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Reidgreh

Info Re 1998 Safari Continental Panther - Can you help?

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 I am a first time RV buyer considering a 1998 Safari Continental Panther with 22k miles. Some important mechanical details re this coach: 

Magnum Chassis with 8 air bags, Velvet Ride Suspension By BF Good Rich, Single 14FT Slide, 425HP CAT C-12, Silverleaf engine monitoring system , diesel fired Hurricane boiler continuous hot water heating system (comparable to Hydro Hot), Fiberglass roof, 7500 watt Onan quiet diesel generator, 2000 watt inverter, power cord reel.

Any help regarding tips to evaluate this coach and watch-outs would be greatly appreciated. Also thoughts on parts availability issues that I may run into and the ability to convert systems over to other newer systems/brands that would not have part availability issues.

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Welcome to the Escapees forums! We will do all that we can to help.

Am I reading correctly that you have found a 1998 (21 years old) motorhome that has only 22,000 miles on it? Just over 1000 miles per year or might you mean to say 220,000 miles? 

The BF Goodrich Velvet Ride suspension does not use airbags so if this one has them they must be "after market" and have been added later. As it happens, we looked very hard at a 1998 Safari when we were shopping new back then but didn't buy one. We were looking at the Safari and they did have the BF Goodrich ride package but I think that Contential probably does have airbags and not the BF Goodrich system. 

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I know it seems amazing but the photo of the odometer shows 22k. Couple things with that 1) it could have spent some time disconnected 2) if not properly maintained miles that low could be detrimental. 

The owner’s grandson says it has both airbags and the BF Velvet Ride. Is that possible?

Edited by Reidgreh

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Could it be that the odometer only went to 99,000 and has turned over to an additional 22k for a total of 122k? I am not sure when the extra digit became standard on odometers, but I know that it has not always been the case. That RV is now 21 years old and it is very hard to believe that it has only been driven 22k. 

As to having both velvet ride and an 8 airbag suspension, I would not say with certainty that it can't be, but I wouldn't think so. I did some digging around on the internet about the Magnum chassis which was built for Safari and Beaver coaches by a chassis company that was part of the Safari organization back before they got into financial difficulties and were bought out by Monaco Coach Corp. I did find a copy of the chassis owner's manual published in 1997, so it may well apply to this one. Unfortunately, it doesn't address anything helpful in determining what the 1998 Contential chassis had. I do know that Magnum did build an 8 airbag chassis and believe that was what the Contential was on. I suppose it could also have the Velvet Ride, but that would surprise me. At the time we were shopping for new 1998 Safari coaches, the Contential was far beyond our budget so we spent very little time looking at them and what I remember now from the Serengeti that we did look at seriously, is pretty vague now. You do need to check out the air ride, assuming that it does have one which I think it did, but it probably isn't that important if it has both or not. 

I will say that I would sure want a lot of information and to have a good mechanic check out the chassis before I spent any money on it. I also suggest that you visit NADA Guides to check out the suggested retail price for it before you commit. 

Since it is in Texas and we are also, mind sharing where it is located? Is it a private seller?

Edited by Kirk W

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I own a 2000 Beaver Patriot Thunder that was  built on what was known as the Magnum-C chassis.  It's been my understanding that the Safari Panther (I've never heard the term Continental used with Panther) was essentially a sister to the Patriot Thunder.  Whereas my Thunder has air-over hydraulic brakes, I believe the Panther's were purely hydraulic but I would expect that the Panther would still have chassis airbags.  Both coaches used the CAT C12 engine; ours is configured for 425 HP and 1550 ft-lbs of torque.  The engines are mated to Allison 4060 transmissions.

I can't speak for the Panther but the Thunder is a joy to drive, at least ours is.  I've stopped arguing with those who claim that you need IFS and a tag axle to get an easy to drive MH.  I've put >60,000 miles on ours in 8 years and simply love driving it on the open road!

As to why there would appear to be only ~22k miles on the one you are looking at, I have no idea.  Our odometer can record up to a million miles so I assume the Panther's would also.  So it's not a roll-over issue.  I'd advise taking the rig to a CAT dealer and having them read the computer to check for engine faults, etc.  Obviously, all the fluids would need to be changed.  The transmission would have been filled with Dexron which should be replaced by Transynd (or other TES 295) fluid.  The antifreeze will have been glycol-base and it should be replaced with a modern extended-life coolant.  If the generator runs, it should have its oil and coolant replaced.  With that little mileage on it, it's likely that the valves weren't yet adjusted.  That's something normally done around ~40,000 miles.  And it goes without saying that the tires probably need to be replaced.

The hydraulic disk brakes on these coaches are Bosch and some years were involved in recalls in the early 2000's.  The brake fluid will need to be flushed and the lines checked to make sure none of them rusted through.

Parts availability for service hasn't been particularly difficult.  Most heavy truck shops can handle the chassis stuff and CAT dealers are always capable of keeping the engine running.  Parts for the Hurricane are readily available from ITR in Vancouver WA. The inverter is a modified sine wave unit that we've long since replaced by a pure sine wave magnum which we installed around the time we switched to a residential fridge. Your Silverleaf can be updated with later versions of the firmware.

By now you've probably realized that you will have to invest at least $10k to get things up and running and I wouldn't be surprised if it gets to $15k with tires and everything else.  If that scares you, I suggest getting out now, but if you can fit it into your budget you will end up with a marvelous machine!  You said the coach is in TX and I highly recommend Iron Horse RV in San Antonio; they can handle all aspects of MH maintenance very competently.

If you continue to have interest in this MH, PM me and I'll email you a copy of the Magnum C chassis manual.  It's not great but it's better than nothing.  My greatest concern would be making sure that there's been no water damage after all these years.

Good luck,

Joel (AKA docj)

Edited by docj

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37 minutes ago, docj said:

My greatest concern would be making sure that there's been no water damage after all these years.

I'd be looking at potential hurricane damage as well as rain damage. That low mileage says to me the owner only took it out once a year for a vacation trip. Or it never went on a vacation trip but took lots of weekend jaunts close to home. So maintenance might well have been minimal as well.

Linda

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7 hours ago, sandsys said:

I'd be looking at potential hurricane damage as well as rain damage.

That would depend on where in TX it has been. 

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9 hours ago, sandsys said:

I'd be looking at potential hurricane damage as well as rain damage. That low mileage says to me the owner only took it out once a year for a vacation trip. Or it never went on a vacation trip but took lots of weekend jaunts close to home. So maintenance might well have been minimal as well.

Since I now live on the TX coast for much of the winter, I've become aware of the fact that lots of people from, for example, the San Antonio and Houston areas leave RVs in the coastal areas all summer to serve as "weekend getaways".  It's quite possible that this MH could have served such a role, although I think it's less common for this to be done with motorized RVs rather than with towables.  A careful examination of how "lived in" the coach appears to be would help determine if it was used in this manner.

We bought our MH when it was 10 years old from a couple who lived in IL.  They drove it every year to FL, spent a couple of months there and then drove it back to IL.  It's mileage was also low, reflecting only that couple of thousand miles a year journey.

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9 hours ago, Kirk W said:

That would depend on where in TX it has been. 

Since you have no way of knowing where it has traveled I'd be looking.

Linda

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43 minutes ago, sandsys said:

Since you have no way of knowing where it has traveled I'd be looking.

Linda

Good advice, which applies to every single rv or vehicle on the planet older than the last weather event.

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Quote
  • If memory serves me correct that Silverleaf system can read the Cat engine computer and tell you the total mileage an

It will also show total engine hours. You can use that number to get a pretty good estimate of miles driven.

jor

Edited by jor

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