Raising a Jayco

Submitted: Sunday, Mar 29, 2015 at 11:07
ThreadID: 117268 Views:11678 Replies:9 FollowUps:6
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Quick question for the 4WDers. We have found what we think is a perfect Jayco camper for us, except it's not off road. My question is how hard is it to raise it, what sort of money are we talking to do it, and how much higher would it need to be to be able to tow on the beach and 4WD tracks. We just bought a Navara and have never been 4WDing or owned a van before so have no idea about any of it! Cheers.
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Reply By: GezzaMate - Sunday, Mar 29, 2015 at 11:08

Sunday, Mar 29, 2015 at 11:08
And where would one take their camper to get this done? Thanks.
AnswerID: 551735

Reply By: TomH - Sunday, Mar 29, 2015 at 11:10

Sunday, Mar 29, 2015 at 11:10
Will be a lot more to being an "Offroad" trailer than just raising the thing.
An offroad one will probably have a heavier chassis and axle and beefed up bodywork.

May be better to look for a proper one than trying to make a boy do a mans work.
AnswerID: 551736

Follow Up By: Bigfish - Sunday, Mar 29, 2015 at 11:23

Sunday, Mar 29, 2015 at 11:23
TomH is right. Simply raising the height will only give it a little more ground clearance. Suspension, brakes , weight distribution, insurance all will need to addressed. If you are just concerned about it being a little low on dirt roads you may be able to flip the axle and gain 100mm. Talk to a suspension/spring specialist about this. For a true off roader I would suggest another van.

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Follow Up By: Sand Man (SA) - Sunday, Mar 29, 2015 at 12:57

Sunday, Mar 29, 2015 at 12:57
It's not only the suspension and chassis components either.

Even the design of cupboards, etc. is not up to off road use and over a period of time, they will shake to bits.

I agree with others.
Bide your time and keep looking for a purpose built off road unit.
Jayco is a popular brand but not necessarily the best marque for real off road travel.

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Reply By: Member - mike g2 - Sunday, Mar 29, 2015 at 11:54

Sunday, Mar 29, 2015 at 11:54
Hi gezza, agree with others, raising is not all that's needed for off road. mods will depend on exactly how much offroad you intend? EG: really rough and for a long period will require heavier chassis, treg hitch, heavier tyre/rim, heavier suspension, protection plating, and so on. In the army, I saw the heavy duty trailers ( and 4x)we have take quite a bashing in the wilds of Pilbara. look at kit made for the purpose and compare before considering mods on a conventional camper.
in answer to qns, not hard to raise, 2" lift is common for 4x4 , cost wise, just for the cost of a lift it varies, get quotes, you could be looking at up to $1,000 for a 2" lift.
AnswerID: 551738

Follow Up By: Frank P (NSW) - Sunday, Mar 29, 2015 at 12:14

Sunday, Mar 29, 2015 at 12:14
Not sure if the OP intends to lift his Navara. If so, you're right, somewhere north of $1000 is a common figure.

But to raise the Jayco just by overslinging the axle could be a DIY or just a couple of hundred $$ to get it done.

I agree with the way the discussion is going - getting extra ground clearance won't transform it into a serious off-road camper. But if you're careful you'll get it to more places than a low slung one.

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Reply By: Erad - Sunday, Mar 29, 2015 at 12:27

Sunday, Mar 29, 2015 at 12:27
Depending on the model Jayco, the chassis is probably strong enough. When we bought our Jayco Poptop in 2000, the salesman said the chassis was the same for Offroad and for normal road type vans. He said it - now a salesman wouldn't lie to us would he? Not that Jayco offroad vans are really built that tough anyway. Our van has had a little off road stuff (the longest trip was to Tiboorburra via SW Qld - Nocundra etc). At times, we couldn't see the van because of the dust. And the corrugations ..... Anyway, it stood up to the hammering very well, except the front of the van was peppered with stones and still bears the dents.

A couple of points re vans... If you flip the axle, you may have some issues with the centrebolt in the springs. The centrebolt locates the axle along the length of the main spring leaf, and you may have to rearrange the bolt in the spring set itself so it can still locate the axle.

