For all the camper trailer experts out there.

Submitted: Sunday, Mar 01, 2009 at 17:38
ThreadID: 66408 Views:8497 Replies:14 FollowUps:12
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With my recent back injury, the doctor has advised that I’m no longer able to lift any heavy objects. This means I’ll have to sell the camper trailer (see the trader section).

I’m now looking at a Jayco off road camper which I think is a suitable alternative. Provided I’m able to crank the roof up.

I've asked the following questions of the sales agent and received a less than satisfactory answer (or at least one I believe).

I’ve been told by the sales rep that the Fiamma wind out awning is vastly strengthened when the side walls are added to make up an annex. Does this mean the structure doesn’t need to be packed away in high winds (within reason)? I'd only have a use for it in the Victorian high country in protected areas.

I noticed the tap in the kitchen is pretty ordinary. Can this be replaced with a quality unit? I'll be ordering the trailer with a 12v pump.

Out of curiosity, I asked him what a hot water service was worth. Nearly dropped me drink when he told me it was $1,500. The mate tell's me, that I can get an installed electric unit under the sink for around $350 plus fitting. Are these units any good (won't be used as a shower).

The so called pebble guard on the front of the unit would be useless. Does any know of a company who makes up a full stone guard for the Jayco?

As far as cranking up the roof is concerned, I’ve heard stories that some people are using an 18v cordless drill to do this. Does it work, and where do you get the chuck adaptor?


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Reply By: Austravel - Sunday, Mar 01, 2009 at 17:59

Sunday, Mar 01, 2009 at 17:59
Hi Kim,

Am in the same boat and have been for over a couple of decades. In fact depending on the injury you will work out many alternative ways to do things. You'll be surprised at how ingenious you can be when you have to. Not sure of your back injury or how much it effects you but if it's a recent injury why not wait for a while. If you've already made the decision so be it. Just a suggestion based on my injury, you maybe able to do more than you think, just differently. If you still enjoy the camper and don't really want to upgrade give it 12mths and see how you go.

I know not answering your question on the Jayco, just giving you some more ideas based on what's happened to me. Though for longer trips I'll probably head towards something a bit better.
AnswerID: 351716

Follow Up By: Kim and Damn Dog - Sunday, Mar 01, 2009 at 18:15

Sunday, Mar 01, 2009 at 18:15


I was already struggling with the current camping trailer which is a pity because it’s hardly been used. The time has come for a rethink and the Jayco seems be a reasonable base station for what I need.


FollowupID: 619916

Follow Up By: robertbruce - Sunday, Mar 01, 2009 at 19:00

Sunday, Mar 01, 2009 at 19:00
HI Kim,

i have a similar injury. When my doctor said "no heavy lifting" i thought like you too. Ok, fine, just lots of little lifting... big mistake, my condition is now worse ... my doctor now says, "no lifting at all and slow-down"
FollowupID: 619935

Follow Up By: Kim and Damn Dog - Sunday, Mar 01, 2009 at 20:03

Sunday, Mar 01, 2009 at 20:03
Gidday Robertbruce

What!...... are you trying to cheer me up.

I'm not taking notice of the doctor anymore. Their all full of doom and gloom. Who needs that.

Anyway we're getting off the subject.


FollowupID: 619952

Reply By: Member - Niss42 - Sunday, Mar 01, 2009 at 18:19

Sunday, Mar 01, 2009 at 18:19
G'day, Km &DD.
I replaced the vinyl pebble guard on my old (2000) Jayco dove off road camper after stone & tear damage, especially along the bottom edge. I replaced the vinyl with aluminum checker plate.
I made a template of the curve from the side and had it rolled at a sheet metal place, WOW what a difference, and looked great.
As far as the wind up goes, it should not be a problem, pulling and pushing the beds in & out becoming a problem for me (crook shoulders).
Dust ingress is another problem which I never overcame.
Now upgraded to a full off road caravan with all the bells & whistles, "fabulous".
Good luck.

AnswerID: 351724

Follow Up By: Member - Niss42 - Sunday, Mar 01, 2009 at 18:26

Sunday, Mar 01, 2009 at 18:26
Sorry, meant to attache photo,Image Could Not Be Found
FollowupID: 619920

Reply By: rumpig - Sunday, Mar 01, 2009 at 18:19

Sunday, Mar 01, 2009 at 18:19
saw on that Pat Callinans 4x4 adventure show on telly a while back that there was a camper trailer that was remote controlled to open and shut. might be worth looking up his website for who made it.
AnswerID: 351725

Follow Up By: KiwiAngler - Sunday, Mar 01, 2009 at 19:19

Sunday, Mar 01, 2009 at 19:19
Exactly what I had in mind to recommend - I reckon it would be perfect for someone with a sore/damaged back.

