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Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Take a Tour of Our Vintage 1996 Safari Serengeti Motorhome

From time to time, in my past blogs, I have posted various modifications and improvements that we have made to our motorhome.

I do have an old link along the side bar of the web page version of my blog to take a tour of our motorhome, but that was before we did a lot of the improvements.  It has gotten over 7,000 views.  But I wanted to update it.

Today, I took some new photos of the motorhome from all different angles. It's kind of fun now, because my new phone has this wide-angle feature. That way I can get better photos, where it all fits in the frame.

First I will do all of the technical stuff:

Our motorhome is a 1996 Safari Serengeti.  It was manufactured the end of 1995, so it is essentially 25 years old. The engine is a 3126 diesel Caterpillar engine and a 6-speed Allison Transmission.

It is 38+ feet long but as commonly referred to as a "40 footer".

We bought it used in 2006 with only 22,000 miles on it.

The capacities are 100 gallons fresh water, 50 gallons gray water, 50 gallons black water, 105 gallons diesel fuel, and propane 50 gallons.

The onboard generator is a propane Onan 6.3 kw and we have 500 watts of solar panels that we installed on the roof. Underneath in a bin, we have two 12volt batteries for the driving chassis, and four 6volt deep cycle golf cart batteries for the coach/living space area.

Here it is in all it's beautiful shining glory, parked at a campground this week.

We don't ever store it inside,  even during the winter.  The aluminum exterior is coated with a special Mercedes paint that never needs waxing or polishing.  The lower stainless steel compartment doors have a coating that must never be removed by polishing or harsh cleaners. They look as good as the day they were made, 25 years ago.  I must say,  it sure turns heads when we roll by....

The floor plan has a lot of space, which is divided into three "rooms" with nice wooden sliding pocket doors to separate them.

The basement storage area is HUGE. It is not individual compartments like most motorhomes. Instead--- it is all wide open storage space from side to side, all of the way through. It runs from the front axle to the just in front of the rear axle. It is a big basement with plenty of storage room.

The technical weight info:

  • 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.


Inside, we have plenty of room as this is a wide body model of 102". Although we don't have any slides, we have plenty of room to move around.   We love the mid entry door so we don't have to enter through the livingroom every time we want to go in-and-out of the rig. We can reach the kitchen and bathroom more easily.

By the way, the grey wall to wall carpeting is the original 25 years old carpeting.... as well as the 25 year old original hardwood section  in the kitchen area.

We removed the two jackknife sofas that originally came in the rig, and instead put in a wall hugging Lazy Boy loveseat recliner and some movable end tables and coffee table. The two front cockpit seats swivel around to join the living area while we are parked.

One of the important changes we made is that we removed the large tube type TV that was located over the driver's seat. The cabinetry from that hung down over the driver's area and is commonly referred to as a "headbanger!" And not because of music...

We relocated a lighter LED tv and the antenna wiring over to a bracket that hangs down between the living room and kitchen. The TV we chose covers the windows only a little bit, but still allows for a large enough viewing area to be seen comfortably from the loveseat. It sure made a lot more sense to have the TV over there instead of craning your head sideways to look up over the driver's area.

Steve then reconfigured the cabinetry overhead so they are all in a straight line and we added one more smoked glass cabinet door over the open area that used to house the TV. Yay! More storage!

Another neat area up in the front of the motorhome is a pull out desk device by my passenger seat. I like taking along the laptop with a GPS dongle from the USB port. I still run the now defunct Microsoft Streets and Trips, but it still works. I like using it for planning our routes. Also I like to use it for logging and keeping trails of where we've been in the past. I didn't hook it up this week, because we only went 9 miles from home.

Steve also added extra 12-volt outlets as well as extra USB charging ports in various places around the motorhome. Several of them are up underneath the dash. Now with all of the cell phone charging equipment, as well as the tire pressure monitor, auxiliary braking device monitor, and the backup camera, having extra outlets is always a plus!  They didn't have all that stuff back and 1996 when this was designed.

Heading now towards the middle of the coach, this is the dining area as well as the kitchen. The cute little table pulls out and 2 more leaves can be added. It can seat 5 people all around. We have extra folding chairs that we store down in the basement.

