Modifying a Jayco Dove for Off Road

Submitted: Sunday, Mar 13, 2005 at 17:21
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We have had a conventional caravan for years and have tented when off road but we would really like to buy a second hand Jayco Dove (or similar) camper trailer, put on racks for a tinney and make the trailer off road. If this possible or an expensive pipe-dream? Any thoughts would be really welcome - also, if it is possible, how to go about it - what would we need to have done to convert it to off road? Lots of cheer, Charlie & Rosemary
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Reply By: Bonz (Vic) - Sunday, Mar 13, 2005 at 17:52

Sunday, Mar 13, 2005 at 17:52
Charlie and Rosemary, whilst it COULD be done, my experience would tell me you would be better off selling what you have and buying something already engineered and setup for offroad. I have heard lots of Jayco offroad stories and not may have been glowing. There heaps on the market to choose from across all the Spending Limits.

It also depends on how offroad you want to get, once you change or re-engineer something, parts become somewhat exclusive, easy to get in the big smoke but off the beaten track is another thing. Also reckon that once you change something from its intended purpose, all other stresses and strains come into play that werent ever originally engineered into the unit in the first place, so the likelihood of something breaking is much increased.

If you want an offroad "adventure" then go for it, but if you want to enjoy the offroad and have a fun time then buy something that someone else has pored over for hours, making it strong and tough.



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Follow Up By: Charlie & Rosemary - Sunday, Mar 13, 2005 at 17:57

Sunday, Mar 13, 2005 at 17:57
Your thoughts are ones we are including as options - we are still happy to go offroad with a tent in inaccessible areas - wouldn't dream of towing anything in the cape not kimberleys etc. However we would love to take off now and then to Fraser Island without the big pack up and shake down. I work in remote areas and when I come home we love to take off to Fraser but time limits us between work and something like the Dove would just be fantastic to tow up there. So, for 'off road' read 'able to tow up Fraser' and let me have your thoughts again - they are really appreciated! Cheers, Charlie
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Follow Up By: Bonz (Vic) - Sunday, Mar 13, 2005 at 18:01

Sunday, Mar 13, 2005 at 18:01
oh Fraser Island would be a doddle then, I saw all manner off non-offroad trailer there, just stay away from the inland roads, and choose your tide times. easy peasy. And I wouldnt worry about changing anything.
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Follow Up By: Member -Dodger - Sunday, Mar 13, 2005 at 23:46

Sunday, Mar 13, 2005 at 23:46
I agree with Bonz,
For peace of mind and available spares look for an affordable 2nd hand off road model that is in reasonable nick.
Even if you upgrade the suspension etc you will still have the interior fittings of a blacktop unit and indeed the dust proofing of same .
Off road models should have been built to handle the rigours of gravel roads etc.
Then there are times when one does not set out to go into a tough area but it just turns out that way.
We have an off road van but still carry camping gear for those really difficult tracks.
I used to have a handle on life, but it broke.

Cheers Dodg.

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Reply By: Member - muzzgit - Sunday, Mar 13, 2005 at 18:07

Sunday, Mar 13, 2005 at 18:07
Hi guys, I am in the process of getting things together to make my Jayco penguin into a more off road capable camper.
Things I've already worked out are, heavy duty axle and springs, a new double step at the door, 4 new longer wind up legs, bigger wheels and tyres, the annexe also needs to be lengthened at the bottom. I've decided to go with a Hyland offroad tow hitch because it uses a normal tow ball, offers more articulation than a Treg or Orac, and can be mounted upside down. I am going to weld it under the draw bar, instead of on top. This will help keep the camper level when it's hooked up to the car.

Be carefull with the roof rack for your tinnie, the Jayco wind ups are only made to handle a relatively small weight on the roof, and winding it up with a tinnie on top may be more difficult. Also, windy conditions when the camper is up could be interesting.

If you search on this site you will find other recent conversations on this subject.


