Bigfoot 17 drop to straight axle - Fiberglass RV


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Old 09-09-2013, 11:53 PM   #1
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Name: Mike
Trailer: Bigfoot 17' DLX
Alaska
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Bigfoot 17 drop to straight axle

In preparation for my trip home from Alaska to California this fall I finally replaced the drop axle with a straight version as we discussed in this older thread...

Axle replacement on Bigfoot 15B17CB

The only thing I didn't do as planned was use the optional 3" diameter 5,200 lb. axle tube. As it turned out I would have had to special order it and the time and expense to get it to Alaska didn't justify it for me. The regular 3,500 lb. axle, along with all new hubs, brakes, etc. was all in stock at a local Dexter distributor so I had them put it all in for me last week.

The drop to straight axle conversion did exactly what I wanted, gave me about 4-inches of lift. Plus, now everything is new (axle, hubs, brakes, springs) and the E-Z Lube hubs will make servicing easier.

As you can see in the photos before and after, the ground clearance is significantly higher now, which is what I was after. Now I don't have to worry about scraping the dump valves and associated plumbing in the bad spots on the Alcan. The "acid test" starts in a couple weeks.
Attached Thumbnails
IMG_1120_orig_height.jpg   IMG_6244_strt_axle.jpg  

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Old 09-10-2013, 08:08 AM   #2
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Name: jim
Trailer: 2016 2ndGen Escape19 Prairie Schooner pulled by 2014 Dodge Ram Hemi Sport
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Excellent modification, looks great.
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Old 09-10-2013, 09:09 AM   #3
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Name: Jack L
Trailer: Bigfoot B-17 CB
Washington
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I finished up the same project a few weeks ago and I am very happy with the way things turned out. I used my existing brakes and hubs as they were in very good condition. Towing characteristics did not change. I've had 2 short "shake down" trips no problems. The big test starts later this week. I'm heading to Utah to see the national parks.

Much easier to empty the holding tanks too.

You did a nice job.
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Old 09-10-2013, 11:18 AM   #4
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Name: Mike
Trailer: Bigfoot 17' DLX
Alaska
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Jack,

Good to hear the towing characteristics didn't change. Right now my truck is empty and the trailer is at its lightest so the tongue is ever so slightly high. I'm counting on the load of stuff I will have in both the truck bed, and some food/clothes and full propane tanks in/on the trailer, to get the tongue just about level. I'm hoping it tows nicely once it's level. It's not bad now but it should be even better when level.

The Fastway Flip jack foot I installed a few months ago now works as intended and makes using the jack MUCH faster and easier. It was useless at the original height but I installed it in anticipation of the extra height from the new axle and it works perfectly now.

I too had considered reusing the original hubs and brakes (original Standens stuff), and I mention this only for those researching this conversion, but I wasn't too confident that the previous owner had taken care of the chassis very well. Because all my shop equipment and most of my tools are in California, I had to have someone do the labor and as it turned out, the parts and labor to refurb the hub bearings (bearings, seals, grease) and replace the consumable parts on the brakes, actually cost more than just buying all new components, even including new leaf springs. So for those not doing the work themselves, you might want to look into the difference in cost between refurbishing your original components (if they need it) versus replacing them with new components which require significantly less labor to install.

If I had all my shop equipment here, or was doing this in California, I probably would have gone the same route Jack went though and saved a few bucks. This whole thing, parts and labor, cost me $759.00. To have my original hubs/brakes refurbed and transferred over to the new axle the quote was $900.00. Why? Labor in Alaska is a staggering $100/hour!
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Old 09-10-2013, 02:40 PM   #5
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Name: Brian
Trailer: Boler (B1700RGH) 1979
Alberta
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Originally Posted by Jack L View Post
Towing characteristics did not change.
I'm glad to hear that there was no noticeable degradation, but it does not seem physically possible that raising the trailer caused no changes to the dynamic behaviour of the trailer. It is probably an effective and safe configuration, but stability and resistance to rolling over will be reduced.

This is much like driving a truck or similar SUV and describing the handling as "just like a car"... it may be in normal conditions but when pushed the differences show up.
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Old 09-10-2013, 03:04 PM   #6
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Name: Daniel A.
Trailer: Bigfoot 17.0 1991 dlx
British Columbia
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Nice did you go for bigger tires looks like you have the room.
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Old 09-10-2013, 07:43 PM   #7
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Name: Mike
Trailer: Bigfoot 17' DLX
Alaska
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Originally Posted by Daniel A. View Post
Nice did you go for bigger tires looks like you have the room.
No. I bought the tires before the axle change. The tire/wheel package I installed is here: New tread for my Bigfoot 17

Frankly, I didn't want larger tires. I plan to drag this thing around in the dead of winter, which means chains/cables, and a lot of ice build up in the wheel wells. I prefer having some room in there even if just to make installing traction devices easier.
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Old 09-01-2014, 06:32 PM   #8
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Name: CAMPER
Trailer: BIGFOOT
Colorado
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New lift

Quote:
Originally Posted by trainjunkie View Post
In preparation for my trip home from Alaska to California this fall I finally replaced the drop axle with a straight version as we discussed in this older thread...

Axle replacement on Bigfoot 15B17CB

The only thing I didn't do as planned was use the optional 3" diameter 5,200 lb. axle tube. As it turned out I would have had to special order it and the time and expense to get it to Alaska didn't justify it for me. The regular 3,500 lb. axle, along with all new hubs, brakes, etc. was all in stock at a local Dexter distributor so I had them put it all in for me last week.

The drop to straight axle conversion did exactly what I wanted, gave me about 4-inches of lift. Plus, now everything is new (axle, hubs, brakes, springs) and the E-Z Lube hubs will make servicing easier.

As you can see in the photos before and after, the ground clearance is significantly higher now, which is what I was after. Now I don't have to worry about scraping the dump valves and associated plumbing in the bad spots on the Alcan. The "acid test" starts in a couple weeks.
How was the new lift riding now?
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Old 09-01-2014, 06:47 PM   #9
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Name: Mike
Trailer: Bigfoot 17' DLX
Alaska
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Originally Posted by CAMPER DOUG View Post
How was the new lift riding now?
Honestly, I have no idea how it rides. Nobody rides back there when it's being towed. But even on the crazy, bumpy Alcan, I rarely find anything out of place in the trailer, and have never found anything broken. It tracks and tows beautifully and the increased ground clearance really makes it easy when you get off the main highway.

One thing I also added later were wet shackles, which really makes it ride a lot quieter. No more squeaking and groaning as I go down the road. And no squeaking inside the trailer when I walk around in it. Best mod ever!

Greasable (wet) shackle kit installed on Bigfoot
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Old 09-01-2014, 08:38 PM   #10
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Name: Jack L
Trailer: Bigfoot B-17 CB
Washington
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I did the same conversion a little over a year ago and I'm very pleased with the resulting ground clearance. I have not noticed any changes in ride. Two trips to Utah and Arizona on lots of BLM roads convinced me it was a good upgrade. I have not added any provision to lube the shackles but may do that later. One thing I would probably do differently would be upgrade to a higher capacity axle. When I weigh my trailer with a moderate load I'm close to the maximum capacity of the axle. Going to a larger capacity axle adds considerably to the cost. A 5200# or 6000# axle requires new brakes, drums, hubs, wheels and tires.
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