We are also happy to report that our two door Dometic refrigerator is the original one, and still functions very well.  We are always careful to park level, to avoid any clogged up ammonia hot spots in the cooling unit.

I really appreciate the large kitchen area and countertop space of this motorhome compared to our other RVs over the years. The only thing we were lacking was a propane oven. Originally there were four drawers underneath a built-in 2-burner cooktop. Up above was a microwave / convection oven. The only way we could use that was if we were hooked up to power, or ran the generator if we were out in the woods somewhere. It's not nice to get up at 6:30 in the morning to bake muffins and have to fire up a generator, is it? So one day Steve found a guy that was parting out an RV and sold us the whole propane oven/stove unit with 4 burners. We had to cut into the Corian countertop, and eliminate three of the drawers to fit the oven. I gladly sacrificed the three drawers to now have a propane oven.

There is a lot of organized space and storage in this kitchen. There's even a separate ice maker built-in on the left hand side near the door. It makes ice really fast, or you can pull up the bail and pause the ice production and use it as freezer space if needed.

One of the handiest things is this pull out cutting board. In the center of the cutting board is an additional pull-out drawer for storing knives.

We rarely ever go to restaurants, especially when we are traveling. We do all of our cooking at the campsite or in the kitchen. So having a well stocked kitchen is important to us. I have on board almost complete duplicates of everything that we also have at home, so that way we never forget a thing.

Underneath the refrigerator we have the on-board large propane furnace. The ductwork runs through the floors to various parts in the motor home. The only problem is, that furnace uses an awful lot of battery power to run the blower fan. Especially if we are camping rustic without any hookups, this can wear the batteries down very fast. A long time ago we invested in this Olympian Wave 8 catalytic heater. It runs on propane but does not use any battery power whatsoever.
It can comfortably heat the entire motorhome, and we sometimes run a little battery-powered fan to help push warm air back into the cooler bedroom area when the temperature dips below freezing.


We run the big furnace a few times during the night if it's that cold, to prevent the tanks and water pipes from freezing. There are furnace duct openings in the basement for that very purpose.

We do keep the Wave 8 covered when not in use, because dust or dirt will contaminate the catalytic pad. Ask us how we know? We had to have the pad rebuilt by the company, and we promised to keep it covered from now on when not in use.

Now we can move on through the wooden sliding pocket door to the middle of the rig, we have a nice big walk through bathroom with, believe it or not, a bathtub!

Although it is small, I can curl up in it with a bath pillow and a good book.   I pre fill it with pure hot water from the 10 gallon water heater. While that is quickly recovering to create more hot water, I get ready for my bath. The 2nd batch is hot mixed with cold and it is just enough to fill the tub comfortably.

It is perfect for giving the grandkids baths, or washing up the dogs, or hanging up wet dripping raincoats and umbrellas too.

Other changes that we made were that we added extra towel bars, raised the toilet with a spacer for more comfort, and we replaced the flooring. The original floor had rotted out from underneath due to water intrusion from the wheel well, and the side aluminum exterior, and possibly a leak from the water pump from the washing machine.

A washing machine you ask? Yes, we have an onboard Splendide washer / dryer combo unit. It sure is handy when we take long trips. I hate wasting time in a laundromat. Even though it does small loads, we can toss in a load here in there throughout the day and have all of our laundry finished up by the evening. It uses about six gallons to wash and 5 gallons to rinse.  Then it switches over to the dryer cycle,  all in the same drum.

That's enough for the bathroom now, let's head through the last wooden sliding pocket door to the rear of the coach.

Of course, with this being a diesel pusher motorhome, the engine is located underneath the bed. We have a king size bed in the back, and although there's only a little bit of room to walk around the sides, we wouldn't want it any other way. With Steve's height we cannot have a queen-size mattress because his feet hang off the end.

Originally the headboard was a huge piece of mirror across the entire back wall of the motorhome. We removed it and covered it up instead with a piece of vinyl flooring that kind of matched the original wallpaper on the walls.  Then we hung a beautiful autumn print of the woods in Munising, Michigan. Then I made the quilt to coordinate with the colors of the print on the wall.

