Best pop top for $10,000

Submitted: Monday, Mar 28, 2011 at 17:24
ThreadID: 85268 Views:1975 Replies:9 FollowUps:19
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Hello everyone,
Through circumstances outside my control i am not getting the van i thought i was due to a transport mishap..... bleep happens as they say so thats the way it goes. I am now on the hunt for a replacement, but due to great info i have gleamed so far i am going to do it different. (My money was refunded so no tears)
Can someone suggest a great brand and generally well made pop top van style that could now be purchased for around $10,000 and still be in reasonable shape. I have all the time in the world and have been out and about but with so many different variables i am interested in whether there is a stand out performer.
I am hoping to avoid a "Ford" versus "Holden" type of scrap scrap so if it could just be kept fairly positive that would be appreciated. I am looking at pop top variety so that it will fit under our verandah

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Reply By: Fab72 - Monday, Mar 28, 2011 at 17:29

Monday, Mar 28, 2011 at 17:29
My opinion.....go for a Jayco. Ok, they're not the Rolls Royce of the bunch but your $10K will ensure you get pretty good bang for your bucks.
AnswerID: 449480

Follow Up By: Viscount_Mauler - Monday, Mar 28, 2011 at 19:18

Monday, Mar 28, 2011 at 19:18
Thanks Fab
I have actually walked through a few Jayco's recently that were in the budget and they seemed fairly well fitted out in relation to what we can afford. As its the first van for us its a matter of looking at everything and gradually whittle it down to what we are definately after but there is a very large range of older Jayco`s that are within our grasp.
Do you have a preferred type from personal experience or any other info you can offer in relation to the older Jayco range?


FollowupID: 721866

Follow Up By: Fab72 - Tuesday, Mar 29, 2011 at 17:40

Tuesday, Mar 29, 2011 at 17:40
Hey Mauler,
My experience has been with the likes of the Jayco Hawk and Jayco Dove. Probably more of a camper than a true pop top, but the build quality would be in line with the rest of the Jayco range.

Parts/spares are easy to come by too.

FollowupID: 721969

Follow Up By: Viscount_Mauler - Tuesday, Mar 29, 2011 at 21:04

Tuesday, Mar 29, 2011 at 21:04
I have been looking at these very closely because i think the lighter the better for our vehicle and they expand out and give us two seperate beds without crowding the living space. This in the end would be perfect for us, we can put our son to bed, curtain the bed off and the rest of the van and annex is available as per usual.
They really seem like a clever option that ticks all the boxes for us really and according to the specs i have been looking at they are a fairly simple but clever system that would be relatively easy to maintain and purchase spares for incase of a breakage of pulley, wire etc.
Very impressive entry level van / camper that offer bedding for 6 is extremely appealling.

Thanks the the input, any other info you think of just fire it through, its all appreciated

FollowupID: 722022

Follow Up By: Fab72 - Wednesday, Mar 30, 2011 at 12:44

Wednesday, Mar 30, 2011 at 12:44
Same for us Viscount_Mauler.
I have a company car and never know what I'm going to end up with so have never bothered with anything bigger.

These campers can be towed easily with a ball weight around 30-50kgs and a total weight of under 900kgs,

Jayco did a promo pack a few years ago with a pull out awing and annex sides as well as storm covers for the fold out end beds, so with a bit of luck, there might be a few of these knocking around on the 2nd hand market.

We have three kids, 15, 13 & 6. They sleep on the queen sized bed at one end and me and the missus sleep in the more than adequate double at the other end. There is the table option for extra bedding but we've never used it.

For the won't be disappointed.

FollowupID: 722093

Reply By: nickoff - Monday, Mar 28, 2011 at 18:03

Monday, Mar 28, 2011 at 18:03
can you advise what size etc you are looking for. What vehicle are you planning to tow with so that some idea of weight restrictions you require. What layout.

