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Sunday, January 10, 2016

REDUX - Take a Tour of Our Motorhome

Since it's the boring winter months, and we are not travelling yet, I thought I would do some repeats of my most-read blog posts on RV's.  This one had over 6,500 views when I first posted it. 

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, 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 sideWe 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. 

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.

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, 500 watts of solar panels we added, two Maxi-vent covers and two venturi vent whirligigs.  Sadly, people ask us if we are Detroit Lions fans because of this side logo.  Nope, sorry, we bleed Green N Gold for the Packers!

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 space with doors that open up high on each side.  It is completely open side to side and front to rear between the front and rear axles.  We can load in quite a bit because our GCWR is 32,000 and we are well below that. 
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.

DRIVER SIDE:  there are many compartment doors all along the entire length of the coach. It's open all of the way through to the other side!

We have a set of 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, raingear and boots, freshwater supplies, wastewater supplies, etc. and of course my fiber toys!  At the far right is the plumbing compartment with all the manifold fittings for water areas in the rig and an outdoor shower.

The next door behind the axle area is our power compartment... behind this stuff, we have a wired-in Progressive Industries electric management protection system to cover us for dangerous power surges or brown-outs.

In the last compartment on the driver's side is our generator.  We don't use it often enough because of now having 500 watts of solar panels on the roof. We have to remember to exercise it monthly with a load on it to keep it in tip top shape.  We didn't always do that and had a very costly repair.  Now it's a priority to take care of it.

PASSENGER SIDE: Steveio filled one door space with his tool box area… where he carries all of his tools in a handy dandy toolbox he made from an old shop desk.
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 on-board air compressor for Steve’s air tools and emergency tire filling.

In this next compartment, we stow the planks we use as pads under the hydraulic levelers, and also sometimes driving up the wheels on to get more level.  Our solar controller unit and breaker box are also in this compartment, along with Steve's fishing poles, pudgy pie makers and the ever-coveted awning pull down rod!

Further down on the passenger side is the battery compartment.  Since we installed the 500 watts of solar on the roof, these four 6v batteries store all the power created by the panels.  link to our Solar Installation blog post   We can comfortably use lights, tv's, computers, coffee maker and other various electrical things and quietly solar recharge again the next day.


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.

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 (the table pulls out with 2 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.  Or we fire up the generator to use the convection portion if we have to.

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.  Fountainhead countertops (like Corian) make the kitchen really durable and handy.  I enjoy cooking in it. 

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:
We went through some transitions in this room.  At first there were two uncomfortable jack knife sofas.  They were peach and frost blue tiger stripe upholstery, I kid you not!   So right away I recovered them with this blue and gray textured corduroy fabric.

We later removed one couch and added a euro chair and ottoman.  
That worked for a while.  

Then we pulled out the other couch and tried two big recliners.  
They took up a lot of room, but were more comfy than the couches. 

Finally we settled on one wall-hugging reclining loveseat from LazyBoy which comes in three pieces and easy to assemble inside the rig.  This is exactly what we wanted! Comfy, soft and takes up less room. 

It really opened up the space.  Now I can bring along a table loom and set it on the coffee table, or a spinning wheel or sockknitting machine.  We can fit a queen size air mattress on the floor when the grandtots come. Lots of room now and when we rotate the captains chairs up front, we have additional seating for company. 

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 laptop and tablet, 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….

We have a large walk-through bath, with a full tub and shower.  It works well for bathing dirty dogs, messy grandtots and yes, I can even lay down in it with a good book, a glass of wine, and a bath pillow.  Yes, my knees are bent a bit, but it's still a bath tub! 

We are pleased to have plenty of closets and drawers, with a Splendide washer/dryer combo installed.  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.

splendide washerdryer combo and cedar lined closets

Our last rig had a split bath, with a hallway through it, and small area for the toilet.  We realize we like this roomy walk-thru full bath better.  There is a wooden four-panel sliding pocket door that separates the bath from the kitchen and another sliding door leading to the bedroom.  Good for closing the dogs off into the back.

Now for our Master Bedroom:

We didn't care for the huge mirror over the head of the bed,
so we covered it a well-loved Robert Duncan print called "April Storm"
suspended from the cabinets above on brackets.

The driver's side corner of the bedroom contains a little makeup area, lit mirrors, and overhead tv cabinet.  We also have our controls for the inverter, and we installed a timer for the inverter to shut itself off at night when not in use.  So I can have the tv on in bed to fall asleep, and not have to get back out to turn off the inverter.  We most often camp without hookups, so using the inverter draws on our batteries all night long. That is why we turn it off via the timer.

bedroom vanity and tv overheadfron bedroom looking into center bath area

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.  There are cabinets all above around all three sides for added storage.

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.

Steve working on the muffler …….        and a repairman fixing a fuel line leak on the road
IMGA0541 (1280x960)man under my bed

After the first few years of using a scooter on a back rack, 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....

We hook up with a routine each time and double check each other's tasks.

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!

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

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 signal used to come in on 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 more energy efficient Vizio flat screen too! 

Well, that is about it for our grand tour.  This is what a 20 year old motorhome looks like if you keep it in good repair, check for roof leaks, do routine maintenance and drive it carefully.  These diesel engines are made to last a long long time.  So as long as we keep the chassis and exterior in good condition, we will enjoy it for many years to come.   This year we qualify for "collector plates" when we go to license it... meaning no more yearly fees!  


  1. Thanks for the great tour and information. My husband and I are close to pulling the trigger and purchasing a motor home for full time travel and living. Ours will be an older rig, too, so it's great to see how well you've done with your 20-year old coach. We really want a diesel, and this is the only way to purchase one within our budget.

  2. Enjoyed that. I have a 99 Safari, could do some of the upgrades you have done. Great job.


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