Fixing up an old bigfoot - Fiberglass RV


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Old 05-29-2013, 10:07 PM   #1
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Name: Cody
Trailer: Bigfoot
British Columbia
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Fixing up an old bigfoot

Hi all,

I have a 1981 or so bigfoot b16 that i picked up last summer. It is a great little trailer that I originally picked up to use primarily in the fall as a hunting base camp. This little trailer has really grown on me, though, with its stove and oven, little fridge, and a shower! No more stinking like a pile of rotten garbage for me!

So, since it is an aged little thing, it does have a few issues. It has had some rot in the front of the trailer underneath the window that the previous owner took (dubious) steps to repair, and it has had a couple of patch jobs done to it that stand out like a sore thumb because of the paint mismatch. What I am planning on doing is to make a better go of it and repainting the whole shebang. I will be removing the decals with one of those stripe removal tools and then prepping and painting the whole thing. Since it has been previously painted, should I take the paint down to the old gelcoat, to bare fibreglass, or should I just rough up the old paint and go over it all again with a new layer? What kind of paint should I use for a nice finish?

Also, if anyone is a stove expert, my oven is mysteriously not working anymore. It worked when I packed it up for the winter but seems to not want to fire up now. The pilot lights and stays lit, but the burner will not ignite at any setting. Should I level the trailer and try again?(she's sitting in my back yard at a slight angle, now)
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Old 05-29-2013, 10:32 PM   #2
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First you might want to figure out what kind of paint has already been applied. That may have a bearing on what to do next.

When it comes down to hand painting fiberglass, the two answers are usually either Rust-Oleum MARINE Paint or Interlux Briteside MARINE paint. The latter is by far superior, but costs about 3-4 times as much for material. Google "Roll & Tip Painting Technique" for some ideas.
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Old 05-29-2013, 10:45 PM   #3
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Name: Cody
Trailer: Bigfoot
British Columbia
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Thanks for the reply, Bob. As for the paint, it feels like and smells like a house paint. I sanded down to the old gelcoat through 2 layers of paint that balled up and smelled like a standard house paint would. I'd guess it was a latex paint? Unfortunately, I've lost the previous owner's contact info...

I would love to do a marine paint on it, but I am worried about the paint that is currently on there. I'd like to avoid stripping it all the way down to the gelcoat or further if possible.
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Old 05-29-2013, 11:08 PM   #4
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The good news is that anything designed to strip off latex won't hurt the fiberglass surface below, but you will want to remove all the windows and hatches first.

If you do't strip/sand off all that latex it will eventually start peeling.

Good Luck
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Old 05-30-2013, 08:20 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Burrfoot View Post
..........
Also, if anyone is a stove expert, my oven is mysteriously not working anymore. It worked when I packed it up for the winter but seems to not want to fire up now. The pilot lights and stays lit, but the burner will not ignite at any setting. Should I level the trailer and try again?(she's sitting in my back yard at a slight angle, now)
Tiny spider webs tend to be a problem with gas appliances. Blow everything out.
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Old 05-30-2013, 10:59 AM   #6
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A word of advice. You will be further ahead to use your hunting trailer for a base camp and get a trailer that is not so far back on the maintenance curve for general camping. That said, trailers are not always about logic.
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Old 05-30-2013, 07:16 PM   #7
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Name: Cody
Trailer: Bigfoot
British Columbia
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I don't think the trailer is all that far behind maintenance-wise. It's pretty solid. It needs updating, of course, which is what I'm doing now. Considering I paid less for this full trailer than people were asking for a comparable shell alone, I'm okay investing some dollars and hours in to it. Call it a hobby, if you like. It will keep me out of trouble.

I've removed all the decals and started filling in holes. I picked up some butyl tape today as well to use to get a feel for its installation. I think I'm going to strip off the old paint and slap on a new layer of marine paint over the coming weeks. Any recommendations for a paint stripper or should I bust out the belt sander and just grind all the old crap off?
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Old 05-30-2013, 07:52 PM   #8
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Name: Michael
Trailer: 17ft Bigfoot trailer
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Hey Cody,

Sounds like an awesome project! Ya gotta love BF's...nice and spacious, comfortable and solidly built. We've been fixing up our 86' and having tons of fun. If you can, post some pics, I'd like to see how the painting turns out. Best of luck

Michael
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Old 05-30-2013, 07:55 PM   #9
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Hi Cody, looks like you just joined us... so to FiberglassRV.

Do you have any pictures to share? If you're interested in stripping the paint rather than sanding... maybe you'd be interested in this stuff. I have no personal knowledge about it: Marine Paint Stripper GL
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Old 05-30-2013, 07:57 PM   #10
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Put away the belt sander, it will strip the finish coat off of the fiberglass, create flat spots on the cuved surfaces and it will become a major project restoring the surface.

Try 2-3 different latex strippers from the local hardware store and find out which one works best using the stripper, plastic scrapers, a high pressure hose and lots of time.

Most latex releases fairly easy from fiberglass, but be patient and let the stripper do the work for you.
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Old 06-04-2013, 10:17 PM   #11
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Name: Cody
Trailer: Bigfoot
British Columbia
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This is how the trailer looked when I had it out in October:

One of the previous owners had glued on what appears to be rubber flooring for a rockguard. I think I'll do a coating of truck bedliner instead ( and it will hide the dings, dents, and scratches I put in to it removing all the glue residue)

And this is how it looks as of this morning:



I filled in some dings and dents with fibreglass bondo, laid down some resin where there were some stress cracks, and I've sanded it down to where it can be painted. I've decided to use Tremclad (AKA rustoleum) for the paint and I will be starting the process of laying down the primer tomorrow.
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Old 03-22-2014, 03:31 PM   #12
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Name: graham
Trailer: 1990 bigfoot 17 foot
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did you finish your trailer just curious
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Old 03-22-2014, 04:28 PM   #13
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Burrfoot, comeback! Last Activity: 01-06-2014 10:33 PM
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Old 03-27-2014, 10:47 PM   #14
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Name: Cody
Trailer: Bigfoot
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Well, I did get it finished, for a given value of "finished."

I sanded it all down, 2 coats primer, oh, and roughly 7 coats of paint! (I was using roll-and-tip, so it was thinned out a bit, hence the extra layers). I put some bedliner on the front, replaced the trim, and resealed all the vents and windows with new butyl tape. I also touched up all the paint on the frame. I'll try and get some pictures up soon after I give her a spring bath.

She held up well on a couple camping trips, and a couple hunts. I'm very happy with how well this trailer handles winter - it was down to -14C a couple nights out hunting, but I was perfectly happy in my midrange (0 degree C) sleeping bag without the furnace on! Granted, there were 2 of us in there, and I guess that helps keep the temperature up. I'm also really glad the Bigfoot has all the water plumbing inside the cabin as well, or temps that low would have worried me.

So,the wife isn't crazy about the interior decor (and here I was thinking wood paneling, orange formica counters, and pale yellow curtains were the hot thing). Any good suggestions for making the inside a bit nicer, e.g. paints for cabinetry and panelling, easy ways to reupholster, flooring products that work especially well?
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