Rebuilding a Bigfoot 5th Wheel - Fiberglass RV


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Old 01-16-2012, 02:40 PM   #1
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Name: Tom
Trailer: Bigfoot
Washington
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Rebuilding a Bigfoot 5th Wheel

Good Day,
I'm rebuilding a '86 bigfoot 5th wheel, and am currently replacing some of the interior wood paneling and the ceiling in the bathroom. I have all the old paneling out, and have been testing different adhesives for bonding to the hard foam and the paneling, and so far I have not come up with a acceptable adhesive, seems most want to melt the foam, or not bond well. Best thing so far is a construction adhesive, "liquid nails" designed for frp bath panels, but it does not adheare that well, while not damaging the foam, it breaks loose easily on a bend test.
So, what have others on this list been using?
I would perfer a application with a brush over spray on if possible, as some of the repairs require rebonding small areas that have come loose, with no need to completely remove the panel.
I would really appreciate your input on this, so thanks in advance.
Tom Y
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Old 01-16-2012, 02:44 PM   #2
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Hi Tom, welcome to FiberglassRV. I'll leave the answering of your question to the experts... but, wanted to welcome you to one of the friendliest forums on the web.

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Old 01-16-2012, 03:06 PM   #3
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Thanks Donna D,
I feel welcome already! I have been around since december, researching all sorts of stuff. Having great fun rebuilding this little bigfoot, and have been around cast fiberglass campers for some time, mostly Scamps. This Bigfoot is like a mansion to us, 19ft of heaven for sure. Recently retired and planning on wearing this unit out again with many miles of adventure. I would never consider any other type of construction, balsa cored aluminum campers are a big pain, and not nearly as cool.
If you want to make friends fast just pull up to a campground with a cast fiberglass camper.
Tom Y
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Old 01-16-2012, 03:57 PM   #4
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Tom, I found this topic about glues and Bigfoot trailers.... '80 Bigfoot trailer

Hope it helps.
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Old 01-16-2012, 05:37 PM   #5
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Epoxy is the permanent foam friendly glue of choice, although it is somewhat expensive and not the easiest to apply. Here's another link: http://www.fiberglassrv.com/forums/f...que-48903.html Here's our go-round with fixing a delamination: Bigfoot 5th wheel bunk area delamination
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Old 01-16-2012, 09:51 PM   #6
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Trailer: 1979 13 ft Boler, 1987 & 1988 Bigfoot 5th Wheel
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Congratulation on your 5th wheel! Please post some pictures and be sure to document your repairs if you can, these types of repairs seem common on Bigfoots of that era.
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Old 01-17-2012, 11:32 AM   #7
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I second the more pictures. I love to see images. Congratulations on your purchase.
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Old 01-18-2012, 12:12 AM   #8
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Posting Photos

So Lots of good advice, I have worked with West System epoxies before on boat projects, and have some tests underway using hard foam, after a few days I will check the bond.
Hopefully there is four photos attached of the Bigfoot, when it arrived from Victoria last fall. I will get some photos of the interior in it's present disassembled state when I can dig the door open on the boat shed it is living in for restoration, we seem to have a bit of snow on the Olympic Peninsula today, and expecting more tomorrow, but will post those soon.
This model has a different interior layout, with a set of swivel chairs on the passenger side and a couch on the drivers side that makes into a queen bed.
Thanks for all the information, and the welcome's too.
Tom Y
Attached Thumbnails
Drivers side 1.jpg   Drivers side 2.jpg  

Passenger side 1.jpg   passenger side 2.jpg  

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Old 01-18-2012, 05:18 AM   #9
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Nice looking rig Tom, thanks for posting the pics. I'll look forward to interior pics too

Hopefully this snow storm will move through quickly... we're more used to the non-frozen stuff!!!
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Old 01-18-2012, 07:04 AM   #10
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Congrats on getting the best (in my opinion) layout of all the various Bigfoot 5th wheel configurations. The lower rear side windows and the smaller table make this layout feel much larger and more open. Looking forward to seeing your progress. Your epoxy boat-building skills will translate directly to this project.
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Old 01-18-2012, 12:22 PM   #11
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Tony, I'm looking forward to the interior pictures. All I have seen of that layout are blurry cell phone pictures in a few ads. It would be nice to have a good look at the layout.

