17 ft '79 bigfoot - restoration/modification thread - Fiberglass RV


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Old 05-22-2016, 06:21 PM   #1
dlb
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17 ft '79 bigfoot - restoration/modification thread

hi there. my name is david and i'm on vancouver island. my wife and i bought out 17 ft 1979 bigfoot about a year ago from a nice couple on a gulf island. it was in mostly working order but needed some obvious TLC. not being one to shy away from projects, we took it. i replaced a bad drum/bearing hub, regreased the bearings, adjusted the brakes, fixed some leaks in the plumbing, and we were off for our first test camping trip up island. soon after that, we spent 3 weeks camping throughout the kootenays, the rockies, the badlands of alberta, montana, wyoming, and yellowstone. besides duct taping some mouse entry points, we had zero issues with the camper. we enjoyed it, and after some maintenance and repairs over the last several weeks, we are ready to head to alaska for 3 weeks next month.

however, while working on the bigfoot these last weeks and getting more familiar with it, i have found a number of bigger issues i want to deal with. these are the issues:

  • water damage from virtually every potential leak point. previous owners obviously did not worry about replacing any seals, ever. so much wood and all the seals need to be done.
  • sagging fiberglass roof at points where it is not directly supported internally.
  • main bed is too narrow.
  • someone installed a toilet, which we don't like. we think it's gross in such a small space, and we would rather use the space for something else.
  • we want a propane water heater and outdoor shower. i'm thinking of taking the water heating system from another old camper (lots of free old campers around here), installing it, and then installing a removable sink faucet with a long hose that we could route through a window when we want to shower.
  • move fridge up off of floor.
i think that's everything. it's going to be a really big project but i have no other projects going on right now, and we really like the size of this trailer so it would be nice to do the maintenance to make it both last and suit us even better while i'm at it. we will use the bigfoot as it is for the rest of the summer but come this fall, i will be gutting it, reusing what i can, replacing what i must, and making the modifications we want along the way. i have found some similar threads here with tons of great pics and info to give me an idea on how to go about some aspects of the job.


the bigfoot is not in mint condition, and i'm not concerned about making it so. we like our stuff to be in clean, good working order but things that are perfect are too nerve-wracking for us to actually use so i will be focusing more on function over form on this project.


here are some pics of the old thing. you can sort of see the sagging roof in a few of the pics. you can also see the ugly, crappy (haha) toilet installation someone did. i don't like the door design on this thing either as the recessed door frame makes it easy for the door to swing open and bash itself on the seam of the upper and lower fiberglass shells, and bend the door -- which has obviously happened a few times over the years. there used to be some kind of stop at the top of the door but it's long gone so i will find something similar to protect it better.

from what i've seen so far, this looks like a great forum so i look forward to getting people's ideas and input on this project.
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Old 05-23-2016, 08:51 AM   #2
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Door stop is easy. The original was a 3" "plunger door stop" and attached to the top right corner of the door. You have 2 screw holes where the plunger was attached.

Amazon.com: RV Designer Collection E255 3" Angled Metal Plunger Entry Door Holder: Automotive
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Old 05-23-2016, 09:00 AM   #3
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Toilet is odd. Is there a black water tank below it? If so, I would replace it. I just installed a Thedford Aqua Magic V and it's great. All the plumbing is behind the toilet.
Where are you thinking about relocating the frig? Is the roof leaking? Mine has 'the sag' but no leak so I've left it alone.

Aqua-Magic® V Hand Flush | Products | Thetford

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Old 05-23-2016, 09:54 AM   #4
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nice, thanks for the links, tom. i will order one of those door stops now.

the bottom of the toilet IS the black water tank, and the grey water from the sink also gets piped into it. so when we get rid of the toilet, i will need to install a proper grey water tank.

not sure about where i'd like to relocate the fridge. i haven't given any time to actually planning out the mods yet, i just know i'd like it at a normal working height. laying on the floor to light the fridge is a PITA, and crouching down to get food is almost as bad.

no roof leaks. seems like a clear design flaw in this model. not enough roof support on the left side and front of the trailer. i'll brainstorm some ideas over the summer on how to support it without having a bunch of stupid walls in the way.

wow, your bigfoot looks awesome. very clean, and i love the decals on the side. maybe when i'm finished fixing ours up i'll treat myself and get some similar decals made.
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Old 05-23-2016, 10:09 AM   #5
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project....

you got your work cut out for you alright....but when you're done you'll have EXACTLY what you want....

I like the way you think....."we like our stuff to be in clean, good working order but things that are perfect are too nerve-wracking for us to actually use so i will be focusing more on function over form on this project."....I very much feel just the same way

finding a spot to locate the fridge off the floor will be a challenge..but if you get rid of the toilet you might find some options...I can see how having a fridge on the floor could get "old" real fast...you'll have to weigh how much work is going to be involved re propane and power source for moving that fridge....good luck

up until 89-90 BF17s were offered with a lot of options....like hot water and shower for one...yours didn't come with that obviously.....and some owners mention sagging roofs as an issue....some do something about it...some don't...if it's don't leak it's an aesthetic issue....