I also covered the valances and lambrequins to match the quilt.

At the end of the bed (which lifts up for access to the engine) is a cute little makeup vanity and an overhead TV. This is also where our control panel is for the inverter to change the power from 12 volt DC to 120v AC.

Maybe in tomorrow's blog I will post about the underneath storage area.

One of the main reasons why we like to travel in the motorhome, as opposed to traveling in a car, plane, or staying at hotels....  is that we like to take along the creature comforts of home. And these are our "two main creature comforts"....

 Finney and Binney enjoy
traveling in the motor home
 just as much as we do!


  1. Love the layout of your RV, especially the counter space in the kitchen. I don't know how people ever make a meal in some RVs with almost no counter space. The quilt you made for the bed is just beautiful. The only change I would need in the bedroom is blackout shades on the windows if I was ever going to get some sleep, but that is all I would change. You have made the whole RV into such a comfortable, inviting space.

    1. We have tucked our thick dark blue bath towels along the edges of the cabinets in the bedroom on each side to make it dark. Works well, and dual purpose by having them as bath towels too! LOL

  2. That may be the best laid out RV I have ever seen! I love it! Plus, I love your quilt; those are my kind of colors.

    1. We had the print first, and I chose the quilt colors to match it. The pattern is easy and fun to do. Steve chose the RV when he first saw it, and the layout was pretty nice, even without slides.

  3. So beautiful! I love all the wood. And all in pristine condition. She is loved.

    1. Thanks... these were built in Oregon and the wood is their native Western Alder. I love the color and it's so light and bright and airy inside. Mostly, the big windows add to the brightness... and we appreciate that they are large and let in the light. The overhead cabinets are smaller because of it, but it's a nice trade-off to get the light.

  4. Replies
    1. Thanks! Some guys like to tinker with a classic car, or a motorcycle, or mess with hobbies like golfing or fishing. Steve's hobby is restoring and maintaining his classic vintage motorhome! (and I have to help him)

  5. That really is a nice motorhome. Far too big for our needs, but nice nonetheless! I had to laugh when I realized that the one we are looking at in Europe is exactly half the length of yours!

    1. We were happy with our Coachman, which was about the size of your Sherman. But when Steve found this one, it was for our future full time plans. Then things changed, but the motorhome is his "hobby" and we sure enjoy travelling in it. Hope to get more travelling this winter again down south or out west. Most of the RV's in Europe are smaller, right? Not sprawling mega mansions like the American versions! LOL

  6. Wow, just wow! I had no idea that a motorhome could be that comfortable. Of course your handy man and yourself have the talent to be able to add and modify it to meet your needs.

    Thanks for sharing!

    1. We had planned to live in full time after Steve retired. But things changed a bit, and instead its more of our "Vacation cottage" that we can move from place to place, while still having our home near the grandkids.

  7. Wow, that is one fine motorhome. So many upgrades and so very nice. Of course, the way you two remodel houses, I wouldn't have expected nothing less.

    1. 'awwwww shucks!

      Steve is always thinking of ways to make improvements. Just wait till you see the next three motorhome modification projects he has lined up!!!! I just ordered the supplies and should be starting them next week.....

  8. Love the layout and materials of your RV but the Quilt you made put it over the top.
    Be Safe and Enjoy!

    It's about time.

    1. Oh thank you! I had the print from a local artist from the U.P. of Michigan. It was hanging in our home for awhile, but then we moved the print into the motorhome. I chose the colors of the quilt to match the print. It was a fun project, and I used the scraps on the sides for the valances and lambrequins. I just found enough of those scraps in a stray bag now to do two little coasters for each side of our bed's end tables. Good for coffee cups in the morning!

  9. I bet that water damage repair in the bathroom was a hassle. Nice renovations on great bones. Good change out of the cooktop! We added a 24" 120v dryer above our washer. It made laundry so much better as the washer can be filled full, then clothes dried in a larger drier drum. Resulting in twice the capacity and speed. Total 4X gain. Love your RV the alder is spectacular. Thanks for posting! Longtime blog reader.


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