Jayco "On-Road" Hawk on the Oodnadatta Track

Submitted: Wednesday, Feb 22, 2012 at 19:27
ThreadID: 92042 Views:4701 Replies:8 FollowUps:11
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G'day all,

I've got a 2005 Jayco Hawk that's been a great van but I'm not sure it will survive our next family adventure. We're planning on going from Brisbane to Broken Hill, Roxby Downs, Coward Springs, William Creek, Lake Eyre, Coober Pedy, Uluru, Kings Canyon, Alice, Lawn Hill, Isa, Longreach and back to Brisbane.

I'm wondering whether I need to move to an "off-road" version of the Hawk. We had a Cub Spacematic Regal TCP that was good, but we found the double bed to be too small, plus it ran across the van and was very short - you really couldn't stretch out full length. It may have just been us but we found the constant need to adjust poles to make the canvas sit right so that the door closed properly to be quite annoying. While mentioning the door, I really like the idea of having a solid(ish) door - no noise when nature calls at 3am!

So, is there some way I can make my on-road Hawk ready for the small part of the Oodnadatta track we'll be traveling on? Or should I bite the bullet and get a new off-road model?

All suggestions much appreciated!

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Reply By: ss--ss - Wednesday, Feb 22, 2012 at 19:50

Wednesday, Feb 22, 2012 at 19:50
G'day I'm about to do pretty much the same route as you from Sydney in 5 weeks time with a jayco hawk outback 2008..from what I've read the oodnadatta track part should be do able with a non outback model... If your not going for a while I can update you when I go?
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Follow Up By: Michael 55 - Wednesday, Feb 22, 2012 at 20:29

Wednesday, Feb 22, 2012 at 20:29
That would be good to hear. We're not going till June.
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Reply By: Member - nick b - Wednesday, Feb 22, 2012 at 22:17

Wednesday, Feb 22, 2012 at 22:17
Gooday Michael : I found the large stone on some parts of the Oodnadatta track is the biggest problem .

but most of these tracks are good roads just need to take care .

we have travelled with people with an older van 90's ? through the central tracks with no major problems (on road van )

So check over your van, good tyres , suspension, etc , good stone guard & flaps

But if your going to do more travelling you might find it is time to trade up !!

good luck nick
Cheers Nick b

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Reply By: Ross M - Wednesday, Feb 22, 2012 at 23:58

Wednesday, Feb 22, 2012 at 23:58
You don't mention what suspension you already have on the Hawk.
I presume leaf springs.
If you want to use it I would consider having shock absorbers fitted if it doesn't already have these. A must on rough roads.

Can you fit larger tyre profile and wider size to the van so there is more air under the tyre so to speak. This carries the load more easliy and with less pressure the tyre will then be able to absorb stone impacts and road shocks far better than the original tyres because they will be a tougher tyre.
This also has the advantage of transmitting less shock to the wheel bearings, with suitable pressure these will increase the overall compliance of the suspension.
Less chance of you being in overalls repairing something.

This will most likely get you greater stability and less sink in softer stuff like mud and sandy areas.
Get advice on suitable tyres sizes to make sure they fit and not foul.

If you are leaving Kings Canyon and travelling the Mereenie Loop road to Alice you will probably find it far more corugated and rough than the Oodna trk.
Make sure you know of the 4psi rule for tyre infaltion and use it, be prepared to travel slower have softer tyres for rough roads so the tyres don't instantly puncture on the rocks, softer absorbs them and hopefully no damage, and carry a good compressor which can handle re inflation of all your tyres which you will have aired down to a suitable pressure for these roads.

Some people in the outback use the 30/70 rule. Nothing over 30 psi and nothing over 70kmh on rough roads.

Think about this for starters as there is a lot more possible and others will also have suggestions which might work for you. Some initial modifications are a lot cheaper than a replacement van.
AnswerID: 478454

Follow Up By: Off-track - Thursday, Feb 23, 2012 at 22:19

Thursday, Feb 23, 2012 at 22:19
4 psi 'rule' is a bit like religion; some people swear by it as the only way, others look further for answers.

