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Monday, July 13, 2015

Tour Our 1996 Safari Serengeti Motorhome, Exercise Day for the Onan and Repairs

(I really have two blogs to write today, one about the motorhome and one about the museum, so I thought I would split them up into two blog posts) 

Every month or so, it's a good idea to run our onboard Onan propane generator under a full load to give it some exercise.  We don't use it often enough to keep it in prime working condition.  Since we installed the 500 watts of solar panels, we don't find a need to run it as much.  Although it's a very quiet propane generator, we just don't care to have it running if we don't need to.  Most everything we use is off the solar panels and battery bank.  Only the air conditioners or convection oven needs the generator.

If we don't do this exercise routine, the interior components get corroded and rusty....  A few years back we had an EXPENSIVE repair to the rotor of the unit because it was corroded and only putting out half the current (55 instead of 110)  Here is a blog post about that "not so fun" day:   Removing, Rebuilding, Replacing an Onan Generator

While Steve got the generator fired up, I turned on both roof airs, the fridge and the ice maker to draw the maximum power so we could to work the generator to it's fullest.

Outside of the rig, Steve took care of a few maintenance issues.  One was where a "gator" (a ripped up tire tread on the highway) jumped up and took a big bite out of the fiberglass on our bumper!  He had sanded it down, filled it in with fiberglass body resin and sanded it smooth again a few days ago.  Then there was a coat of primer to go on yesterday.  Today was an undercoat of blue.  That is how far he got it yesterday.

Now today we can apply the colormatched paint that we ordered is in at the auto supply store so we can get some final coats on it.  The motorhome uses a type of Mercedes metallic paint and clearcoat on top.  Soon it will be good as new!

The next project on the docket was to inspect and fill in all the little spaces along the three trim strips on our motorhome.  It has aluminum siding with three horizontal riveted strips that tend to lose their caulking over time.

Flexing and heat/cold changes seem to make these strips loosen up and allow water intrusion.  Especially the top most strip lets in the water that runs off the roof!  Most of the roof stains and leaks we see on other people's Safari rigs are from these strips.  So showing what to look for and what to use to seal them is our Publie Service Announcement today!  We learned to go over them carefully and fill in any new gaps.

The best product to use is a clear silicone that is UV resistant and made especially for RV's.  The only place that had it locally is Van Boxtel RV in Green Bay.  It comes in white, almond, black and clear.  Of course, on the blue paint, we need clear.

While we were working on the rig, we took the dogs out there to hang out. Both jumped into the motorhome willingly, thinking they were going somewhere!  Oh well, they are happy to just sit on the loveseat and watch me clean.

A long time ago we removed both of the uncomfortable jackknife couches in our rig, and installed a wall-hugging LazyBoy loveseat. Steve built a rolling coffee table that can pull up when needed or roll back when we want to put up our feet in the recliner position.  The round end table normally sets alongside of the loveseat, but we move it over to the wall during travel mode. Both of the cockpit chairs swivel around to add extra seating space to the livingroom area. It's pretty comfy for us and a few visitors without being too crowded.

Since I was out there, I decided to take new interior pics of our rig. 
These are just with my cell phone camera, and are not so good. 
I should take some better ones with my good camera.

This is from the front facing to the back

Although we don't have any slides, we have plenty of space to walk around and be comfortable. The table can extend out with two more leaves, and seats five around it with extra chairs from our storage compartments.  All of the wood is called Western Alder, which is native to where our rig was built in Oregon.

The kitchen area has a lot more counter space and storage
than our older Coachman motorhome did

The only drawback is that we only have 2 gas burners on the stove, and 
only a micro/convection oven, not an LP oven like most campers. 

But we have a LP portable oven we take along to bake with

(we jokingly call it "Karen's Easy Bake Oven") 

While I was out in the rig, I mounted this new sign from the grandkids 
with some double sided sticky tape. Pretty true, eh?

Our rig is separated into three rooms.

Let's walk back through the sliding wooden door
heading into the bathroom! 

We added an extra lower towel rack to the wall above the toilet. It also pads the wall from the wooden toilet seat banging onto it.  On the passenger side, the mirrored closet doors line the whole wall, and includes a washer/dryer combo in the center cabinets.

