Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Unimog, and other ugly but useful stuff

From the Cheetah to the Unimog: how's that for whiplash. For the uninitiated, the Mog is a 4X4 once built by Mercedes Benz. Actually 4X4 doesn't do it justice; it borders on the farm tractor end of the spectrum as it will go just about anywhere, just not very fast. I haven't seen one in a very long while, except about a year ago at the ferry terminal on the Vestmann Islands (an outpost off the coast of Iceland, where Iceland is an outpost off the coast of Norway, but I digress), which is where I took this picture. As you might imagine, there is quite the cult following out there for these ugly, go-anywhere ducklings, and afficionados work hard at outdoing each other in competitions for the most bizarre accessory. Hay-baler, anyone? Tall and narrow, Mog owners look down, literally, on Land Rovers.

Way back when, I did my apprenticeship at a Mercedes dealer, and they had a Mog for clearing snow and dragging cars back and forth from the mechanical shop to the body shop, a distance of a couple of blocks. It was an old one, similar to the one in the picture above but with two doors and a little pickup box, with a little 4 cylinder Diesel making something like 50 hp at its 1800 RPM redline, a gear box with six forward speeds and two reverse gears (eliminating the need for a transfer case), permanent full-time 4WD, mechanical PTOs at both ends, and, most impressively, reduction gear cases in the wheel hubs which, combined with the huge rims, allowed the differentials to be mounted substantially higher than the wheel center-line. The resulting ground clearance needs to be seen to be believed. On the flip side, all those reduction gearboxes, combined with the 1800 RPM redline, made for a maximum speed of something like 35 mph.

So in a fit of nostalgia, I built up Revell's Unimog some number of years ago, in German fire department trim. I never got around to the actual fire department equipment, leaving it as a cab with a bare chassis. A number of years later, I picked up Italeri's truck accessory package with the chassis mounted cherry picker. This has now been mounted to the back of the Mog, where it looks good if a trifle wide.

Next step was to scratch-build a small platform on the remainder of the chassis, suitable for carrying a selection of engines or other interesting bits such as a Mini which to be fair doesn't quite fit. The side panels from Hasegawa's VW pickup fit perfectly on the deck plate from the Italeri truck accessories kit. Tail lights and license plate from the Mog finish it up. No tailgate at this time as the one from the VW was too narrow.

Overall it is a quick build with a range of minor flaws, due in part to the fact that I am upgrading an older build, but still it is something unusual. The downside: While this clears a large box off the storage shelf, it wasn't technically on the 'incomplete' list, so my completion rate remains unchanged. Actually it has dropped due to new acquisitions, but that is a story for another post.

Note Revell's fire-fighting truck box, complete with accoutrements such as the rubber dinghy that goes on the roof (these Germans are always well prepared), is now surplus to requirements. The bits are all there, although the bags have been opened; nothing has been painted. I am afraid the ratty box has gone to the recycle bin. I also have Revell's curbside Mercedes-Benz 280 GE fire chief wagon.  This one is (I believe) complete, again unpainted although the bags have all been opened and the chassis assembly has begun. Again the box is missing, but the instruction sheet is available. Both decal sheets are looking pretty tired and if I were to use them, I would scan and print a new sheet. See the pictures below; let me know if you want any of it, I'd be willing to trade for other obscure stuff. (I have outgrown my fire truck phase.)

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