Depending on the tyre you may wish to run higher pressures. Too many variables and too much emphasis on an inaccurate rule. Have a look at thread 91867 for starters.
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Follow Up By: Ross M - Friday, Feb 24, 2012 at 15:19

Friday, Feb 24, 2012 at 15:19
Just a reply to Off-Track.
I can hardly see how a peerson modding a van to cope with outback roads and rocky situation which could result in tyre damage and failure ever using higher pressures on such roads.
To do so is putting themselves and their rig in a more dangerous situation.

It is unlikely the owner will use smaller tyres which must use higher pressures just to support the van's weight with no regard to the conditions under which it will be used.
Anything requiring higher pressures is plain obituary tempting foolishness.
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Follow Up By: Off-track - Friday, Feb 24, 2012 at 16:50

Friday, Feb 24, 2012 at 16:50
Foolishness is your OPINION only. If I where to offer mine it would be the same in retort.

I have ALWAYS run 40-42psi on these gravel roads and will continue to do so with the tyres I use (BFG AT) as it has provided me with 100% reliability (touch wood). This combination works. In my OPINION it works because the sidewalls, which are the achilles heel, are not as exposed to the road surface. The tread can handle it, it is much stronger. Additionally the tyre temp runs lower as it is not flexing as much; temp = another tyre killer.

Yes, lowering pressure will provide a smoother ride but in my experience the trade-off is you expose yourself to greater chance of puncture. That my friend would be putting yourself in greater danger, but at least you will be comfortable.
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Follow Up By: Member - Grant- Saturday, Feb 25, 2012 at 13:01

Saturday, Feb 25, 2012 at 13:01
Yeh, sorry, couldn't resist the great tyre pressure debate.

Firstly, my experience is as follows.
Been 4WD ing for 25 years. Started when I was 17 in a subaru wagon travelling the Oodnadatta (when it was graded once a year). Since done it in the Prado 3 times, been to Dalhousie up through to Mt Dare, Finke etc.
Now in the Prado. 2009 took it up the Cape via the OTL loaded with the missus and 3 kids.
Done the Birdsville (yes it's a highway), Lawn Hill, flinders countless times, High Country several times, Robe etc.
So a bit of experience.
I run BFG's all terains. Up the Cape fully loaded on rough roads ran them at about 28 PSI. No punctures.
The mindset of the side walls not coping with the stones is from when side walls were made weak. They now have extra belts and can cope, as long as you adjust your speed.
If you load your vehicle up, have 40 PSI in your tyres and travel rough stoney roads they'll chip out and you'll destroy them. How do I know, because I have done it.
Think of your tyres as a balloon, lower the pressure and they're a lot harder to puncture because they give.

In relation to the on road van Michael, i've travelled the tracks you will be going on. I wouldn't up grade to an off road model. They're not that much different to the on road model and they still aren't built for badly corrugated roads. If you are going to do a lot of this type of travel, i'd be getting a trailer with independent suspension. If you won't be doing a lot more of this type of work, stick some good tyres on your van, the bigger the better, stone guards, lower your tyre pressure and travel to the conditions, you won't have a problem.
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Follow Up By: ss--ss - Saturday, Feb 25, 2012 at 13:56

Saturday, Feb 25, 2012 at 13:56
Tyre makers now put a lot of emphasis on side walls with 4x4 tyres.. Brands like BGF Goodrich are excellent and made specifically for this. As Grant has said running at 28psi won't be an issue.. However some of these el-cheapo tyres maybe a different story..
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Follow Up By: Member - Grant- Saturday, Feb 25, 2012 at 21:16

Saturday, Feb 25, 2012 at 21:16
Yep, good point ss--ss. You get what you pay for.
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Follow Up By: Ross M - Sunday, Feb 26, 2012 at 11:26