Personally I would recommend an Evernew van, but because they are built so well they can be a little heavy, as I found out when I bought my 16' pop top. Still a vehicle upgrade was eventually required. cannot fault it in any other way. Solid van.
AnswerID: 449484

Follow Up By: Viscount_Mauler - Monday, Mar 28, 2011 at 19:13

Monday, Mar 28, 2011 at 19:13
Hi Nickoff,
Not stuck on a definate size but think a 16 - 18 foot van or something similar. I am also interested whether a dual axle or single axle would be best. I am presuming that the dual axle will help distribute the weight better and help keep it off the tow ball (i understand the packing of the van is also important). I also assume the dual axle would be more upkeep and maintenance but i guess its safer for towing if in good condition?
The tow vehicle will be my new company car which is either the new omega stationwagon or the ford territory. Works only criteria is that i do not exceed the cars tow limits. Either one will have the heavy duty towpack installed.
Our plan at this stage is just to drive on sealed roads and have some great family short trips but there maybe some small amount of gravel road travel but nothing substantial.
In terms of layout, i am fairly flexible and mainly looking for the best option in terms of weight distribution once loaded with the most gear. Even the bed layout doesnt bother me, if they are a pair of singles we will just carry a board under each matress which we will span the gap at night time and make a double as seen on this forum. We just need to be able to form a second bed for our 4 Year old son somewhere else
I have seen a few evernew vans and they have looked excellent. The ones i looked at were a little pricey but its all relative. The hardest part is not getting sucked into the better and better ones as you go. For a first van we just want to get something that offers our family a starting point. I am thinking side opening door with annex would be great, not really into the ones with the access door at the back
Hope that helps and thanks for the info
FollowupID: 721865

Follow Up By: nickoff - Tuesday, Mar 29, 2011 at 11:50

Tuesday, Mar 29, 2011 at 11:50

16' is about the best you could get to on a single axle. Anything over that I would start considering a dual axle van.

As to keeping weight off the towball, you need to maintain about 10% of the total weight of the van on the towball, and then use a weight distribution hitch (hayman Reece make some good ones) to redistribute the weight on the vehicle evenly between both vehicle axles. Weight distribution of items stored in the van can be critical to this. Try to keep heavy items near the centre of the van.

As to the works vehicle, also get an electric brake controller installed.

As to loading of gear into the van, you need to be aware that the payload in caravans is usually limited to about 400Kg. this includes the water in underfloor tanks and gas in bottles mounted on the van. Once you add food, bedding and clothing, there is little left for personal items. Weigh everything as it goes in, and record. You will need to start discarding very quickly.

Next thing to consider is the payload on the vehicle itself. with 2 adults and a couple of kids, you end up getting very close to the vehicle payload. Attach a van, and you have to also watch that you don't exceed your gross combination mass of the tow vehicle.

Get hold if you preferred vehicles data sheet, check max tow weight, towball downforce, (weight) and gross combination mass allowable. from these figures, deduct your family weight, etc and you will end up with a figure you can use for shopping for a van. you will be suprised just how little you can actually carry.

This is why most people end up towing with utes, twin or single cab, or 4 x 4 station wagons, just for the legal extra carrying capacity.

best of luck in you searching. it can be a minefield out there, but you are asking the right questions to stop you getting into strife.

Good luck with your shopping.

FollowupID: 721916

Follow Up By: Member - Jayco_Mauler (Vic) - Friday, Apr 01, 2011 at 11:52

Friday, Apr 01, 2011 at 11:52
Thanks heaps for the advise Nickoff.
I have been looking fairly hard and from what you and others have said i am going to go for the jayco camper option so that i can tow it easily with a company car no matter what they decide on.
I have discussed it with them and the elctric brake option is not a problem so that will be attached no matter what i get and it will all help for safe towing.
Sorry for the delay getting back to you regarding your post, it was all excellent info that helped me narrow the search down to something more manageable than i was looking at originally.


