converting jayco penquin on road to offroad.

Submitted: Sunday, Jul 17, 2011 at 15:13
ThreadID: 87625 Views:4673 Replies:6 FollowUps:10
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Thinking of converting jayco on road to off road. I would fit new eye to eye springs on top of axle, then fit 6 stud hubs and elec brakes with 15'' wheels. Then A frame or remove and fit new A frame made from 125 / 50 RHS. with off road coupling. Some others have out there have probably done this or looked doing this. All constructive comments welcome. Regards Macca.
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Reply By: Motherhen - Sunday, Jul 17, 2011 at 15:28

Sunday, Jul 17, 2011 at 15:28
Considering all this and the internal fittings as well, it may be more cost effective to trade up to something custom built for your needs rather than convert.


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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Sunday, Jul 17, 2011 at 15:30

Sunday, Jul 17, 2011 at 15:30
That may not read right - in saying custom built i do not mean a one-off, but a good off road model camper.


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Follow Up By: Member - Rod N (QLD) - Sunday, Jul 17, 2011 at 17:29

Sunday, Jul 17, 2011 at 17:29
As MH said, the internals would have to be strengthened, so with all the conversion there would not be much original left. Better and easier to get a purpose built one.
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Reply By: Member - Frank P (NSW) - Sunday, Jul 17, 2011 at 18:44

Sunday, Jul 17, 2011 at 18:44
With a bit of engineering work you may be able to get the ground clearance and A-frame strength you need. The chassis itself might still be a bit light-on and depending on what you do you may end up chasing cracks forever.

The area of most doubt for me would be the what's above the chassis. I have reservations about whether the body and internal fittings will take the pounding and vibration from corrugations, etc.

We beefed up an Avan. It didn't work. After one not very arduous trip the microwave and fridge ccame out of their cavities and all the joinery had to be re-tightened - every joint in every cupboard and interior panel had opened up.

I have heard tales of woe from people who have done similar with same and other different brands. They all have problems off the blacktop - they are just not built for it.



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Follow Up By: David & Jan - Sunday, Jul 17, 2011 at 21:22

Sunday, Jul 17, 2011 at 21:22
All we did to ours was fit a hyland hitch, put the axle under the leaf springs and fitted quality 14" light truck tyres, took an extra spare wheel and tyre and a spare leaf spring and we easily did an east west crossing and many other off-road trips without any problems. Don't load it up too much, lower the tyre pressure, enjoy the scenery and drive to the conditions and you will go most places. Remember that people have pulled heaps of old vans all over the place before it was trendy to have an off road van.
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Follow Up By: Member - Mark E (VIC) - Sunday, Jul 17, 2011 at 21:50

Sunday, Jul 17, 2011 at 21:50
Yes, but back in those days, there was at least some attention to detail and quality in construction. I would not even consider taking any modern "road" van over thousands of k's of corrugations... not if you want it to be in one piece when you get to the other end.

For those who doubt the difference between the construction of a road going van versus a quality off-road unit, have a look at these pics...



I know which one I would rather take off the beaten track, but each to their own.



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Follow Up By: Joshuah - Monday, Jul 18, 2011 at 08:01

Monday, Jul 18, 2011 at 08:01
I'm with David and Jan. If you take it easy and don't drive to the clock, there's little reason why you can't get around. People driving too fast, driven by press-on-itis, is a huge factor leading to accidents and breakages. Remember, Force = Mass x Acceleration, so reduce both if you can.

In terms of internal strength, I agree endless corrugations can take their toll. Perhaps re-enforcing joins etc with a quality flexible adhesive might help, such as Sikaflex. That stuff is absolute gold! If you're not too precious about the camper, fit some re-enforcing angle brackets (screwed, with Sikaflex) to hold it all together. I'm currently doing the same to an old wind-up and she's stronger now than she ever was. Having done some boat building, it still amazes (shocks) me when I see vans and houses built without any sort of glue?! If you're wanting to know about gluing techniques, there are some wood-working and boat building sites worth poking around at.

But again, in my opinion, speed is the big issue.

No affiliation with Sikaflex either, I just use it everywhere! Selleys and Bostik make something similar...?

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Follow Up By: rags - Monday, Jul 18, 2011 at 18:17

Monday, Jul 18, 2011 at 18:17
Mark E
While the 1t pic looks bad,i don't think that the van failed due to inadequate construction but rather through some type of driver accident going on the condition of the assumed towing vehicle [patrol] in the back ground and fact that the emergency personnel are in attendance. [would love to see a pic of an offroad van in a similar rollover]. I don't doubt that a purpose built offroad van would always be better than some other vans,but i have done something similar to what is proposed and after 10years and a few outback adventures we have had miminal problems, driven to the conditions. As always it comes down to budgets and then common sense, the dvds of the Kedron vans seem to always have big $budgets but usually lack commonsense
cheers Rags
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Follow Up By: Member - Mark E (VIC) - Monday, Jul 18, 2011 at 20:42

Monday, Jul 18, 2011 at 20:42
Both of the above vans were involved in rollovers....... it's fairly clear which one survived with minimal damage. Clearly one is built stronger than the other.

