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Friday, October 2, 2009

Take a tour of our motor home

When reading some of these RV blogs, I really like to read the ones about folks’ RV units… be it campers, travel trailers, fivers, motor homes etc.  I like to see inside and outside pics of folks’ rigs, and how they personalize them for travelling or living in. 

So, seeing as we are NOT going camping his weekend….  and it being a yucky rainy windy Friday morning,  I thought I would work on a blog about our most recent motor home….   1996 Safari Serengeti 38 ft Diesel with Cat 3126 and Allison tranny     (there- got the technical stuff in for the guys!)  This is what we saw on the lot:
front driver sidefront passenger side
As I said in my post 2 days ago, we bought this rig in 2006… from Al’s Motor homes in Rockford, Ill.  It only had 22,000 miles on it, and was in immaculate shape. With just one little glitch about 2 mechanics not understanding if each other changed a faulty turbo boost sensor, the rest of the purchase went very well.  We negotiated into the deal:

6 new tires, mounted and balanced,
all new belts and hoses,
tranny, oil and radiator flush and all new fluids and filters,
4 new coach batteries, 2 new chassis batteries,
a full propane 50 gal tank,
and full diesel 105 gallon tank before we left. 

Wheeeeeeeee   what an adventure!
picking up new rig
Most Safaris come from the factory each with a custom painted mural, by the Dame family.  Here is a website of various ones collected:  other safari murals     Most Safari’s have a hidden tiny animal somewhere in the mural.   It makes a great conversation starter with folks, and little kids love to try to find ours.  Here, I will help you find it on ours with a big red circle.
96 safari serengeti pfundtner  with mouse
On the exterior, we have full body paint on aluminum exterior… (which means no delamination or fading decals or cracking fiberglass like our last rig) . We have one large  silver fabric awning and smaller fabric awnings on all the windows around. On the roof are 2 AC’s, dual air horns, an OEM solar panel (we will add more when we full time) and we added two Maxi-vent covers and two venturi vent whirligigs.
lion motif
There is a huge basement storage area with stainless steel doors all around the rig, which look impressive.  The basement is a wide open space, not separate little compartments.  It is a huge pass through area 3 doors wide on each side.  It is completely open side to side and front to rear between the front and rear axles.  We have a set of 8 matching big silver totes that fit perfectly, each one labeled for it’s contents:  dog stuff, lanterns/propane stuff, picnic table and patio lights, diesel filters oil and supplies, helmets raingear and boots, freshwater supplies, wastewater supplies, etc.  Steveio filled one door space up with his tool box area… where he carries all his tools in a handy dandy toolbox he made:
steveios new tool drawers
We also carry a folding table, extra leveling blocks, fishing gear and an air compressor.  Our Safari does not have air bags, instead it has a special suspension on its Magnum chassis, made by BF Goodrich called Torsiliastic (sp?) which is comprised of rubber wedges and rubber fittings that give it a *Velvetride* …. yes, veryyyy smooth.   So we need an onboard air compressor for Steve’s air tools and emergency tire filling.
our floorplan
Our rig has a side-entry door, which we LOVE!  It is just about a deal-breaker item for us, after having been in both my parents and Steve’s parents motor homes with front entry doors.  We realize the ease and sensibility of a side entry door that leads right into the kitchen.  It’s a short turn to the left to the bathroom too. 

We find a side-entry door is great for hauling food in and out to the kitchen, wet muddy dogs into the bathroom, or just the ease of running in and out to get things for cooking outdoors, which we do a lot of.  We are not tracking food, dirty dishes, dogs and feet through the carpeted living room area and less wear and tear on the carpeting just by travelling back and forth.  Plus, we ALWAYS take off our shoes, no matter what.  Moccasins and clogs work great for slipping in and out of when camping.

Although we don’t have any slides, the floorplan we have allows for plenty of movement, storage and our rig is a “wide body” model which adds extra width.

Our other deal-breakers in looking at a rig are the need for BIG windows… all around.  We hate the dark *tunnel* feeling of some rigs with dark woods and lots of walls. This rig has huge sliding windows and very few wall spaces. The last *deal breaker* was a king sized bed, for my tall man Steveio’s long legs to not hang over the end of a regular queen bed. 