Further, most axles have some toe-in built into them. Why? Because the way they make them, they lay the round axle on top of the square secton, and do a massive weld. The weld shrinks as it cools so they weld up the other side and it theoretically pulls it back in line. The axle on my van had 10 mm toe-out at the cetnter of the tyres, and the tyres wore out in 18000 km. After 2 sets of tyres, (Jayco supposedly fixed the problem), I approached the axle manufacturer (ALKO) and they gave me a new axle. Even that has about 5 mm toe-in.

Now, if you flip the axle, depending on how you do it, you may finish up with toe-out, and that would probably be worse than toe-in, because any flexing of the axle in service tends to pull the wheels back and this would correct the toe-in, but make toe-out worse. Jayco installed my axle back to front and also offset buy about 12 mm. Gee - they have great quality control.

Dust sealing your camper van could be a problem. We used to have a camper, and we made up a vinyl cover to fit over the door, with foam carpet underlay acting as a gasket to seal the door opening. The cover was attached to the van by a series of press-studs. The system worked well, and stopped most of the dust entering the van.

First thing you must do is to buy some flysheets to go over teh canvas or fabric bed ends. If you don't, on a cold night you get condensation forming on the underside of the fabric and you get torrential downpours at about 3:00 am. Also, the flysheets keep most of the rain off the fabric, so you don't have to pack up wet fabric onto your beds.

Get some plastic mattress protectors, and lay them over your assembled bed. That way, if you are packing up wet, your bedding stays dry.

Depending on the age of the camper, the roof may tend to sway in heavy winds. I fitted some cleats to the roof, and was able to guy-rope the roof to some tent pegs. This stabilised the roof to a certain extent, but it still moved around quite alarmingly at times.

You can get an awning on the door side of the van. This (and the flysheets) has to be fitted and opened before you raise the roof, or else you won't be able to reach it. You will soon get into a routine and set up reasonably quickly. It used to take me about 15 minutes to set up and 10 minutes to pack up the camper.

My camper had a slight depression in the roof. Water used to pool in it and when the roof came down, so did the water - all over my back as I wound the handle in the front of the van. Eventually, I learnt (it took time) to leave the front flyseheet out and supported by the tent poles, and the water would then be deflected off the sheet instead of onto me.

Finally, check the canvas/fabris in the van you are looking at. If they are packed up when wet, they will develop mould and be stained or smell badly. When we finished our trips, I used to set the camper up again, wash it and allow it to thoroughly dry before folding it up and putting it away. we had no mould problems, although we saw plent of campers who did have.
AnswerID: 551741

Follow Up By: Sigmund - Sunday, Mar 29, 2015 at 13:27

Sunday, Mar 29, 2015 at 13:27
I'm told that Jaycos have changed a bit over the years.
FollowupID: 837255

Reply By: mountainman - Sunday, Mar 29, 2015 at 13:37

Sunday, Mar 29, 2015 at 13:37
Any decent fabrication shop worth their money will do this and anything over 700 should walk away.
small fab shops are happy to do this sort of work.

Vans are like cars..
we find the one we are happy with and modify it till it suits US.
New springs..looking at a grand.. at a guess.

mind you.. if youve never been 4wding.
why not take it out and try it all before spending your hard earned.. on modifications to the van.
then youll know where you NEED to spend your money than waste it...
Go for a few trips away...
and then you might be better off with the offroad model with its more features. And can handle the harder tracks.
the current van will be fine with some odd weekends away on good maintained tracks.. no worries
Your just starting out..soo dont forget that

its like some on here say..
if your doing the cape... as in cape York. ..
you need all the crap... diff locks..sat phones.. suspension lifts...tyres... fridges...blah blah blah.
some driver training... and if you dont...
theyll tell you to stay at home..

Some of my best camping trips was with nothing.. a 20buck butane cooker and cheap eskies...
now you need... all the gadgets...gizmos and electric jiggery to go camping. NOT
more like just a reliable vehicle.. good recovery points and a sense of adventure as well as some common sense.

just take the van out and see how you go.
dont be too worried.
cheers !!
Now get out and enjoy that sun! Before its gone and winter really sets in
AnswerID: 551745

Reply By: Member -Pinko (NSW) - Sunday, Mar 29, 2015 at 14:00

Sunday, Mar 29, 2015 at 14:00
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AnswerID: 551748

Reply By: Fab72 - Sunday, Mar 29, 2015 at 18:44

Sunday, Mar 29, 2015 at 18:44
G'day Gezza,
I have an Outback Jayco Swift. Yes they sit higher but that's just part of it. The Outback versions have off road tyres, heavier leaf springs, shock absorbers, bash plates, bigger water tank and a thicker chassis. That's the obvious stuff. There's probably more but without doing a side by side comparison I don't know.

