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Old 12-15-2014, 02:57 PM   #1
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Engine/equipment problems from sitting too long

In the market for our first Class A and looked at a 1998 Safari Serengeti (40') with Cat 3126 with 28,000 miles on it. It was last driven in 2010 when the owner parked it in a pole barn because of health problems. Decided it's time to get rid of it. He says he has started it "ever now and then" and drove it "not too long ago" but my impression is that it has been a long time - license plate is 2010. The exterior of the coach is about like new and the interior is very good. The batteries are dead and there is no propane for the generator but owner says he will change or replace the starting battery. My plan is to pay a mechanic to suvey the engine and drive train. The tires are probably original and although they look OK, I would replace them immediately. The price is right. What can bite me if the engine, transmission, and suspension check out? Thanks.
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Old 12-15-2014, 04:43 PM   #2
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Mike and Jan

Proceed with caution.

You want to be able to check out all of the systems/components. Was the coach winterized properly? Are there any leaks in the water system, fresh and waste. Have mice or rodents gotten into the coach? Does the refrigerator work? The stove, oven, microwave, furnace, water heater? You get the idea.

Just because "it worked when I parked it" doesn't mean it works now. I would have expected the generator to be diesel, but it might be propane. The diesel fuel in that tank is probably over four years old, it might be OK but might be pretty nasty.

Anything that you can't see working you have to be prepared that it might not work.

Vehicles that sit for long periods of time and then get used can sometimes have problems, sometimes they don't. Seals can dry out or harden and then will leak. Not sure if it has disc brakes on it. Some used air over hydraulic disc. I would suggest you have them serviced (lube the moving parts). Look at anything rubber. Belts aren't very expensive but some of the hoses can be a pain to change.

I have seen old cars, trucks, and farm equipment sit for years and fire right up and work with no problems. Others where a royal pain.

Are you able to do any mechanical work yourself?

Check the date codes on the tires just in case they where replaced just before it was parked, might get lucky.

Good luck
Steve
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Old 12-15-2014, 04:57 PM   #3
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Anything running propane (stovetop, fridge, furnace) will have spider webs in the mixer tube orifices that will need to be cleaned out before use or test. If rodents were involved, I would suspect wiring shorts from chewed insulation. Who knows what's in the grey and black tanks. As Steve said - proceed with caution.

The good news is that Safari coaches were built very well in the 1990s (SMC and Magnum chassis) so if you can get one for a good deal and fix it up, you'll have a real nice MH when you're done.
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Old 12-15-2014, 06:50 PM   #4
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My first-hand experience. My wife and I bought the MH in my signature April ,13. It had been parked in the owners garage for 6 years. He had new tired installed in 08/08, they had the rubber nubs on the tread, parked the MH and had severe health problems that kept him home from thereafter.
Since then I have performed Spartan scheduled maintenance (including a complete fluids change at purchase). The only chassis-related problem so far was a ride-height linkage rod end breaking ($98 to have replaced at a Petro truck stop).
I can't say that for the house part though, to date our extended service contract has paid out close to $4,200 for repairs or replacements.
If you buy that MH I strongly recommend buying an extended service contract-but not from the dealer if you can buy one independently, as it should cost less. Also, buy the "seals and gaskets" rider, otherwise if a gasket or seal blows and causes a ruined engine or transmission the contract may not pay.
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Old 12-15-2014, 08:53 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by MikeandJan View Post
In the market for our first Class A and looked at a 1998 Safari Serengeti (40') with Cat 3126 with 28,000 miles on it. It was last driven in 2010 when the owner parked it in a pole barn because of health problems. Decided it's time to get rid of it. He says he has started it "ever now and then" and drove it "not too long ago" but my impression is that it has been a long time - license plate is 2010. The exterior of the coach is about like new and the interior is very good. The batteries are dead and there is no propane for the generator but owner says he will change or replace the starting battery. My plan is to pay a mechanic to suvey the engine and drive train. The tires are probably original and although they look OK, I would replace them immediately. The price is right. What can bite me if the engine, transmission, and suspension check out? Thanks.
put new battery ,and start it . don't worry about . enjoy it !!!
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Old 12-15-2014, 10:15 PM   #6
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After tires and a full fluid change, just plan on small stuff (belts/hoses/etc...). If you're mechanically inclined not a big deal. Fluids are probably still good I'd just worry about moisture and I'd like to get everything on a schedule I am confident in. I doubt you'll have any issues from the drivetrain. Honestly my biggest concern would be mice damage but if the engine tranny work fine (all the drivetrain electronics) then anything else they could chew on should be an easy fix. Make sure to check the generator too. It wouldn't scare me (I have an 84) and like I tell my wife...this bus is dumb, it don't know how old it is
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Old 12-16-2014, 11:35 AM   #7
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The diesel itself should be fine - it doesn't need to be started/run at all. However, rubber things, belts, hoses, tires, deteriorate with age. And some internal seals may suffer a bit if they are not fully immersed in whatever fluid they usually seal in. They may leak a bit, though they may tighten up again with some use.