AnswerID: 102243

Follow Up By: Charlie & Rosemary - Sunday, Mar 13, 2005 at 18:27

Sunday, Mar 13, 2005 at 18:27
I'll go get some prices for the same type of modifications - tinney might be best on the car roof!Tinney might even better off at home! Certainly would like to hear if anyone has towed one over to Fraser with no modifications! Cheers, Charlie & Rosemary
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Reply By: Charlie & Rosemary - Sunday, Mar 13, 2005 at 18:08

Sunday, Mar 13, 2005 at 18:08
Well, you have eased our minds - we did a lot of camping there when the kids were young - now we never seem to have time but we are itching to go back regularly. We tow with a late model pajero and just thought we might try to get a little more clearance on a dove if we bought one - they don't seem to have much clearance. I'll go down to a trailer maker and ask some questions and then we might just keep looking for one - prices seem ok and we would probably get a few years of fun out of it and keep the big van for touring. Thanks a lot for your thoughts! Cheers, Charlie and Rosemary
AnswerID: 102244

Follow Up By: Member - muzzgit - Sunday, Mar 13, 2005 at 23:38

Sunday, Mar 13, 2005 at 23:38
My mate has been torturing himself with ideas about putting a tinnie on top of his Jayco outback. He doesn't like the idea of putting it on the car because of the salt in the gutters thing ( I agree ). After years of pondering different set ups and talking to people, he's come to the conclusion that it's best to leave the bloody thing at home.

Less wind resistance on the road, and for all that mucking around, how much use will it really see ?
FollowupID: 360051

Reply By: Peter 2 - Sunday, Mar 13, 2005 at 18:15

Sunday, Mar 13, 2005 at 18:15
Charlie from the late 70's until the late 80's we towed a small Cub campomatic all over Oz. As the kids got bigger (and multiplied) we found it a bit squeezy so decided to 'upgrade' to a bigger, flasher unit.
We bought a s/hand windsor which was virtually identical to the Dove but had independant trailing arm suspension and was better built.
After spending a lot of time and electricity for the welder raising the whole thing 100mm, reinforcing anything that looked on the suss side we took off on the first trip out to camerons corner and tibooburra. The poor old Diesel troopy crawled over bell, on the flat and downhill was ok, hills were a bugger as it was heavy and about 2 foot wider than the cruiser.
when we hit the dirt we found that the best speed was considerably slower than before, when faced with deep sand stretches the cruiser struggled to pull it due to the camper wheels cutting their own track outside the cruisers tracks, it also was a big problem in mud or actual 4wd terrain for the same reason.
the other drawback was that when camp was set up we went inside and closed the door, missing out on the camaraderie around the fire with the rest of the group, when you have stove, table, frig and warm seating inside it is hard to go outside and enjoy the outdoors.
We sold it very quickly on our return and bought a Cub supermatic which being slightly larger fits the five of us in for sleeping but we live out of the back of the truck for everything else.
AnswerID: 102245

Reply By: motherhen - Sunday, Mar 13, 2005 at 18:18

Sunday, Mar 13, 2005 at 18:18
After trying tent bit, then back of ute camping options; if you're going for short periods and don't cary much luggage, a weldmesh frame with canvas cover (with roof rack on top of this) on the back of our landcruiser ute was the best camping we ever had and so easy just stop where we wanted to no matter how rugged the ground was. Pull up the canvas & sleep looking at the stars. Also up above any creepy crawlies that might find their way into a tent. Downside was having to pull most of our stuff off the back to roll out the swag. Still easier than setting up a tent though. Both of these were outdoor living and not good in the rain!

Getting older and not so energetic, third try was a rather old wind up "off road" caravan (Jayco Dove or similar). This rattled around behind us over some pretty horrid roads. I didn't really mind the dust as it was only a 5 week trip. It sustained a bit of damage, but nothing we can't rectify-modify (unsuitable hinges on cupboards - the strong latches held though, stone holed the plastic water tank, ancient gas stove sort of collapsed but was still usable). Being single axle, things in the cupboards got jolted around; milk cartons wore through on the bottom etc.

