17ft Bigfoot. Info. - Fiberglass RV


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Old 06-13-2016, 03:05 PM   #1
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Name: aaron
Trailer: 1975 boler
British Columbia
Posts: 8
17ft Bigfoot. Info.

Hi there. So I have been thinking about buying a 17 ft Bigfoot. Used. Probably an 80's if I can find one. I had a 13ft boler for 5 years and then sold it had lots of fun with it. Want to get back into a Bigfoot with a bathroom.
So when out shopping ,what should I look for ?
Any common problems ?
How are the frames ? Are they weak like the bolers ?
Thanks for any info.
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Old 06-14-2016, 11:05 AM   #2
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Name: BajaDebu
Trailer: 1988 B19 BIGFOOT
California
Posts: 11
BIGFOOT B19 1988

HELLO Happy owner of a Bigfoot for 4 years. When I bought my 1988 B19 I brought it in and had the brakes and bearings re-do, checked wiring. The previous owner had wires everywhere! Made sure gas lines were in working order and then started using it! Little by little I am taking care of some cosmetics. Check out the floor too - see if you feel any soft spots indicating previous repairs maybe from water damage. I love mine! I don't often post or reply here and I know there are other more experienced members that can help you out.
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Old 06-14-2016, 04:51 PM   #3
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Name: Kathy
Trailer: 2017 Escape 19
Washington
Posts: 594
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We have a 1987 Bigfoot and have been quite happy with it. We're the third owners and have been enjoying it now for about six years.

Some people have had "delamination" issues with the older units. Bigfoots are constructed a little differently than other fiberglass trailers in that they have a sandwich construction consisting of the outer fiberglass layer, a rigid foam insulating layer and then the interior paneling. These layers are glued together and make for a very strong shell - as long as the glue doesn't deteriorate. It's my understanding that the original Bigfoots were made with a glue that was not waterproof so if there was any water intrusion things could start to come apart. I don't know for sure when waterproof glues were introduced. We've had some minor problems with this issue on our trailer, but nothing that prevents us from using the trailer or that we feel is a safety concern. You might want to look at this thread: Bigfoot roof delamination and this one: Delamination on 1986 Bigfoot Some people have had sagging roofs too, but ours seems quite solid.

I know of no particular axle issues unique to Bigfoots.

Good luck with your search!
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Old 06-15-2016, 03:46 PM   #4
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Name: Mike
Trailer: Bigfoot 17' DLX
Alaska
Posts: 379
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Bigfoot frames are very sturdy. On an older one make sure you inspect the shackle mounts as the weld where they are attached to the frame can break. Easily fixed though.

The early BFs have Qest plumbing. Make sure you inspect the entire system carefully. This was the single biggest issue I had with the 1989 17-footer I bought, probably due to freeze damage. I ended up redoing almost all the plumbing with PEX but it's not your typical DIY project. If you can avoid re-plumbing the trailer, you'll save yourself from a lot of headaches.

Axles, leaf springs, windows, vents, entry door, and most appliances are easily replaced with new, off-the-shelf items. It's the proprietary BF parts that are not so easy to replace, such as fender flares, propane tank covers, gravel guards, cabinetry and trim, upholstery, etc. Make sure those are in good shape.
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Old 06-15-2016, 05:22 PM   #5
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Name: aaron
Trailer: 1975 boler
British Columbia
Posts: 8
OK thanks for the replies guys. I was just trying to see what bathe common problems where. Maybe something I would over look or something I wouldn't think would be an issue. Nothing like a review from people who own one. As for running pex lines I would be able to do them myself and anything else that breaks or needs fixing. I used to be an rv tech. Went to collage and all that for it. Anyways. How are the floors ? Are they fiberglass or are they plywood ?

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Old 06-15-2016, 05:47 PM   #6
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Name: Mike
Trailer: Bigfoot 17' DLX
Alaska
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Bigfoots have 1-piece top and bottom halves so it's like a fiberglass "tub" with a plywood subfloor. I believe there is an air gap between the FG and the plywood. Here's a shot of the subfloor in mine when I was replacing the entry door, and the entry-way linoleum, which had curled from previous water damage.
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Old 06-15-2016, 06:14 PM   #7
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Name: Jack L
Trailer: Bigfoot B-17 CB
Washington
Posts: 1,226
Quote:
Originally Posted by trainjunkie View Post
Bigfoots have 1-piece top and bottom halves so it's like a fiberglass "tub" with a plywood subfloor. I believe there is an air gap between the FG and the plywood. Here's a shot of the subfloor in mine when I was replacing the entry door, and the entry-way linoleum, which had curled from previous water damage.
It's quite likely the water came into the trailer from the bottom of the door frame. The corners of the aluminum frame are sealed with something similar to gutter sealant and that seal can open up after time. When I got my trailer there were cracks there but the trailer had been stored inside so there was no water damage. Resealing the door frame joints was very easy. I did have some rotted wood in the entry door itself. The water intrusion was just in the door itself. The door is made from panels with foam insulation in the center and a wood frame around the perimeter. I took treated wood and cut it to the size required. If you have basic carpentry skills and a table saw, its about a three hour project.
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Old 06-15-2016, 06:51 PM   #8
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Name: Mike
Trailer: Bigfoot 17' DLX
Alaska
Posts: 379
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My door frame had some mildew but, thankfully, no rot. The interior wood frame of the door, however, was rotted completely, especially the lower third. I suspect the water entered the door through a large crack in the exterior fiberglass panel that was there when I bought it.

