Axle replacement on Bigfoot 15B17CB - Fiberglass RV


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Old 03-22-2010, 10:47 AM   #1
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Trailer: 1999 Scamp 13 ft and 2003 Bigfoot 17 ft (15B17CB)
Wisconsin
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After a storage building partially collapsed on the BF, the drivers side wheel was noted to have more camber than before, so a axle replacement is being planned. The dry weight is almost 2900 lbs so the current 3500lb axle is sufficient for our needs. We are considering a heavier axle for more load capacity but don't want too harsh of a trailer ride,
Any thoughts or experiences appreciated.
Tony and Darlene
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Old 03-22-2010, 11:59 AM   #2
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Name: Rachel
Trailer: 1974 Boler 13 ft (Neonex/Winnipeg)
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I can't speak to a Bigfoot, specifically, and I'm not an axle expert.

Now, if you're still reading ....

One thing to keep in mind is that you are not accounting for the entire gross weight of the trailer with the axle capacity, as I understand it.

1) You aren't supporting the "unsprung" weight of the axle, wheels, and tires themselves.

2) You aren't supporting the tongue weight (it's on the tow vehicle).

For my wee Boler, I would imagine that the above would subtract somewhere in the neighborhood of 250#.

What I don't know is whether an axle that is overly "large" provides a rough ride. That seems like it would be true, intuitively, but

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Old 03-22-2010, 09:14 PM   #3
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Trailer: 2000 Bigfoot 17 ft (15B17CB)
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The dry weight is almost 2900 lbs so the current 3500lb axle is sufficient for our needs. We are considering a heavier axle for more load capacity but don't want too harsh of a trailer ride,
Any thoughts or experiences appreciated.
Tony and Darlene
I installed a straight 5200lb 3" diameter axle under my 15B17CB due to load concerns a few years ago. I used new springs rated for 2050lbs each, which looked very similar to the original springs and had the same eye to eye measurement. This axle has larger 12" brakes with six bolt hubs, so I replaced the 14" wheels with 15" trailer rims and much higher load rated tires. I specified a slightly narrower axle to ensure the wider tires would still fit inside the fender skirts and installed a Dexter shock kit. I feel this has worked well for me, as my Bigfoot is close to 4000lbs axle weight when loaded up.

I see that Dexter has recently released a 4400lb axle with 10" brakes, perhaps this would be a good option for you. I think the 4400lb rating has more to do with the brake size, spindle, bearing and spring selection, as it uses a 3" tube as does the 5200lb axle (the original 3500lb axle has a 2 3/8" tube). I think this axle also uses six bolt hubs, so new rims would be required as well. I don't think there would be a major difference in ride harshness with this upgrade, and I probably would have went this way myself if this axle had been available at the time. I may even seek out the springs specified for this axle to use as replacements for mine if they begin to wear and sag.

One other option that also has recently come to my attention, is that Dexter now offers a 3" .180 wall thickness tube as an extra cost option for their 3500lb axles. I wonder if this could be a response to customer complaints regarding bent or prematurely sagging axles? If you are indeed well under this load capacity, this could be more cost effective with no new rims and tires required.

My personal opinion is that quite a few 17 foot Bigfoots approach or exceed the standard axle rating, especially the newer models with all the options. The evidence is various Bigfoot 17's sporting sagging axles with the tires leaning in at the top that I have seen more than a few times in my travels.
I also think few RV owners ever actually weigh their rigs fully loaded for camping with topped up propane and water tanks and most tend to rely on hopelessly inaccurate "dry" weights listed by the manufacturers. There also seems to be a tendency to underestimate the actual total weight of all the stuff we pack into our rigs.

