Bigfoot 13.5ft axle - Fiberglass RV


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Old 03-27-2013, 10:30 PM   #1
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Name: Andrew
Trailer: 13ft Bigfoot
British Columbia
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Bigfoot 13.5ft axle

Hey I recently picked up a real nice 1993 bigfoot 13.5 ft trailer. Its in great shape, but the only thing that needs attention is the axle. It looks like its bottomed right out pointing about 10-15 degrees up. I knew the trailer sat low, but didnt realise how bad until I started loading my gear into it for this weekend. My original plan was to add to the frame a bit and put a solid axle and leafs under it later in the season, for more ground clearance. However we have a trip from BC to Oregon early June, and the bottomed out axle has me a little worried.

I started looking into Dexter torflex axles for a quicker bolt in replacement of the leading axle before the trip. I cant seem to find much info on what was originally speced in the trailer as far as arm angles and specifics on the hubs. Lots of info for bolers and scamps but I cant seem to find much bigfoot info through the search on here. Has anyone replaced theirs already and have any info on what to get from Dexter?

Also I dont have much experience in torsion axles. The axle seems bottomed out, will it get any lower or will it get worse until the tire eventually hits the inner fender? Just need to weigh my options before the big trip.
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Old 03-27-2013, 11:21 PM   #2
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I just went through putting an axel under an 88 Lil Bigfoot.
There is no stock axel today that willl fit due to the configuration of the frame.
Trailer frames usually have paralell frame rails where the axel is attached.
The Lil Bigfoot has an Aframe shaped frame rails where the axel is attached.
The shop who did mine modified the frame towards the front of the trailer and mounted a Dexter trailing axel.
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Old 03-28-2013, 12:26 AM   #3
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Trailer: Boler (B1700RGH) 1979
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I've never seen one of these, and had forgotten about Perry's earlier description of the tapered frame situation.

Although no stock axle would fit, custom brackets on a torsion axle crosstube should be available. Flexiride axles are routinely built by Flexiride distributors (who plug in the stock rubber components after they fabricate the rest), and probably by some of the various companies that build axles of the same design as the Dexter Torflex. Personally, I would check with Standen's.

Yes, modifying the frame to provide a suitable mounting location seems like a good alternative.
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Old 03-30-2013, 04:44 PM   #4
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Trailer: 1989 Bigfoot 17'
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My 1989 17' Bigfoot has a dropped axle in it and the ground clearance for the waste tank and fittings is too low so we are going to get the same type axle but with less drop or even straight across. Thinking it should be good for another 4 or 5" but I didn't realize the leaf springs were not parallel to each other front to back so will have to watch for that when we order the new axle.
Thanks for the heads up.
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Old 03-30-2013, 05:31 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Don N View Post
My 1989 17' Bigfoot has a dropped axle in it and the ground clearance for the waste tank and fittings is too low so we are going to get the same type axle but with less drop or even straight across. Thinking it should be good for another 4 or 5"...
The common drop is 4". You might find a 3" drop, but it would presumably not be worthwhile to change the beam for only a 1 inch increase. Past that, the next option is likely a straight beam (no drop); removing a 4" drop simply raises the trailer that 4 inches.

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Originally Posted by Don N View Post
... I didn't realize the leaf springs were not parallel to each other front to back so will have to watch for that when we order the new axle.
The frame rails in the 13-foot "Little Bigfoot" are not parallel; however, the ones in a 17-foot probably are parallel. Check, but I would be surprised if there is any issue. In the 13-footer doesn't use leaf springs - as Andrew mentioned, it normally has a rubber torsion axle, such as a Dexter Torflex.
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Old 03-30-2013, 05:35 PM   #6
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The Lil Bigfoot has a leading axel.
Dexter will not guarantee their axel if it's used in a leading installation.

I even e-mailed the original owner of Bigfoot manufacturing and his comment was good luck.

John
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Old 03-31-2013, 10:38 PM   #7
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Name: Andrew
Trailer: 13ft Bigfoot
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The Lil Bigfoot has a leading axel.
Dexter will not guarantee their axel if it's used in a leading installation.