The large kitchen area, with plenty of drawers (NINE!) and plenty of cabinets, and lots of counter space were an added plus.  There are more cabinets to the left over the kitchen table (which pulls out with more leaves to make it big enough for 4 of 5 people to sit around.  Lots of storage and shelves inside the cabinets. The only downfall is the lack of an LP oven, it has just a micro/convention unit.  UGH!   We use an external LP oven from Coleman that I have talked about in previous posts.  

All of our cabinetry is solid Western Alder wood, native to the Oregon coast where our rig was made.  There is no fiberboard, fake panels or papered layers to our cabinetry, which is something that wood-loving folks like us appreciate.   Even our double door Dometic fridge has real wooden matching panels, custom fit from the Safari factory. 

All of the drawers are very wide and deep to the backs of the cabinets.  Not much wasted space back there.   They don’t make em like this anymore.  Sigh.  So we gotta keep this rig in tip-top shape to make it last.

There is a stand-alone icemaker over near the entry door under the wine-glass cabinet.

Now... forward to the livingroom area:

recovering couches We recovered both couches ourselves, with some icy blue printed corduroy upholstery fabric.  Both couches fold open to beds.  We might later remove one and add a euro chair and ottoman.  That would make more room for leaving my table loom set up all the time instead of stowing it away.  Steveio made the coffee table too.  All the woodwork in our Safari is a lovely gleaming Western Alder in a great gold color.  Not too light, not too dark.

Up in the cockpit, we have a neato pullout desk area, perfect for the laptop!  We use Microsoft Streets and Trips with a dongle usb GPS, so it’s nice to have it handy and close to my co-pilot seat.  It retracts and folds outta the way in flash for me to get up, or if we go inside somewhere for a bit, the laptop is stowed away and not visible to passersby's.

There is an AC outlet under the dash if we have the inverter on, and Steve wired in a DC outlet nearby so I can use that when we are driving down the road.  I bought an AC/DC power source for my Dell, instead of using only 120VAC via the inverter.  We did burn out one alternator in 2008, which might have been from driving all the time with the inverter on.  Now we use the DC instead when driving on the roads, if at all possible.

Let’s walk back to the middle of the coach….
bathroom cabinetry and closets shower over garden bathtub
central walk thru bathroom splendide washerdryer combo and cedar lined closets
We have a large walk-through bath, plenty of closets and drawers, with a Splendide washer/dryer combo installed.  We sure like a full tub and large shower. We added an Oxygenics shower head which is GREAT!   It gives a frothy foamy full shower without wasting as much water that regular showerheads do.  Our last rig had a split bath, with a hallway through it, and small area for the toilet.  We realize we like this roomy full bath better.  There is a wooden four-panel sliding pocket door that separate the bath from the kitchen and another one for the bedroom.  Good for closing the dogs off into the back.

fron bedroom looking into center bath area bedroom vanity and tv overhead
The bedroom is a bit cramped due to the king sized bed, but it is a very workable situation for us, considering how much we need the king bed.  Not to mention a huge collie that insists on laying between our legs each night!  The sheltie lays on the floor on my side like a good boy…   There are cabinets all above around all three sides for added storage.
king bed
The whole bed lifts up for easy access to the complete diesel engine.  You can step right inside on top of the engine to work on it, which makes for much easier repairs.  Slides and sideway beds really complicate that access, and many diesel repair shops will shoot out an automatic “NO”  reply when asking for engine repair work on a motor home, due to the difficulty of most rigs to access to the engine compartment.  Once we explain the huge access area, they reconsider and take us in.  Happened twice for us so far on the road.
IMGA0541 (1280x960) man under my bed
Steve working on the muffler …….        and a repairman fixing a fuel line leak on the road

Sooo that is it for the interior…..   Here is one accessory we have found to be very important to us.  Although we have a full tow-bar setup, and own a Saturn car that is towable, we chose to not tow.  We have a Honda Helix scooter that rides two up, goes 70 mph and can get 70mpg fuel economy.  It rides on a rack on back and we find it’s much easier to get the motor home into and out of places. Most of the campsites we frequent are back-in, not drive-through.   So the scooter is our best choice for us at this time.
scooter on rack on back
It’s easy to roll the scooter down off the rack, via the little ramp that goes along with it.  To get the scooter back up again, you just keep it running and use the engine power to throttle it right back up, so it drives itself right into place, while walking alongside of it.  It straps and locks down securely with two padlocks and two straps.
scooter rack on motorhome (5)We ride it all over comfortably, there is enough room in the *trunk* for a few bags of groceries, my camera, some rain gear, and a first aid kit.  The little back rack can hold a case of beer or a picnic basket!  
honda helix 2

On edit now 5 years later....

