Well, at least the weather is getting nicer here…kinda sorta

It’s a balmy 39 degrees up here in Alaska, gonna be a windy day.

Within a few weeks I should be able to start working on some of the issues on the old pickup. As with anything that’s used well, even if it’s maintained well, things wear out. In this particular case it’s elements of the shift control system that are plastic. Over time they oxidize, crack, and fall away – leading to lots of slack in the control rod, and that makes it sometimes hard to find the right gear.

What would be an $800 dollar job is in reality a two hour, $1.78 job. Big difference between dealer shop prices, and learning to do the work yourself.

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Book review – The Dark Secrets of SHTF Survival

I’ve never done a book review here, but there’s a first time for everything. Like many of you, I’ve known of Selco for years now, and I’ve read many of his posts. I know a bit of his history and where his experience originated.

He was in the middle of one of the recent conflicts (well, relatively recent) in Europe, that of the Yugoslavian breakup. As it happened, he was trapped in a major city, and had to rapidly learn, and deal with what happens during an extreme urban SHTF.

For those of you that are urbanites, this book is a powerful introduction to how things work in society when things go seriously awry.

How powerful? Well, if you are serious about survival, are mature and pragmatic enough to handle what’s said in the book, and take it to heart – I believe that this book might be the single most valuable book on the subject out there. (Yeah, the cover is a bit….over the top, but hey, marketing!)

Note that I specified “mature and pragmatic”. I mean that wholeheartedly – if you stress easily, etc – leave this text to someone else to deal with. For example, I’d never consider this for a youngster. Hell, I wouldn’t consider this for my wife either, she’d stress out like crazy after reading it.

This book is harsh and can be upsetting for many readers, and details the ugly realities of war from a trapped civilian point of view. Descriptions and examples of incidents are blunt and to the point. It can be quite graphic, and in many sections it also will speak to the psychological and emotional effects of conflict.

Various sections deal with how to identify data points leading up to SHTF level events, early, mid, and late stages of SHTF. How to survive in a city under siege as a civilian, how to deal with others, movement, sanitation, the importance of groups, etc. Additionally, and very importantly, the book also contains a section on aftermath, when things “normalize” (even though they never really do, do they?)

I’m not getting any proceeds from this book review, either. I purchased it free and clear. I just think that it’s important enough, and for some folks it will make the difference between survival, and no survival. Cheap enough, available through Amazon.

Maybe I’ll do some more book reviews, if so, I’ll keep them simple and speedy reads.

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On this memorial day….

From a fine old blog, sadly updated no more, but still quite timely:


“Whatever else you do with your free day – Remember Them. It only takes a moment.

But Remember.

They are not truly gone until we forget.

For some of us, the true meaning of this holiday doesn’t come into focus until we, or someone we know…

Hears The Knock.

Attends The Funeral.

And Buries Our Dead.

This is why today is Memorial Day.

Click here – and Remember.”

-from John at thedonovan.com.

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Field fixes for starter issues….try doing this with an automatic trans…

Not going to happen.

But with a manual trans….oh yeah…


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Here’s a good reminder to stay proficient with paper navigation…


A fairly large area West of the Rockies is going to be undergoing a bit of a GPS signal issue, if anyone’s traveling, well, be aware of it.

For those of you that are using GPS (most of us), just realize that the GPS/Glonass system can be turned off or basically lose accuracy at any time when directed. All of those systems are national defense organization controlled, from various countries.

On and off, I speak with folks that completely rely on GPS. They’ve either had no proficiency with paper maps and navigation to begin with, or they’ve lost proficiency over the years by depending on the GPS.  Don’t be one of those folks, break out those maps and your compass and stay familiar with them.

Nothing substitutes for the hours of work you have to put in, but when you need to use that old tech you’re not going to have time to figure it out on the run.

From 2016, but still some good info. Should be the same basic coverage for 2018.

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Yep, it’s truth

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Regarding the “Myth Of the Bug Out Vehicle”

So a recent article has been filed over at AllOutDoor, it’s here if you want to take a gander at it.