I even e-mailed the original owner of Bigfoot manufacturing and his comment was good luck.

John
Hah thats good to know. I think I've found my simple solution for now. The stock frame isnt a great shape for modifying or adding to. Its basically a big C channel V, with the only lateral support being the axle bolted in with 4 bolts.

I've got a brand new axle and springs from a Sullair 425 air compressor, which a customer from work bought and wanted to mount in a cube van so he didnt need the towable parts. Its probably a few inches wider, but I may able to compensate for that with different rims or fender flares to match the Jeep. At the rear of my bigfoot the frame is 49.5" wide, and the spring perches on the new axle are 51.5" outside. My plan is to make a simple square sub frame from 2x4 steel (laid flat) to mount the axle and springs to, and bolt it to the bigfoot frame. With the 2" lift from the sub frame, I should be able to leave the new axle sprung under, and still gain more than enough lift for getting out where I want to go.

Thats the plan anyway. I would much rather pull the bigfoot frame and out build something much stronger while keeping the factory mounting locations. But theres no time for that before my trips this year. Hopefully dig the axle out of where I have it stored this week and get started on this project in a couple weeks.
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Old 04-01-2013, 12:35 PM   #8
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Trailer: Bigfoot 13'
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Andrew

I have a 93 13.5 lil Bigfoot; I bought it with a bent axle, I didn't know it was bent at that time. it was out of square several inches. We were in northern BC when the brand new tires (which I had put on in Utah). showed that the driver side tire was wearing badly, on the bent side, and the other side slight wear because of the impact moving each tire mount out of position. I had it bent back into position at Watson Lake. in the YK Territories. Couldn't get any tires in the town, limped into Anchorage. I pulled the axle in a camp ground a few miles out of town. measuring from the center of the ball connection to the same point on each side of the axle we felt that it was alined very well, putting it back in place. Now to my question, is there some thing damaged with the rubber core of the axle. If it is just bent it could be straightened out at a good machine shop. I was afraid I would not make it to a place to get new tires, in White Horse they could order them flown in. Wish you success. I talked to the present owners of Bigfoot and the don't have any of the old blue prints of our trailers.

Later Kenny
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Old 05-25-2013, 11:35 PM   #9
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Trailer: 13ft Bigfoot
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So I finally have an update. I ended up going a different route. I stopped into a trailer and spring shop to buy some bits and pieces for that old compressor axle I got, and started talking to the owner about what I was dealing with. He suggested trying his axle manufacturers for an OEM replacement which obivously went nowhere. But after talking costs with him I was supprised how relatively inexpensive a new made to spec torsion axle was compared to buying steel and all the labor involved in what I wanted to do. I ended up having him measuring up my trailer for a new Flexiride torsion axle. I went with a 3500lbs incase I do get into upgrading the frame some day, and it also has splined adjustable ends so the arm angle is adjustable.

According to the guys at the shop the axle manufacturers will only make the axles with straight brackets. Anything else is a custom job and they will say no to it cause they cant be sure everything will be exact for the application. My solution was to have the axle ordered so it sit under the frame, one reason because figuring out how to mount it in the stock location would take a lot of work, and second because I wanted the extra lift. The brackets were ordered wide enough to pick up the rear bolt holes, at least that was the plan. It showed up half an inch narrower which was just enough to make it all a bit of a pain in the ass. But I managed to work around it. I then got two pieces of 3/8 plate and took it all to a commercial welder I know and had him weld the plates onto the axle brackets. That gave me a way to adapt the bolt pattern on the axle to the stock bolt pattern on the frame. I had planned to up the bolt size from 1/2" to 5/8", but the holes in the frame are so close to the outside that it barely fits a 1/2" washer. So I scrapped that idea for now and put new grade 8 1/2" bolts in.

I have a couple quick pics. Probably should have got a few of the install but it was late. If anyone is interested I can snap a couple soon. I think in the end I netted about 9 inches of lift with the axle set at 20 degrees down. I know the height is not for everyone, but its perfect for what I want to do. Just in time for our trip next week. If anyone sees it on its lid or on the side of the road with no axle between Port Angeles WA and Florence OR, its free you can have it.
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