjab that is a Mog specialist, but we won't be there until much later unfortunately.


Many thanks for any leads that anyone can help us with,

Ian
 

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1981 u1300L, 1998 s280
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2,113 Posts
Really sorry to hear about the amount of trouble you've had over the last few weeks with the mog Ian (although reading your blog, and seeing the photo's doesn't mean that I'm not exceptionally jealous).

In hindsight is there anything you'd have done differently with the truck before you left?

Chris.
 

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86 U1300L camper in Africa
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273 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
I was thinking about that this morning while reading the axle section of the workshop manual - I would have stripped all 4 portals and replaced all seals (one was done as it showed signs of oil seepage - all the rest were inspected externally by a Unimog dealer just before leaving) and would have inspected all other portal internal components.
I'd also have fitted a 2nd rear view camera on top of the box (the existing one is on the chassis) to see exactly what is behind me instead of only what is behind/below (ie small children sitting in the shade!).
The blown tyre was I think just bad luck/bad driving (I wasn't concentrating on the road surface, rather the engine running roughly which I suspect was bad fuel picked up at Ai-Ais).

Those are the lessons so far - no doubt there will be more!

Oh - and don't drive at night if you can help it - it only makes everything more difficult. (this has always been a rule of mine outside Western Europe/North America).

Ian
 

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'74 416 unimog,'97 Land Rover 110,'97 Toyota Corolla,'2012 VW Polo Hatchback
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92 Posts
the more trouble you have,the more friends you make!
(i am fllowing you guys and i am jealous!)
jc
 

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BenzWorld UNIMOG statesman
Unimog 404.1 Diesel (sold :( )1995 LMTV 1078
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5,857 Posts
Hi all,

we're slowly heading north in our Unimog ... ...

Ian
With that in mind.... please add the link to your travels page into your signature line so as folk read your "what do you think" and "help me" post you put up in here while on your journey.... they can then jump over to your travel log/blog/facebook or whatever kinda page(s) you got.

Did a search of your post myself and did not come across it.... though someone else mentioned they had been on your page if I recall right.
 

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86 U1300L camper in Africa
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273 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
Thanks for those, techMOGogy,

I hadn't found them in searching, M&Z look interesting as they have a branch in Walvis Bay - there is a garage that specilaises in Mogs a few hundred km further on (but I suspect that it would be too far as the rate of oil loss is increasing). I'm going to monitor the situation over the next couple of hundred km to see how its going - it's not clear yet if the loss is time-related or distance-related.

As I've got the spares (although not the wear ring), what is the general opinion of the complexity of this job - should an "average garage" be able to complete it with the workshop manual (that's my conclusion looking at it), or should I really get it to someone who knows what they're doing?

Thanks, Ian
 

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U1000Ag
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2,373 Posts
Hello Ian,
Africa is sometimes full of surprises esp Southern Africa. There will no doubt be some in Namibia who will be able to do the job properly - however, luck plays a big role in finding them. I would suggest therfore that when you do find someone, try to get them to be comfortable with you looking over thier shoulder and "helping"
This is something you want to get done right first time. Walvis Bay used to have a few good Caterpillar mechanics around due to mining operations - keep a watch out for any mining related mechanics. Older is sometimes also better - some of the young guys can be a bit gung-ho - not to say they arent able, but they could be overstating thier abilities.
If you cannot find anyone in Walvis Bay, phone your Mog man that is a few hundered km away - they may well be happy to come out and give a hand. It is a big country - a few 100k is nothing !!!

Good luck
 

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Non MB 1975 Volvo C304, 1958 Kramer U540, 1959 unimog Westfalia 411
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1,381 Posts
Hi, the big lower seal that rides the wear ring is pretty easy to replace. I hope you find a good person to fix it for you and definitely watch the procedure it's remove a wheel and removing the hub cover (with the ten or so 24mm bolts) then there's a 30mm nut that retains the wear ring. The seal can be pried out with a large screwdriver and the new one is tapped into place. There is a write up here someone documented the procedure before. Happy trails.
 

