The Unimog Wherehaus

E-mail Dirk Rautenberg

 
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Moab, Utah

The 1998 Easter Jeep Unimog Safari
I left late Monday morning and had a good chunk of road to drive. Moab is in the south eastern corner of Utah and I live near Seattle. South to Portland and then east on I 84 all the way to Salt Lake City. From there it was just another few hours on Hwy. 6 to the town of Moab. Coming from the north, you get an early taste of the massiveness of the rocks. Following the uranium filled granite along the Colorado River it winds into the city. I found the B+B I had made reservations at and got settled with my dog. The Pinzgauer was unloaded from the trailer and a quick run for supplies was necessary. Needless to say, it was quite the head turner. There are not many in the States and whether one ever made it to slick rock country........... probably not.

Moab Panorama This is gonna be fun.


I wanted to stop by the campground Kai and the MOOMOG where supposed to be, but met Bill Caid and the 1300L already in the parking lot of a nearby hotel. Plans were made for dinner and we picked up Kai on the way. I shared the room with Mark Peterson; he had flown in a few days prior and was sporting around in rental car. We rolled into the parking lot of a popular spot and found enough space in the lounge. A few old acquaintances from the off road magazines were also present and the reunion was a lot fun. The micro brewed beer was well to my liking and we chased from one laughter to the next. We retired late, though breakfast was set at 6.30 again. And after that, trail run !!

V8 power After Market.


I was excited to see what the old pinzer had to offer. The whole town was in jeep mode. Four wheel drives everywhere. An estimated 2000 vehicles were in town that week. Many driven in, flat towed or brought in on trailers. Main street was the show off drag. Every restaurant, gas station, mini mart, parking lot or simple street corner was filled with tricked out, souped up or plain ugly 4WD of all makes and vintage. The V8's were gurgling at the lights and once in a while screeching tires left little blue clouds in the air. The subject of axle ratios and tire size versus tranny/transfer set ups could be overheard often. Mog owners can't really participate in those discussions, we don't have those choices. Good thing, too.

It is amazing what kind of dimensions this market has taken. Specialized products that enhance the performance or looks of something people go out with and bash it in the rocks. By Friday another common picture added itself to the scenery: Jeeps in tow. Broken on the trail, rescued by a buddy and dragged to one of the many garages. We were late for breakfast, actually didn't make it and met Thursday morning at the local market and stocked up on supplies for the trail and finally drove to the long awaited spot to see what's it all about. A big jeep group was in front of us, but we took the time to air down and chit chat.

The air cooled Pinzgauer Air cooled Pinzgauer, at home in the desert.


The night before had brought some precipitation and the ground was gooey. Added more to the challenge, right? We came to the first obstacle, a big step up where traction was critical and it was definitely slick. Kai took the hard line, but the rest of us stayed on the more cautious side. Didn't seem to be a problem for any of us. One jeep was already off to the side with a broken radiator. Pinzgauers are air-cooled, so I was not going to have the same problem. We weaved up the trail, a lot of steps with different lengths in between to give every wheelbase it's challenges. It was scenic and the clouds broke up making it warm.

Bill's U1300 on the Golden Crack Big crack, Bigger Truck.


We stopped and rolled the canvas up on the Pinz and also improved our visibility. Once in a while we would catch up with the group in front of us or get passed by some jeepers that "had places to go", but the big rendezvous point was the "Golden Crack". a convenient spot to just sit and watch. Many well built rigs made it without any problems, some others had a hard time and some did not make it all. Those had to be towed over it. It was my time and Kai went first, just walking through it, raising the tilt bed to one side while traversing and let the big moo horn do it's purpose after he cleared. The crowd loved it. It was my turn next and it was quite the challenge, I have to admit. Dropping both front wheels into the crack made the rear left corner come way of the ground and I had to hang on to the door to keep my balance on the seat. The bumper scratched a little, but we proceeded out of it, diff locks engaged, at an idle. Bill was next and he scratched the bumper as well but followed right through and all that with a five ton truck ! He could have gathered all the broken jeeps and hauled them home to mommy.

Our Group Our Group


Further down the trail, just before the double whammy, we climbed up a double stair step called the wall and while the two jeeps in front of me and I had no problem getting up it, Kai seemed to not get the right amount of traction to clear the last edge and it started to bounce quite a bit to slide backwards again and raised like a rearing horse, well rather a cow, and dropped a lot of the camping gear and spare tire down on the ground. The spare bounced all the way down the hill, barely missing trucks and people and finally went over a ledge where it came to rest.

Bill's Truck, Kai spotting. Bill's U1300 takes on the slickrock.


Still in awe about the just experienced scene, the Teal J was turned around and we hooked the winch cable to the moo-bumper and gave it a little tug over the obstacle. The lost parts where put back into the bed and we proceeded past the double whammy to take another break and watch some jeeps attempt it. Another down pour started and so we sought shelter in the trucks and continued down the trail. We wound down the road and went along the serpentines paralleling the pavement, though it was 300 ft. higher with a sheer drop. The narrow path made us stay close to the hillside and we hoped for no traffic. Just before we reached the paved road back to town, the tires were aired back up and we straightened Bill's bumper. It was an exciting day with spectacular scenery. And of course, with such capable vehicles a real pleasure and peace of mind to be able to do these trails safely.

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