MogTug’s First Trip to Baja

In my effort to catch up on stories, from time to time, i may go back to the past and tell an old story, particularly if it has bearing on today. This is one of those 🙂

We got the Mog back in the fall of 2013, and then embarked on our first trip with it, after only 2 days of ownership. We dropped SyncroBo to be containerized and then decided to explore for the first time in the Mog. We set our sights on Baja, Mexico. We decided it would be a fun place to test the truck a bit.

Unfortunately when we went to cross at Tijuana, Mexican immigration decided that we ‘looked too much like the Mexican military’ and they deported us! It was surreal.

They put us back in line in the SENTRI lane and this caused a three special review as we dont have a SENTRI pass.

Long Line Back

Determined not to be denied, we then drove an hour or so east to cross over at Tecate and there, we encountered no problems! We were in and through in no time.

Fish Tacos
Delicious Fish Tacos

Right before crossing, we had gone to Goodwill and bought an old couch, coffee table and I built a temporary electrical system in a Rigid Tool Box. Our setup was awesome. We treated the truck bed like our den and a little outdoor screen room from walmart as the living room. It was great to get a feel for the space of the bed as is was basically the footprint of the radio box that we would somehow find later.Truck Bed Camping

We headed down to Ensenada, and it was freezing! So we headed to the gulf side and found a little patch of deserted beach. It was awesome.

Waking up to the sun!


We noticed a small little oil drip in San Diego when we stopped but we thought it was from a bad washer. Well that little drip slowly grew to a larger puddle when we would stop. We knew the drip was coming from the oil filter housing and unfortunately it seemed like it wasn’t going to be an easy fix. So we turned back to head back to the US.

We crossed back in to the US with sights set on getting to a good place to fix the oil leak. Pat was called back to Michigan for a wedding, so I was solo to get the truck to Virginia and sort the oil leak.

Faith smiled on us to get across the border but not all the way to VA. While in southern AZ, the oil drop became an torrent and that was the end of the trip. I luckily saw the oil pressure dropping and shut the engine down on the highway. I called AAA (you do have the RV premiere coverage right) and was towed 200 miles to Gallup, NM.

That’s a lot of oil

wet, wet, wet

While in Gallup, I broke out the shop manuals and found a local diesel shop who would assist. We changed the oil filter housing and it seems like Mercedes knows this is a problem area as the new oil filter housing is a new design and reinforced right where mine cracked. I was able to get the part in 2 days and it really was a remarkably easy experience overall considering Unimogs aren’t that common in the US.

In the process of sorting out a fix for the oil filter housing, I got connected with a fellow mogger, James, in new Mexico. He was a huge resource and support to calm the nerves and stay excited about the adventure that is mog ownership. While I ultimately decided to do the fix in Gallup, vs towing further to Albuquerque, I did plan to pay James a visit en route to VA. You can read all about that in Part 1 of the MogTug build. Without him, I doubt this would all be happening how it is.

It was a crazy week or so, but I look back with a lot of fondness. Was it a bit crazy for us to take a 25 year old vehicle immediately on a road trip out of the country? Sure it was, but honestly I am glad to have worked the kinks out then vs now on our real adventure. After the oil fix, the mog made it the 1800 miles back to VA trouble free.

– RandallB3

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