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U1450L DOKA
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9,589 Posts
A last ditch solution to get you there :
A clear-ish 1 Gal container ( vegetable oil type), zip-tied or wired to the snorkel, with a hose
To a plug ( drilled, with a spud) to feed your hub, as a total loss system.
Yes, it requires a hardware store or a salvage yard session ( or both), and the fitment to
The hub replacing the fill plug will probably be the most difficult link to solve, but you can
Then feed lubricant to the hub, monitor it as you drive, and top it off when it has all leaked out, without worrying about it as you drive- you will be able to watch the level drop...
I'd rig the Vegetable oil jug upside down, and drill the cap for the tube/fitting, rather than
Trying to tap/ seal the bottom of the jug. Get a couple of extra caps for 2nd or 3 rd tries.
No reason to fiddle with the bottom of the jug, the cap is easy to get to both sides of.
It is hill-Billy. It is last ditch, but it'll work.....I think .

Some race trucks have a funnel attached to the Auto Trans fill, so the co-pilot can dump
Quarts in to try and make it....or not.


Come to think of it, the plug issue might be avoided by back-feeding through the vent tube,
With a Y fitting. Run one tube from the jug into the vent, and the other branch of the Y up
High, so air pressure would be released and the jug would flow. You could run the vent part
Of it up right to the snorkel too, so if it started blowing oil , or anything indicated the system
Wasn't flowing ( reservoir level drop ) you would be able to see it. And I wouldn't leave any part of the vent going to the diff. All oil would have to go to the hub, through the hub to
The bitumen, or up the vent tube from the Y fitting.


I hope you find a proper solution, this is just a band aid solution, of course.
 

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Non MB 1975 Volvo C304, 1958 Kramer U540, 1959 unimog Westfalia 411
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1,381 Posts
I had a 406 that had a portal full of grease and they may have done it in Germany before it arrived here.
 

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1976 406 w/ backhoe and dozer blade, a small collection of implements too
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I seem to remember Scott mentioning that he sees a lot of mogs show up in his shop with portals full of grease. I think he said there were two schools of thought he had heard on this method:
1) If the seals leak, then wind in the grease, and you don't have to replace the seals (seems hack to me).
2) Grease is thicker than oil, so should provide better protection (unless you have grease that's too thick or you develop air pockets, or it turns to wax.....)

I believe that Scotts recommendation was to replace seals when needed, and keep the portals topped up with the proper oil. I concur.

The grease is a really good trail side fix though. May get you through a tough spot.

Scott, if I have misrepresented you, or my memory is flat out wrong, please let me know to correct the record.
 

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86 U1300L camper in Africa
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Discussion Starter #17
The "grease trick" is something I've been keeping in my pocket as a "get-me-there-if-I-need-it", it was recommended to me by Ibbetts at home and since then I've always kept a full pot of grease in the side lockers.

We've just got to Swakopmund after a few days and hundreds of kms on rough Namibian gravel roads (I've since learnt that the Namibian government has stopped maintenance on all roads in the West of the country due to lack of funds - in spite of all the diamonds they mine there!). We've had a few little issues on the way - including the engine just stopping on us in the middle of nowhere (solved by changing the fuel pre-filters). I've been feeding the portals with oil every day, the rate of use is very variable - the right is leaking and has taken between 20 and 130ml, the left is "pumping" and is taking from 30 to 110ml. I've still not worked out what the correlation between distance, time and volume is, but with the left I'm beginning to suspect that there is a "speed" element as well - when we're on bad gravel we seem to use less than when on good gravel or tar (tar = 70kph, good gravel = 60/65kph, bad gravel = 30/50kph). I've got a log of our usage, so will sit down with the GPS logfiles sometime and try to understand what's going on.

Tomorrows job is to find out who is the lucky workshop to help me with the right front portal seal replacement! (and maybe also try to order additional spare seals to replace those I'm about to use...)

So far I've only had to put 20ml into one of the rear portals (in about 6000km) - is it only the fronts that pump oil out, or do the rears have the same problem?

