Bigfoot 17 remodeling ?'s - Page 2 - Fiberglass RV


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Old 01-03-2011, 03:07 AM   #15
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Ken,

I would not remove anything that appears to hold up the roof. This is particularly important if you plan to add a roof air conditioner. Many (all?) of the early gaucho models had a smaller refrigerator than the center bath models and were a little lighter. Bigfoot 17 footers that were made before 2000 were substantially lighter than subsequent models with more options and more luxury. Advertised dry weights are unreliable, so it is important to weigh your trailer.
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Old 01-03-2011, 06:13 PM   #16
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Name: Kevin (Ken)
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OK. I have now removed all the dinette wood as well. Unfortunately, there was a bit of water damage around the bottom edges, some still wet. It appears water has been leaking through the floor level storage hatch by the door... Bigfoot 17 owners beware! Luckily the floor still seems solid. It appears small amounts leaked in over time and were sponged up by the dinette wood as opposed to leaking down into the subfloor. Also luckily, the prior owners kept it under a car port for most of the last 14 years.

It has also damaged the wood where the base of the door attaches. The door itself sags in/near the closed position and has to be lifted into place to shut, and looks pretty bad cosmetically. Since I'll have to take it off anyway to reconstruct the rotted wood, I am going to look into replacing it altogether.

As to the structural function of the wall, attached is my design drawing. I think I can make the depicted structure out of three lengths of thin-walled steel tube, something like bicycle tubes, then use screw-on flanges to attach it at the five attachment points. The result should be lighter and stronger than the existing wall, and the bottom cross tube will keep the mattress from sliding out.
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Old 01-03-2011, 10:47 PM   #17
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I'm not sure how much lighter it will be or stronger, the top flange is only going to be attached to 1/8" ply you might catch the 1" x 3" under the ply but I think you will miss it.

The original wall should have attachment to the trailer side, do you have triangulation to prevent racking with the suggested structure?

I wish I could explain myself a bit better

Daryl
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Old 01-03-2011, 11:57 PM   #18
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How is the 1x3 arranged on the roof? If it is transverse, like ribs, the new attachment could be aligned automatically. If they run lengthwise, I might have to regroup. Even then, if I could find the studs, I could attach a square of thick plywood, as a plate, to distribute it to the studs.

As for triangulation in the middle part, I was thinking about adding a rod or smaller tube or something right up near the wall, to complete the rectangle.
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Old 01-04-2011, 12:41 AM   #19
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The 1x3 is right where the wall is presently screwed into the ceiling it is taped flush into the foam and the 1/8" ceiling is glued to the wood/foam. It is a backing block so works well with the little wall not so good with the point application.

These trailers were pretty well thought out, but designed thirty years ago with the best materials they had at the time. As far as I can tell everything had two purposes, both function and structure. The cabinets, walls and beds all made the trailer a unit.

If you really need the room have you thought about building a thinner wall. I believe mine was made of 1x4 with 1/8" skin(ply) glued, light and strong. maybe you could use 2x2 not as strong front to back but just as strong side to side. I work with both metal and wood I think the weight difference would be minimal. If the wood wall was made like the original.

Really think things through as you take something out, as what ever you replace it with has to be just as strong, most of the structure is minimal so you can't really go less. Every piece has a reason and it is not really apparent. The bed frame on the gaucho is solidly attached to 4 walls made more rigid but the cabinet fronts under it. It is all light material, but makes the trailer light and strong, it is a structural member.
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Old 01-04-2011, 07:18 AM   #20
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I could see what you mean about the structure when I was taking things out. It looked flimsy, but was strong due to the geometry. What I'm putting back in should be just as good or better, I think. It will be simpler overall but made of stronger materials with bigger triangulation areas - I will probably use 2x2, birch thin-layer plywood and maybe a few L brackets. They used what appeared to be 1x1 and 1/8 inch Lauann and much more elaborate structures to make convertible beds. The couch in the front may be better than the dinette - smaller box side-wise, but going all the way across, and the boxes made by my new bedframe and closet are likewise bigger and simpler. That bunk shelf was made out much heavier material than needed for clothing storage or boxing that space.

Making a new thinner wall out of wood would be easier than fabricating what I have drawn out of steel and fastening it. However, I think it might need to be a mere inch thick to accommodate an x-long twin. I was thinking it could squeeze up against a tube better than a wall, so the tube could be thicker. I was hoping to have the end of the bed open, in addition to being longer, as in my picture. A mere 75" bed with a wall on either end could be a bit of a drag, as I am about 71" tall standing.