I have the full set of Pats DVDs and will go through them tonight and see if I can 'narrow it down' a bit - at least to the make of trailer

Back soon (excuse the pun) :-)))))

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FollowupID: 619942

Follow Up By: KiwiAngler - Sunday, Mar 01, 2009 at 20:29

Sunday, Mar 01, 2009 at 20:29
Well it isnt on "The Gulf Country - eps 1 or 2"

I hope you all realise the 'hardship' I am putting myself through by 'having' to watch every episode of some great 4x4 adventures so that I can help a fellow 4x4er " ;-)))))))

Going to watch "Coffs Coast eps 12 & 13" now :-)))

I will 'take one for the boys' just to answer this question - wahooooo
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Follow Up By: rumpig - Sunday, Mar 01, 2009 at 21:03

Sunday, Mar 01, 2009 at 21:03
it was on the fraser island trip that they did, gave it to a family to test at central station who "suposably" were tenting it.
FollowupID: 619974

Follow Up By: KiwiAngler - Sunday, Mar 01, 2009 at 21:26

Sunday, Mar 01, 2009 at 21:26
Rumpig - you are correct

10 minutes into the "Fraser Island ep1"

It is a Travelander Automatic camper trailer - scroll down to Geo (hard floor)
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Reply By: Best Off Road - Sunday, Mar 01, 2009 at 18:59

Sunday, Mar 01, 2009 at 18:59

We owned one for just over a year, late 2005 to early 2007.

Not sure which model you're looking at but if it's one with the slide out beds be warned there is some physical effort required. Once the beds slide out you need to get your shoulder under them and lift to fit the supports. Also pulling the canvas over the ends and fitting the "hockey" sticks take some effort.

None of this is severely strenuous, but try it before you buy it.

The other model, The Penguin, is the one with no ends and would probably suit you, seeing it is just you and the pooch.

Brian (The Bigfella) has a Coromal without the ends and it has a 12 volt lift system that runs from the aux batt. I've lost his number, but he owns a Home Brew Shop in Bathurst so wouldn't be too hard to track down. Lovely bloke, I'm sure he wouldn't mind a call.

As for the drill adapator. The mob (name eludes me, Ecovan or similar) who make who make the van that winds up from one end dsiplay it at shows with the drill. Perhaps they have an adaptor. Their yard is in Springvale Rd, Springvale/Keysborough.

Hot water (240 volt only) thingies that attack to the tap are about $200 from Caravan Stores; Carac or Award RV.



AnswerID: 351742

Follow Up By: Kim and Damn Dog - Sunday, Mar 01, 2009 at 19:50

Sunday, Mar 01, 2009 at 19:50
Gidday Jim

I’ve had Jayco’s before. The first one was back in the 80’s and I do remember a bit of shoulder was needed to set up the beds.

Later on I purchased a Penguin for local camping and it was alright, apart from things falling apart. I’m hoping the quality has improved somewhat!

I asked Jayco if they could supply a Hawk with only one pull out bed, but received a negative response.

The other thing I’m trying to figure out is how to dust proof the vents while travelling. All the food and drink is located in the Engel when I’m on dirt roads so the van frig wouldn’t be used. I’m thinking of covering these with a bit of plastic (cut to size) and fixing them with gaffa tape.


FollowupID: 619951

Reply By: Member - AJB (VIC) - Sunday, Mar 01, 2009 at 20:51

Sunday, Mar 01, 2009 at 20:51
Setting up camper trailers is too much rooting around. In your situation you are better off with a small pop top type. Basically the same length, same width, a liitle taller when travelling, useable for mid day snacks on the run, quick to set up, more secure and so much more comfortable. You mention you'll use the thing as a basecamp so you wont be dragging it through major high country goat tracks!
Winding up, for me, is easy and so is pulling out the beds but I am a fraction of your age and an incredible specimen of the human race, as you know.
AnswerID: 351763

