jayco swan/eagle pop top campervan

Hi everyone,

Was just wondering what people thought of the jayco swan, eagle or flamingo campervans? Or another brand but similar stlye.We are looking at buying one to take on our trip through outback qld up to darwin then back to qld to cairns and down along the coast to brisbane. Any advice or pointers would be greatly appreciated. Thanks Katrina
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Reply By: Wrong Way Jon - Monday, Apr 12, 2010 at 08:11

Monday, Apr 12, 2010 at 08:11
Hi Eelco,
What year model are you looking at?
We have an 87 model Swan that's been modified that's been around the block twice and I wouldn't hesitate to drag it around again. It's not the flashest camper on the road, but it does the job. We find it very comfortable with 2 Adults & 3 kids under 12. There is heaps of storage, and on wet days there is still enough room in side for all of us.
Here are the Floor Plans if you haven't already looked at them, of cause these are for new campers but there are still pretty much the same over the years.
Depends on how many are in your traveling party as well, Kids, Adults.

AnswerID: 412608

Reply By: John and Lynne - Monday, Apr 12, 2010 at 08:33

Monday, Apr 12, 2010 at 08:33
We had a Jayco Dove for several years so can't comment on the Swan layout except that it is bigger! We enjoyed our Dove. It was easy to stow and store. It was light and airy and felt spacious when set up - more so than most caravans. We augmented clothes storage with some Bunnings plastic drawers which travelled on the floor and spent camp time on the spare bed so we had stacks of room for two!
The disadvantage of this rig was the lack of insulation in cold weather - no hassle up north when we needed ventilation! However we bought a full height van after a daughter moved to Bendigo and we spent a few cold weeks down there!
The camper was great for camping holidays and much more convenient than the tent it replaced. Importantly for Qld it was insect proof and we could cook indoors if flies or mozzies were an issue (most of the time !) Kept sandflies out too!
It was a pain to set up every day or two when we were travelling or touring and the awning was awkward to set up but we got better at it. These campers are a great idea and ideal for warm weather camping. Ours was an Outback and it was definitely worth getting the higher and stronger suspension. You would't claim it was suitable for real off road work but excellent for dirt roads and national parks etc. You also need the extra awnings over the bed ends to keep them clean and dry. Otherwise you pack all the dirt and wet in on top of your bedding!
Good luck. Lynne
John & Lynne

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AnswerID: 412610

Reply By: Member - Joe F (WA) - Monday, Apr 12, 2010 at 11:30

Monday, Apr 12, 2010 at 11:30
Image Could Not Be FoundG'day Eelco ~ as all the previous repliers to your post say, the Jayco wind up style camper/caravan is a practical ~ smart way of towing your accomodation, if you choose to take the camper/caravan off road you would possibly need to up grade suspension and tyres, just to give it a better chance of surviving sustained off road trips, just as you would with your four wheel drive.

My personal experience with the Jayco Swan and taking it off road is all positive, but as I say it was not totally standard, it was modified.

If you do intend off roading with this type of camper/caravan, more so the earlier models with Aluminium panels, it will suffer damage if you are not reasonably careful.
The later versions are more robust with their bonded resin and ply costruction.

No matter what brand of camper/caravan you choose ~ enjoy your adventure.
AnswerID: 412625

Reply By: Chooken - Monday, Apr 12, 2010 at 12:55

Monday, Apr 12, 2010 at 12:55
Hi Eelco
We recently bought a 2001 Jayco Eagle. If you haven't already it might be a good idea if you can go and have a look at a couple of different models. Even a few of the same models made in different years. We personally like the floor plan for the Eagle and have a double bed up one end and a queen up the other. My 4 yr old likes to sleep where the dining table is and the 2yr old sleeps in either bed although I do plan on getting a bit of timber to make the lounge into another bed.
We felt the Swan was too big for us while the Finch was too small. The Dove (similar to Eagle) was a tiny bit smaller than the Eagle and the Hawke for me - just didnt like the floor plan. But each to their own. If you're not buying new have a good look around because there are some bargains out there and also some shockers. We dont often use the annex, mainly the awning.
On rainy days its a beaut size for the 4 of us. We haven't done any great distances in it yet but would stick to bitumen roads when we do.
We tow ours with no problems at all behind a 4 cyl X-Trail, just had to get the brake thingy put in the car
AnswerID: 412634

Reply By: Member - Barry (NT) - Monday, Apr 12, 2010 at 14:58

Monday, Apr 12, 2010 at 14:58
An Eagle (on its first trip from showroom) was parked next to us last week.

Owners NOT happy as they had converted from camper trailer that took a long time to set up, to more comfort etc etc and they have had problems.

Door was jamming ( he says due to body flex) and fresh water pump didn't work properly and other small items.

His comments were "paid x$ and have these problems straigt away not after years of use etc etc.

Told him we all have problems with vans initially (lucky for you if you didn't) and take it back to dealer. It spolled their first trip and this is where memeories are forged.

Nothing aginst Jayco just info for you to consider.
AnswerID: 412646

Reply By: Rangiephil - Monday, Apr 12, 2010 at 17:43

Monday, Apr 12, 2010 at 17:43
People that I know who repair caravans tell me that Jayco tend to skimp on strength in their designs eg floor supports further apart than competitors.

However in practical terms this does not seem to be a big issue.

I have spoken to several owners of Eagles who are happy with them. I spoke to a guy in Boulia who had just come across the Plenty. His only problem was that the top shock mounts are flimsy and one had broken away. His other gripe was that it filled with dust via the fridge vents. All the furniture was intact at that stage.