If I ran a 1x4 across the ceiling and attached the steel structure to that, and closed up the middle near the wall with a rod or tube, I think that would take care of the point stress and triangulation problems and it would be just as strong as the wall. It is tempting not to go to all that trouble and leave the wall, but I'm not sure about such a short bed for long periods. Maybe I'll make something to put at the foot of my bed at home to simulate it so I can see whether it is ok.
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Old 01-04-2011, 07:41 AM   #21
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I just framed up a mock up of what a regular twin would be like in the space. I think it will work. I mostly sleep on my side, and there is enough room for that. Because the wall only sticks out 24", there are 15" left open at the foot for overhang, in the event I want to lie on my stomach. Not as good as an x-long twin with no wall at the foot, but I think it may be good enough considering what a pain in the ass the wall replacement and the getting/making an x-long mattress and frame would be.
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Old 01-04-2011, 09:09 AM   #22
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After taking mine apart to fix the ceiling I got fairly good idea of what they were doing, in the construction, of the trailers. I know they made improvements in later models, but in mine I wouldn't change much if at all possible. The single biggest weakness I can find is the glue, that holds the fiberglass/foam/paneling, but to be honest I can't think of a better one for the application. The glue/contact cement works well unless it gets water coming in.

A trailer is a bit of a compromise, I never thought I would be comfortable in such a small bed or space. After staying in it I realized it was a well thought out design. I could actually live in it for extended periods of time and it has less square footage than my bathroom at home. Luckily I'm a bit shorter than you at 5'8", so I don't think I have really answered anything. I do think you can make some changes but first I would see if you can get away with what you have. Set a regular mattress in it and sleep in it a few nights, you might find it okay. I started looking for the trailer as I thought I could leave the bed set up all the time, which I can but like to make it back into the gaucho so I have the floor space, so to me the important thing is to get new cushions, for added comfort not the mattress I thought I would want at first.
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Old 01-04-2011, 12:57 PM   #23
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Not a bad idea to leave some or all of the bed framing, now that I'm thinking of keeping the wall, but that ship has already sailed. I have already torn out everything except the wall, kitchen and bathroom. Also, I can't really test sleep as the trailer sits in a storage lot miles from my apartment, winterized. I even have to do some of the woodworking elsewhere and haul in partially completed work to install it.

The gaucho would have been no good to me, as it is too small to serve as a couch. Neither I nor my dog would be comfortable on it. By contrast, the Ikea Beddinge that I'm putting in the front has an 80" long and 27" wide seating area. Each slab of cushion is sprung like a mattress, so it also serves as a spare bed, so if I really want 80" length for some reason, I can always sleep on the couch.

Now that I'm thinking regular twin, I'll probably get/make a slatted frame and mattress from Ikea as well. I will keep the new cabinetry below a few inches back from the full bed width for more foot space. And I'll be reclaiming about 10" times most of the trailer width in added floor space up front from the dinette
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Old 01-04-2011, 05:31 PM   #24
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Did you actually take out the cabinetry i.e. above the kitchen and over the dinnette? Your first post seems to imply that.
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Old 01-04-2011, 06:18 PM   #25
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No, I probably misstated. I only took out the gaucho + closet, dinette and bunk/shelf thing above the gaucho.
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Old 01-05-2011, 11:07 PM   #26
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New Diagrams

Here are the current diagrams:
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topweb.jpg   side1web.jpg  

side2web.jpg  
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Old 01-20-2011, 05:00 PM   #27
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Bigfoot remodel

Have you contacted Mark Holmes, see http://www.holmesonbigfoot.com
He has been very helpful to me for Bigfoot repairs.
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Old 01-20-2011, 06:10 PM   #28
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Thanks. I talked to the guy at the Bigfoot factory that is in charge of designing and manufacturing their trailers. He said the structure does help, but did not make it sound as vital as Daryl R does above.

I called because I might have to tow it over 1,000 miles before rebuilding the inside. I wanted to know if I needed to make temporary framing to simulate the old structure to keep the trailer from getting damaged during the trip. He said the upper cabinets and wall are the most important parts, as the bottom is supported from resting right on the frame. He didn't think it was necessary for me to put in temporary supports for the trip, but the lack of structures could end up being a problem for rougher use, like people heavily using the inside or rough roads or something, I guess.

I also wanted to know if there were a lot of those 1x3 "studs" in the walls and how to find them, but he said there are only a few in the ceiling near the opening, to help support AC units. The rest is just 1/8" paneling glued to the fiberglass.
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