Reply By: olddigger - Sunday, Mar 01, 2009 at 21:51

Sunday, Mar 01, 2009 at 21:51
I have a Jayco Flamingo (not off road model). It's a nice big van and has its moments, but winding it up is not easy.
The shaft of the handle is not really long enough, and you need to wiggle it about to make decent contact with the winder. I'm 65 and a bit out of shape and can manage it, but my wife really struggles to turn the handle.
The beds pull out easily enough (it's new), but putting in the supporting hockey sticks can need a bit of a shove with your shoulder while you stoop underneath at an awkward angle.
Generally speaking, the terms "quality control" and "Jayco" should never appear in the same sentence.
The water tap is a damn nuisance to use (you pump water with the T-shaped handle if you use the tank, which I don't, or push the handle down if you are attached to water hose in a C.park. It then makes a nasty hammering noise. The connection also blows off the side of the van regularly becos the connection is not well made).
I have taken this van on only two trips and I am already looking at flogging it and buying a decent camper trailer which will be lighter to tow, easier to put up and a damn sight better made.
Frankly, I wouldn't have another Jayco as a gift, but there are lots and lots of them out there.
Cheers, Tony
AnswerID: 351781

Reply By: Member - Ian W (NSW) - Sunday, Mar 01, 2009 at 21:57

Sunday, Mar 01, 2009 at 21:57
Dear Damn Dog,

When you have finished having the obligatory scratch and a good old lick of the necessary bits would you tell Kim the following:

1) We have not had a Fiamma brand awning but found from experience with ours that adding awning walls only made it more rigid in gentle breezes so is to give a bit less "Flapping". In other words adding the awning had the same effect as extra guy ropes which is all it really was.
When the wind really got up it was much worse than no awning at all.

We have not long ordered a new van and specified awning only, if the wind gets up I can quickly roll up the awning without having to waste time with annexe walls.
We spent over a grand on a full annexe that was used twice, all in the first month of more than six years ownership

Tell Kim that taps can be altered, if he is not happy with the tap he saw in the demo van by all means change it. I suggest he have a good look around, choose what he wants and then specify it. He can have what ever he wants in a caravan, camper, bus, semi, boat or whatever if he throws enough money around. If it comes down to a tap the dealer should willingly put in whatever he wants to make the sale.

Tell Kim that $1500 is a bit better than market average for a hot water service. For that money he should get an extra water tank, valves between tanks, an extra 9kg gas bottle and of course an external shower outlet. No shower outlet and the retailer is having really having a lend and should be made to "sit" for a long time. It would not hurt if the salesman chucked a couple of really good ox bones to sweeten the deal.

AnswerID: 351783

Reply By: PradOz - Sunday, Mar 01, 2009 at 23:04

Sunday, Mar 01, 2009 at 23:04
Hi Kim - i have a Swan and also major back problems - which are slowly on the mend. Bought the swan b4 the injury and thought I would have to sell it, but since surgery in Sept 08 I am getting better. Used the swan at xmas and it all went ok. i have had 2 lumbar discs removed, 1 fused and 1 replaced with an artificial disc.

i like the swan for several reasons 1 being the fridge is directly opposite the door so easy access if you need it with roof down. the eagle is same layout but smaller. also like the layout for table position etc. the robe can be used for clothes or even as a pantry depending on your preference

you can buy a replacement front stone guard from camec. they have a couple different types

also i recently seen a camper van (in tassie i think) on ebay that was made to wind up via a 2nd battery and winch setup inside the van - looked like your normal type winch from photos. if i find a link i will post it later for you

i cannot answer query re awning as mine is different type.

you can easily replace the type of tap to suit yourself. i just fitted another one on my brothers old viscount at xmas.

look on ebay for the hot water fitting that fits direct to the tap. costs around $200. this would determine the type of tap you want. they are also seen in the caravan magazines where you can buy from the distributor direct.

i would not try lifting the roof with a cordless drill. i dont believe the drill would last too long if it could actualy even lift it. i would look into the winch idea etc. I also seen a different brand camper van at xmas up at macksville nsw in the van sales yard there and it had a standard fitted auto up/down mechanism on it. i think the camper van came from the usa as an import.

i dont think pulling the beds in/out will be a problem for you if you keep all in good condition and lubricated. also fitting the bed supports are not that bad. worst part is winding up the roof, but the smaller campers are easier than the longer ones which are obviously heavier. may be worthwhile thinking about getting a longer shaft on the wind up handle as i think it would make it all much easier. may try that myself if i get my act together

i reckon if you bought a late model second hand camper van you could easily lose one end and modify the canvas etc. it wouldnt be too difficult if thats what you wanted to do. i would think the other bed though is handy for storage once setup plus any extra visitors that may tag along at anytime in future.