I would also worry about moisture build-up in the alternator and generator windings. Both of those survive best if they are run regularly under load to build up enough heat to dry them out. Not a big risk in dry climates, but a likely issue in high humidity regions or places with wet seasons.
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Old 12-16-2014, 06:42 PM   #8
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Here is my take on this topic. Four years under cover is good. But, as others have stated, critters are a concern. And then there are the barrings. The lubricant can turn to varnish over time and moisture can cause rust and pitting. I don't know how long ago this fella started the engine but a good visual inspection of the air filter is in order. It will have to be changed in any case just because of age. This is true for the fuel and water separator. And the air dryer should be serviced. Does this coach have automatic air purging? How much water was left in the tanks when the coach went to rest?

Check the date on the tires. They may not be original. You are correct in replacing them if they are.

If you get this rig, go to a GOOD service center and have all the lubing done. They will spot problems if there are any to be concerned with. You can always send fluid samples to a lab for testing. I happen to use Blackstone Laboratory. They are fair in pricing and give good testing options.

The fuel may have water or algae in it. The filters will remove this stuff but plug up quickly. Treating the tank will help.

If you have the time and money to take this on a s a hobby, go for it. Once the kinks are out you will have a good coach.

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Old 12-16-2014, 08:08 PM   #9
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Lift the bed in daylight and look for corrosion and cracked fuel/oil lines.

IMO the engine regardless of diesel or gas needs to run until fully warmed up on a regular basis. Condensation in the crankcase can rust the cylinder walls and algae can plug the injector pump up.

With that age plan on tires filters hoses and things that might fail shortly after the purchase.

I bought a 98 windsor with 32k on the speedo last year. I bought 6 tires, the turbo's air cylinder was siezed, I had to replace all of the bushings in the rear suspension ($1K), the return fuel line had a crack in it, algae plugged the primer pump within a month of buying it, and I need to replace the radiator pipe that runs between the radiator and the water pump as it is nearly rusted through.

I'm still way under the average price that they go for and the clear coat shines like new, so it didnt bother me to go for it. Still a gamble on the tranny and engine itself though.
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Old 12-18-2014, 11:09 AM   #10
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Thanks

You guys gave me a lot of good information. I'm still very interested in tha Serengeti but the owner is balking at buying starting batteries - maybe he knows something I don't. I suspect this deal is going south so I'll keep looking.
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Old 12-18-2014, 02:19 PM   #11
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You guys gave me a lot of good information. I'm still very interested in tha Serengeti but the owner is balking at buying starting batteries - maybe he knows something I don't. I suspect this deal is going south so I'll keep looking.
a starting battery doesn't cost too much. if that is the only thing i would say take it.
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Old 12-18-2014, 03:57 PM   #12
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a starting battery doesn't cost too much. if that is the only thing i would say take it.
I think what Mike's saying is that the current owner doesn't want to buy a starting battery because he doesn't want to start the coach. I would walk away from any NH that I didn't at least hear running and preferably drive it some distance.
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Old 12-18-2014, 09:41 PM   #13
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I think what Mike's saying is that the current owner doesn't want to buy a starting battery because he doesn't want to start the coach. I would walk away from any NH that I didn't at least hear running and preferably drive it some distance.
I agree. The owner has to be willing to make the coach run. You have to be able to confirm that everything runs as it should and that all systems are operational. If he's not able or willing to do that, then you have the choice to refuse to make an offer, or make an offer assuming that the coach in its present condition is not useable.

Another thought. Do make sure that the generator will start and will provide power as it should. Accumulated moisture can ruin generator windings. If it runs properly, the brushes should be pulled from the generator, the commutator cleaned and the brushes re-installed.

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Old 12-18-2014, 09:53 PM   #14
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Probably has two starting batteries but it will probably start on one. So for about $100 he should be able to fire it up.

Anyone you know you could borrow a battery or two from? If you where near Mesa AZ. I would lend you mine to test it out.
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