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Old 10-21-2012, 07:11 PM   #1
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Advice on Safari Panther MH

We looked at a 1999 Safari Panther 425 MH Saturday. It looked used(84,xxx miles), yet in very good shape for the year. It has a water leak over the entry door that has stained a section extending from the entry door back about 5-6' extending to floor at one point. Should this be a deal-breaker? The walls are upolstery-covered, foam-insulated paneling. The mileage eliminates buying an extended service contract.
The C11, 425HP CAT. engine purrs smoothly, no leaks of any kind apparent on either the engine or Allison A/T. It has 6 new tires, new batteries, and the full-body paint is nearly flawless. The solid cherry woodwork inside is in excellent condition. Carpeting is very good as is furniture.

This is an orphan MH, as Safari was purchased by Monaco about 2001; of course Monaco was recently purchased by Navistar . This, IMO means there is still limited mfgr. support, and the Monaco website states as much.

Since I know very little about MH's, I hope my experienced MH friends here can offer advice.
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Old 10-21-2012, 07:29 PM   #2
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We have a 2000 Beaver Patriot Thunder that shares the same power train and, I believe, the same chassis as the Safari Panther. The Cat C-12 (not "11") engine is a dream to drive and coupled with the heavy duty Allison 4000-series transmission it should run a million miles if properly cared for.

The fact that the coach is an orphan is less important than whether or not you are being provided with any service and maintenance records. If you are not I would strongly suggest you get an independent mechanical inspection of at least the engine and transmission. If the engine oil and transmission fluid have not recently been changed it would also be worth investing a few dollars in analysis of both fluids (and the coolant, as well). Of course, if the fluids were recently changed the analysis won't reveal anything.

The Magnum "C" Chassis the coach was built on is a good one and drives easily if the wheels and chassis are in alignment. Take a test drive and take your hands off the wheel to see how it tracks; mine tracks very "true" but there are quite a few out there that have been in accidents or have other issues. Pretty much all of those things can be fixed, but you should know what you are starting off with before considering a purchase. All the basic chassis parts are readily available truck items. IMHO people worry far too much about whether or not the manufacturer is still in business.

You also need to inspect all the mechanical sub-systems and appliances to see if they function properly. Again, all can be fixed, but you need to establish a baseline.

As for your leak, it is most probably coming from the seam where the roof meets the sidewall. I had a similar one in the rear, but it hadn't caused nearly as much damage as you describe. Some of the water stains can be removed, but you may want to have someone take a look to determine if there is a significant mold or mildew problem behind the interior panels.

I believe there is an active Safari owners group that can provide additional assistance. Maybe one of them will answer this post and provide contact information.
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Old 10-24-2012, 09:51 PM   #3
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I joined both of them; Safaricoaches, and Safarifriends. I've already learned much about this brand from reading their forums.
The water leak can, with enough money, be repaired/remediated; I just don't know if I want to take that leap. I've been reading some about broken/cracked windshields from the frame/body twisting from inproper jack utilization. I have reservations about replacement parts/assemblies that are not universal, like their version of a hydro-hot system which uses hot water to heat the coach.
Thanks for your advice, I'll keep it in mind when we return to further inspect the MH. Not putting you on the spot, decline if you wish. What do you think of their advertised price of $89,995 that is now crossed-out? I know they will take less. I think I would pay $65,000 for a 1999 model with water damage like this one,as my estimate for repairing the water damage is $5,000-worst case senario.
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Old 10-25-2012, 05:23 AM   #4
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Ray, I would not worry to much about the engine and trans. the water leak could be a problem, and the stain will not come out of the headliner. However you need to keep in mind the M/H is 13 years old, and at that old they turn into a hobby (I know I have one, and I have owned it 7+years). Unless you are real handy at taking care of some of your own repairs (and have the time and space) older M/H's can be costly to own. I,m going to stick my neck out here and hope I don't get it chopped off, some where in the middle to high 50's with the water damage would be a good price. Also if the tires are 6-7 years old that's 3-4k right off the bat. Good luck
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Old 10-25-2012, 10:09 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ray,IN View Post
I joined both of them; Safaricoaches, and Safarifriends. I've already learned much about this brand from reading their forums.
The water leak can, with enough money, be repaired/remediated; I just don't know if I want to take that leap. I've been reading some about broken/cracked windshields from the frame/body twisting from inproper jack utilization. I have reservations about replacement parts/assemblies that are not universal, like their version of a hydro-hot system which uses hot water to heat the coach.
Thanks for your advice, I'll keep it in mind when we return to further inspect the MH. Not putting you on the spot, decline if you wish. What do you think of their advertised price of $89,995 that is now crossed-out? I know they will take less. I think I would pay $65,000 for a 1999 model with water damage like this one,as my estimate for repairing the water damage is $5,000-worst case senario.

Let's start with the easiest question, the hydronic heater, which I assume is a Hurricane. It's a great system, much simpler than the more common AquaHot and the company is very much in business in Vancouver WA. I stopped by there last summer and had them do a tune-up for ~$500. Normally, annual maintenance should be <$100 and you can do it yourself.

I believe the windshield problems on Safari's and Beavers are mostly associated with a jack system employed in ~2001 in which the jacks pushed against the vehicle frame rather than against the ground. My coach has standard RVA jacks (the company is still in business) that push against the ground; we have had no windshield issues and we had one windshield panel removed a year ago so our residential fridge could be installed.

As for the leak, I think the actual repair of the roof seam is <$1000 (probably much less). The biggest issue is usually finding where the water is getting in. My nagging leak was fixed in one day once we had pinned it down. The greater cost will be how much you want to do inside the coach to repair the water damage to the walls and ceiling. That is something you can control depending on how pretty you want it to look.

As for your price considerations, I think you are in the right range. The chances are they aren't going to get a lot of people willing to buy it in this condition. You might want to go even lower assuming they will make a counter-offer if they don't like your bid.

Feel free to send me a PM if you have other questions.
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Old 10-27-2012, 08:50 PM   #6
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Another stumbling block is the "torsilastic suspension" parts availability. That link says there is a limited amount of recently discovered (see imbedded link) new suspension parts available, and one man owns them.
My wife and have decided we must pass on this beautiful MH, and keep looking. DW says if it is meant for us to buy one it will come along at it's own time. (philosophical huh) We are too old to be in the position of either enjoying a MH or working on it when parked.
Thanks everyone for your advice and thoughts.
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Old 11-01-2012, 07:11 AM   #7
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Likely a wise move. After 35 years of working on broken vehicles and equipment, I too am becoming less interested in projects and more interested in leisure time. Keep looking there is no shortage the right one will come along.
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