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Saturday, August 20, 2016

Ten Years Ago- Buying our Diesel Motorhome

Wow... it's been ten years this week since we bought our 1996 Safari Serengeti 38ft diesel pusher.  3126 Cat engine, 22,000 miles on the lot for an asking price of $79,900.



How it happened... well, that is a story to be told,  of course.

We had a perfectly good gasser 1994 Coachmen class A Santara motorhome and it was just perfect for weekends and vacations. I was happy with it, and it was "good enough" for me.



But for Steve?? Well, back in April of that year, in 1996, he was taking a ride on our scooter to get some generator part in Rockford Illinois while I was at a weaving workshop in Beloit.  He just happened to drive past an RV dealership.  Well.... that just resulted in him whining for four months about getting me to "just go see" this certain Safari diesel motorhome.

I kept saying "NO NO NO... we are NOT buying another motorhome!  Especially a ten year old $79,900 diesel pusher!"

Every few weeks Steve was checking the Al's Motorhome's website, and each time that motorhome was still there.  It was on consignment, and people were passing it by because it didn't have any slides.  He kept researching about the Safari motorhomes and the quality and construction. He read about their aluminum sides instead of fiberglass, he read about their great Cat engines, he read and read and read.  He kept telling me how it was a quarter of million dollar rig brand new... and now it was down to only $79,900 ten years later.  He kept telling me it only had 22,000 miles on it, barely even used, great condition and the engine not even broken in yet.

Yup, he kept telling me about it. 

He kept watching it on line.

And I kept saying "NO". 

Sadly, our lives changed in July of 1996 when our son unexpectedly passed away.  Steve was sooo despondant and we needed something to pick us up and get away.  I decided that he worked so hard every day, he was so responsible, honest, hard working and he never ever asked for anything.  This is the ONE thing he has asked for in our marriage and perhaps it was time to say "YES".

We called ahead and told them to have it out and ready with all tanks filled, fridge operational and plugged in and batteries charged up.  We took a three hour drive down to Rockford, Illinois and checked it out.  It was nice, sure, and it was our plan to someday live in a rig full time after retirement.  We just were not ready yet in 2006 to make that jump, and didn't plan to buy one until 2012.  The look in Steve's eyes as he test drove that rig was all it took.  I said "YES" --- to him, not in front of the salesperson!

Now it was time for him to wheel and deal.  We didn't sign a thing or arrive at any price right then and there. We are too smart for that.  We went home. They called us, twice.  Steve said he would fax them an offer.

We wrote up a paper....

Offer of $50,000 plus our 1994 Coachmen Santara trade-in with the following conditions met:

1.  New tires rated for the unit, all around, mounted and balanced.
2.  Replace coolant, hoses, and belts on engine.
3.  Replace the fuel filters, oil filter(s)? and water separator filters.
4.  Oil change and filters on engine, transmission and generator.
5.  Top off fuel tank and propane tank.
6.  Replace all 4 house batteries and 2 engine batteries
7.  The turbo valve unit that was on order needs to be installed and functioning properly.
8.  Every component and appliance in working order, filled or functioning upon arrival for time of purchase. (with exception of ice maker)   This is including holding tanks, furnace, refrigerator, hot water heater, oven/micro, tv's, vcr, stereo etc. 


The offer was faxed down, and after a few phone calls, they accepted our offer!   The Coachmen was only worth about $15,000 but we owed $20,000 at the time, so it was a big chunk off the asking price. We wanted 20,000 for our old rig to make the deal. So basically we were paying $70,000 with a $20,000 trade in on a $79,900 asking price. We called the bank and got our home equity loan arranged easy peasy, and went back in three days with a big old fat check and our Coachmen all spiffied up to trade it in.

Essentially Al's Motorhome bought our Coachmen from us for $20,000 and applied the money towards the purchase of the Safari from the owner. (who had just bought a new rig from them)  They wheeled and dealed on some minor delamination on the side (we had fully disclosed any flaws and sent a pic of it)  but they tried to finagle another $500 out of us!  We split it $250/$250 and let it go.


