Picked up my brand new Expanda 14.44-5. 17EX PopTop today

#1
Hi to everyone. Thank you so much for the full history of posts, it made the task of selecting the van and all the options/accessories much easier and less nerve wracking! No photos yet, will do so shortly. As a brief background I'm 68 YO and my camping companion is my 77 YO father-in-law. My wife and kids no longer come away with me so it's just the two of us and an ocassional family friend (to sleep in the annexe). Our preference is to free-camp but sometimes will also go to a caravan park. The Expanda will make it easy for a 68YO and 77YO to set up. Our last two trips were in pouring rain for one and 40 degree heat for the other - not much fun to set up and pack up a campervan in those conditions!
My tug is a 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland with the diesel motor and a new 12 pin plug to replace the 7 pin fitted when I bought the Jeep. I'm told that this van will be one of the last 14.44 Expandas since Jayco has ceased to make them. I bought it from Bayswater Jayco (a good experience, but not the first van I've bought from them). This is my 4th van, the first three being campervans, I traded my Jayco Swan Outback, bought from Bayswater Jayco in 1995! Prior to that one I had a Jayco Dove and prior to that a Windsor camparvan, so I started caravanning in 1982.
The new van was a display model so I had to be prepared to give up the idea of an Outback model and settle for a Touring model but most of our free camping has been where you'd be prepared to take a normal sedan - not 'bush-bashing - so I decided to get the van as presented on display with just a few additional options added prior to pick-up. I hope I won't miss the independant suspension, that ground clearance won't be a problem and that leaf springs will be fine. It certainly towed well and easily when I brought it home.
I have the following upgrades and options fitted:
Drop down Jacks
Roof mounted windup TV antenna
19'' TV/DVD & Pivotal Bracket
External Picnic Table
150 Watt Solar System and in-van battery
Fusion Stereo System External Gas Bayonet
2 X 9kg Gas Bottles
2 X 86 litres water tanks
ESC (a good insurance discount to have it fitted and a bit of peace-of-mind for not having independant suspension)
Bed converter (with fabric) for the dinette
Water Guage and Vault Meter
I also purchased 2 X 5 metre sullage hoses, an AMP Fibian Plus adaptor, 2 X towing mirrors (not needed when towing the Swan),Rafter for the Awning, an ARK Extreme Offroad (XO) Jockey Wheel (ORJW750D), an Alpine Annexe, a 3 Stage level ramp and a Pop Top 14 - 16 Cover.
The Hand-over was extremely comprehensive (2.5 hours) and my mind is still reeling with all the information but I'm sure it won't take long for the datails to be absorbed and become 'second-nature' with how we use the van.
That's a big enough post this time and will post again with photos and feed back on first/shakedown trip. I plan to use a caravan park first, and make it near a Jayco dealer, to have one nearby if I have any big warrantee problems or breakages. The easy option is down to the Bellarine Peninsula (Ocean Grove or Queenscliff) which (for interstate members) is close to Geelong and thus Geelong Jayco.

Cheers and happy vanning, Gags.
 
#3
Thanks MDS69. Yes, if they hadn't dropped them I'd have gone for the OutBack. My model came with shelves in the cupboard as a standard, not ordered, and the problem others had some years ago with people (kids) knocking the power switch under the dinette seat is solved since they've moved the switch out into the side of the seat facing the corridor. I think the layout of items on the roof has also changed (aircon, TV aerial, Solar) are spreading the weight and I've had no problems raising and lowering the roof by myself. I'll photograph the roof soon and post it with the other pictures. Again, thank for the welcome. Regards, Gags
 

Crusty181

Well-Known Member
Feb 7, 2010
4,430
9,989
113
Mentone, VIC
#4
@Gags, welcome to the forum and congrats on the new van. Youll find some wonderful like minded people here, with a wealth of knowledge and a large Vic contingent. There are occasional group get togethers which provide a laugh.

Surely your going to relegate a 77yo to the top bunk?
 