In our Sierra travel trailer, we had the bathtub and shower combo and I really liked it.  When we next had the Coachman motorhome after that, it only had a shower stall. I missed the tub. I am so glad this rig has a tub.  It works well for washing up the grandkids, and with the glass walls the water doesn't splash all over with their play.  Washing up the dogs in the tub is easy, because if they shake, it doesn't go all over either.  Believe it or not, I can lay back (with knees bent) and soak in the tub with a sore back.  It's more comfy than it looks, especially with an inflated bath pillow, a good book and a glass of wine!  hahahaha

Let's move back through another sliding door into the bedroom. 

Yes, we have a king sized bed (the Cat 300 diesel engine is underneath it) 
The mirror behind the headboard is kinda bothersome.
So we hung a favorite framed print over it by mounting it to the cabinets above.

It's a tight squeeze along the sides of the king bed to get around... necessitating a kinda sideways shuffle.  To have the king sized bed is important to Steve because of his height.  Our queen in the Coachman and Sierra were both too short (motorhome queens are shorter than household queens)  Having a king sized bed was one of the primary reasons Steve loved this motorhome at first sight.  I do have room for a cute little vanity area in the corner, and the tv up above.

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,  and we added two Maxi-vent covers and two venturi vent whirligigs. 

We also added 500 watts of solar panels for the coach, a smaller panel for the chassis, a Blue Sky MPPT controller and a Trimetric monitor gauge.  We have four 6V golf cart batteries for the coach and two for the chasses. 

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 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

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! 

Some folks have asked me about how much storage we have or how we organize our basement compartment.  It seems their rigs never having enough room, or they are worrying about cargo carrying capacity weight issues.   When I tell them that is not an issue with us, they have a hard time believing it.  
While newer rigs have multiple slides, which are very weighty by themselves, they also have storage issues with the slide mechanisms taking up valuable space.  We don’t have the slides, so we have more than enough storage area in the basement of our rig, and weight is not a problem.  Even with all our tanks full, (propane, fuel, fresh water and waste water) we have almost 6,000 pounds of cargo carrying capacity.   Being  aluminum exterior construction instead of fiberglass makes a big difference, plus wall and roof supports are all aluminum too.   We weigh in with full tanks at 22,000 pounds without our gear when we first bought the rig.   Our rating is  GVWR- 28,000    GCWR-32,000
The basement of our rig covers a large open area and is all carpeted space open side to side and front to rear from axle to axle.  We are only limited by the width of the doors as to what we put inside.
 our floorplan with highlight basement space

Let’s start on the driver’s side.  All of our stainless steel compartment doors rise upwards on struts and when shut, they lock securely on both ends instead of one lock in the middle. 

I will go down the side from front to back, door by door. 
Whoda thunk of that space above the tank as a good spot to put a long tube for stowing the stinky slinky!   For those of you who do not know what that is, it’s the flexible 3” hose used to dump the grey and black tanks…ewwwwwww   We don’t want to keep THAT hose in our carpeted storage basement area. 

On to the next door…..
compartments6We bought an assortment of these gray totes with heavy snap on lids.  We like them because they have a full handle on each side, not just a lip edge that you carry by the fingertips.   Also the lid fits firmly over the top and comes way down on the sides, which does not allow anything to get into the tote.   We have more than enough totes, and keep swapping out sizes back and forth as we determine our needs in the future.  The extra totes we keep in our garage for now.  When we are ready to full time, we will have it all figured out.  (right?)  

In this next photo of you look close to the center of the rig, you will see a white poly 2x4 Cosco table and a larger 3x6 heavy black folding table.  Both tables slide in nicely under the space under the suspended fresh water tank.  We use them for eating and seving food when boondocking at places without picnic tables.  Also good for extra table space when working on crafts or doing some crazy things like canning pickles (see Runkle Lake campground review a few posts back) 

In this photo you can see the insulated ductwork and some small vents from the main LP furnace which keeps these compartments from freezing in the cold temps.  We don’t often use the big furnace,  (we now use a Catalytic Wave 8 heater)  so the easy solution is that in the winter, we should go south where things don’t freeze! 