I also saw several on the GRR blasting along at about 80Kmh, with no apparent damage. Maybe they hadn't had damage YET.

My only observation is that to me the offroad version chassis seems to be overkill and unnecessarily heavy. I wonder if anyone in the industry does finite element anaysis to ascertain how strong it has to be , or they just add another 300Kgs of steel.
Regards Philip A

AnswerID: 412663

Reply By: PradOz - Tuesday, Apr 13, 2010 at 16:24

Tuesday, Apr 13, 2010 at 16:24

If you have never owned or used one before I suggest you hire one and go for a short trip to try it out. I own a mid 90s Swan and it has served us as a family of 5 well. Previously we had an off road custom Jayco Finch but it was way too small. There is very little storage room in these campers so you need toconsider your needs well before taking on a long journey. We use plastic drawer units that can either go out in the annexe for long stays or sit on the buffet/cupboard just inside the door. The camper style is excellent for being able to open up all the sides on those hot days. It is actually very cool inside on hot days compared to a full van or pop top. By using bed flys, awnings on both long sides you can open up everything and even in the rain it will be dry inside. Winter can be cooler but not as bad as some suggest. A simple fan heater or hot water bottle will help for those few times its really cold. You will learn ways to put up/down in the rain to prevent wet beds etc.

After buying the older Finch model first I highly now recommend people to buy:
1) as large a camper as possible taking into account storage room (garage, carport, side yard? etc) at home
2) buy a quality second hand one to save depreciation as soon as you drive off. there are plenty on the market.
3)buy from mid 90s onwards as they take onthe modern looks with neater looking canvas, body shape as well as front boot space
4) buy Trevor Eastmans Repair Manual (available via net approx $40) It is a highly valuable resource to read before you buy your first camper as it will show you what to look out for on older or second hand campers. They are available for different makes. It will also save many people from unknowingly causing damage by doing something wrong setting up, packing up, repairing etc.

The Swan is an excellent choice if the camper van style suits your family as the layour allows for so many options for sleeping and giving everyone there own space when forced to be inside in wet weather etc.

There is a simple straight forward sequence to putting up/down, but many people find methods to suit themselves depending on the length of time camped. Overnight may mean simply beds and bed flys out; a few days may mean putting up the awning; a longer stay could include a full annexe, tropical roof over (a large tarp over top), and even extra awning on kitchen side. You will always be learning something new each time you use it or meet someone else who has one.

By buying a secondhand one you wont feel less inclined to modify or add to it. You will soon be thinking of different ways of making it suit your family specific needs. Just look at others in van parks etc.

Basic extras and additions that i think are good to have include:
1) bed flys - either full fly which includes side screens or a simple fly with no sides. These can be a slide in fly that you fold up and put away in the camper or a bagged one
2) awning on door side - could be a slide in one you fold up and put inside, or a bagged one that stays on camper or a roll out type (look into those as some do not suit windy conditions so you will not be able to leave up on some days)
3) bagged kitchen awning that simply folds out for extra shade and protection from rain
4) pole carrier(s) for extra annexe/tarp poles and/or fishing rods
5) roof rack to carry bikes, boat, etc (do not have a load on the roof when winding it up. Jayco recommend max 120kgs when down)
6) rear bumper to carry a bike rack, tool box, jerry cans, boat motor etc (caution in regard to weight carried here. Manufacturers do not recommend these but look around and you will see many suitable strong set ups that are legal. Some not so legal)
7) tap on A frame or rear bumper, outside gas fitting for bbq or even a slide out bbq.
8) 12 volt power/batteries if the camper came as a 240 volt setup.
9) solar if that suits your needs
10) i have fitted 4 pipes underside orf the chassis for the full length of my camper (2 each side) to carry my water and sullage hoses. No more water or mess in the camper or front boot.
11) electric brakes
12) fit shelving in the fold down robe
13) extra water tanks if you need them

As you can see there are many things you can do, and you can do these as you need them. You dont have to race out and buy a camper with everything on it only to find you dont use something. Hiring or borrowing one first up to try the layout out is a good start.

Look on the other various camper and caravan forums and look at their modifications, photos etc to get some ideas of what you may like. So you see a second hand van may even have some of these things but if not the cost saving will allow you to do them sooner. Just ensure a secondhand camper is straight on the door side and not sagging in the chassis at the rear. (later models have extra steel beam for support to prevent this) Check all canvas for rips, or wear or from being overstretched, check all flyscreens. Some rips can be repaired easily, some not so easily because of their location. The fridge opposite the door is excellent, but most fridges need work to get them working as theywere designed to. Van manufacturers ('all' of them) do not install the fridge as they should be. To get it cold(er) you need to upgrade cabling, seal gaps, creat a breezeway for air through the rear coils and even add a fan or two to assist that. Easy enough but a job you need to do. Check the winch and wind up mechanism. Put aa camper up and down yourself. Dont let the salesman or current owner do it. They can hide problems doing it themself. (read the service manual from Trevor Eastman and you know what to look for)

some extra recommended reading includes:

trevor eastman book

correct fridge venting


jayco forum

caravaners forum

Plenty too think about, so have fun ....

AnswerID: 412756

Reply By: Eelco - Tuesday, Apr 13, 2010 at 16:30

Tuesday, Apr 13, 2010 at 16:30
Thanks to everyone who responded. Will definately take it all into cosideration when looking. Have a young family and we are fond of the swan and eagle lay out. Thanks once again. Katrina
AnswerID: 412757

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