View Full Version : Son, this is UNIMOG country.

05-25-2017, 02:56 PM
I just drove this....




800 miles from Holland to Southern Germany. That's autobahn territory, where, to someone doing 200KPH, I'm a stationary object.

U 1300 UNIMOG, ex-German army, still has the machine gun turret in the cab. 6 cylinder Merc, 120HP, various diff lock options, portal axles (high ground clearance), 8 gears forward, 8 gears reverse*, 24 volt. Mine had no fuel guage, no reserve tank, no sat nav, no tools, and no phone charger.

...and noise.

No, that won't quite describe it.

When I say noise, I mean...


...and a heater permanently on full blast, no matter what I did to the fan controls. When I first opened the window as sweat was starting to drip into my eyes, I will immediately noticed that Mercedes have thoughtfully placed the exhaust stack right behind the drivers left ear. What do you want, boiled alive, or deafened? Or somewhere between the two? Damned if you do......


I even had ear bungs in under the cans, I didn't have any ear-defenders not attached to a helmet, so...... I went autobahning hunchback style.

The cacophany these things makes is surreal. First theres the deep base throaty exhaust, which kind of shocks every atom in your body at 3000 BPM, like way too loud techno music made by freaks on an amphetamine binge. Actually, 'shock' is the right word, the SPL from that stack was insane.

Then there's the gnashing of the gearbox and drive train under you, although it was full of oil, there's so much friction in 4 x4 vehicles like this, it's unavoidable. Thats the mid-range clattering taken care of.

I had "road tyres" for the trip, but even so, they gave out a deafening rumble up through my feet and through the open window, needed lest I expire from that bastard heater that didn't know it was 30 deg c out there.

The thin cab roof seemed to hit some pretty strange notes too; I noticed that even a tiny change in RPM seemed to change the pitch, which sounded like a very high velocity wobble board, or a hive of mega hornets, it might have been interacting with the spare tyre in the wind up there.

All these frequencies kind of combined into three ghastly harmonics inside my cranium. If I moved my head sideways an inch it changed note and type, and seemed to target a slightly different point in my brain.

By now I'm guessing you realise these are not high speed, or long distance vehicles. Not made for it, and actually I only got up to 90 KPH once, down a hill, and didn't like it at all. Too top heavy. Cruise at 80 on the flat, about 50 up a long moderate hill. That's slow. Actually I overtook 2 vehicles on my trip, a road tanker pulling on to the motorway from a service station, which didn't really count, and a large Polish van with an enormous amount of thick black smoke coming out of it. Both gave me a huge amount of satisfaction, a big grin, and I don't mind admitting punching the air both times.

05-25-2017, 03:01 PM

I thought you might have said something...

05-25-2017, 03:08 PM
My eldest brother had one. I drove it a bit

You describe the experience to a Tee

John of Phoenix
05-25-2017, 03:14 PM
Quick! To the hearing aid thread!

05-25-2017, 03:20 PM
It took me 14 hours, thereabouts to get to my destination, after numerous nervous fuel stops as the fuel guage did not work, and a jump about in the car park to try to get my skeleton, muscles, nervous system and circulation into some semblance of functionality.

Driving them at night is weird. You have to understand, it's the wrong side of the road for me, so gears wrong side, everything wrong side. I have a lot of big tractor and big trailer experience, but still. The gear stick in particular takes a bit of finding in the dark when you need to change up/down. It has almost 2 feet travel fore-n-aft, and I found my hand waving about for it for up to 20 seconds, not wanting to take my eyes off the road, losing revs faster and faster going up a hill for example.

Here's a link from Wiki on them (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unimog)UNIversal-MOtor-Gerät (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unimog) started production in '51.

05-25-2017, 03:28 PM
Next morning, once I had got myself together, we head off into darkest Bayern. I love Germany, particularly the South.


We are a small team doing inspection on a new gas mainline, not huge, just 65Km. 40 inch, spans are 18 meters. We use multi-beam ultrasound to look into and (hopefully) sign off the circ welds.


What's that behind the pipeline?


05-25-2017, 03:32 PM
So lots of folks want a big macho SUV, but really want a car like environment with pretensions of going off road.

A Unimog is truly an off road beast and there is nothing car like or comfortable about one.

Like my old Russian Ural sidecar rig, a Unimog tops out at about 90 km/hr. "55 Miles an Hour: Not Just a Good Idea, It's as Fast as I Can Go"

05-25-2017, 03:51 PM
The on-road driving experience sounds very like that in the old Alvis Stalwart:



Both emphatically not designed for the road !

05-25-2017, 03:53 PM
You're right Bobcat, I'll post some pics and video hopefully of driving down, and then up a 25 degree mud and rock slope soon.

