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GoSeeAustralia revisits Jayco Expanda caravan ownership and gets informed answers on how it fits touring in Australia

January 30, 2007
GoSeeAustralia revisits Jayco Expanda caravan ownership and gets informed answers on how  it fits touring in Australia

By Fred Jobson

Since the first Expanda feature appeared on GoSeeAustralia in July 2006 Carole and I have now done another 4300km and spent 35 nights living in a comfortable caravan which suits us.

During that time I have talked about Expanda caravans with about 10 other owners as well as many prospective buyers and other interested caravanners.

There has been a lot of comment that this is the only type of caravan that allows a big family to own what is effectively a small van on the road, yet a big caravan with suitable accommodation when at a caravan park. Several other owners had large families and say they are satisfied with the arrangements.

My love affair continues and Carole and I think that this is the most comfortable and suitable caravan we have owned. The Expanda suits us very well.
Expanda and Jackaroo new and shiny.
Expanda and Jackaroo new and shiny.

One reason we bought the Expanda was to to give two people very roomy accommodation which it does really well.

We also really appreciated being able to sit six people around the dining table comfortably when friends and relatives came in for a meal.

We used the shower nearly every day for two weeks. It proved to be excellent although we found that a shower curtain over the toilet section made cleaning up easier. This helps as everything gets splashed after a shower. Which means the shower area has to be wiped off if you want to to keep your feet dry. Or you want to use a dry toilet seat after having a shower.

The hot water service was great but failed on the electric side on the last day on the road. But the gas option still worked well. This will be rectified under warranty I am sure. I think there could be a bit better sealing around the shower but in practice it works well.
Expanda at Cania Gorge  Caravan Park in full working order
Expanda at Cania Gorge Caravan Park in full working order

The toilet is another matter and I find it is just great. It is easy to use. Its design works perfectly with an electric flush and has big enough capacity too reduce the need for too many trips to the dump station to empty the tank.

I think that the shower toilet option is well worth the extra cost and is perfect for families or couples like us. (Senior citizen trips in the night are no longer a problem.)

The aircon is a Heron 2.2 and I think that it is really a bit small, but you have to remember that the canvas ends and pop top makes for a hard caravan to cool. It is not too noisy, however it is placed in our caravan towards the rear which did not allow air to blow into the bedroom or the rest of the caravan at the front. A small fan fixed this for us.

We did have a 40.8 degree day in Melbourne and high 30s in many other places. While the aircon was not really strong enough it did make a difference and was a lifesaver allowing sleep rather than just restless turning all night in the heat.
Expand outback.
Expand outback.

A bigger aircon is an option but it takes up storage space in an already small cupboarbs/wardrobe and is much noisier.

I think on balance the 2.2 Heron is right.

With the TV mounting. The position depends on the layout. I had ours mounted on the pantry wall on the left side (when looking towards the rear). We have a LCD flatscreen mounted on the wall facing the chairs , table and the front bed. This has proved just great and allows people sitting on both sides of the table to see the TV.

You can lie down on both benches and watch TV or go to bed in the front of the Expanda and watch TV. This is just what we wanted.

I suggest buying a TV with DVD attached but we have a seperate DVD which is small in size (cost $39 at The Wharehouse), plays everything and is really small. It just sits on the top of the couch in the corner next to the TV.

This works fine for us. Don't get a CD/radio player fitted as the DVD plays all your CDs through the TV and a seperate radio costs little these days.

Jayco did a great job of fitting a mounting wall - I thought they would just put a pad in the wall but it looks like Jayco actually doubled the whole wall- very strong.
Family role fits  Jayco Expanda
Family role fits Jayco Expanda

Lounge seats -- yes these are large and further away than is practicable when eating. It
is possible to adjust the table to rectify this however and the benefit of the huge seats more than makes up for it. In practice you soon learn to sit forward a bit when eating.

With the children you will be able to make the table very close to them on one side but you then have further to go on the other side - everything is a trade off.

The table is also huge but I think a bit better design would make it more suitable. I
will give this some thought soon.

The worst problem has been that the beds are hard to make as you have to get in there to
do this on the far side. The same goes for dropping the ends and folding. The bedding canNOT be carried on the bed which means you have to make it each time.