FollowupID: 722376

Reply By: Hairs & Fysh - Monday, Mar 28, 2011 at 19:35

Monday, Mar 28, 2011 at 19:35
Two years ago we bought our 87 Jayco Swan that was heavily modified for $10K
We've been very happy with it, It's not the flashest Wobbly on the road, but Touche( the kids gave it a name LOL) Has everything we need and want.
Have a look on eBay, under Jayco Swan( or what ever model your after) or the Trading post.
Get the owner to wind it up and you watch, check the ceiling ply for water marks, the ceiling vent for leaks and old seals, check the clear vinyl for for cracks, cuts and the canvas for tears and rips and check all the trimmings/moldings on the out side to see if they are sealed. If you can get them to open up the seating to see what condition the winding gear is in will be helpful to find if there are worn pulley's or damaged cabling.
Make sure the fridge works on Gas/240v and 12 volt if has it. Also check out the wiring from the tow vehicle, if it got batteries and that the charging system works. Take a bottle jack with you and check the wheel bearings, Hand brake cables and brakeswhile you underneath check for rush and water damage.
If you are happy with all that make them an offer.
Don't buy the first one you come across. Searching online will help with what different models have in the way of add ons and price ranges.
BTW, the size of the camper will also depend on your tow vehicle.Better to have something be able to tow it with ease, rather than ringing it's neck to just be able
cruise along.
Hope this helps.
And happy travels.

AnswerID: 449495

Follow Up By: Viscount_Mauler - Monday, Mar 28, 2011 at 20:00

Monday, Mar 28, 2011 at 20:00
Hi there Hairs & Fish,

What a fantastic reply!! I have actually visited one already that has since sold and it was a brilliant little unit. My only concerns walking away were:

- How did you find the amount of storage you get because so much of the van is the material sides.
- Also do you find the van get really cold at night because of so much material. Being from victoria i want to use the van all year round and the winters here can get a touch nipply. I assume the van has excellent cross flow ventilation which helps in the heat.

To be honest they were the only concerns i had. Given that there are only 3 of us and have a wagon so we wont have too much gear in it. Does yours have an annex or awning attached that works really well also?
I loved the fact they were so compact given the fact we are not using a big car to tow with, i agree that the less pressure on the vehicle the better.

Thanks alot for the specific info though, all those hot spots are really important when buying a second hand van...... Love the name...... our old AU falcon is named "Boris"


FollowupID: 721871

Follow Up By: Hairs & Fysh - Monday, Mar 28, 2011 at 20:19

Monday, Mar 28, 2011 at 20:19
Hi Mauler,
Here are the Jayco Floor Plans for the Windup range, maybe something like a Hawke would be good for guys, not heavy to tow.
Yeah, we;re not in Vic, but we do go camping all year round. It has a Kitchen side awning which is great, keeps the sun of that side. It has an annex, not that we put the walls up, because the camper has been lift from standard by about 14 inches the walls are to short until we replace all the tent section. We'll have to do something soon the eldest is getting close to thirteen, so like a bit more privacy she does.
Storage space inside is plenty big enough for the 5 of us, in fact I watch carefully what Fysh & the kids try to sneak on board because we can carry a lot of stuff.

I've lucky that I haven't had to pay some one to do most of the work, being a Wood Butcher by trade I can do 99% of the work myself.
I would like, as I mentioned, to replace the tent/canvas section, it showing it's age and I would like to gut it and redo the kitchen, make it a little bit more modern. These things will take time.
Hope you find what will suit you guys for many years to come.

FollowupID: 721874

Follow Up By: Viscount_Mauler - Monday, Mar 28, 2011 at 23:00

Monday, Mar 28, 2011 at 23:00
Hi Jon,

Thanks for the link, we have been discussing the layouts and i think there are a couple of pretty good designs that allow you to get good space from a smallish compact unit. It would certainly be enough for us to get a feel for the caravan lifestyle and enjoy a little of Australia without getting too adventurous.
Maybe in five years we might be ready to go the next step but we want something that will atleast get us up and running.

Thanks again for al the good info

FollowupID: 721892

Follow Up By: Hairs & Fysh - Tuesday, Mar 29, 2011 at 07:02

Tuesday, Mar 29, 2011 at 07:02
Hi Brendon,
If you do get a Jayco windup camper, become familiar with the winding mechanism, you'll find a couple of PDF File HERE of how they are setup. Feel free to download a copy, They are freely available on the net, I just thought i would put a collection together so it would be convenient. The year model from year model may change slightly but they are basically the same. I carry with us all the time an 4lt Ice Cream container with spare bits in it, EG, two meters of cable, 4x cable clamps, a spare pulley wheel, spare Eye Bolt(even tho I have welded ours closed) and most importantly 4X 42x19 F/J pine or similar cut at 1189mm to use as props(this length may be different to yours by a few mm) to take the weight of the roof(Zip Tied to the upright poles) so the cables aren't taking all the weight, they are stored under the bedding at each end.
I mentioned earlier, get out there and check them out, because sometimes someone has ordered one slightly different to the factory specs, also a kitchen side awning is a big plus, it takes a lot of the heat of that side, makes life more comfortable.
I'm no expert on this stuff, it's all self taught and from asking others that we bump into.
I hope you find the right set up for you and happy travels.
Good luck with it all.