My research into them says they have the ability to keep all wheels in contact with the ground because of their portal axles and suspension goemetry.




05-25-2017, 04:23 PM
Whameller, that Stalwart looks horrific, I mean knowing what I know...ever driven one?

This one was pretty bling, a support wagon for the welding crews. That back was full of tools and spare parts, but I could see an Alpine camper...imagine being high up in the mountains, deep winter, stocked with pilsner and bratwurst, wood stove blazing...:d




05-25-2017, 04:34 PM
I remember clearing an old roadbed with the Unimog. About 20 years of alders had grown up, trunks up to about 6 inches through. We put the Unimog in a really low gear and set the hand throttle, mowing down the saplings as if they were stalks of grass

Chris Smith porter maine
05-25-2017, 04:49 PM
That thing looks awesome, far to big for anything here except powerlines.

Phil Y
05-25-2017, 05:35 PM
Hmm, I don't think I want one of those.

05-25-2017, 06:28 PM
Whameller, at least a Unimog has doors.

I've driven a lot of different types and makes of heavy trucks. There were varying degrees of discomfort. Mercedes Benz seemed to have designed their vehicles with a keen dislike of the driver uppermost in their mind. Noisy, and with the heater stuck on was how they came from the factory.
That, and a power steering system that lost pressure at low revs, making them very challenging in tight spaces. And a V engine*. And a rotten gear shift. And vague steering at speed.Gutless, and and...
To add insult to injury, when I finally got behind the wheel of the other truck from Germany, a M.A.N., it was everything the Benz wasnt, quiet, nice torque and a joy to operate.

I like the idea of a Unimog, but I'm aware the reality would be much different.

Honestly, I'd drive a twin-stick R-model Mack with no power steering again before I'd drive a Benz.

*Americans do them so much better

P.I. Stazzer-Newt
05-26-2017, 12:19 AM
The new Benz autoboxes are really quite good....

Foster Price
05-26-2017, 01:35 AM
Oh Guys - you've never driven a "Deuce and a Half" then, it'll see the Mog for driver discomfort (especially noise) and then raise it a good bit. Not quite as good offroad (I've driven both and RL Bedfords) as the MOG but none of then are much good when it gets really steep, or a just a bit soft, I've also had two of the three bogged all to hell (towing M101 howitzers).


05-26-2017, 02:05 AM
Oh Guys - you've never driven a "Deuce and a Half" then, it'll see the Mog for driver discomfort (especially noise) and then raise it a good bit. Not quite as good offroad (I've driven both and RL Bedfords) as the MOG but none of then are much good when it gets really steep, or a just a bit soft, I've also had two of the three bogged all to hell (towing M101 howitzers).

I had a short wee drive of a mog on an impromptu off road training course on one of the airforce training camps I went on - the cab-over design made for a bit of a freaky experience dropping off a steep river bank. It is still the biggest thing I've ever driven.
I spent way more time in the back, of both the RL's and mogs. Gotta say the RL had a far less vomit inducing ride, if you were one of the troopies stuck in the back.


David W Pratt
05-26-2017, 04:42 AM
no CD player?

05-26-2017, 04:47 AM
I like them after they've been washed and shrunk.


05-26-2017, 05:21 AM
Oh Guys - you've never driven a "Deuce and a Half" then, it'll see the Mog for driver discomfort (especially noise)

One of these? I drove one around 1985 also in Southern Germany. I was 15, and working taking families of US and UK servicemen climbing and rafting etc.
We often had a lot of equipment to transport, as well as people, and yes I'd rather stick pins in my eyes than drive one again. No arguments though, incredible power and load capacity.


I do really like the modular options of MOGs though...





05-26-2017, 05:25 AM
I've not driven a Stolly - but travelled in the cab and load bed often in the early 80s - they went out of service in the UK Army in the mid to late 80s. Brilliant cross country, they were the only logistic vehicle that could truly keep up with armoured vehicles but they were hopeless on roads. For some of the reasons, see here:


Creature comforts in the cab were non-existent; it was always hot and hideously noisy (except in the depths of German winters, when it was cold and hideously noisy).

Doors in the cab would have negated its amphibiousity - hence the hatches.

I learned to drive trucks on a Bedford RL; not bad, but changing gear on a crash gearbox in such a small cab was a challenge when you were 6'4" ! The MAN trucks in service now are much better all round - but still haven't got to the level of cross-country mobility achieved by the Stolly - but then the latter was a military special, not an adaptation of a commercial model.

05-26-2017, 05:33 AM
From WIKI on the Stolly....