We don't have the scooter any more,
instead we installed a Blue Ox tow bar and haul around a
Geo Tracker.  Easier to tour the areas we visit and we can take the dogs along with us....

It can shift easily into four wheel drive, which was fun out in the desert...
and I do appreciate the air conditioning as we ride along on hot days!

One other big change we made---- We removed the couches in our rig, and now have a reclining wall hugging loveseat from LayZBoy.  It was delivered in three pieces: the double wide base, then two separate backs that slide down and snap into place on the bars. 

This was the largest part... and the heaviest!

The base can be mounted permanently to the floor through holes in the frame so it doesn't move.

It really opened up the space and now I have room to work on a loom, sock machine or set up extra folding chairs for company.  The grandtots sometimes sleep over o a large air mattress that fits in the space between the loveseat and opposite wall.  When the seats recline, they kinda scoot forward so the backrest doesn't need as much space to recline.  It's called a "Wall Hugger" design and works out perfectly for us. 

Because we now face a different direction when sitting on the loveseat, we decided to invest in another tv.  The regular tv is installed up over the driver's seat and doubles as our backup camera screen (nice and big for that!)  ...  We looked at the power consumption of various TV's until we found a low-wattage LED tv from Vizio.  

When we are in transit, it sets face up on the back bed, cushioned by pillows as we drive.  With the antenna outlets rerouted to that side of the rig, we can watch it in the livingroom, turn towards the kitchen.... and even set it outside for watching Packer Games with the outside antenna outlet in one of the compartments!

During the last two years, we transitioned from selling all of our furniture and easily sold our house in Oconto.  With careful organization, we moved our possessions into the motorhome and set up for full time living and planning future travels. 

We lived full time in the motorhome for about 5 months, getting ready for Steve to retire from the State of Wisconsin.  Instead, he was offered a position (a DREAM JOB at High Cliff State Park!)  so he took the position and loves it!    Winters in Wisconsin are a bit rough to live in an RV all year round. 

We then shopped for another house near his new position, and do not live in the rig full time any more.  Vacations and weekends and also a month of camphosting at the park are what we are using the motorhome for now.  

(one more change in 2015.. we decided to remove the overhead tv completely, and just have four panels of dark plexi cabinets... Steve took out the tv cabinet and made it shorter to avoid the "head banger" feature of hitting his head on it!  

Here is how it looked before
with the big "head banger" cabinet hanging into the driver's area.

 We removed the tv and Steve shortened up the cabinet from the top down
so it would sit level with the rest of the cabinets

Of course, he had to reroute a bunch of wires 
and stereo stuff and back up camera stuff

The backup camera used to come in over that overhead tv... 
now we put the cable to a small monitor between the dash consoles

A fellow Safari-ite Bill sent us an extra plexi glass door to cover the open space! 

 We had to move over one of the small tweeter speakers for the surround sound

There... done! 
It looks SO much better.... and gives us more windshield view too

Now that the tv is gone over the drivers area, we only use the flat screen in the livingroom space.  Now we mounted our flat screen onto a bracket located between the two windows. It works much better there! 

 (I love Andy Griffith and Mayberry!) 

We also put a tv arm in the back bedroom spot, with a smaller flat screen too! 


  1. Sounds like it was a quality built motorhome right from the start & that's always a huge bonus for sure.

  2. Yah... They were in a class by themselves when made in the mid-90's. Nothing was skimped on in production so they say. Safari was later bought up by Monaco, and not made the same since. Now that Navistar owns Monaco, wonder what is gonna happen to the next Safari's?

  3. We own a 2001 Safari Serengeti. It is much like yours. We have two slides, 40 ft. We have fulltimed in it for 3 1/2 years now. We love it. It is so well built. We have the beautiful Alder wood cabinets, large tub/shower/potty area, washer/dryer combo, etc. Couldn't ask for more!