after 89-90 they all came "standard" with no options ("fully loaded" sort of) that's when full FG wet baths made their appearance.....no sagging roofs reported in that next run (1500 series) 89-90 to 2004....I get get up on my roof and walk around with no deflection noticed (a 97)

good luck and keep us posted on your progress...interesting project indeed...you could get on this site's registry and post some pictures....Where on the island are you located?......cheers, F
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Old 05-23-2016, 10:13 AM   #6
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Hi David, If you have the time, join us for our Bolerama June 10th to 12th at Living forest in Nanaimo. There is at least one other Bigfoot owner, and lots of trailers for you to look at to get ideas from, and many owners to get ideas and suggestions from. There are even people that were in Alaska/Yukon last summer that you can chat with.
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Old 05-23-2016, 07:36 PM   #7
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fellow Vancouver Island 17' 1979 Gaucho owner

Hi David,
I also bought a similar trailer last yer. We live in Mill Bay and we're starting to do some restoration. Just bought a 250' case of butyl caulking for the windows to reseal them. Put a new fridge in and next going to try and find the leak in the water tank. Maybe we could help each other.
Ben
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Old 05-23-2016, 11:29 PM   #8
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The beds in Bigfoots are notoriously narrow. You might take a look at how these folks modified theirs. I think it's one of the nicest solutions to the problem that I've ever seen.

Bigfoot gaucho bed modification
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Old 05-25-2016, 11:02 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bentaal View Post
Hi David,
I also bought a similar trailer last yer. We live in Mill Bay and we're starting to do some restoration. Just bought a 250' case of butyl caulking for the windows to reseal them. Put a new fridge in and next going to try and find the leak in the water tank. Maybe we could help each other.
Ben
Hi Ben & David,

I too am on the island (Comox) and have a 17BF of similar vintage (86'). While searching for bits and pieces to restore/replace...etc, I've found some great original parts (taillight covers, drape clips...etc) at a small RV shop on the highway near Lantzville/Nanaimo. Just thought I'd mention it in case you may be looking.

Cheers,

Michael
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Old 05-25-2016, 11:24 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Franswa View Post
you got your work cut out for you alright....but when you're done you'll have EXACTLY what you want....

I like the way you think....."we like our stuff to be in clean, good working order but things that are perfect are too nerve-wracking for us to actually use so i will be focusing more on function over form on this project."....I very much feel just the same way

finding a spot to locate the fridge off the floor will be a challenge..but if you get rid of the toilet you might find some options...I can see how having a fridge on the floor could get "old" real fast...you'll have to weigh how much work is going to be involved re propane and power source for moving that fridge....good luck

up until 89-90 BF17s were offered with a lot of options....like hot water and shower for one...yours didn't come with that obviously.....and some owners mention sagging roofs as an issue....some do something about it...some don't...if it's don't leak it's an aesthetic issue....

after 89-90 they all came "standard" with no options ("fully loaded" sort of) that's when full FG wet baths made their appearance.....no sagging roofs reported in that next run (1500 series) 89-90 to 2004....I get get up on my roof and walk around with no deflection noticed (a 97)

good luck and keep us posted on your progress...interesting project indeed...you could get on this site's registry and post some pictures....Where on the island are you located?......cheers, F
Franswa, in your photo, I see you have the table in the upright position with what could be a shelf board holding the table top stationary. I've wanted to do something different with my table. Much of the time, I find the table is too big and hard to sit at. A smaller table would be a good thing but retaining the original size is also necessary to make up the bed. An explanation of your modification would be a big help. Any ideas ?
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Old 05-26-2016, 01:14 AM   #11
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hi Jack....

that table/shelf was an after thought...it does not hold the table up and is not fastened to anything...it's just cut exactly to fit...it can slide back and forth on the supports.....sort of a "coffee table"... for when the table is stored vertically....

for the story on the table itself click on the registry link below my name....if you need more detail I'll be glad to supply it
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Old 05-26-2016, 02:21 AM   #12
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more...

to make the table stay there all by itself I had to cut a little off the supports and at a bevel to get a tight and flat fit....I also had to cut a space out of the fiddle I had fastened to the shelf and a very small amount of the shef itself (that's to accomodate the table leg folded up) after that all that was needed were a couple of rubber pads/bumpers under so the table would not damage the fiddle from vibration during travel.....I like the open area... I use it a LOT...
(when you look at the last picture remember that my table is two inches shorter than stock...after I cut that off from the bulkhead end)
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Old 05-26-2016, 07:40 AM   #13
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Franswa, Thanks for the information. The standard table design is not yhe best for me. I have been thinking of ways to make the table smaller but also retain the ability to make it into a bed. I'm thinking a shelf like you show in your photo and a narrow table where both pieces an be used for a bed.
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Old 05-26-2016, 02:16 PM   #14
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yeah that would work....

that shelf/extension would probably have to be 11-12"....to leave you with a roughly 30" table...don't think you'd want shorter than that

(as a "for instance"... my 6" shelf gets slid up right up against the bulkhead when the table is in use and I never notice it...other than it makes a good spot to put stuff....I kinda doubt you'd notice a 12" shelf that much...if you did you could just lift it and rest on the bulkhead)

if it was me I'd store/put away the original table for a future owner.... and just take off the two angle pieces / hardware that hold the table to the bulkhead (leave the leg with the original table)...after that build a table and use a piece of 1x4 with a hinge for the leg....the leg would rest, at an angle, at the bulkhead/floor intersection (should be plenty enough stable for travel).....I did the same kind of thing in a boat once except the table folded down (piano hinge at bullkead end) and the leg folded flat against the bottom of the table....easy peasy

have fun....and remember to take pictures
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