The first line of that article is basically an abstract, and it covers what the entire article is about:

“In the survivalist community there is a mindset that you need a special vehicle to evacuate (bug out). The bugout vehicle is a myth. To even talk about buying a “special” vehicle for bugging out is a waste of time and resources.” – Kevin Felts (see above link for citation).

Yet again there’s a quickie article written by someone that either doesn’t have the experience or is writing nothing more than an article designed to get folks to read a page (hell, it worked on me, lol). Some of the articles that are done like that are worthy ones, imparting decent information, but all too many of them really don’t help too much.

Here’s the reality, Mr. Felts: Everyone has a different situation. Some folks will be well served by nothing more than a commercial off the shelf solution that’s common, something like an unmodified van, 4 wheel drive car or truck. Others will need very specialized tools for their bug outs, transportation, etc. To issue a blanket statement that says “…it’s all a myth….”, is BS and an easy way out.

The main issue I have with this is for the folks that are just starting out, who might really need a specialized solution and are using articles like Mr. Felts’ to identify tools and solutions. They’re definitely getting a disservice done to them.

Do your due diligence folks, do your research before making any big decisions.

Those decisions can be critical ones, and ones that’ll either optimize your capabilities, or one that’ll bite you in the ass later on when you really need that tool.

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The Unimog S 404….an older article

The Mercedes Benz Unimog
By Greg Trent, ©1994
The Mercedes Benz Unimog, in all of its variants, has a long and illustrious history as one of the worlds best light-medium duty rough terrain cargo vehicles. Originally developed as part of the post war Morgenthau plan, the Unimog was originally envisioned as a do everything vehicle, with the first ‘mog having a capacity for multiple PTO’s, crawler gears, all sorts of attachments, etc.

The original idea arose from Albert Friedrich, director of aviation motor development at Daimler Benz. Due to the post war demands for an agricultural tractor, the first working drawings were made in the offices of Erhard and Sons. In only eleven months, the first Unimog prototype was completed.

Initial tests proved that the little tractor was superior to anything that existed, so plans were made for immediate production. Daimler Benz, the home of the idea, was only to produce the motor, due to restrictions imposed by the post war occupying forces. The economy of Germany was in shambles, with many manufacturers scrambling to find products that would be permissible to the post war government, and it was to one of these, Boehringer Brothers in Swabia, that the Unimog design team would go. The first Unimog to actually go public was shown in August of 1948, and in 1949 the first commercial deliveries were made. Boehringer Brothers was eventually permitted to return to its original product, tooling, after producing only 600 Unimogs. At this point Mercedes Benz stepped in and relocated the whole Unimog design and manufacturing complex to their Heavy Truck Works, located in Gaggenau.

Present day models go all the way from the U 600 (4.5 to 5.8 ton GVW) up to the high capacity (12.5 ton GVW), high mobility U 2150L. Undoubtedly by now, since I’m still in the process of gathering info, bigger units are available. However, the model that most enthusiasts in the U.S. are familiar with is the Unimog S 404. This vehicle was built for military use, under a NATO contract, and designated the Unimog S 404.1 Another variant was produced for the civilian market, and was designated the Unimog S 404.0. Production dates for the two types were 1951 to 1980, with the bulk of them being produced 1951 to 1977. Total production run was on the order of 64,242 units.

Both of the S404s are gasoline powered, with the 404.1 using a Mercedes Benz M-180 engine, and the 404.0 using the M-130 series engine in addition to the 180 series. Both engines are gasoline fueled, vertical in-line sixes. On the 130 series motor, the standard induction system was a dual carburetor design, vs. the single Pallas-Zenith cross country carb on the NATO version. There are some differences between the two variants, with the S404.0 having a higher level of creature comforts, air assist hydraulic brakes, hydraulic-mechanical clutch and a different cab design.

