Is a Unimog for me?

Iain_U1250

Explorer
I always find it strange when people in the US say that it is suicidal to drive at 55mph, maybe in a tiny Toyota Yaris or Smart car, but a mog is a big truck compared to even the SUVs you guys drive and weighs 6-7tons. I guarantee everyone will see you, especially if you have a camper on the back, you will be around 3.5m tall and 2,4m wide. I've talked to people who have had European or Australian trucks over there and some are speed limited to 90kph, and they say it has never been a problem.

If you are doing 55mph ( 90kph) and for a long time, it is still worth going for the bigger tyres and a Claas overdrive, it just makes it more relaxing to drive. There are a lot of U1700s for sale here in Australia, and for an extra $25K you can fit the bigger tyres and overdrive . Contact Ben at MogCentral, he could get the right one for you, do all the work and convert it back to Left Hand Drive and ship if over. probably for the same amount you could find one locally. If you plan on doing any off-road driving, a set of working gears is essential.





I have been on the hunt for a mog for quite a while. I know very little, but have read and listened quite a lot.

Where I have come out is that I would like a 10 bolt, fast axles, 395 85 R20 tires, and a turbo motor. Working gears are a near necessity. Fast axle 10 bolts are hens teeth. I am told 1/100 had them. I almost bought one with the exact spec I was looking for (and still may do so), but the rust and maintenance was more than I wanted to deal with (still seems like a good truck, just not for me). Ideally, I would like a SWB too, but AFAIK, that particular spec just does not exist.

So why do I want what I want and whether it is a good idea or not. I got a lot of good advice here about going "fast." Basically what it came down to is $$$$$ and you are really going from something like 55-60mph to 65-70mph and you are spending double to do so. That is ok by me, but it means either (1) running taller tires on a 6 bolt mog and risking portal failure or (2) a claas overdrive or AV super fast ring and pinion on a 6 bolt mog and still risking portal failure or (3) fast axles on a 10 bolt or a claas on a 10 bolt (I suppose 8 bolt would be ok too but I have not seen many of them around) or (4) a US spec U500 (lots of money upfront, not sure who around me could fix it, and the price of repairs is much higher than an SBU -- I missed one at $52k in the depths of the recession and still kick myself to this day, oh well).

That is before you get to adding enough power (220/240/260 hp upgrades) which is also $$$$$.

Among the choices, fast axles and a 10 bolt seemed most reasonable as the claas is basically $10k and another failure point. Maybe I am wrong, maybe I would end up with a claas eventually I don't know.

I am also in the US I am limited to 25 years old with original motor. And I don't want to spend more than say $35-40k. OTOH, I have eight vehicles already so I can wait and bide my time until the unicorn appears (it took me seven years to buy a jag, I finally bought a Porsche I wanted since I was 16 etc.).

Is it a good idea for me? More important, is it a good idea for you? For me, I don't plan to go much of anywhere special as I don't like to go far from home (stop laughing ok?). But I do need to travel on Us interstates which are suicide at 55mph in my experience. 65mph is fine, 55mph is asking for trouble. YMMV. Basically I want an SBU in lieu of a 3/4 ton domestic pickup. Haul stuff, tow stuff, camp out of it, take it off-road once and a while. No mongolia like Charlie for me. But if you are going way off the beaten path, I can't think of anything better than a ten bolt SBU. From everything I have read they will run at full GVWR at "max" speed all day every day which is fairly optimal for a small camper. They come in extra long wheelbase and seem quite reasonably priced in that spec which is ideal for a camper and even in the normal long wheelbase they have a good sized bed. And, you have a 10,600kg or so GVWR which means weight is not the big issue it is in other builds (6 bolt mogs are typically 7500kg or 8000kg) with approximately 5000kg or 12,000lbs for load/camper/stuff. Nothing wrong with a 6 bolt, but the premium for a 10 bolt seems worth it as it is not much on the base truck and there does not really seem to be a downside to going for 10 bolt.

So my two cents anyway.

PS a Werner PTO winch seems like the business, but there are others available that would do the job.
 

evilfij

Explorer
I always find it strange when people in the US say that it is suicidal to drive at 55mph, maybe in a tiny Toyota Yaris or Smart car, but a mog is a big truck compared to even the SUVs you guys drive and weighs 6-7tons. I guarantee everyone will see you, especially if you have a camper on the back, you will be around 3.5m tall and 2,4m wide. I've talked to people who have had European or Australian trucks over there and some are speed limited to 90kph, and they say it has never been a problem.
I should have been more specific. For 95% or even 99% of roads in the US, driving 55mph is fine. Annoying, but fine. I just happen to be smack in the middle of the northeast cooridor and driving 55mph and trying to merge etc. on the interstates around here is suicide -- maybe not literally for you as you are in a mog, but it is not safe IMHO to do so on interstates 76/81/95 and their various offshoots.