I do understand that road going vans can probably be taken over some degree of terrain that they're not really constructed for, but in my humble opinion, if you want to travel over the more difficult terrain, then I would rather have purpose- built my case I use an off-road camper trailer as it suits our budget and lifestyle for the time being.

I have been investigating caravans for about 12 months now in preparation for a prospective trip in a few years when the kids are old enough to appreciate it, and have done a LOT of reading and sussing out.

The main thing that I have learned is that there really are no 'STANDARDS' when it comes to caravans.... you only have to read a bit through this thread:

Horror Stories

to realise that purchasing one of these things is a minefield, and at the end of the day, unless you can see it being constructed at various stages, you really have no idea of what's under the 'skin'. There are so many shonky ones around. Even for road going vans, some of these would be unnacceptable and have left their owners stranded in remote areas...not something I would like to have happen to my family, nor the obvious consequences for my bank balance for the cost of recovery in remote areas.

I realise that there are some good ones at reasonable prices, but I think quality construction at a cheap price has gone the way of the do-do. You will get what you pay for. That certainly doesn't mean that everyone needs the biggest heaviest, meanest looking off-road van that costs in excess of $100k, but in my circumstance, I would rather buy something I know was built strong and with attention to detail at the start, even if a little outdated and a few years old, rather than the newest flashy van with lots of bling, that has a question mark over whether it will survive driving over the corrugated roads that Australia is so covered with.

I'm by no means any sort of authority on caravans as I have very little practical experience in their use...still researching and learning and always open to suggestions.


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Reply By: Member - Warrie (NSW) - Sunday, Jul 17, 2011 at 21:39

Sunday, Jul 17, 2011 at 21:39
HI Macca44. Would the interior fittings be any different in the on or off road version? AFAIK the off road has the 6 inch gal chassis, 15 inch and 6 stud rims and A/T tyres, eyes at both ends of springs, maybe a leaf or two extra. Our Dove had a normal 50 mm towball. 23,000 km around the block last year and 90% is tar. Clearance is the big issue and the bigger tyres and underslung axle should fix that.
You could put on 16 inch rims to match the 4WD and have 3 spares for the same 6 tyres. IMO the Dove was over engineered and too heavy. Keep the existing frame, lower pressures on corrugations and go slow. You might have some cracks after 10 years then get some straps welded on to strengthen weak points.....W

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Follow Up By: Member - Warrie (NSW) - Sunday, Jul 17, 2011 at 21:42

Sunday, Jul 17, 2011 at 21:42
PS the old Swan in the pic lasted 30 years. After the GRR in '05, the Cape in '08 and the SA deserts in '09 it had one more trip left in it but SWMBO won out and we got the Dove.....W

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Reply By: mudbro2 - Sunday, Jul 17, 2011 at 23:08

Sunday, Jul 17, 2011 at 23:08
A few years back, my BIL converted his on road Flamingo to an off road by doing the under slung axle thing, but it wasn`t until he put larger off road wheels & tyres on that he discovered the wheel well & arch are smaller on the on road version. He ended up having to cut the wheel arches to fit the wheels. It would have been cheaper (and alot easier) to sell it and buy the outback model of the same year. Might be something to check.
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Reply By: brushmarx - Monday, Jul 18, 2011 at 09:48

Monday, Jul 18, 2011 at 09:48
I was looking at purchasing a used van, and off road versions were hard to find, so I have had a couple of discussions with van manufacturers about the difference between on-road and off-road models.
The trend with the two companies were chassis and A frame sectional size, suspension upgrade, wheel diameter and tyre type.
Neither of them had any difference to the joinery, glazing or flooring.
This may well change with other manufactures, but based on my version of a Gallup Poll, and the type of economics we are stifled with under our current alleged leaders, the result was a staggering 100% of manufactures don't upgrade the cabinets.
I'll get there someday, or die wanting to.

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Follow Up By: Member - Mark E (VIC) - Monday, Jul 18, 2011 at 21:43

Monday, Jul 18, 2011 at 21:43
That does not take into account that some manufacturers don't actually make road-going vans.


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Reply By: guy007 - Monday, Jul 18, 2011 at 14:40

Monday, Jul 18, 2011 at 14:40
Hi all,
Our Jayco Outback has handled the corrugations in its stride.
I spent many hours reinforcing the interior cabinets.
The main problem is the securing of the cabinets to the frame.
The Jayco plastic angle brackets easily break and are held in with very short screws that dislodge when subjected to corrugations and twisting.
Replaced all of mine with aluminium angle brackets for the entire length. Vertical and horizontal. These were glued with Liquid Nail construction adhesive and many more screws added. Any joint not fitted with angle had a fillet of this glue for its entire length. This glue like Sikaflex has a little flex built in which is enough to stop the cabinets from fretting and coming apart.
With care your Penquin will handle dirt roads with ease. Just drive sensibly to the conditions and lower tyres as others have advised.Dont overload.
Enjoy Australia.
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Follow Up By: Macca44 - Monday, Jul 18, 2011 at 16:52

Monday, Jul 18, 2011 at 16:52
Thanks to all for great comments. I understand there is no difference in jayco vans from the chassis up . As guy007 has said just drive sensibly to the conditions . Ground clearance is the main thing i was looking for. Many thanks from Macca
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