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Road maintenance: Unimog U 400 working all-year round on Feldberg Mountain
- Clearing snow until April – if need be, even longer
- Feldberg community in the High Black Forest uses a Mercedes-Benz Unimog U 400 to cope with a multitude of local needs
- Top performance and absolute reliability on south-west Germany's highest mountain
Stuttgart/Feldberg – With its height of 4 898 ft (1 493 m) the Feldberg is the highest point of the High Black Forest in Baden-Württemberg and it is both an Eldorado for winter sport fans as well as a favourite place for tourists and nature lovers to visit in summer. The average temperature here is 3.3 degrees Celsius – and this average is taken over the whole of the year. And the last snow often does not melt before the end of August – shortly before the new snow falls.
This region is the place to be if you're seeking snow and sometimes overnight about 27.5 in (70 cm) falls at one go – an extreme challenge and very exacting task especially for the winter services which have to clear the local roads and the access to the Feldberg Hotel – the highest hotel in Germany – from 3 a.m. on, as well as the heavily frequented huge car parks at the bottom of the lift facilities. Everything has to be done by 8 a.m. as it is then that the chairlifts, ski-tows and toboggan runs start operating and day-visitors or overnight guests start streaming to their winter fun. This work is done by the local authority's maintenance depot. A Mercedes-Benz Unimog U 400 with a machine combination of a snow cutter with a snowplough is used for the tour which is about five miles long (eight kilometres). When snow is falling, the fixed route, which also includes the huge car park for several hundred vehicles at the bottom of the ski lift facilities, has to be driven round and cleared about ten times per work shift – that means top performance from both man and machine.
A perfect vehicle for local authorities: the Mercedes-Benz Unimog U 400
This does not cause any difficulties for the Mercedes-Benz Unimog U 400 which has been part of the Feldberg maintenance depot for some time now. Among other vehicles in the fleet are a Unimog U 90, U 1400 and a U 300. The Unimog is almost able to make its difficult and varied work seem like child's play with its nearly 10 ft (3 m) wide clearing width which can keep a road width of up to 9 ft (2.7 m) clear of snow, its all-wheel drive and engine performance of 210 kW (286 hp). The Unimog vehicles from product range U 300/U 400/U 500 are the perfect vehicles for local authorities as both the strong drivetrain and the entire vehicle hydraulics system with power take-offs can be used to run a wide range of attached implements and additional equipment for general work both in summer and winter.
Special equipment such as "Variopilot" which enables both the steering and pedals to be transferred from one side of the vehicle to the other have been designed especially for the needs of local authority maintenance depots and it gives the Unimog a unique position in the market for local authority vehicles. The transmission of the U 400 used in the Feldberg community has eight gears in each direction which can be changed with a selector lever. As other optional equipment, this special vehicle also has other working and crawling gears at its disposal. Together with the large tyres, the portal axles provide very high ground clearance and the short overhang at front and back allow the vehicle wide angles of approach and departure.
Highly versatile all-year round
The jobs a Mercedes-Benz Unimog does to serve the local authority are spread out over the whole year and are very diverse. In summer, mowing verges and meadows and spreading mulch are much in demand, as well as pulling out timber, looking after hiking trails and maintenance work within the community; and in winter, snow-clearing, gritting and keeping the community roads and access roads to the lift stations clear are on the plan. Every year about 700 work hours are required of the Unimog U 400 and the distance driven during this period amounts to about 3 120 miles (5 000 km) – that not only requires top performance, but also absolute reliability and a long life expectancy. The predecessor of the U 400 used by the Feldberg Local Authorities was a Unimog U 1200 and it managed to serve the community for 21 years.
The community of Feldberg has 1 800 inhabitants and about 500,000 visitors every year. The Feldberg peak with its striking tower housing a well-known weather station, the Feldberg railway and the ski-lifts in the Feldberg Lift Operators Association are all within the Feldberg district borders.