FollowupID: 721902

Follow Up By: Viscount_Mauler - Tuesday, Mar 29, 2011 at 21:14

Tuesday, Mar 29, 2011 at 21:14
Hi Jon,

Thanks for the link again, i had a good look and have been pouring over the pages ever since. It a remarkably good system used to raise the roof and one that limits the amount of wearing parts down to something that would be fairly simple to prepare for as you hilighted with your list of spares.
I have to be honest, i am struggling to find reasons why not to narrow the search down to this style of camper, rather than the pop top van because it really does tick all the boxes we have to keep in mind before purchasing.
I am fairly handy when it comes to maintenance and servicing the stuff we have, but the challenge will be getting something at the start that gives us a better than even chance of having relatively trouble free touring for a few years, and its just a matter of keeping something in good shape rather than renovating it to where we want it.
This style of camper certainly give us good bang for our buck compareed to the larger vans so will be interesting to see how it all unfolds

Thanks again for all the info, will keep you posted
FollowupID: 722025

Reply By: Member - Bruce C (NSW) - Monday, Mar 28, 2011 at 19:46

Monday, Mar 28, 2011 at 19:46
Hi Viscount Mauler,

I saw a couple of nice vans in your category but can't remember the exact price and I think it was on ebay.
Would be worth a look and you never know what you may come up with.

Cheers, Bruce.
At home and at ease on a track that I know not and
restless and lost on a track that I know. HL.

Lifetime Member
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AnswerID: 449497

Follow Up By: Viscount_Mauler - Monday, Mar 28, 2011 at 20:05

Monday, Mar 28, 2011 at 20:05
Hiya Bruce,

Thanks for the tip and yes i have been keeping a very close eye on ebay. I have actually visited a couple already from ebay but under closer inspection you notice alot that photos gloss over. I think thats the hardest part about Ebay, quite often the pics can look really good but you have to be disciplined and make sure that if you can't get out to see it then don't bid. Too easy to hide trouble spots just out of sight.
Having said that, it certainly makes researching the different styles and types of vans available though, and also gives a rough idea of costs too. I think the other bonus is all the accessories that are available from other van owners, it offers people like myself the opportunity to upgrades bits and pieces as we go.

Thanks again for the info!!


FollowupID: 721872

Reply By: Viscount_Mauler - Monday, Mar 28, 2011 at 20:09

Monday, Mar 28, 2011 at 20:09
Ooops, just noticed i was bleeped. Sorry!!!
AnswerID: 449502

Reply By: Member - barbara M (NSW) - Monday, Mar 28, 2011 at 20:20

Monday, Mar 28, 2011 at 20:20
Hi Viscount_Mauler,
There is one on the side of the highway at Tyndale near Maclean on the North coast of NSW for 7k I will look tomorrow for you
AnswerID: 449503

Follow Up By: Viscount_Mauler - Monday, Mar 28, 2011 at 22:45

Monday, Mar 28, 2011 at 22:45
Hi Barb!

Thank you very much for that!! I look forward to heariung from you and appreciate the effort!!

Kind Regards
FollowupID: 721891

Reply By: Axle - Monday, Mar 28, 2011 at 21:57

Monday, Mar 28, 2011 at 21:57
G/Day Mate, I think IMHO the biggest problem you face in that price range is to find something thats not smothered in silastic !!!. Not telling you how to suck eggs, but make sure you grab a step ladder and have a good look up top, Especially Dealer ones, Funny thing with vans, no one will admit that theres ever been a leak,but you can be staring at half a ton of goop spread everywhere!.....LOL.