Now hoping to get away long term, wanted something bigger and stronger, so we now have a dust proof, bleep ter proof Bushtracker. Dual axle; things stay put, in fact get a smoother ride than we do in the wagon!
AnswerID: 102246

Follow Up By: gregr - Sunday, Mar 13, 2005 at 20:53

Sunday, Mar 13, 2005 at 20:53
hi motherhen
can i ask you what size bushtracker caravan you tow and what you tow it with and where
am thinking maybe to get a bushtracker in the next coupla years when a little closer to retirement - but people keep telling me how very heavy they are and how hard to tow off road - need a f250 or bigger and so on

thanks and regards greg
FollowupID: 360036

Follow Up By: motherhen - Sunday, Mar 13, 2005 at 21:11

Sunday, Mar 13, 2005 at 21:11
Sure Greg - we have an 18 footer; 2.2 ton licenced - but with 240 litres water, equipment, food etc, it would come well above that. We are towing with a Nissan Patrol 3 ltr TD auto. Would consider a F250 or Cruiser is we had the $$$$$s. Log onto the Bushtrackers web site on Post 1412 i replied to Matt and Lana with more detail. If you haven't already found the site, do look as it has a small but useful forum. Also do a search for Bushtracker here; a few of us have talked about ours. Also check out posts here on 3 ltr auto towing only to 2.5 tonne - i've joined in that discussion a few times too. Ask again if you want to know more about where we've been since we've had it.

For those who tow with the "effie" as they call them, they are more limited than we are for turning circle (and we've got in some tight spots occasionally), parking length, and deep dips in outback roads.

It may be for members only on the Bushtracker site, but there is a list of what members are towing with, and length of van. A number of Cruisers and Patrols. You can join the site as a prospective owner.
FollowupID: 360039

Reply By: Charlie & Rosemary - Sunday, Mar 13, 2005 at 18:22

Sunday, Mar 13, 2005 at 18:22
Sounds like you'd get on well with our son - he has the back of the ute set up to a tee. He has a young family and is just starting to get them out on the road - still modifying to suit the family. We've always been tent or van people - I will take on board the bit about the tyres making their own track - would be hard on the engine towing in soft sand. I think on Fraser the only place would be getting on and off the barge and just up to the point. We always travel on dead low so the beach driving would be easy. I'll get on the net and start looking again at 'anything and everything' that is towable! Have spent many happy hours searching so far but continue to get off on tangents and head in different directions! Could take awhile to find what we want. Don't really want to go many places - have the van for that, just that on and off the barge bit is the only real drawback. Anyone taken one across?
Cheers, Charlie and Rosemary
AnswerID: 102247

Reply By: gregr - Sunday, Mar 13, 2005 at 18:29

Sunday, Mar 13, 2005 at 18:29
hi charlie and rosemary
a jayco dove off road will be fine for fraser strady and moreton just pick the tides and stay away from the deep soft sand areas

my pals have a goldsream off road and take it to cooloola rainbow teewah and moreton regularly and they can generally get it to the same places on the islands as i can with my kimberley loaded wts are similar but the goldstreams wider wheel track can be a problem - we both tow with 3.0 l td patrols

a front winch is not a bad idea though and defintely our diff locks help

forget about the jayco for anywhere serious though - cape GRR etc as they shake to bits

go for it
good luck greg

AnswerID: 102249

Reply By: Charlie & Rosemary - Sunday, Mar 13, 2005 at 18:45

Sunday, Mar 13, 2005 at 18:45
Thanks Greg - and will look into the Kimberley etc! Cheers, Charlie and Rosemary
AnswerID: 102250