I was only days away from a fall camping trip when I discovered this so I didn't feel that rebuilding the door was a good use of my time. Instead, I just bought a new AP Products 24x68-inch entry door, which was an exact fit and less that $400.00. I could only get a bright white door so I did prep it and paint it to blend in with the Colonial White trailer, which only took a few hours of work. Turned out to be one of the best upgrades I ever did to the trailer.
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Old 06-15-2016, 07:33 PM   #9
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Name: Jack L
Trailer: Bigfoot B-17 CB
Washington
Posts: 1,226
That's a nice looking door and for the price, if it came with the window and latch, a great price..
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Old 06-15-2016, 07:48 PM   #10
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Name: Mike
Trailer: Bigfoot 17' DLX
Alaska
Posts: 379
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Jack, the AP entry doors are turn-key with the window, deadbolt latch handle, and the interior screen door. I did change the handle from white to chrome because I didn't want to attempt to paint it. But that only cost another $25.00.

It's amazing how many current off-the-shelf components still fit these early Bigfoots. There is something to say for standardized components when you are doing a restoration.
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Old 06-17-2016, 02:36 AM   #11
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Name: aaron
Trailer: 1975 boler
British Columbia
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How are the furnaces ? Btu's enough to heat it or does it work over time .

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Old 06-17-2016, 07:58 PM   #12
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Name: Mike
Trailer: Bigfoot 17' DLX
Alaska
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I installed a 18K BTU furnace in mine and camped in -10F temps with no issues. I did not use the water or wastewater systems though. My BF did not have thermalpane windows so I put Reflectix over the glass for more insulation. Worked out just fine.
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Old 06-17-2016, 10:01 PM   #13
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Name: Francois
Trailer: Bigfoot
British Columbia
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OEM furnaces.....

IMO the OEM furnaces (very common in LOTS for RVs of the era and even to this day) are a downer...oh they will heat the place alright but consume TONS of electrical power while doing so.......it's a shame really...just to be dissapointed just go outside and feel the heat (LARGE amounts of it) that is coming out of the exhaust......myself, and most owners I think, run the furnace until they go to bed....then start it back up again a half hour before getting out of bed.....

Bigfoots in general are heavier, wider, less aerodynamic (more fuel used towing) than most FGRVs around here.....they also have more room inside and more storage.....generally spreaking the FG shell is thick and there is some insulation in the walls/roof other than just the standard "rat fur" in a lot of FGRVs...

I "overpaid" for mine....invested/had to fix quite a few things.....I'm going to have mine for a VERY LONG time....not because I'm looking for my money back...because it's PERFECT...for me...happy motoring
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Old 06-18-2016, 09:01 AM   #14
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Name: Zach
Trailer: 91 Bigfoot 17
Montana
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The furnace is just fine. However it's a...I think 12,000 BTU furnace in a 17ft trailer. My little tiny Toyota Chinook had a 16,000 BTU furnace. Which was total overkill. But coming from that, to this very spacious trailer with "only" a 12,000 BTU furnace took adjustment.

You don't get up to 70 degrees in 5-10 minutes. It's more like a house furnace, where it brings you up to temp nice and slow. It's completely adequate, but if I found a reason (and the cash!) to upgrade, I'd get a 16,000 BTU in there. I don't even think they make the 12,000 models anymore.

But a new furnace will cost $500 and is unnecessary, unless you do serious winter camping on a regular basis.

I too came here asking if there were any specific tips/tricks/issues with Bigfoots. Didn't find much. As a shell, they are solid, though it's already been brought up that the earlier ones can suffer from some roof sag. Everything else is typical RV components, made by various manufacturers. Dometic fridge, Atwood furnace etc.

Probably you'll need to replace the power center, as it seems the battery charger will fry your battery. They're just old enough that they don't switch to float mode when sensing your battery is full, and keep charging at full power.

I don't plug in much so I've put that project off for now. It's on my list though.

Sounds like there's a consensus that they tow nice, very stable. They aren't aerodynamic. But mine tows really solidly. No sway, stays nice and under control.

I love it. For it's very simple, boring shape, it actually draws more attention than I'd expect.

So..."Issues" you may find yourself spending money on after buying it, that you might not have expected:

-New power center/converter/battery charger
-Possible axle upgrade - stock axles have it very low to the ground and more clearance is a requirement for some. But not all.


Every other "unexpected" expense you'll start feeling nickel and dimed by are shared by all older campers. New tires, battery, front rock guard lifts, re-sealing roof vents - possibly adding powered fan to main vent, re-sealing windows, switch out those incandescents for LEDs!

Otherwise, just make sure it all works. Appliances are expensive. You'll quickly double the price of your trailer. Furnace = $500. Fridge = $6-800. Etc.

Fridge is a tough one cause you have to get out and use it under high temps for a few days to know if it's really working well. I'm dealing with that right now...
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