Steve.
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Old 03-23-2010, 07:34 AM   #4
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To add more information to the puzzle of weight of 17' models, I took my very early 15B17G to a CAT scales and it weighs 2290 lbs. It has no shower, no hot water heater, no air conditioner but I don't know what else accounts for the weight difference.
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Old 03-23-2010, 09:31 PM   #5
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To add more information to the puzzle of weight of 17' models, I took my very early 15B17G to a CAT scales and it weighs 2290 lbs. It has no shower, no hot water heater, no air conditioner but I don't know what else accounts for the weight difference.
Thanks for your input, there does indeed seem to be a wide range of weights, but perhaps it is not so much of a puzzle.
Yes, the early units do weigh much less, but over the years much more optional equipment has been added; Fiberglass covers for the propane tanks and spare tire, dual propane tanks,furnace, gas ovens, awnings, electronic equipment, speakers, day/night shades, fantastic fans, skylights, stabilizer jacks, microwave ovens, solar panels, thermo-pane glass, roof ladders, outside showers, extra wiring, more lights,outside storage hatches, much bigger refrigerators, propane/smoke/CO detectors, TV antenna, battery disconnects, grab bars, etc. This is not to mention that Bigfoot reinforced the roof on later models to better support an air conditioner and allow for roof storage.

Bigfoot did do a much better job of listing a more realistic "dry" weight than most other manufacturers in the later years. They listed the factory weight of a standard trailer, then listed the weight of all of the options individually for your specific unit. For example, my 2000 model's base weight was listed as 2490lbs (which is not too far off Tom's figure), the "standard" option package adds another 127.5 lbs, with additional options another 113 lbs. Dealer installed air conditioner and stabilizer jacks probably chalk up nearly 200 lbs more. So the estimated "dry" weight of my unit according to Bigfoot numbers is already 2930 lbs (similar to Tony and Darlene's dry weight), with all tanks empty and perhaps less battery. My unit lacks a microwave oven, thermo-pane glass, winter package and outside ladder so I can easily see that some 17 Bigfoots will approach 3000lbs "dry" from the factory.

3000 lbs
The water tank holds 30 US gals of water and the often forgotten hot water tank 6 gallons more +300 lbs
Propane + 40 lbs
Battery? + 60 lbs
Theoretical total weight empty trailer, full tanks 3400 lbs

I think it would be easy to pack 400 lbs of food, tools , bedding, kitchen gear, BBQ, etc. into the rig for an estimated total of 3800lbs! In fact, when I first weighed mine it showed around 3550 lbs on the axle with less than a third of a tank of water and little food in the fridge. The estimated tongue weight was around 400lbs for a total of 3950 lbs - somewhat higher than the "dry" weight figures would have suggested. I have since added some more goodies to the trailer including the beefier/heavier axle and often travel with a full water tank so I assume the axle weight approaches 4000 lbs when fully loaded.

With the upgraded axle, brakes and tires, I don't really care what it weighs exactly, as a reasonable safety margin now exits. I also sometimes wonder if the truck scales are really even accurate to within +/- 100lbs for such small loads.

Steve.
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Old 03-25-2010, 12:00 AM   #6
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I asked Dexter support once and they put me through to one of their engineers. I got the answer for my situation using a torflex axle where he stated that upsizing weights would not affect ride all that much while allowing the difference between dry weight and loaded to travel. Yet does affect safety if you overload the axle and longetivity.
The logic behind the statements were that our trailers differ from trailers that are used to haul things. Those trailers run both empty and fully loaded. Ours run with a good portion of the load on them even when empty.
Hope that helps.
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Old 03-26-2010, 02:05 PM   #7
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If you change axle diameter you need to be sure it will mount to your springs. If you change springs you need to be sure they are the same distance from mounting eye to mounting eye because the brackets the springs mount to are welded to the frame and canít be changed. Here are a couple of links for you. The first is AA Wheel & Truck Supply. You can search their web site and find their suppliers. I had to replace an odd size 3500 lb Dexter axle on my 21í Bigfoot. (You have to be able to measure hub face to hub face and spring center to spring center and know whether it is under slung or over slung) They custom ordered mine from Dexter and sold it to me at a really reasonable price. I was very pleased with their service. They also have replacement electric brake drum assemblies.