We went over the rig with a fine tooth comb before handing over the check.  We had ALL day to check every single thing and we would not be rushed.  They managed to hire a retired RVer to do their PDI (post delivery inspection) and we had a nice time with him.  Actually Steve showed HIM a few things he didn't even know!  LOL

At the last minute, Steve realized they hadn't filled the fuel tank with diesel, so the owner had to take out his credit card, and send a worker with the rig to a nearby truck stop and fuel it up.  Back then diesel was running $4.89 a gallon times a 100 gallon tank..... so we got our money's worth!  LOL

Here are some pics of it on the lot:



Each rear mural is custom painted by the Dame family
here is more info on them:

My oh my, what a shiney rig! 
This was even getting me excited....


From the center facing forwards
It is called a "wide body" rig which makes it extra roomy
The table pulls out to include two more leaves.
 I couldn't wait to pull up all the throw rugs 
and get rid of the pink and blue 
frosted tiger striped upholstery on the couches.


From the center facing backwards


A king sized bed over the engine compartment
(our Coachmen only had a queen which Steve's feet hung off the end) 


This gorgeous kitchen with Western Alder wood 
was HUGE compared to our Coachmen
 All of the wood is REAL wood, solid and sturdy. 
There aren't any paper printed panels, or cheap compressed sawdust board.
Steve loves the wood most of all,
and the wide big open windows all around. 


Although we are Packer Fans from Wisconsin
we do get a lot of flack from people thinking
 we are Detroit Lion's fans 
because of this motif... LOL 


The toilet was taped shut in the pic, 
but you can be sure we made sure it was fully operational....



I really enjoy this big shower stall over a tub. 
Not too many motorhomes have bathtubs. 
It's great for tossing in grubby grandkids,
muddy doggies, and from time to time I have even 
settled back with a comfy bath pillow and took a soak! 
(with my knees bent up a bit) 

We were lucky to have a washer/dryer combo unit included too
and it does a great job when we are on long vacations. 
(I hate laundromats!) 


The floor plan has a lot of space divided into three "rooms"
with raised four panel wooden sliding doors. 



The basement area is HUGE..
 it is not small individual compartments like most motorhomes.
  
Instead--- it is all wide open space all the way through 
from one side to the other,
axle to axle, 
 a big open basement for storage. 

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

The rig weighs 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. 


After a full inspection from us 
top to bottom 
we handed over the check 
and hopped in to head back home. 


On the way we stopped at our good friends
Juanita and Norm Hofstrom in 
Shopiere, WI near Beloit. 

Norm snapped a pic for us! 

We picked up a meal from the little bar down the road
and had our first dinner party! 



Steve's face was beaming, with a grin from ear to ear as he drove his rig on home.  He sure is a Happy Motorhoming Man!   We got it home to Oconto, tossed in all our gear, and headed up to Michigan to spend the weekend with our family.  They were running the beer booth at the fairgrounds up in Iron River. We got to park in the parkinglot with our family's and friend's campers and help out all weekend.  Everyone got the "Grand Tour" of our rig. 

Here is a blog post I wrote about touring our 1996 Safari Serengeti Motorhome.. it's one of the most visited blog posts I have written, and has almost 7,000 hits to date.

From there, we loaded it up and headed out west for a long vacation.  Our friends Jim and Sharon took their fifth wheel Outback, as well as my folks took their Coachmen motorhome.  80 miles down the road we discovered the turbo boost sensor part had NOT been installed by Al's as we agreed upon!  We were able to pull into L&S truck in Appleton to get the sensor replaced (and three others too for added assurance).  A call back to Al's Motorhome reimbursed us the $500 fee. Years later, it was also discovered that Al's had never changed the transmission filter either... it had the original date of 1996 when we changed it in 2012!  So we can safely assume they hadn't changed the tranny fluid either.  ARGGHHHH  They are out of business now, or else I would have called them and gave them a piece of my mind.  Our service slip from them said it was done before we took delivery. 


We headed out to South Dakota and took in the Black Hills, Custer Park, Mount Rushmore and Devil's Tower.  It was soooo good to get away! We took our time to mourn our son, and get away. A few weeks on the road did our hearts good. 


And Steveio had his motorhome! 

Since then we have done a few repairs (a few?) and some wonderful upgrades! 