According to the brochure of the time there was one more layout with an "L" shaped dinette on the curb side and a counter and desk on the street side.
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Old 01-22-2012, 09:07 AM   #12
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Trailer: 1994 20 ft Bigfoot 5th Wheel
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Hi Tony. Congratulations on your Bigfoot purchase. They are wonderful trailers. We currently have a 1987 Bigfoot 5th Wheel, but previously had a 1984 5th Wheel and a 1989 17’ Bigfoot Trailer. Here is a previous posting when we were selling our 1984 Bigfoot. SOLD - Bigfoot 5th-wheel - Beautifully Refurbished

I believe the factory used contact cement when the trailers were first manufactured. This method is both good and challenging. Once the cement is dry to the touch on each half there is very little time needed to hold and brace the pieces together while it cures. The challenge is working overhead the cement does not allow for any shifting into place. Once the two halves touch you’re done. I have not had to remove large sections, just some small repairs and found Gorilla Glue works well. Remember that glue does foam up and will find every possible seam to leak out.

On another note after looking at your photos, I wanted to let you know about a design flaw I discovered with our 1984. The steel framing that supports the bunk area creates a triangle to the King Pin. On our trailer we had quite a bit of fiberglass damage around our hitch light. To ultimately solve that, with the help of my brother-in-law, we fabricated tubular steel “L” frame extensions welded to the existing frame creating a larger rectangle to fully support the weight of the fiberglass nose. Hopefully you won’t have to go to that extreme, but keep an eye on your light to see if there is any cracking. Later Bigfoot Industries realized this design flaw and fixed that issue. Hope that helps.

Chris
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Old 01-22-2012, 01:11 PM   #13
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Thanks Maureen,
That is all good information. The Pink contact adhesive Bigfoot used I suspect may have been water based, otherwise most other contact adhesives melt the foam. I like the Gorilla Glue idea on smaller areas, but I am very impressed with the epoxy tests I did, every test found the epoxy repair was stronger than anything else, just a bit harder to work with, if you don't have flat surfaces to bond together, the epoxy needs a filler otherwise it does not bridge the gaps well. The foaming ability of the Gorilla Glue would bridge gaps or imperfections in the surface just fine. I'll play with that and see how strong / flexible it is.
Do you know what the factory did to correct the overhead /bunk area sagging issue? I may have gotten lucky and dodged the bullet so far on that one, no damage is showing. But if there is something I can do to reinforce or correct it now sure would be the time before any body damage occours.
Do you have any photos of your '87? My wife and I are looking for ideas on modernizing some of the interior, the walls are pretty dark origionally, and I have seen some cool things done with Contact wall paper. I know we are planning on removing the carpeting downstairs and installing a laminated hardwood flooring. I do like the couch and swivel chairs model, the smaller table works fine for the two of us, and there is lots of room to move around. The table has slides and moves closer to the center of the room when needed.
All suggestions are much appreciated,
BTW, it's Tom Y.
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Old 01-22-2012, 02:45 PM   #14
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Tom,

We have a 1988 Bigfoot 5th wheel with the u-shape dinette. We've been making repairs and customizing it to our needs. It looks like the paneling is installed using some type of contact cement and lots of staples.

The previous owner put down new flooring using a vinyl plank similar to this: 6 in. x 36 in. Bamboo Light Resilient Vinyl Plank Flooring (24 sq. ft./case)-7111 at The Home Depot It's holding up well.

We've replaced the converter, added LED lights - interior and exterior, replaced the toilet and bathroom fan, installed surge protection, and removed the dead solar panel, and old leaking awning and antenna. For additional storage we added a wire shelf in the closet just below the door. Good place for things you don't need often but can get to easily. But my favorite mod is putting hinges on the steps to store shoes.

Don P. restored a 1988 BF 5th wheel and took lots of pictures. They may be of some help so here is the link to them:
Bigfoot Restoration

Good luck with your project.

Nita
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