Likes: 14" of Joy
#7
@Gags, welcome to the forum and congrats on the new van. Youll find some wonderful like minded people here, with a wealth of knowledge and a large Vic contingent. There are occasional group get togethers which provide a laugh.

Surely your going to relegate a 77yo to the top bunk?
Crusty, Hi.
Thanks for the welcome. I agree with your first paragraph after I opened and read all 116 pages of posts and all of their trails. As for my father-in-law, no bunks in the 14.44-5 but around 6 months ago he stopped using the Swan back bed-end, too high for him to get into! We converted the dinette to a bed which was the same height as his bed at home, compared with a 1 metre climb into the bed-end. I felt sorry for him which is why I opted for the one bed-end and convertible dinette rather than two bed-ends or some bunks. I'll tell him that the venerable Crusty says he should toughen-up and I'll forward his response - wait .... no I won't - no profanities to be posted on this site. :)
Regards,
Gags
 

bigcol

Well-Known Member
Nov 22, 2012
6,791
10,112
113
Swan Valley Perth
#8
welcome to the forum @Gags
yes the 14' is a great Van, as it seems lots of people have them, pity they are dropping it from the line up

you will be more than comfortable with it, compared to the Swan (they are great, but an expanda is betterer)
 
Likes: Crusty181
#9
I've returned from my first/shakedown trip with the new van and I'm really impressed with how well it towed. As easy and calm as the 23 years of towing my Swan Campervan. The trip to Queenscliff and return was 162 Klms and was around 80% on freeways and flat terrain. The van towed easily at 100 kph (for the 80% freeway travel) and the fuel consumption for the whole trip was 12.8 litres per 100 kilometers, which is roughly the same as stop/start suburban travelling. The Jeep Grand Cherokee (a 2014 model with the diesel motor - thus not subject to the recent recall for tow hitch problems) is able to tow up to 3 tonnes, so no surprise there.
The current 14.44-5 model appears to have addressed many of the problems I've read in the full history of the forum postings. The wardrobe cupboard wasn't a chasm but a slim full height hanging slot and otherwise 4 shelves plus the floor/base. A storm cover for the bed-end was supplied as standard and the main power switch was not under the dinette table (for the kids to kick), but out facing the 'corridor' back to the ensuite. No problems with the fridge or the roof-mounted aircon nor with tuning the TV (once I remembered to run the TV through its initial tuning program). I downloaded the 'app' "antenna mate" to ensure that I knew the direction of the transmission tower.
The standard innerspring mattress, with zip, was as reported, hard, but it 'relaxed' with two nights usage. Both segments zipped together have an upper and lower strong wire perimeter frame to keep the shape and support the edges of the mattress so its necessary to sleep in the middle of one of the mattresses so as to not feel like you're sleeping on a railway track. I plan to buy one of the Clarke Rubber 'egg carton' overlays for my bed end, which will overcome the railway line problem. My regular caravanning companion, my father-in-law, slept on the converted dinette, with the above overlay, and found that to be comfortable.
The hot water service was impressively effective. One small problem was that, contrary to the sales advice at the Jayco Bayswater store, just one 5 metre sullage hose wasn't long enough and I hadn't bought a joining fitting nor taken the second hose with me. We had a bucket in the van so that wasn't a big issue. The "Ziggy Single" Ziegler & Brown barbeque easily fitted into the front boot space, but down through the hatch under the bed not through the boot door. By all reports it's more versatile than the forum favoured Weber, with the aluminium non-stick half hot plate which fits over the cast iron full grill (both of which can be put into the dishwasher once home), the trivet kit which allows saucepan & frying pan / wok cooking, and the carry bag, the cooking with lid up or down and the fat/grease collector at the base of the unit.
I only have two warrantee issues to report - a lot of condensation in one of the tail lights, and a quite small hole in the awning. I guess the possum pooh we collected on the roof while in the caravan park isn't a warrantee claim;).
I thank all of the earlier members again for all their postings, which has made my purchase and selections of options for the van easier, and therefore my enjoyment of the towing, camping and using the van greater.
Finally, I'll also add some photos. Again, thanks to you all. Regards, Gags.

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