Raising a Bigfoot - Fiberglass RV


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Old 07-26-2008, 11:52 PM   #1
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Trailer: 1990 Lil Bigfoot / 2001 Xterra
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Hello All;

I have recently adopted a 13' Lil' Bigfoot, and am looking forward to getting it out and spending some quality time with it.

Looking underneath, I can see it's got a "trailing" torsion bar suspension - which leads to my question. I am towing with a 2001 Nissan Xterra, and on a standard 2" drop hitch, there's a pretty big angle between the hitch and the rear bumper. I would like to even things out, preferably by raising the rear end up to level out with the hitch.

Is there any "appropriate" way to do this?

Thanks in advance...I'm sure I'll have many more questions as me and the Bigfoot get to know each other
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Old 07-27-2008, 08:35 AM   #2
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Welcome to our Egg Basket Peter!!!

Are you asking how to raise the trailer??
Is there a need for it to be higher, or do you just want it to tow level??
If you only want it to tow more level, the easiest way is to break out your bank book, dust away any moths and BUY a new receiver of appropriate drop to get the 'Foot to right where you want it. I'm afraid I can't help any with the other option of a suspension lift.
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Old 07-27-2008, 03:02 PM   #3
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Trailer: 1990 Lil Bigfoot / 2001 Xterra
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Yeah, I'm a bit of an addicted flyfisherman, and a lot of the lakes and rivers I'd like to camp at feature roads that are somewhat less than smooth .

So I was specifically thinking of some sort of body or suspension lift in order to accomodate slightly larger tires and gain some clearance under the axle. If it's going to be a major hassle, however (or ruin the towability of the unit), I'll just get a drop hitch and run it that way.
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Old 07-27-2008, 09:25 PM   #4
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Name: Arthur
Trailer: 1979 Trillium 4500
British Columbia
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Yeah, I'm a bit of an addicted flyfisherman, and a lot of the lakes and rivers I'd like to camp at feature roads that are somewhat less than smooth .

So I was specifically thinking of some sort of body or suspension lift in order to accomodate slightly larger tires and gain some clearance under the axle. If it's going to be a major hassle, however (or ruin the towability of the unit), I'll just get a drop hitch and run it that way.
I recently purchased a Trillium. The guy who owned it before me also wanted to get through some rough spots with his trailer. He raised the trillium 4 inches thus making room for a 15" wheel. He welded together a sub frame which he attached the axel to. If you check this link http://www.fiberglassrv.com/board/in...howtopic=30887 I drew up a rough sketch as well as some pics. They're not the greatest pics but you get the idea. I have a Ford Expedition and I don't use a drop hitch or atleast a minimal one.
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Old 07-27-2008, 09:51 PM   #5
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Name: Bob
Trailer: Lil Bigfoot 13.5 ft
Alberta
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Hi Peter

I picked up a 13 foot bigfoot a few weeks back too. I'm towing with a 06 Ford Freestar. We recently made a trip through the rockies and it was great. I too want to raise the trailer up a bit, so I crawled under and had a look. If you want to go a couple of inches or so, it looks easy, a piece of squre tubing and some longer bolts. If you want to go higher, you might have to fab up an extra little sub frame of some sort.

I'll probably add a two inch lift for some of the back roads around here.

Bob
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Old 07-27-2008, 10:30 PM   #6
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Trailer: 1990 Lil Bigfoot / 2001 Xterra
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Thanks for the tips guys!

I was thinking exactly the same thing - just a metal bracket or something like - which would raise the frame up the necessary amount. Great to hear that it could be as simple as it looks! If I do go this route, I'll chat with a friend who owns a fabrication shop (and a CNC machine!) and see what he thinks.

Cheers,

Peter (Kelowna, B.C.)
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Old 07-28-2008, 01:14 AM   #7
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Plan ahead -- If you raise it with a spacer, try to raise it enough so you have the option of putting on larger tires and wheels in future -- Spacer only raises body, but larger rolling stuf also raises the axle from better clearance.
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Old 08-26-2008, 01:20 AM   #8
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Trailer: Lil Bigfoot 13 ft 1989
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I have lifted my 13ft 1989 lil bigfoot with an aluminum 2 inch square tubing about a foot long and longer high grade bolts. It has worked fine with over 4000 miles all over northwest. I have taken it offroad in Utah and the clearance has been great. There was no need to increase the wheel diameter. Stepping up and in to the trailer is a little awkward.

See attached pics.

There is one thing I have always wondered about concerning the axle. You will notice in the pic that are slots cut in the frame to allow clearance but the slot is huge. Also the torsion arm is leading, not trailing.
Does anyone know how it was set up originally (I brought it used)?