This next door is kinda half access on the front, but behind the water manifold section is the water pump and some extra plumbing.  Nice to have access to that instead of it being buried in a wall somewhere.   You can see the daylight from right through to the open compartment on the other side of the rig. Steve usually lays his fishing rods in this area, plus the awning rod, reachable from the other side.  Deep in here he stashes extra tackle boxes, life jackets and oars for the boat.  

Ahhhhh the power stuff! 

And the generator is located in the far back compartment by the engine.  
compartments 16We don’t use the generator too often, but we have to run it from time to time to exercise it.  Great to have in an emergency, or to run one of the roof AC units as we are driving down the road if need be during hot summer temps.  But we really appreciate the peace and quiet when camping and don’t like to run it at all.  So if you are a genny-fanatic, please park far far away from us? 
Newer rigs have it located up front, which makes more sense to evenly balance the weight.  That is why Steveio decided we needed more weight on the front passenger tire, so he moved the tool boxes up there.  Plus we are adding a spare tire on a rack to the front of the exterior soon.  We have the rack, the winch, the rim all set, just need to buy the actual tire.   And then I am sewing a silver colored vinyl cover for it.  Watch for that to be completed soon.  

spare tire project 8spare tire project 11

Inside that front compartment across the rig is all our electronic fuseboxes and grounds etc.  I had to cut and paste a few pics of it, because it won’t all fit in one picture.
wiring in the front run bay

Now on to the passenger side photos on the front half of the motorhome:

These are the two most used doors near the passenger front between the side entry door and the front of the rig.   We kinda packed them full, huh?

This one is Steve’s favorite door:
tool drawers0tool drawers1


Stacked on top of the totes are our camping sign, picnic table cloth, kneeling foam pad  and whatever else don’t get stowed away properly as we break camp the time before. 

Now we can move to the rear half of the passenger side.

The two interior entry steps into the rig to reach the main floor are the only things taking up any square footage in the basement storage area. 
compartments 6
This door is located at the left of the entry door.  This is where we are working on the solar panel controller installation.   Once it is done, Steve will remount this temporary panel too. 

This slides in and kind of curves back underneath the stairs in an open space usually not accessible.  By just reaching in to flip the lever on, and grabbing the long air hose, the  compressor is useable for either topping off a tire or using the air tools.   (of course when boondocking, we have to fire up the generator first to get the power to make this run) 

This next compartment is for the batteries.  It is open around the sides and bottom for ventilation.   There are 6 batteries in there now, but we can later move the 2 chassis (driving) batteries into a new rack in the engine compartment that Steveio made.  Then we could increase the bank of coach (camping) batteries to a total of six 6volt golf cart batteries if we wish.  Although with our new solar panels we are installing, we may never need six… four might be enough. 
compartments 2

compartments 3
(and for those Techy Kinda Guys, here is the new head piece he re-vamped to fit the new filters that are available for our engine, now that the older once were discontinued) 
compartments 4

So.. that completes the tour of our storage compartments and how we organize them.  In the future we see ourselves adding a few more totes of clothes (in vacuum sealed space bags)  some supplies of my craft stuff, and perhaps my table loom when not in use. The loom folds up somewhat and fits in drivers side number 3 quite well.  Otherwise we are pretty well set for full timing, and more than adequate space inside the rig for the personal items we take along regularly and keep our kitchen fully stocked as well as the clothing and bathroom gear.   So our weight load will not change much, right now fully loaded we are about 3,000 pounds under our CCC limit, so that is a good thing.  and we still have 4,000 towing capacity on top of that too.
Not sure if we are going to tow a vehicle or not.  But for now we put the scooter on the back rack and that is about 400 extra pounds right there. 

Well, enough of all that , next up is the rest of the solar panel installation and the spare tire on the front.  And soon….  CAMPING!

So that was our little mini-nickle tour of our 1996 Safari Serengeti!

Now I will go get the post done about the museum yesterday afternoon.....


  1. I am in love with your beautiful RV.

    Safe travels. Sue

  2. I, too, have CAT engine in my rig and love it, it is a great engine. We have four slide-outs which give us enough floor space for a square dance. My trouble is, I don't get to use the RV as much as I would like to. BTW, our pups just love to go RVing.

  3. great tour of your rv, it is really nice.....know what you mean about beds being shorter...we took mattress from house and got a new one. this one hangs over platform at least 6 or more inches


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