New 17' Bigfoot - Questions on axle - Fiberglass RV


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Old 02-11-2016, 11:33 AM   #1
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New 17' Bigfoot - Questions on axle

I see some threads on upgrading the axles, but I don't know what I'm willing to do just yet.

I figure that since it's a 91, with probably all original gear, it could use some upgrades. And one tire is rubbing just a little on the fender.

What kind of cost would I be looking at the replace the entire thing with something like a Dexter axle? I see they sell complete units, with brakes and hubs and leaf springs. I haven't looked too closely yet to see what it involves, but it's probably something I could do myself.

What have people done as basic upgrades? Just replace the leaf springs and shackles? I know to some extent what I should do will depend on the condition things are in on my trailer, but if you have any advice for a 25 year old bigfoot axle/springs/brakes, let me know.

Thanks.
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Old 02-11-2016, 12:04 PM   #2
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If your tires are almost rubbing you probably have an original axle with a 4" drop. I had 205-75-14 and they came real close to rubbing on my 94. Going to a straight axle will allow for larger tires which also means new wheels. I put a straight axle on mine and reused the brakes and springs. I did the work myself. There was some very simple welding required. The axle perches need to be welded to the axle tube. The rest is just "turning bolts" and jacking up the trailer.
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Old 02-11-2016, 01:58 PM   #3
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Unless you are willing to do all the work yourself, I found it was cheaper to just replace the entire axle assembly and springs, than to replace individual worn components. Doing a R&R on the axle is much less labor intensive than removing it, disassembling then repairing it, and reinstalling it. Time is money.
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Old 02-11-2016, 02:48 PM   #4
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Hmm, welding is the one thing I can't yet do. Might have a friend or two who can, though.

Yes I found on the Dexter site a full assembly with springs, brakes, and everything. Looked really nice. But it didn't have a price. Then there's the $100/hr labor fees. I'll call for a quote and see how far outside my budget it is.

Thanks.

Lately I've had more time than money, and since I mostly enjoy doing this kind of stuff, it works out. But some things are beyond my current skill level.
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Old 02-11-2016, 02:51 PM   #5
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Would I want dual brakes or just a single brake? Not sure what I've got now...
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Old 02-11-2016, 03:05 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ZachO View Post
Would I want dual brakes or just a single brake? Not sure what I've got now...
??
Should be drum brakes, one per wheel. The only variable is the size of the drums.
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Old 02-11-2016, 03:16 PM   #7
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The welding part of the job was pretty easy. I just took the new and old axle to a friends house. My friend had a welder and we just positioned the perches on the axle and used the old axle as a template to position the perches properly, then welded them. The whole job took 20 minutes. I gave my friend a case of beer as a thank you gift and then we drank the beer.
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Old 02-11-2016, 04:39 PM   #8
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Ok. I wouldn't have assumed any different, except on a website listing Dexter full axle assemblies, it lists "tandem brake axle kit" and "single brake axle kit". But I guess tandem refers to two axles. ?

I think it's their positioning of "brake" before axle, making me read it as "single brake" and "tandem brake", instead of "single axle" and "tandem axle".

Knowing nothing about trailer brakes, I guess there was, in my head, room for the possibility that they're only on one side. But that would throw things way out of alignment when you hit the brakes, I guess.

Ok. I'll look into prices and see if it's even something I can justify doing anyways. I definitely want to make sure the axle, brakes and wheel bearings are all in good shape though, one way or another.
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Old 02-12-2016, 10:35 AM   #9
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I replaced the down axle on my 2002 with a new straight one mostly because the ground clearance was unacceptably low, but also so I could upgrade to load E 15" tires.
Not certain, but I think you may have 7" brakes now and the replacement will come with 10", well worthwhile.
Later I also added the Dexter shock absorber kit, also a good upgrade at modest cost.

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Old 02-12-2016, 11:53 AM   #10
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Thanks Walt. I'm going to take a photo of my axle in a little bit here and post it, so people can tell me what I've got.

I'd love to upgrade but I'd also love to not throw a whole bunch of money at this thing, you know?

If it's a true safety issue it's a no brainer, but if it's just a "good upgrade", it'll just depend on cost.
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Old 02-12-2016, 02:02 PM   #11
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I'm assuming this is the "drop" axle. 14" rims.
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Old 02-12-2016, 02:27 PM   #12
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Yes, that is an original drop axle with a 4"drop. Quite a few Bigfoot owners wanted more ground clearance and bigger tires and wheels. I changed the axle to a straight axle for ground clearance. I like to travel some pretty rough roads and it also makes it much easier to access the sewer drain. Changing the axle to a straight axle does give you lots more wheel well clearance too. Raising the trailer does have a downside. The additional height does create more wind drag. I would make this change in my trailer again in a heartbeat. But,,,

This is something you might want to do but I don't think there is any rush here. From the photo I do not see anything obviously wrong with the springs. Are there any broken leafs ? Is the trailer leaning to one side when parked on level ground and properly loaded ? If the answer to these 2 questions is no, springs and axles do not need to be your first priority. I suggest you play with the trailer a little before you do this job. I'm guessing you will find a number of things you want to do with your trailer. Have fun.
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Old 02-12-2016, 03:45 PM   #13
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Cool, thanks Jack.

It seems to sit pretty level.

In the past, I would be taking a camper down lots of crazy roads. My little Toyota Chinook went down roads some people wouldn't drive in a 4x4. But I don't have plans of doing that with this trailer. I may or may not spend all of April down in southern Utah this spring, but I think I can find easy roads for the camper, and just take my truck down the crazy roads for day trips. But we'll see...Clearance is always nice. Except, like you mentioned, for the wind resistance.

I was getting 13-14mpg on my drive home with the trailer. I don't really want it to drop any more. We'll see!
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Old 02-13-2016, 05:02 PM   #14
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I was checking out my tires today, and even though they're load range C and I'd rather have D, they are at least only 3 years old, so that's good. The spare is garbage, though.

But I decided to take photos of what had worried me in the first place.

It's not like this on the other side.
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