  4. Hi Karen,

    I came upon your blog by accident looking at Safari Serengetis for sale. I was about to get off the blog when I saw you were a fiber artist, so that peaked my attenion. Then, I saw you were in WI. I raise alpacas in WI! I saw that you worked with wool. Have you ever worked with alpaca fleece? It makes awesome socks! Nice to "meet" you! Heidi

  5. Karen, I have been looking at 90ish Barth and Country Coach motorhomes. had not realized until this week that the Safari Senengeti was such an excellent coach. I am sure impressed by the SS storage doors. A barth I recently checked out had a lot of corrosion on the alum storage doors.
    Thanks for posting the description on your blog.

  6. To Karen-in-the-Woods: Great photos, great blog, keep up good thoughts and work. I still have the socks! (from 4 or 5 yrs ago?)Love, Karen-in-the-Swamps of Floriduh.

  7. Loved your descriptions of OUR motorhome......a 1996 Safari Serengheti, but with about 130,000 miles on it! We've kept it up perfectly, with a new refrigerator, 2 new A/C, plus, plus, plus -- since we purchased it used in 1999. We are sitting in a campground in Grantsburg, WI for the summer........and at ages 75 (hubby) and 72 (me), our motorhoming is coming to an end. We would be willing to sell our wonderful motorhome for a reasonable price. Have you had any inquiries due to your wonderful descriptions? (Same as ours, plus additional wood cabinetry done by Davis Cabinets in oregon -- who did original work.

  8. Hi, Karen! What a blessing this site is. We are the new owners of a 1995 Safari Ivory Edition. 40 ft, no slides... and we love it, although we are experiencing a few problems since we have no idea what we're doing, LOL. I will look for you on Facebook and visit here often.

  9. Hi Karen: A great Blog with lots of tips and ideas. We'll be back!

  10. May I ask what the weight numbers are on this coach (we are interested in the same one)? GVWR, GCWR, CCC or dry weight? I can't seem to find this information anywhere on the net.

    1. Our UVH rating is 18,600 (Unloaded Vehicle Weight)
      Our GVWR rating is 28,000 (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating)
      GCWR-32,000 (Gross Combined Weight Rating)

      We weigh in with full water, fuel, and propane tanks and 2 people at 22,000 pounds without our gear when we first bought the rig.

      We have about 8,500 pound capacity available from empty. Even with all our tanks full, (propane, fuel, fresh water and waste water) we still have around 6,000 pounds of CCC cargo carrying capacity above that.

  11. Assuming a magnum chassis... Do you know which one?

    1. Yep it's the Magnum chassis. Safari during these vintage years have their own company that built the Magnum chassis for them personally. Ours is the md3060 I believe

  12. just got or 1995 Serengeti home 38 footer, looks good, needs some cleaning on the interior ceiling from a water leak. that has been fixed. I have two things I need to know about. First where is the drain for the fresh water tank, I have looked everywhere. Second the brakes are hydraulic not air. As you drive the brakes get applied to the point of dragging severely and the only way to help it is to bleed off the pressure and than you can go again. Any ideas?

    1. HI Randy.. If you send me your email address I can attach some pics. Email me at pfundt@gmail.com As for your fresh water low point drain, ours is in the middle of the big basement compartment on the drivers side of the fresh water tank. There is a small white plastic valve on a grey line that lets the water run out on the ground. As for the brakes, i am thinking a master cylinder problem? I can ask Steve later. here is the info of the Master Cylinder we replaced: MASTER CYLINDER
      1790 Velp Ave
      Green Bay WI 54303
      part number RV12379X
      HALDEX brand
      MASTER CYL-948
      serial number 0808
      core group VAC1036

      Keep in mind, ours is a 1996 and your parts might be different. We did two brake jobs on our rig, one on the front while in Del Rio TX and the other in rears here at home. If you use the *search this blog* feature in my far right column on this blog you can find each of those events and see what we did as well as search the words Master Brake Cylinder

    2. Hi Karen, I found the fresh water drain, it was hid behind the water tank enclosure. A small cut in the carpet lets you stick your hand in there to turn the valve. We are trying to get parts for the brakes. it needs new calipers, rotors and pads. Everything is all rusty and been very hot. We have hydraulic brakes instead of air if you have air brakes.
      mt e-mail pickupbuilder@msn.com Thanks for replying. My wife is now doing upholstery on the kitchen chairs. She also has looms and enjoys weaving


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