  • We repaired the broken ice maker that the dealer said was shot
  • We added 500 watts of solar panels to the roof with all wiring, gauges and controller
  • We removed the two ugly couches and put in a nice comfy recliner loveseat
  • We removed the two tube tv's and added flat screens
  • We added extra outlets, wiring and lights
  • We added a big toolbox for Steve's tools
  • We added a spare tire and rack
  • We added a wired in 50 amp surge protector
  • We added a tow bar and a Geo Tracker to take along
  • We added a mascerator unit for dumping tanks
  • We added extend-a-stay for additional propane tank
  • We added a Wave 8 Catalytic heater
  • We added a MCD powered windshield shade
  • We updated to a bigger water pump and pressure tank
  • We updated tv antenna to a King Jack antenna


The repairs over the last ten years have been numerous.... 
  • several alternators
  • several tension pulleys
  • control boards on the fridge and water heater
  • mufflers on both the engine and generator
  • rotor rebuild on the generator
  • water pump repair
  • injector and injector clips on the engine
  • pac exhaust brake
  • replaced the obsolete fuel filter with new version
  • coated the roof with elastomeric paint
  • replaced drivers side and passenger side windows due to thermopane leaks
  • replaced both front windshields due to chips and cracks
  • replaced tires all around after 6 years
  • replaced toilet valve parts
  • replaced hydralic brake lines
  • replaced brake master cylindar
  • replaced leaking pump on washing machine
  • replaced wheel hub seal
  • replaced battery isolator
  • replaced surge tank on radiator
  • replaced holding tank valves
  • replaced AC gaskets on rooftop AC units
  • replaced leaking low pressure fuel return line
  • rebuilt the bathroom floor after a leak
  • rerouted air intake to side of motorhome


and also all the normal maintenance items like oil changes, air filter changes, shocks, brake pads,  tranny fluid change, coolant change to long life coolant, differential fluid, and all new batteries after 6 years, etc. 


Who says owning an RV is cheap?  LOL .... 

and right now we are replacing the AC compressor unit and drier cartridge, to the tune of another $290.00

55,000 miles later.....   

the experience.... 
PRICELESS! 


ON EDIT...  
HERE ARE SOME CURRENT PICS OF THE RIG NOW:


WE ADDED 500 WATTS OF SOLAR ON THE ROOF 
PLUS CONTROLLER AND TRIMETRIC GAUGE
THAT CHARGES UP FOUR 6VOLT BATTERIES
plus small panel for 2 driving batteries


STEVE BUILT A SPARE TIRE RACK
(with winch to hoist up tire)



WE ADDED AN OLYMPIAN WAVE 8 CATALYTIC HEATER
(doesn't use any battery power)


WE ADDED MCD POWERED WINDSHIELD SHADE
AND TWO MANUAL PULL DOWN SIDE SHADES
INSTEAD OF THE WRINKLY FABRIC CURTAIN
(later we removed that overhead tv)


WE ADDED A PROGRESSIVE INDUSTRIES WIRED IN
EMS SURGE PROTECTOR
(also  in compartment is the transfer switch and 2000 watt inverter)


WE ADDED AN LED TV MOUNTED ON A HANGING BRACKET
(uses less energy than the old one, and lighter weight)


WE A DDED A LARGER JABSCO BELT DRIVEN WATER PUMP
AND A PRESSURE TANK
(less pump running with pressure tank)


WE REMOVED THE 2 UNCOMFORTABLE COUCHES
AND ADDED A LAZYBOY WALLHUGGING
LOVESEAT RECLINER.


ORIGINAL 20 YEAR OLD CARPETING STILL IN GOOD SHAPE
EVEN WITH DOGS ON BOARD!
(runner rug easily replaceable and bears the wear and tear)
ROOM ENOUGH FOR A QUEEN SIZE INFLATED AIR BED
WHEN THE GRANDKIDS COME TO SLEEP OVER



WE ADDED MORE COMFORTABLE KITCHEN CHAIRS
(table pulls out for two more leaves and folding chairs for company)



WE ADDED EXTRA TOWEL BAR,
BETTER WOODEN TOILET SEAT THAN THE CHEAP PLASTIC ONE,
AND A RISER TO THE THETFORD TOILET


WE ADDED AN OXYGENICS SHOWER HEAD
AND LOVE LOVE LOVE THE BIG SHOWER/BATHTUB
WE ADDED A VINYL COVE LINING TO THE SKYLIGHT FRAME
INSTEAD OF THE DUMB CARPETING THAT WAS AROUND IT!