If all I was doing was driving around the country or lived in some other part of the country, it would probably be fine.
 

Joe917

Explorer
55 Mph is fine on Interstates for a heavy truck. We are 11' high and 9 tonnes. Other vehicles can see us from a long way off and make allowances.
The only place we have had a speed issue is Alaska where they don't seem to know how to pass.
 

mogwildRW1

Adventurer
I have been on the hunt for a mog for quite a while. I know very little, but have read and listened quite a lot.


Among the choices, fast axles and a 10 bolt seemed most reasonable as the claas is basically $10k and another failure point. Maybe I am wrong, maybe I would end up with a claas eventually I don't know.



PS a Werner PTO winch seems like the business, but there are others available that would do the job.
Something to keep in mind then, the Claas overdrive bolts onto the back of the engine, where the PTO would also bolt, you can have one or the other, so plan accordingly. Werner hydraulic winch would be a good compromise or a Superwinch hydro as well.
 

pugslyyy

Expedition Vehicle Engineer Guy
55 Mph is fine on Interstates for a heavy truck. We are 11' high and 9 tonnes. Other vehicles can see us from a long way off and make allowances.
The only place we have had a speed issue is Alaska where they don't seem to know how to pass.
I have an LED amber digital rotating beacon on the back of the Fuso that I flip on when we are driving significantly slower than traffic (like when the speed limit is 75 and we are going up a grade). I like to give the traffic coming up from behind me as much opportunity to not hit me as possible.
 

evilfij

Explorer
Something to keep in mind then, the Claas overdrive bolts onto the back of the engine, where the PTO would also bolt, you can have one or the other, so plan accordingly. Werner hydraulic winch would be a good compromise or a Superwinch hydro as well.
Right, I meant a werner hydro winch.
 

Arktikos

Explorer
55 Mph is fine on Interstates for a heavy truck. We are 11' high and 9 tonnes. Other vehicles can see us from a long way off and make allowances.
The only place we have had a speed issue is Alaska where they don't seem to know how to pass.
Most places in Alaska there's very little traffic, so we don't get much practice. :smiley_drive:

I agree with the guy who suggested, in effect, when in Russia do what the Russians do-Buy one of the locally made beasts.
 

rblackwell

Adventurer
Rob Blackwell had a (10 bolt) U500 right rear portal fail near Shiraz, Iran about 4 yrs ago but that was due to oil migration to the rear diff.
I am having the right rear sealed bearing between portal and axle replaced at Unimog dealer in Germany, also will have Unicat re-plumb breathers and hook up to low air pressure (~0.4 bar) for fording, normally all open to outside air thru filter. But Unicat has already told me that the right rear portal breather line was dry of oil, so it must be the sealed bearing. My portal bearings are under increased stress due to 90mm offset Hutchinson wheels (although 10 kg lighter), normal minimum offset is 110mm for 495/70R24 XM47.

Charlie
You can not imagine the hassle getting a package consisting of a rear hub outer case, large and small gear wheel and a full set of bearings into Iran. All because the hub drained of oil without any outward sign of a leak. I would have noticed any leak because one of the front hubs had been leaking for 4 months as we crossed Mongolia et al and I was just topping it up every couple of days.

However the story continues.

Once back in the land of Mogs (Germany) I had all the hubs checked and replaced a large gear wheel in the front right - the bearing surface was discolored. That was at the start of 2014 and truck at 95,000 miles.

In recent months (March 2017) I have replaced both gear wheels and all bearings in the left rear and the outer bearing in the right rear. Truck is now at 115,000.

This latest work was simply the fortunate result of a diligent mechanic notice that the right rear wheel had a wobble.

All in all I would agree with the comment of others. Mog parts will be hard to find in Russia, particularly the remoter parts. Frankly in most of Siberia any parts are hard to find.

We noticed that lots of the hunters in Siberia used the little UAZ vans - even had a ride in one out onto the frozen Never River.
pict-39.jpg
 

Iain_U1250

Explorer
I have often wondered about using the John Deere Corn Head Grease in place of gear oil. I have a few tubes of i stored in the in case I ever have a problem with seals. The grease is supposed to thin to a high quality gear oil


Best thing about it is you can put more than 500ml into the portal, I know of guys who run this all the time, but not sure about sustained high speed.
 
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