"The Stalwart's impressive over-terrain capabilities came from the fact that the 6-wheel-drive system lacked differentials (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Differential_%28mechanical_device%29), using simple bevel gears to transmit drive. A centre mounted no-spin differential allowed a certain amount of slip between the two sets of wheels on each side of the vehicle on hard surfaces, but there was no allowance for rotational speed differences between front and rear. The centre no-spin unit allowed the wheels on either side of the vehicle with most grip to drive when off-road. This had the effect of making the vehicle appear to crab (move from side to side) when negotiating muddy conditions, thus making the Stalwart a true 6-wheel-drive vehicle, with 3 wheels locked together and turning at the same speed.

However, this system caused 'wind up (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Driveline_windup)' in the transmission (inter-component stress) as all the wheels were forced to rotate at the same speed, which during cornering is impossible.[1] (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alvis_Stalwart#cite_note-1) This led to rapid wear and breakage of the bevel gear boxes if the vehicle was used on firm surfaces, such as tarmac or concrete – in off-road conditions, the natural 'slip' of a loose surface, such as mud or gravel reduced 'wind up'. This problem is of special concern for modern-day enthusiast Stalwart owners – to get a vehicle to a show either requires moving it by low-loader or driving it on the road, risking damage to the transmission. Alternatively, the front and rear driveshafts could be removed, eliminating windup at the expense of off-road capability.

During military use, the problem of transmission 'wind up' was solved by laying out railway sleepers in a grid on flat ground and driving over them if on long road moves; this allowed the transmission to 'unwind'.[2] (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alvis_Stalwart#cite_note-2) On more than one occasion, servicemen drove Stalwarts into car parks and used the kerbstones separating parking bays for the same purpose.....quite unofficially. Another problem with the transmission was that the vehicle was designed to be driven loaded. Driving the vehicle unloaded caused increased wear on the drivelines to the wheels as a result of the increased angle of mesh of the joints."

So it couldn't actually be driven ON road, or unloaded! Now there's a vehicle!

05-26-2017, 05:49 AM
This is the only type of 4x4 truck I've driven and pretty basis it was .... and not in as good nick as the google image.


05-26-2017, 06:32 AM
Nice Peter, what is that?

I thought you might like this set up Peter... I found some old fellas loading wood just off the pipeline spread... from what I could understand it was from '71, but I might have that wrong.




05-26-2017, 06:38 AM
A WW2 Chev Blitz 30 cwt .

05-26-2017, 07:59 AM
Ya don't need any of that fancy pants 4x4 tom-foolery..


05-26-2017, 08:31 AM
I'm told that the Mercedes OM 314 in my boat is one of the engines used in the Unimog. It's a 70's motor that runs like a swiss watch. Quite heavy though.

05-27-2017, 03:30 PM
From WIKI on the Stolly....

So it couldn't actually be driven ON road, or unloaded! Now there's a vehicle!

Dunno about that - I saw them on the road plenty of times - but it might explain why they were deployed forward on trains along with the tracked armoured vehicles, rather than do long road moves. Mostly (in infantry battalions, where I experienced them) they were used to carry the bulk refuelling eqipment (UBRE), so were never unloaded as, even without fuel, the tanks and pumps weighed a fair bit.

05-27-2017, 04:25 PM
Nice Peter, what is that?

I thought you might like this set up Peter... I found some old fellas loading wood just off the pipeline spread... from what I could understand it was from '71, but I might have that wrong.




That's better.

Started out as a tractor.....

The Bigfella
05-27-2017, 06:32 PM
When I did my wet season trip on the Ho Chi Minh Trail, back in 2012, the only thing with more than two wheels I saw was this... which I think is the Chinese copy of the Russian copy (the ZiL 157) of the Studebaker 6 x 6. The 4 x 4s just couldn't get through.

http://i240.photobucket.com/albums/ff112/igatenby/Beer%20Lao/180.jpg (http://s240.photobucket.com/user/igatenby/media/Beer%20Lao/180.jpg.html)

The road looks fine there... but it was as slippery as grease and at the bottom of every hill, or anywhere there was the slightest dip, these things had chewed the road to pieces

Mile after mile of this makes for a slow day

http://i240.photobucket.com/albums/ff112/igatenby/Beer%20Lao/122-1.jpg (http://s240.photobucket.com/user/igatenby/media/Beer%20Lao/122-1.jpg.html)

06-07-2017, 05:30 AM
Here's an interesting vehicle, seen today.




400HP V6.

I think it started out in life as one of these, a common Mercedes Actros 8x4. God knows what it cost to customise so it could move pipes about...


06-07-2017, 06:24 AM
Who wants Corvettes Dodge Vipers or Ford Mustangs?
I want one of those :d

06-07-2017, 06:41 AM