LOTS OF ROOM IN THE KITCHEN
LOVE THE FOUNTAINBLEAU COUNTERTOPS
WE ADDED ONE MORE DRAWER
WHERE THERE WAS A FAKE FRONT


THE KITCHEN LACKS AN OVEN,
BUT THE MICROWAVE IS ALSO A CONVECTION OVEN


WHEN CAMPING WITHOUT HOOKUPS
WE USE THIS COLEMAN OVEN TO BAKE THINGS
(so we don't need to start the generator to run the convection oven inside)



DECOR FROM THE GRANDKIDS
RULES OF THE HOUSE!


DEALER SAID ICEMAKER WAS INOPERABLE
WE GOT NEW PARTS FOR $45 AND FIXED IT OURSELVES.
MAKES ICE VERY FAST, AND DOESN'T TAKE UP
VALUABLE FREEZER SPACE


WE ADDED A FAVORITE PRINT IN FRAME
SUSPENDED OVER THE MIRRORED HEADBOARD
FROM BRACKETS ON THE CABINET OVERHEAD.


DRIVERS SIDE COMPARTMENTS
FULL BASEMENT SPACE OPEN FOUR DOORS LONG
AND ALL THE WAY THROUGH TO THE OTHER SIDE


WE FOUND PERFECT TOTES
THAT ARE STURDY AND FIRM LOCKING LIDS
 THAT FIT INSIDE
AND I CAN TAKE ALONG A LOT OF MY FIBER SUPPLIES



PASSENGER SIDE HAS STEVE'S TOOLS
A TELESCOPING LADDER,
ALL OF OUR LAWN CHAIRS
AND EVEN A BIG AIR COMPRESSOR!


SO THAT IS A TOUR OF OUR MOTORHOME
(1996 Safari Serengeti Diesel Pusher 38 ft) 
IT SITS OUTSIDE STORED IN OUR OWN YARD, 
AND WE USE IT IN THE WINTER 
TO ESCAPE AND HEAD SOUTH 
OR OUT TO THE DESERT 
FOR A COUPLE MONTHS. 

8 comments:

  1. I'm glad to hear you've enjoyed your motorhome so much over the years. As for what the Dealer said he did but didn't do, you know what Nick Russell has to say about RV dealers...you can't trust them at all.

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  2. You and Steve have had a lot of enjoyment from your Safari and have looked after it well. Just like Kevin, Steve loves to do his own repairs and improvements which helps keep prices down and also keeps the motorhome running nice and smooth and looking good. Hope you have many, many more years of fun with it.

    www.travelwithkevinandruth.com

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  3. My compliments on an informative and entertaining post. Well done!

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  4. I have a diesel pusher, also, and like yours, it also has a CAT diesel. That is a great motor. Too bad they don't put them in vehicles anymore.

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  5. I really enjoyed hearing the details on the purchase of your motorhome and your bargaining skills. Sounds like you got a great buy. I know you are still enjoying it and hope you will even more once Steve retires.

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  6. I love your motorhome, and am so grateful you let Lady and me stay in it when we visited you. I've thought a lot about that visit - I think it was Lady's last year and she shocked me when she jumped into the river behind your house for a swim. Thank you so much for your hospitality.

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  7. Did you say Al's RV in Rockford, IL?? We bought our 2007 HitchHiker fiver there in 2006. We live in Sandwich IL and have taken the Hiker every Winter (almost) either to Texas or Florida. We still have it, but didn't get away this year..hopefully next Winter...before Dennis gets too old for me to trust him to drive..Haha! (He's 75)..Nice to read you blogs, I found you from The Bayfield Bunch...

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  8. Yup.. we got ours from Al's. We were visiting my friend near Beloit, (Shopiere) and hubby discovered the motorhome on Al's lot for sale. The rest is history... he HAD to have it! LOL . We have done a lot to it over the years, and just replaced the inverter this past week. Always something! We are going to loop around Lake Superior next month, through MM and around through Canada and back through the Soo. Then down I think over Mack Bridge and into the Lower Penninsula and maybe even put the motorhome on the ferry from Ludington to Manitowoc. We live just a bit east of Appleton, in Chilton. But we love to travel, mostly in the winter down to the southwest or Florida.

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