Blog: Glenn BrooksThe Benz Unimog can be a train. And tow 1,000 tonnes. Truly.

Glenn Brooks | 30 August 2012

The universal motorised working machine (the full German name of the Unimog) can tow loads of up to 1,000 tonnes, Daimler says

The universal motorised working machine (the full German name of the Unimog) can tow loads of up to 1,000 tonnes, Daimler says

Daimler's global publicity machine never ceases to surprise. One day, a special edition smart might be announced, another something on M-Class assembly in Thailand, but on very special days there is news of a new Unimog variant.

The pic beside these words accompanies a press release concerning something called the '9th InnoTrans in Berlin, the leading global trade show for the railway industry (18 through 21 September)' to quote from Daimler's press blurb.

Only a firm that THINKS in German could put these words into a press release, and I wouldn't change any of them; they ooze sensibility: The particular interest of the professional circles will be on the Unimog U 400 as a shunting vehicle that is also suitable for clearing snow. Unimproveable.

The U 400 has a new powertrain that's been engineered especially for pulling heavy loads. It also includes a crawler gear transmission for very slow operating speeds. They've even designed in a snow-blower attachment that takes its drive off a mechanical front power-take-off shaft. Available ex-factory, naturally.

You have to love Mercedes-Benz for building the Unimog and Daimler's media department for putting out such no-nonsense material as I've copied in above. The company's been building this unstoppable vehicle for multiple decades and yet somehow they keep finding new things it can do.

More? OK, get a load of this. Another innovation to be displayed on the Mercedes-Benz InnoTrans exhibition stand is a rail and grooved rail cleaning vehicle for tram operations: Newly developed rail gear from CMAR makes it possible even for the Unimog with a long wheelbase of 3600 mm and consequently larger body volume to navigate very tight turning radiuses of at least 19 metres. For rail cleaning the Unimog vehicle hydraulic system controls five different work processes from lowering and pressing down the rail gear to driving a high-pressure water pump for cleaning grooved rails. I am standing back in awe at the sheer cleverness of the engineers behind this kind of problem solving.

The gods were smiling earlier this year when I fulfilled an ambition and was allowed to drive a Unimog. Up or down ridiculously steep and slippery slopes, wading through deep water. It just chugged along, its big four-cylinder diesel engine providing giant reserves of torque, and I tried to change gear at the right time. Beside me was a man from Mercedes who had made sure we had all the right diff locks engaged, or disengaged. I'm fairly certain I beemed like a little kid (or perhaps grinned like a fruitloop) the whole time I was at the controls.

I have a friend in Ottawa who's steadily ticking off things to do before she pops her clogs. It's all to do with something called a Bucket List (I'm told it was a film) and it seems to make her immensely happy. Perhaps a visit to the InnoTrans exhibition in Berlin one year is something I should put on my own list.


Colossal China powers on

I'm starting to get a small idea of the scale of things here in China, but really, I'm only scratching the surface of this vast country....

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