We were up this morning at 5:30 am in order to get to McCoy Freightliner by 6:00am in order to have the truck serviced in advance of shipping to Russia. When we called McCoy about a week ago we were told that they don't take bookings, it is first come first served and we are open from 6:00am until 11:00 pm. Since we wanted to get finished in a day we decided to try and be first. That worked out as we were indeed the first customers of the day. The bit of the story we had not anticipated was that while the office is open from 6:00am the mechanics/technicians don't arrive until 7:00am (or later). Anyway about that time activity started on the yellow truck.

Over the past 6 months we have become increasingly aware that Unimog U500 expertise is scarce. Initially we thought (were told?) that Freightliner dealers handled Unimogs. Then (from the Daimler national manager) we learned that only a few Freightliner dealers have trained technicians now that Unimogs are no longer being imported into the US (makes sense from a business point of view) and that even those are loosing their expertise.

McCoy in Portland is one of the 3 in the country that seems to have retained some expertise; though this mornings experience highlighted how infrequent is their chance to apply that expertise. Since I had to show the first technician that worked on the truck how to raise the cab and apply the safety lock so that the engine could be accessed.

By lunch time things looked good, the new brake pads (which I supplied) had been installed, the engine oil and oil filter had been changed and one of the fuel filters had been changed. All that remained for the afternoon was to install a new fuel/water separator, read the error codes associated with the ABS messages we have been getting, and read the level of clutch wear from the computer.

Now reading computer codes and other computer related things is another data point in the story of diminishing support for the U500. Normally one would read computer codes and do other computer related stuff on a U500 with a Mercedes diagnostic computer called a Gold Star. But since Freightliner dealers have so little call for this device they don't keep one on hand as they are expensive. When they need one from time to time they call Daimler support (in Portland) and have one shipped overnight for a days use. However right now the one at Daimler in Portland is not working correctly as it needs a software update for the new vehicle models. So the procedure today was for the McCoy tech to phone the Daimler tech (who was out of town on business) and be guided through doing the computer related work on the vehicle console. Now this got done; there were no stored codes for the ABS warnings and the clutch wear was OK.

However the fuel/water separator did not arrive until around 3:30 so we were not finished until 5:00pm. Thats 11 hours for a routine service. Did I mention $1280.

Next time we need to service the Mog (and we are in the US) it would be worth driving all the way to La Junta, CO to visit Rob Pickering. It would take longer and (with fuel) cost a bit more, but would be a lot more fun, and I would have more faith in the outcome.