if you are buying new why not look at the jayco expanda that has only one bed end at rear, front kitchen and late model second hand price is similar to new camper van price. same bed setup, but actually has more cupboard space. one on ebay now for around $22K from memory

look after that back of yours. took me 3 years b4 i tracked down the best back surgeon this country has for my surgery and i had to go interstate for the op. i do believe it was worth it for me. do plenty of research and only go to someone you have confidence in. i am happy to forward details of some great surgeons in nsw and qld and also one in west oz if thats any help. obviously comes down to what is wrong with your back. they say 12 months of rest with no lifting, bending etc can actually heal up to 80% of injuries. i was told to not even try bend over to tie my shoes (not that i could). i unfortunately was in the 20% and forced back to work by the system too early before they sacked me despite it being a work injury so needed the surgery. just our great nsw insurance system we have working to the benefit of the insurance coy and employers before the injured workers. look after yourself

AnswerID: 351796

Reply By: Member - Lionel A (WA) - Monday, Mar 02, 2009 at 08:56

Monday, Mar 02, 2009 at 08:56
Kim, a woman mate, will create some problems but solve others.

She can do all the cooking, cleaning, feed the dog, set up the camper, get the fire wood and when tied to the draw bar at night will protect the campsite while you and the dog are snugged up inside.

All this for only one " I love you " once a week......hehehe.

The one major downside to this is that, like most women, she will need to get her hands on your bankcard. She'll spend it faster than you can earn it. Try and camp well away from ATMs.

OOPS !!!....she just walked a gonna.

Cheers......LionOUCH !
AnswerID: 351820

Follow Up By: Kim and Damn Dog - Monday, Mar 02, 2009 at 20:26

Monday, Mar 02, 2009 at 20:26
Gidday Lionel

Your the bavest man on this site. LOL


FollowupID: 620107

Reply By: Member - Len H (QLD) - Monday, Mar 02, 2009 at 18:06

Monday, Mar 02, 2009 at 18:06
Hi Kim

Afore ye get too far down the track, have a look at the Silver Gypsy at

We spoke some time ago about off road trailers you might recall; I ended up with a good camper trailer from these people. Very happy with result.

AnswerID: 351892

Follow Up By: Kim and Damn Dog - Monday, Mar 02, 2009 at 20:24

Monday, Mar 02, 2009 at 20:24
Gidday Len

That a bit of my price range unfortunately.


FollowupID: 620106

Reply By: Best Off Road - Monday, Mar 02, 2009 at 21:05

Monday, Mar 02, 2009 at 21:05

Another thought.

Talk to Dean at Westlat in Ballarat. He's doing a hard floor camper for about 10 large. Includes battery system and small slide out kitchen.

Easy to lift up, pretty much unfolds itself.


AnswerID: 351920

Reply By: mintrax - Monday, Mar 02, 2009 at 22:02

Monday, Mar 02, 2009 at 22:02
I have a Jayco Finch. I am very happy with it. But if I had a bad back I wouldn't be using it. The wind up is the least of your problems. The pull out beds and bed support system will not suit your condition. Bending over to wind down the stabilisers isn't going to do your back much good either. I wouldn't touch it with a barge pole with a stuffed back.


AnswerID: 351934

Reply By: PradOz - Tuesday, Mar 03, 2009 at 09:57

Tuesday, Mar 03, 2009 at 09:57
found the jayco dove on ebay that had the winch/battery setup for lifting roof etc. just search for item 250365537644 but have a look sooner as it has ended so it could disappear off the radar. or try this link jayco winch setup

AnswerID: 351981

Reply By: offroad Bob - Sunday, Mar 15, 2009 at 18:56

Sunday, Mar 15, 2009 at 18:56
Hi Kim

Probably a bit late for a reply - just looking through older posts. If you are keen on a camper that requires little effort to set up the Travelander is pretty good. It comes as a trailer mounted version or a trayback version. Of course everyone is very happy with their own camper.

The Travelander has a remote controlled arm that opens and closes the camper. It is a hard floor camper in that after it opens you have an internal hard floor.

Not saying it will suit everyone as you will still need to climb up to the bed. Saying that the bed is a lovely queen size inner spring bed.

We purchased a Travelander just over a year ago and where sold on the many features like the remote opening, inner spring bed, twin waeco 40 litres fridges on slides (means you can have one as a freezer and one as a fridge), easy to access kitchen, built in 120litre water tank with pressure pump, hot water system and shower, twin deep cycle batteries, 3 stage 240v built in charger and heaps more. Also a lot lighter than other campers at only 680kg for the trayback and a lot cheaper.

I do go on about it but just to say we are happy. They are made in Queensland and you can see them on the website -


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AnswerID: 354154

Follow Up By: Kim and Damn Dog - Sunday, Mar 15, 2009 at 20:05

Sunday, Mar 15, 2009 at 20:05
Thanks Bob

Unfortunately thats well out of my price range.


FollowupID: 622337

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