Sunday, Feb 26, 2012 at 11:26
Some find it hard to get the tyre issue in perspective.
As mentioned earlier, if you use a larger section tyre then it can be run at lower pressure than the original smaller section tyre, but because of its increased air volume it doesn't run as if flat, just normal, and doesn't present the side walls for greater damage more than any other tyre does.
It also then has the abiltiy to absorb road stones/rocks and shocks, is not running flat to increase heat build up, and has greater flotation than the original tyre as well. All positives I believe.
The issue of rocks fracturing the tyre is reduced because the compliancy is also increased.
A sudden impact to a hard surface, as in a high pressure non compliant tyre, is renown to puncture or fracture it, but the same impact to a compliant tyre will usually cause deflection and no damage. Also far less screw loosening vibes to the van.
Suspensions use the same theory, it is called shock absorbers. The tyre, springs and the shock absorbers all work hand in hand to provide the longevity and comfort we desire.
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Follow Up By: Off-track - Monday, Feb 27, 2012 at 20:49

Monday, Feb 27, 2012 at 20:49
Yep certainly agree that higher pressures can induce chipping. But the more you increase the mass the more you should probably increase the pressure to support it, no matter what size it is.

The analogy with the balloon is not accurate though and has been discussed at length before but it is true in regards to the difference in ride. Sudden impact to hard surface hardly applies with stony rocky roads and if you wanted to apply it to larger objects (lets say a gutter) then the higher pressure will do much more to protect the tyre and rim anyway.

Dont want to enter into a p***ing contest either other than to say that our experiences are very similar Grant. Our differences are the pressures we run, but our tyre reliability is the same. What does that mean (if anything)? Maybe that tyres arent as sensitive to pressure variations on gravel roads as some might like us to believe.

There's some perspective for you Ross.
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Follow Up By: Member - Grant- Tuesday, Feb 28, 2012 at 11:21

Tuesday, Feb 28, 2012 at 11:21
Hi again Michael.

Re tyre pressures, call Cooper Tires. They will recommend to adjust pressures on different surfaces for their tyres. I wonder why????
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Reply By: Lifetime Member-Heather MG NSW - Thursday, Feb 23, 2012 at 07:20

Thursday, Feb 23, 2012 at 07:20
Hi Michael,

We did the Oodnadatta and the Mereenie Loop (plus considerable other dirt)last June/July towing our Jayco sterling Outback van accompanied by relatives with a Jayco camper/van like yours. Both vehicles sustained minor damage caused by stones hitting pipes underneath..... a hole in an outlet pipe under our ensuite also a crack in the water hose somewhere which caused a slow leak....both repaired in Alice Springs. (also a broken rear numberplate light on our ute and a broken rear windscreen on the brother in laws ute canopy)

We were lucky to find most of the road in good condition and the roughest part was between the turnoff to Gosse Bluff & the West macDonnell Ranges and Hermannsburg.

Check the road conditions closer to your trip, drop the tyre pressures and slow down if necessary and drive to those conditions.
Also ensure you cover the rear glass on the tow vehicles to prevent stones deflecting and breaking it.
We also had a stone guard on the rear of our Navara but have many stone chips on the van front, so some kind of cover on your Hawk would be a good idea.

One of the main problems you may face is clearance especially in water crossings. There will also be a lot of dust inside when you pull up, especially on the beds, if your Hawk is like the brother in laws....they used to have to clean before they set up the beds on arrival in a campsite.

also check all screws and other bits which may work loose in the corrugations, and all the underneath bits each afternoon when you pull up, carry appropriate tools and spares, cable ties and tape.

Sounds like you have a great trip planned...


Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt. John Muir

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AnswerID: 478457

Reply By: rags - Thursday, Feb 23, 2012 at 10:19

Thursday, Feb 23, 2012 at 10:19
We have a similer jayco finch that in its life was delivered as an on road version. I did do some mods to the jayco to cope better with dirt rd travel.Some of the mods included the swap over of axel from under to over springs to gain some extra travel height,adding shocks,steel or rubber stone guards on tanks,pipes wires etc on the under side,front stone screen,relocating spare wheel from body mount to mount onto steel rear bumper . Also i made up covers to stop dust entering in via fridge and door vents and a strip to insert into sail tracks that covered in the join of the roof onto the main body around 4 sides that was also for dust proofing.Tyes and wheels remain the same 14" but with a LT rated tyre
We have travelled many kms ,including a similar trip to the one you proposed, without any real dramas. Rocks and dust are the 2 biggest problems,but with some preparations and steady [slower] driving when required the is no reason why you won't succeed in your trip.Yes we could all go out and buy a ubeaut off road version but for the cost of the stamp duty on a change over,simple mods will see you go far.
AnswerID: 478465

Reply By: Member - Min (NSW) - Thursday, Feb 23, 2012 at 16:16

Thursday, Feb 23, 2012 at 16:16
Hi Michael,

Which route do your intend to take into Lawn Hill? It is some years since we were there but maybe you should seek more info if you are taking the Camooweal/Riversleigh Road rather than going the long way through Isa, Cloncurry, and Gregory Downs.

Sounds like a great trip. I'd give a lot to be going back to Lawn Hill.

AnswerID: 478477

Reply By: Member - Min (NSW) - Thursday, Feb 23, 2012 at 16:17

Thursday, Feb 23, 2012 at 16:17
Hi Michael,

Which route do your intend to take into Lawn Hill? It is some years since we were there but maybe you should seek more info if you are taking the Camooweal/Riversleigh Road rather than going the long way through Isa, Cloncurry, and Gregory Downs.

Sounds like a great trip. I'd give a lot to be going back to Lawn Hill.

AnswerID: 478478

Reply By: Michael 55 - Thursday, Feb 23, 2012 at 17:08

Thursday, Feb 23, 2012 at 17:08
Thanks for all of the excellent information, it's been invaluable! Rather than buying a new (pre-loved) off road van, I've contacted my local caravan repair guy and talked about many of the suggestions that have come up. In summary, I'm going to get the following done, either by me or where it's too difficult by the caravan repair guy:

* Replace axle with heavy duty type
* Spring over converesion (required for more clearence)
* Replace leaf springs with softer leaf springs (only if required)
* Install shock absorbers
* Replace light wheels with off road wheels
* Reinforce chasis - make more rigid
* Install under body stone guards
* Install front stone guard on draw bar
* New electric brake solenoids (if required)
* Dust cover for fridge vent (we can do this if no standard fix is available)
* Dust cover for door vent (we can do this if no standard fix is available)
* Dust cover around roof/main body (we can do this if no standard fix is available)
* New main seal

Also, we're heading into Lawn Hill via Gregory Downs and Adels Grove.

Thanks again,

AnswerID: 478484

Follow Up By: Ross M - Friday, Feb 24, 2012 at 13:09

Friday, Feb 24, 2012 at 13:09
Replacing axle
# Use an axle which has same/same bearings and hub to suit It is not the axle itself which may be heavy duty but the operational ends where the action is that really matters. Small Falcon sized bearings are the weak point in this type of use.

# Spring over will give you room to use larger section tyres, advantages mentioned earlier.

# Softer springs? The idea is to have Longer more compliant springs than Jayco EVER BOTHER to fit to hold the ride height and allow a compliant ride so you don't have to continually screw your van back together and retighten everything at the end of every day as other have suggested you do. If it shakes anything loose then the suspension isn't working well for you.

# If you have a shock absorbing hitch eg TREGG or similar and you have GOOD suspension you may not need to strengthen the chassis at all. Yes, if it is a bit light, No if it is already sufficient. Need advice on that from OffRoad person.

# If making stone guards make some small ones to prevent small stones from entering the stupidly designed electric brake back plates which feed stones directly into your drum brakes and causing brakes destruction.

# Make one of your stone guards to effectively stop stones from rebounding and hitting back window. I have had fist sized stone fly forward at 75kmh, land on roof and slide down winscreen. I upgraded the guards.

Ross M
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