Cheers Axle.
AnswerID: 449521

Follow Up By: Viscount_Mauler - Monday, Mar 28, 2011 at 22:43

Monday, Mar 28, 2011 at 22:43
Hi Axle,

I agree that the second / third hand van market it pretty challenging to get right, but i think i will just have to adopt a ridiculously fussy and meticulous mentality to it and see how i go. I will also be taking my wife with me who has eyes like a hawk whenever i am doing anything i shouldn't so i am expecting her to see water damage from the car before we get out.. LOL (quickly checking behind me)
I have bought enough cars to know enough to block out the dealer / seller cascading praises on the trusty little van that has never let them down or dripped a drop. But, just like cars, there are good ones about, you just have to wade through the rubbish to find them and be prepared for a long search.
I will keep you all posted how i am doing with the search and bounce any other ideas off you all as i go.


FollowupID: 721890

Follow Up By: Hairs & Fysh - Tuesday, Mar 29, 2011 at 07:17

Tuesday, Mar 29, 2011 at 07:17
Hi Axle,
Yeah, it seems easier for some to coat the whole roof with silicone or Sikaflex then what it is to actually fix the problem right in the first place.
I resealed my whole camper, then come this last January she leaked in the flooding rains we had. This time I ripped all the moldings off and started from scratch. only to have it leak again a fortnight ago, not much but enough. So this time I put a sprinkler on the roof and sat inside. I found the culprit, a corner of the hatch where a miter cut only about 4mm long had no Sikaflex in it.
I'd cleaned it out and didn't fill it.
I've seen some roofs where I reckon there must be a cartoon of Sikaflex used.

FollowupID: 721904

Reply By: Member - Craig F (WA) - Tuesday, Mar 29, 2011 at 12:43

Tuesday, Mar 29, 2011 at 12:43
Hi Mauler,
We shopped for 18mth prior to buying our van. The good would go before I could get home from work etc. We also went and looked at vans that were 75% of what we wanted and towards the end we almost gave in.
The last van we looked at was a 1986 Vicount, original owners that used it once each year at Easter but not much for the last 10 yrs! Looked after it and kept it under cover on blocks. It had all the original items including the bed spread and annex and a oven/stove that had not been used all with original manuels. The owners had as us purchased it for a young family that are now in there 20's and we happy to see it start the cycle again. We got it for the original price that we had budgeted for.
In short your van is out there and you will find each other. Every van you go and look at is one closer to your perfect van. Set your sites and stick to it.

Regards and good hunting
AnswerID: 449566

Follow Up By: Viscount_Mauler - Tuesday, Mar 29, 2011 at 21:22

Tuesday, Mar 29, 2011 at 21:22
Hi Craig,

Thanks for the encouragement, and it's good to hear you had the success in the end and your patience was eventually rewarded. Its the same old story though, where you just have to keep positve and understand that the good ones are about, its just a matter of doing the leg work and you will eventually trip over a goodan before the clamouring masses get a sniff.
I will do my usual tyre kicking about the yard because it gives you a good baseline as to what the want for top dollar and gets you through a bunch at once to see the different options around. After that its just a matter of hanging in there until the right one turns up.
Will keep you posted as to how i am going and thanks for your input!


FollowupID: 722026

Reply By: Member - Viscount_Mauler - Wednesday, Mar 30, 2011 at 18:57

Wednesday, Mar 30, 2011 at 18:57
Ok, for those who have good knowledge of the Jayco camper Trailer varieties, can you tell me the main advantages between the two different types they have. There is the Standard range, and then the outback range. Form what i can see the outback range has atleast one jerry can cage, a bumber up chassis from approx 100mm to 150mm section and the suspension has been reversed around with the axle mounted above the leaf suspension rather than under it and the addition of larger wheels and some checker plate.
Can anyone confirm whether there are bumped up brake packages or better quality suspension added? Perhaps the inclusion of a 12v battery system as standard to use as an alternative to 240 volt. Are the water tanks any larger of are the any other standard inclusions that you do not get with the normal range?
Thankful for any assitance you maybe able to give


AnswerID: 449738

Follow Up By: Member - Viscount_Mauler - Wednesday, Mar 30, 2011 at 18:59

Wednesday, Mar 30, 2011 at 18:59
And please push through the myriad of spelling mistakes, sorry about that!

FollowupID: 722145

Follow Up By: Member - Jayco_Mauler (Vic) - Wednesday, Mar 30, 2011 at 23:40

Wednesday, Mar 30, 2011 at 23:40
Hi All,

Scrap the question, i found all the relative specs here

The link maybe useful to someone else who is interested.


FollowupID: 722190

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