The reason I am here is because I started a major overhaul after discovering water damage and dry rot. The front window leaked (possibly due to the gravel guard mount. The interior walls were moldy and peeling off. The 3/4 plywood floor was rotten. Everything was removed, the floor replaced, glued, and glassed. I am now going the try and replace the interior with indoor/outdoor carpet.

I honestly do know where I am going with this project or where it is going to end.
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bigfoot1.jpg   bigfoot2.jpg  

bigfoot3.jpg  
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Old 08-26-2008, 09:31 AM   #9
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If you are using a standard 2" receiver on your Nissan you can get different drop heights for your ball mount. I have a F150 4x4 and use an 8" drop to get the trailer to tow level. Cost... about $30.00.
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Old 08-27-2008, 05:36 PM   #10
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Name: Bob
Trailer: Lil Bigfoot 13.5 ft
Alberta
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thanks for the photos Craig... exactly what I want to do.....
as far as I know, my frame has the same cutout, and it's at the original height (1988)
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Old 08-28-2008, 04:06 AM   #11
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Raising the frame seems like a good thing to me. I have a slightly inclined driveway and the rear jacks scrape every time I come home from a trip.

However, you might do well to simply consider larger wheels and tires. If I remember correctly (without going outside in the middle of the night), the Littlefoot has 14" wheels. There's room to make them at least one inch bigger.

Regardless of that, this will very nicely solve that angle problem: http://www.sportsmansguide.com/net/cb/cb.aspx?a=196820
It has turned out to be worth the expense and then some. It lets me adjust for varying truck/trailer loads, depending on how heavily loaded the trip needs to be. All U-haul hitch centers seem to have it and I'm really pleased I bought it.

Enjoy your Li'l Bigfoot. I've enjoyed mine!
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Old 08-28-2008, 07:50 AM   #12
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A couple of differing thoughts here... a proper length drop draw bar is the least expensive fix. Measure the ground clearance of your Expedition's axle, and then measure the ground clearance of the axle on the trailer and see if isn't really enough to go most of the places you'll tow the trailer. I towed a '76 Scamp 13' off-road for a couple of years behind a Jeep CJ-7 in the Anza Borrego desert in SoCal and never had a problem with it.

However, a 1990 Lil' Bigfoot is 18 years old now. The design life of a rubber torsion axle is about twenty years, so yours is nearing the end of it's useful life. Some go for twenty-five, some don't make it twenty, but in any event, you're close. First check to see if your axle is still good. If it is, then have a ball and do what you want. I think were it me though, rather than mess around with a body lift at 18 years into the axle life, I'd consider getting a new axle with a 22.5* or 45* down angle, perhaps use a small spacer and go with larger tires (whatever it takes to raise the hitch height to the now-standard 18" or 20" or whatever you want). The cost of a new axle for that trailer will be in the $350 range plus installation and you won't have to worry about the trailer tearing itself apart without suspension, and you'll only have to do the mod once.

Roger
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Old 09-09-2008, 07:29 AM   #13
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Trailer: 87 Lil Bigfoot
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I have a 1987 13.5' Lil Bigfoot and was finding the trailer was sitting low. I had purchased a 2 1/2" drop down trailer hitch and that allowed for level towing, but it was still low. I was experiencing wheel rub in the wheel wells and noticed bad tire wear. The problem was the axle itself. The axle was made by Dexter Axles as stated on the original tag on the axle. The serial number was unreadable. I used the standard order form from the local (200 miles away) Dexter Axle supplier and ordered a replacement unit. I had two adaptor plates made to mate the new axle to the old frame. Two new tires were installed and I had to 'flip' my trailer hitch. In the end I gained 5" in overall height and probably an inch or two of that in axle clearance with the new axle and new tires. My retail cost for the axle was around $200 Canadian. I could take pictures if someone wants to see the end result.
I have a question about the floor in the trailer, what is under the wood, is there any joist or is the flooring right on the fiberglass? The reason I ask is my floor is 'soft' to walk on, it has been that way since we bought it a few years ago. Is this normal?
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Old 09-09-2008, 09:33 AM   #14
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Trailer: 1989 Bigfoot 17 ft and 1989 Li'l Bigfoot 13 ft
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I could take pictures if someone wants to see the end result.
Pictures please!!

Sorry, I haven't really gotten into my 13' yet to answer your floor question, but I would hazard an educated guess that there is no joist type system and that the plywood is most likely directly on the fiberglass. In the 17' I have a soft spot that needs a bit of rubber cushioning between the frame and the underside of the floor.

ETA: Welcome to the forum Rick H, just realized you are a new member. Sometimes it's good to start a new thread if asking a question not related to the original post, you'll get more helpful responses.
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