Ian
 

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86 U1300L camper in Africa
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Discussion Starter #18
I've now had a look at the data for the portal oil usage :

The front left is pumping about 100ml out in one day every time we drive for any distance on tarmac or good gravel, it then seems to stop at that point (so around 200ml of oil left). When we're on rougher roads so at max speeds lower than about 60kph, the loss reduces to around 50ml/day (again to a max of 100ml loss).

The loss from the right hand portal with the leak doesn't show any correlation with either km, time or speed - some days it leaks faster than others.

Ian
 

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Unimogs
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While I have seen greased portals, I think my post was probably more in regards to the manual steering boxes. We have seen quite some imports where the oil has been replaced with grease.

That being said, in a situation with complete seal failure, grease would an emergency stop gap measure.

I haven't been following the travels in this thread, but I would have to question the soundness of embarking on an expedition without the knowledge base/tools to handle changing out a portal seal leak. It really doesn't get anymore basic than this.

We quite often have world travelers stop in at our shop. The one thing that we have always taken notice of is their ability to maintain and repair their own vehicles. Obviously there are many things that have to be done at a workshop, but their are also a vast majority of items that can be handled in the field. Preparation of the vehicle prior to embarkation is one important step. Test runs another.

Not having the ability for this type of repair is going to hit the pocket book hard and more than likely significantly slow down any trip over the long haul.

just saying.........

Cheers,

Scott









I seem to remember Scott mentioning that he sees a lot of mogs show up in his shop with portals full of grease. I think he said there were two schools of thought he had heard on this method:
1) If the seals leak, then wind in the grease, and you don't have to replace the seals (seems hack to me).
2) Grease is thicker than oil, so should provide better protection (unless you have grease that's too thick or you develop air pockets, or it turns to wax.....)

I believe that Scotts recommendation was to replace seals when needed, and keep the portals topped up with the proper oil. I concur.

The grease is a really good trail side fix though. May get you through a tough spot.

Scott, if I have misrepresented you, or my memory is flat out wrong, please let me know to correct the record.
 

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86 U1300L camper in Africa
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Discussion Starter #20
We spent a while following up leads of people around Swakopmund with possible Unimog experience and met some quite interesting people, including one guy who has a fabulous workshop full of classic cars and a U1300 ambulance.
We settled on a guy called JC who we both warmed to on meeting him (unlike some others) and did the work yesterday - the seal was definitely leaking but not showing any real signs of wear (so it's gone into the spares stock as an emergency-only item), the oil that came out was totally clean and we couldn't detect any bearing wear.

To answer Scott - please be reassured that we do have the tools to do this (and more), we do have the experience (I hope) to do a lot of jobs, we do have the knowledge base (a full workshop manual plus lots of time discussing various scenarios/options with people in UK) - BUT:

This is Africa - I personally will not choose to disable my vehicle in an area that is not 100% safe in my mind - so if I can keep it rolling I will - I won't start to mess up what are actually pretty fabulous campsites with vehicle maintenance activities unless I have to, I do like to do jobs that could potentially become more involved with the knowledge that I've got a fully equipped workshop on hand rather than just what I've got in the truck, and I like to have a "second pair of comprtent eyes and hands" available when possible to stack as many of the odds in my favour as possible. I also like to contribute something to the local economy - people here don't charge much for their services, so it's not a big dent in our finances (particularly when compared with what we've spent on the truck, shipping, medical kit, fuel etc etc) - in fact I paid something a little over $60USD to have 3 people helping me including the workshop owner - the full use of his facilities including a lathe to re-polish the wear ring, they did all the lifting etc (I didn't even need to get my own axle stands down from the roof!) - doesn't sound bad does it?

No doubt we'll be needing to do repairs ourselves as we progress. but where there is assistance available, I'll be taking it!

Now that the seal is replaced I'm thinking about applying a mod suggested by a Swiss ex-Mog owner the other day - re-routing the portal breather pipes up to a couple of "expansion bottles" and blocking off the axle breather holes. This would remove the "fording pressurisation", but we're currently hoping to stick within the dry season for most of the way (and I could always convert back if needs be). The only thing stopping me at the moment is locating some suitable "bottles" (I'm thinking clutch fluid reservoirs or similar) in Namibia!
 
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