We are GO for launch….

Happy Days

To say the last week has been emotional, would be an understatement of enormous proportions. To have come so close to getting my truck registered, only to find that the transmission was damaged, was to say the least, heart breaking, but if I’m to make it around Africa I need to have an “OK, problem, let’s solve it” attitude, so that’s what got me through the last few days.

Finally, following the repairs at Emirates Motor Company, my truck arrived (again) at Tasjeel in Warsan on Tuesday 24th January, and this time I was determined not to leave without a registration card. Which is just as well, since in the end it took me SIX hours to obtain the necessary approvals, during which time the vehicle was inspected on three separate occasions, by about eight different people in total. I spent 90 minutes sweet talking the manager of the test centre, persuading him that since Oberaigner was a Mercedes, n approved vehicle modifier, that the rules of ‘no modifications to chassis’ could not possibly be applied to MY vehicle. Thank You Henrique Pimental of Daimler Middle East for the letter confirming Mercedes’ relationship with Oberaigner.

Plates, plates! I got plates!!

Then there were the inevitable “But it has to be registered as a commercial vehicle”, “But it’s a heavy vehicle not a light truck”, “We don’t have that engine option for a Sprinter on our computer” and other such tiresome arguments to overcome, but I got there, having displayed the patience and understanding of a saint. Anyone who knows me will understand that for me to display such behaviour is nothing short of miraculous, but NOTHING was going to get between me and those number plates this time. So it was that at 8.20pm, more than five hours after I’d first arrived, I walked out of the office with the personalised plates in my hand. Having fitted them, I then had to walk back into the office, and spend another 40 minutes getting the registration card changed to show the correct gross vehicle weight. You see, I’d noticed that problem when the card was printed, but decided that ‘owning’ the card, and thus being able to have my plates printed, was more important than having correct details on the card. So when I raised the issue AFTER fitting my plates, well, they really had no choice but to correct it, right? I wasn’t born yesterday……

The video below is rather long, but it covers the whole gamut of my emotions, from receiving the truck the first time, realising it was damaged, getting it fixed, returning to Warsan and ultimately, my first drive of the truck on a public road. Bear with me for the plate fitting sequence – it gets better at the end 🙂
I hope you enjoy the video as much as I enjoyed driving those first few kilometres.


Outstanding customer service. Oberaigner & EMC.

The old and the new half shafts.

Last week I could not have been more depressed, having got as far as taking my truck to Tasjeel to register it, only to find it had a broken half shaft, probably courtesy of someone selecting the diff locks when moving the truck on tarmac at one of the ports. But there’s no way to prove where and when it happened. Now I know the truck was working just fine in Germany two weeks before it was shipped out – because I drove it very briefly – so it left the factory in working condition, and it had been at another engineering company’s yard for six months as the cabin was fitted. Yet when I contacted Oberaigner to ask about a spare drive shaft, not only did they confirm that there was one in stock in Abu Dhabi at EMC, but 24 hours later they wrote and told me it would be a warranty repair – no charge to me.

Why? “Because you are our first customer in the UAE, you helped us two years ago (making their promo video in Oman) so it’s important to us too that this vehicle is working – consider it just a kind gesture”. Outstanding customer service / generosity.

That was Thursday afternoon. I hurriedly made some calls to Emirates Motor Company, explained how desperate I was to get the truck registered, so they said. “Bring it Saturday morning, we’ll fix it immediately.”. I asked if I could watch and help, so as to learn & understand the process and see if there were any little tricks / nuances I needed to know in case I have to do this myself at the side of the road in Africa one day. “Sure, you can work with our technician, no problem”

Problem Solved

So over the course of three hours this morning, their excellent technician Lorden and I pulled the broken driveshaft and replaced it. Nothing out of the ordinary (except for the unusual coupling at the diff end – very neat and clean, but it was this part of the shaft which ultimately had failed) and the problem is now solved. Completely unrequested, Lorden then presented me with three pages of notes regarding all the torque settings, socket / allen key / spanner sizes required to complete the job, part numbers of all related components etc. Again, just excellent customer service.

He also went to clear an ABS warning from the ECU (a result of the drive shaft failure) but discovered an anomaly with the read out from the alternator. We suspect it has something to do with the various additional electrical equipment I have installed on the truck, which the standard OBD reader software can’t validate, but he insisted someone at EMC check it out tonight, so if all is well, I’ll pick the truck up tomorrow morning.

Thank You.

25 years in Dubai and many years of involvement in and around automotive distributors, have made me rather cynical I suppose, so when the company whose product I’ll be relying on for years, and their local distributor, bend over backwards to help me, I think it’s only fair that I say “Well done Oberainger & EMC, you have a very happy customer”

Registration plans…..shafted

Arrival at the test and registration centre.

If you were hoping to read that my truck was finally registered and on the road in Dubai…….well, so was I! In fact I rushed to the Warsan registration centre near the Dubai sewage treatment plant (I get all the best gigs) when I heard it was on a flat bed, finally clear from Dubai Customs and on its way to the Tasjeel test and registration centre. Imagine my excitement when I saw it pull up, on Dubai soil for the first time and just minutes away from being mine, all mine, registered and on the road…..

And imagine my incredulity when I drove it off the trailer and realised it would not move unless I engaged the diff locks. You don’t have to know much about vehicles to know what that means – that there’s a drive shaft or coupling or complete differential somewhere which is, to use the military vernacular, FUBAR. Yep, somewhere in my poor truck’s brief 127km history, it would appear, I think, that someone had engaged the diff locks whilst on tarmac, which had lead to the inevitable damage to the transmission. After 20 minutes of stunned silence (apart from a little gentle sobbing), I abandoned the idea of registering the vehicle, had it loaded onto another flat bed, and delivered to my office in Dubai where I have room to store it. Not the happiest journey I have made…

Right now I’m in the process of obtaining a new front left drive shaft (it didn’t take long to find the broken part) and getting my truck  repaired ASAP. With a bit of luck, I shall be in a position to try again next week, when I hope to have rather better news! Until then, I guess I picked the wrong month to quit drinking…..