Follow Up By: gregr - Sunday, Mar 13, 2005 at 20:47

Sunday, Mar 13, 2005 at 20:47
charlie and rosemary
i have had a lot of warranty problerms with my kimberly kamper 2004 classic marina and i would be very very reluctant to recommend a kk to anyone

to this day we cant drink the water from the 130 l ss water tank

its back at the kimberley factory in ballina now for the 3 rd time and if they dont or wont fix it this time we will just have to move it on and possibly buy an ultimate

so i am not a good person to talk to about kimberley kampers i am afriad
we have not been happy with the build quality of ours since buying it new in mid 2004
cheers greg
FollowupID: 360033

Reply By: Charlie & Rosemary - Sunday, Mar 13, 2005 at 20:51

Sunday, Mar 13, 2005 at 20:51
Thank you for your comments - the price on the kks is too high for us - besides, we like a van so will keep on keeping on looking (it's half the fun anyway!). Cheers, Rosemary and Charlie
AnswerID: 102272

Reply By: Croozer - Sunday, Mar 13, 2005 at 22:11

Sunday, Mar 13, 2005 at 22:11
Charlie & Rosemary
I have just bought a 2001 Dove Outback from a couple who travelled Australia for 12 months in it. They only place they did'nt tow it to was the Cape, but did take it to Fraser, Kimberleys, Bungles etc. Despite its travells it is still in excellent condition and i'm sure it will serve us just as well in our travels. I think the secret with your equipment not getting destroyed is to drive appropriately for the conditions.
AnswerID: 102294

Reply By: Keith_A (Qld) - Monday, Mar 14, 2005 at 23:24

Monday, Mar 14, 2005 at 23:24
Hi Charlie & Rosemary,
We had a Jayco dove for 13 years, and took it to Fraser, Innaminca, Flinders Ranges etc. Although it was supposed to be off-road, we were continually repairing it.
We now have a 2nd hand Comoral Magnum Off road.
Build quality and strength is definately better than the current Jayco - but that is just our oppinion. We do use it in serious off roader locations.

For sand driving - just drop tyre pressures on both 4WD and Trailer to 15 PSI.
For really soft deep fluffy sand you may have to go down to 12psi.
(learnt from years of experience on both Frazer and Double Island Point).
I would agree with other posts - avoid modifications if you can.
Independent suspension with 4WD tyres can assist with clearance in sand.

Like all camping - different folks different strokes. What suits one will not suit another. Only important thing is that you use and enjoy it......regards...
AnswerID: 102456

Follow Up By: Charlie & Rosemary - Tuesday, Mar 15, 2005 at 06:52

Tuesday, Mar 15, 2005 at 06:52
Thanks for your comments - we have pretty well decided against the dove - we will either look for second hand off road or maybe even save our money and continue to camp - I think we are just getting lazy - we like our comfort when we camp and it takes a couple of hours to set up fully. We keep thinking though - what's a couple of hours compared to thousands of dollars when we already have all we need to camp - tent is a dome and easy! Maybe we could stop being lazy and leave the money alone!! Cheers, Charlie and Rosemary
FollowupID: 360179

Reply By: Brad44bne - Monday, Apr 04, 2005 at 17:50

Monday, Apr 04, 2005 at 17:50
Charlie & Rosemary,

We have just bought a new Jayco Flamingo(non offroad). Our first trip was to Double Island with friends over the easter break. We raised the van by having the axle underslung wich gave us another 100mm. This appeared to be more than enough and the Suzuki XL-7 2.7 litre petrol pulled it quite nicely through some very deep sand.

My mate has a Swan offroad and Landcruiser, we went everywhere he went and he struggled at times just as we did. Being our first trip we dont really have anything to compare it with but I was pleasantly surprised at how the Van and car went. We went at low tide but came back at high tide to beat the rush. Very heavy deep sand on the way back but like I said all went well. Time will tell if the van can handle it but we are not looking at rockhopping type offroad work just the beach and outback tracks and bitumen.

Hope this helps

Brad and Trish(newbies)
AnswerID: 105117

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