Getting the Mogs


November '98

The package deal I was getting from the importer's contact in Germany was two 1964 406 Unimogs. The hard cab truck was reported to be "running" with a rough but repairable body, and the cabrio truck had a blown engine and a few pieces missing but had a better cab.

I was informed that 1964 was the first year for the 406 model so both trucks had the early OM312 glow plug engine rated at 65HP rather than the OM352 direct injection model typically rated 90-130HP but I figured I could deal with the odd engine. The hard cab was suppose to have the 20speed cascade transmission which I really wanted, mainly for the coolness factor, but they both came with the standard six speed.

The details were agreed upon and the Mogs were loaded into a sea container for their trip to the states.

January '99

The day finally came when the container was delivered to the loading dock at my work. I can remember getting up at the crack of dawn on Saturday and dragging my wife and son down to work to open the container. Man was I excited! There were three 406's in the container. The third one was a fairly beat mid 70's logging skidder with a large mid-mounted dual drum PTO winch and front and rear three point hitches with anchor blades that the importer wanted for himself.

When the container doors opened I could actually smell rust! It was damp, very crowded and stunk of mildew. Turns out our brilliant customs inspectors would not let the container pass because there was German mud on the trucks. In Houston the trucks were pulled out and pressure washed for a nominal fee. Good thing that contaminated mud didn't make it to LA!

Once the trucks were pulled out with a forklift and chains my euphoria quickly turned to "OH CRAP! What have I got myself into??"

After adding fuel and a battery I was actually able to get the hard cab running. The brakes weren't too good with no air tank but they did work and there was no wiring to speak of but I had brought my remote starter switch. From reading the Mog mailing list for most of the previous year I remembered about the fuel primer pump and figured out most of the levers by trial and error. A couple of laps around the company lot and I was ready to drive it the twenty miles home through LA traffic. That was stupid. I barley made it a mile and it lost power. Out come the wrenches and the primer pump and we are running again. Three more times it crapped out so I decided to call the flatbed and get it home safely. I found out later that the pre-filter was clogged with algae and sediment.

Sunday we went back with a rental trailer and with much difficulty, shoved the other carcass onto the trailer and brought it home. My driveway was now full of the biggest project I had ever tackled.