I also know that in the Swift range, the Outback weighs in at 980kgs (up from about 740-ish for the non-Outback version). Hence it also gets electric brakes.

Look up a spec sheet, I'm sure that will have a list of all the upgrades so that Jayco can justify the cost increase.

AnswerID: 551755

Follow Up By: Fab72 - Sunday, Mar 29, 2015 at 18:46

Sunday, Mar 29, 2015 at 18:46
BTW....where are you? I'm in Adelaide and I'd be happy for you to come look at my Swift if you want to see one for yourself.

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Reply By: nickb - Sunday, Mar 29, 2015 at 19:48

Sunday, Mar 29, 2015 at 19:48
Please note they are called Outback not Off-road. Jayco states somewhere in the fine print of the advertising that they are not designed for off-road as such.

I have an Outback Dove and while it has a stronger construction than standard and I have modified it to be more robust it won't survive on constant corrrugations/off-road like a suitably built off-road camper.

It will go many places it wasn't designed to if driven with care, but remember they are about 2.1m wide and weigh a good 1.5t so don't expect to go through ruts/mud/soft sand with ease.
AnswerID: 551758

Follow Up By: Member - Blue M - Tuesday, Mar 31, 2015 at 04:29

Tuesday, Mar 31, 2015 at 04:29
In 2012 I did a trip around Australia. I had a 2011 Jayco Eagle Outback, towed by a 2006 Toyota Hilux SR5 (stock standard). I was born and bred in St. George Qld.
I some times get a bit confused about what "off road" really means. For me "off road" is where there is "no road" or an some old washed out track along side a river etc.
But to drive on roads from Laverton to Ayres Rock, the Gibb River road etc are just dirt roads. Some maybe a lot worse than others, but they are still only a dirt road. Ask the locals.
Now as far as the Jayco Outback Eagle goes, it was stock standard out of the factory, and I pulled it over the GRR, up to Honeymoon Beach, Mitchell Falls, Paraburdoo via Mount Augustus to Meekatharra, Finke to Oodnadatta, Laverton to Ayres Rock and a few more.
When on dirt roads, all I did was cover all the vents with cardboard and sticky tape. I walked around with a star screw driver once a week and made sure the screws were all good. The only thing that broke was a shocky, and that was my fault. (Didn't see a big hole). I did see a few broken Real Off Road trailers/campers and some beefed up 4x4 vehicles jacked up on the side of the road.
I could not fault the little Jayco and used to get very defensive when some old dude standing beside his $99,000 van, and ask "How's the little Junko going".

How many Station owners utes in Wa, NT and Out back Qld do you see with lift kits, heavy duty springs and all the good stuff on their on their utes driving around on their properties.


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Reply By: aboutfivebucks (Pilbara) - Sunday, Mar 29, 2015 at 20:50

Sunday, Mar 29, 2015 at 20:50
You seemed to have been bombarded with 'half glass empty' perspectives.

Based on my experience - in respect to Jayco camper trailers - changing the spring from under the axle to over the axle conversion - You will find caravan shops do the conversion. The only complication is the spring centrebolt locator on the axle. Easy fix - weld some new locators onto the other side of the axle.
You will find the clearance opens up some doors as to what campsite you can get into.
There are a couple of things to consider before doing the conversion -
1. Height of the caravan legs - will the current legs of the job (hint - it is a good time to convert to drop down legs)
2. Height of the step into the camper - you may need an additional step (footstool etc) to get into the camper.
3. Drop of the awnings - if the camper has awnings - the walls may not quite reach the ground in some places with the additional height. Have a think about the impact here - will you need another draft curtain/windbreak.
4. Will it match your tow hitch height on the vehicle.

As for the vans off road durability - if you take it over thousands of kms of corrugations, you'll spend your time fixing it up - regardless of onroad or offroad.

Good luck,

AnswerID: 551766

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