Since the Unimog S was originally developed for the military, rough country operation was a critical part of the design process. To keep ground clearance high, large wheel diameters and portal axles are used. (If you don’t know what a portal axle is, it’s the type of system that the AM General chose for the Hummer, basically instead of a direct line out to the wheel from the differential, the axle is offset to the top and uses a gear cluster to drive the wheel. Advantages are increased clearance, and you can play around with gear ratios) To keep the center of gravity low, the drivetrain is mounted as low as possible. The Unimog, in addition to these points, is of course four wheel drive, with the transmission and both differentials having the capability to be fully locked. Locking is accomplished via a mechanical linkage. In addition to this is the capability to withstand an extreme amount of frame flex, under tough conditions. I’ve seen the cab and bed out of line maybe sixteen inches. Mounting points for the cab and bed are arranged in a triangular format for almost unlimited flex. All of the Unimog models, not just the S series, have these features.

The transmission does not have a transfer case, since the system is fully integrated. The only tranny offered in both the military and civilian model is a six speed (six forward, two reverse), fully synchro’ed unit with full time rear axle drive and shift on the fly front axle. Control of the locking is accomplished by a single lever in the cab, pull up on the lever for four wheel drive and pull up again for locked operation. The unit can, in addition to these features, be locked or unlocked at any speed.

The S series commonly has an optional engine driven compressor for trailer brakes, with the 404.1 having an additional port on the side of the vehicle for airing tires up or down. The electrical system is a standard NATO 24 volt, with two batteries, and a generator putting out 900 watts.

Cabs for the S series are both hard and soft topped, with the soft top seeming to be a lot more common, at least in the military versions that I’ve seen. In addition to the two seater version there is a four door version available, and from what I’ve heard they were used generally for driving school and command applications. The four door versions also seem to have been used a lot harder than the two door, but then I guess driving school students have never been too careful. Still, even with the harder use, the four doors are still worth more due to a limited production run. Soft tops are fully removable, with fold down windshields and removable doors while the hard tops are commonly available with passenger side roof hatches. The most common military option for the rear is a simple flatbed, used for either cargo or troops. The other commonly seen rear is a box, used either in an ambulance or radio role. These boxes are available both in high and low profile styles. The only option that I have seen for the civilian version is a flatbed, but then a lot of people wind up modifying whatever rear unit the truck comes with to meet their own needs. Other optional features for the S series are various PTO devices, with possible drives coming off the front (low speed), rear (high speed), sides and straight down. The most common applications are front mounted winches and rear mounted water pumps for the fire fighting trucks. Crawler gears are also a possibility and will give you an incredibly low final drive ratio. Engine and battery preheaters can be supplied, along with arctic and desert kits.

Specifications, Cargo Body Version

Wheelbase 9.5 feet
Track, front 5.3 feet
Track, rear 5.3 feet
Turning circle (outer wheel) 50.8 feet
Max. length 16.41 feet
Max width 7.0 feet
Max unloaded height 8.6 feet
Weight, empty 5,720 pounds
Max weight 10,450 pounds
Axle ground clearance 19 inches
Differential clearance 15.75 inches
Fording depth 31.5 inches
Approach angle 45 degrees
Departure angle 45 degrees
Max ascent 70 percent
Max descent 100 percent
Sidehill angle 42 degrees
Max speed 60 MPH.
Engine output 90 HP at 4850 RPM
Torque 111 ft./lbs at 2800 RPM
Average fuel consumption 10 – 14 mpg
Trans. Gearing Forwards 14.93/8.23/4.47/2.46/1.52/1.0
Trans. Gearing Reverse 20.12/11.09
Author’s Note- This info is accurate to the best of my knowledge. If there is anything that is in error, please let us know about it. Greg Trent ©1994, All Copyrights Reserved.

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Happy Thanksgiving folks!

We’ve all got things to be thankful for, even if it takes some of us a while to identify them.

So here’s to you folks – enjoy your time today!

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Velocipede style transportation, and what’s really important…

Short and simple, It’s the engine, not the machine.


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