The solution is to use fitted sheets and mattress protector and a light (or heavy doona) which you take off each time then just throw over when you get there - It works fine.
Interior bed rear with headboard made by Fred to give support to the pillows
Interior bed rear with headboard made by Fred to give support to the pillows

The mattresses are huge and I really think for us we could do with a much smaller mattress and allow room to leave the bedding on when folded. - More thoughts about this at a future time.

As to storing bits and pieces I made a double carrier on the front and fitted it over the spare wheel. I made this a fairly quick dismount so I could get it off one side if I needed to change the wheel.

I carry all poles, brushes (with unscrew heads) in one tube and my fishing rods in the other - works great. There is a fair bit of space in the external hatches for most other things and I have a 4x4 and use the back for chairs.
I have also a shade wall on the annex which is just a great idea - easy to erect and gives shade and privacy. It is worth the money.

One of the best modifications ordered was a much bigger fridge - worth every penny and just so good in the hot weather. I put six meals of fish in the freezer and used them over three weeks on the road. I would recommend this option. Self made removable bed heads are also a good idea but not indispensible.

Problems - a very few - one of the draws came off the track and I found that Jayco had used small screws for the track fittings right through the van. This was adequate for the small draws but needs beefing up on the bigger heavier draws.
Jayco Expanda is a wind-cheater under tow
Jayco Expanda is a wind-cheater under tow

The pot draw we had fitted was made to carry pots which are a bit heavier and this should be considered especially in an off-road van.

Silicone sealant - over enthusiastic use of silicone sealant kept the van leak free but more care would avoid overruns which leave a film when wiped off.

After a bit of travelling these smears become dark with dust and spoil the finish in some places taking a fair bit of time to clean up. More skill in the sealing by Jayco would be appreciated.

The water heater now on electric cycle as mentioned earlier will be fixed under warranty soon.

A small recall on the aircon took ages to arrange to be done and it seemed the girls at Jayco could not handle the load of arranging the rectification. I had this problem in Hervey Bay Queensland and in the end got a bit terse before it was done.

Other warranty work on the mattress was done efficiently and immediately.

For towing I use a Jackaroo diesel and it works great. Smaller vehicles will do the job and I suggest the manufacturers towing recommendation be followed.
Jayco Expanda with two carry tubes on the front - one for poles - one for fishing rods.
Jayco Expanda with two carry tubes on the front - one for poles - one for fishing rods.

Always consider the load carried. When fully loaded with fuel water, holiday items, food and so on. (To say nothing of the family). The load is not unsubstantial.

The more power the better but the caravan does travel well and is easy to tow and reverse.

My Expanda model is an off-road this makes it higher - with good clearance. I think it is a toss up between off-road or not- depends on what you will be towing it with and where you plan to use it.

Bottom Line -- all things are a compromise. My Expanda works well for me and I would recommend it if it offers what you want out of a caravan.

Editor's Note: Also see -

Fred and Carole's Jayco Expanda 16.49.3 specifications July 20, 2006.

Model 16.49.3 (Melbourne prices) $31,000 retail.

(Plus Outback conversion $1600 retail).

Body length 4900mm (16ft. 1 in.)

Interior length 4743mm (15ft.6in).

Travel length 6270mm (20ft.7in).

Extended length 7190mm. (23ft. 7in).

Travel height 2255mm. (7ft 5in).

Interior height 2115mm (6ft. 11in).

Width 2290mm (7ft.6in).

Front bed size 1840mm x 1470mm.

Rear bed size 1830mm x 1370mm.

Approx tow ball weight 110kg.

Approx tare weight 1360kg.

Inclusions:

Outback conversion $1600.

Heron 2.2 reverse cycle aircon. $1650 retail

Carefree awning $1500 retail.

Larger fridge $700 retail

Reinforcing for mounting flat screen LCD screen (A given)

Wynguard aerial $330

Toilet shower included in retail price for Expanda 16.49.3

Total cost as featured: $36,780.

Recommended retail (Melbourne prices):

Standard Expanda 16.49.3 model with toilet and shower - $31,000

Outback Expanda conversion 16.49.3 - $1600.

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