http://www.aawheel.com/SiteResources/Data/...DocName=Welcome



http://www.dexteraxle.com/

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Old 05-07-2010, 09:36 AM   #8
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Trailer: 1999 Scamp 13 ft and 2003 Bigfoot 17 ft (15B17CB)
Wisconsin
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One other option that also has recently come to my attention, is that Dexter now offers a 3" .180 wall thickness tube as an extra cost option for their 3500lb axles. I wonder if this could be a response to customer complaints regarding bent or prematurely sagging axles? If you are indeed well under this load capacity, this could be more cost effective with no new rims and tires required.
(Quote from Steve)
Thaks to Steve, Joe, and Mike on this thread and the related one on weights of older vs. newer 17 foot Bigfoots. We have decided to change to a 3 inch, 3500 lb axle with 0.25 wall thickness. The original axle was 2 3/8 inch with 0.180 wall according to Standens (the builder of the original axle of Dexter parts). Dexter has the 3 inch, 3500 lb axle with "light" wall thickness (0.19) or "medium (0.25). So we can use our same wheels and tires.
Thanks for your thoughts and imput! What a great group.
We will be Scamping until the Bigfoot is repaired and then consider what to do with the 13 footer.
Tony and Darlene
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Old 05-07-2013, 02:52 PM   #9
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I'm reviving this thread since of all the archived axle threads I've read here, this one comes the closest to providing the information I'm looking for.

I have a 1989 Bigfoot B17G Deluxe. It has the original 3,500 lb. drop axle. I want to install a straight axle using the original hubs and brakes to get about 4 inches of lift.

This thread mentions an optional Dexter axle that has larger tubing (3" vs. 2-3/8" on the original axle) and a thicker walled axle tube option (.25 instead of .19). I mentioned this to the shop I'm going to have do the work and the guy didn't know about this optional axle and in fact stated that if it has a thicker wall, it's going to be a higher capacity axle than 3,500 lbs.

I can't find any reference to this on the Dexter web site and I don't know what to tell this guy to get him to locate the right part and estimate it correctly. I definitely want the sturdiest axle I can put under this thing but I do not want to upgrade the hubs or brakes or install larger tires. Can anyone point me in the right direction as far as identifying this optional Dexter part?
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Old 05-07-2013, 03:26 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by trainjunkie View Post
.........

I can't find any reference to this on the Dexter web site and I don't know what to tell this guy to get him to locate the right part and estimate it correctly. I definitely want the sturdiest axle I can put under this thing but I do not want to upgrade the hubs or brakes or install larger tires. Can anyone point me in the right direction as far as identifying this optional Dexter part?
I'd call Dexter or send an on-line inquiry. I had a question about leading arm torsion axles and an engineer got right back with me .

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Old 05-07-2013, 04:00 PM   #11
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Trailer: Boler (B1700RGH) 1979
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Originally Posted by trainjunkie View Post
This thread mentions an optional Dexter axle that has larger tubing (3" vs. 2-3/8" on the original axle) and a thicker walled axle tube option (.25 instead of .19). I mentioned this to the shop I'm going to have do the work and the guy didn't know about this optional axle and in fact stated that if it has a thicker wall, it's going to be a higher capacity axle than 3,500 lbs
Since this is a "Frankenstein" combination of parts - the beam of a higher-capacity axle with the hubs of a normal 3500 lb capacity axle - it is rare and I do see that it is not mentioned in the catalog at all. Someone did it long ago, and I mentioned that in another thread which led to this revived interest, but I can't assure anyone that this is even still available.

I agree that contacting Dexter Axle directly would be the best way to get an authoritative answer.

The reason for my interest is that the Boler 1700 has a narrow frame compared to its track width, so the hubs are far out from the springs and thus the beam is under a lot of bending stress. If you don't have this situation, I don't see any need for the stronger beam.
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Old 05-07-2013, 06:12 PM   #12
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Name: Mike
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Tom and Brian, thanks for the responses. I did contact Dexter with the same inquiry and I still await a response but I thought in the mean time I'd ask here to see who knew what. Never hurts to be over-informed. I'll wait to hear what they say. Thanks!
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Old 05-08-2013, 09:44 AM   #13
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Name: Mike
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Well, here's the answer I got back from Dexter just in case anyone else is thinking about doing this.

The axles tube of .25 wall is no longer available. The axle beam you want is
a model D35 with 3.0" OD tube and straight spindle flanged. The 3.0"
diameter tube is the same tube that we use on our 5200 lbs. capacity axle.
The axle rated capacity would still be 3500 lbs. because that is what the
brakes and hubs are rated at.
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Old 05-08-2013, 02:01 PM   #14
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Excellent - thanks Mike. Too bad they didn't provide some sort of part number or option code...
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