Should We have Concerns About Clearances on a 21' Bigfoot? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 12-03-2019, 09:16 PM   #1
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Name: Shangie
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Should We have Concerns About Clearances on a 21' Bigfoot?

Hello- We are considering a 21' Bigfoot, however we have huge concerns about clearance due to what we have read on the internet about lack thereof in a 21' Bigfoot. We live in Washington State where a lot of our campgrounds are older and somewhat primitive, hence huge tree roots, etc.. We will not be offroading but still don't want to have to worry about clearing tree roots or gas station entrances- Had this issue with a 31' Airstream and sold it due to that. Don't want a repeat of the issues so any knowledge is appreciated.And do not want to have to flip the axle. It will be an expensive unit and I don't want to put more labor and time into it other than general maintenance. Thanks Folks!
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Old 12-03-2019, 11:16 PM   #2
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You might consider a Black Series HQ19 (26' overall length). Excellent ground clearance. Not molded fiberglass, but very solid with a luxurious interior. We switched from an Oliver to this one.
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Old 12-04-2019, 07:28 AM   #3
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I’m not sure I understand the reluctance to make minor suspension modifications, especially on a 20-year-old unit (based on your other thread). A true expedition grade unit like Raspy’s will cost several times more.

But the simple answer is yes, you may well have the same problem with a stock Bigfoot that you had with the Airstream.
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Old 12-04-2019, 09:09 AM   #4
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Axle flip is a desirable option I would not take off the table. Depending on the age of the trailer, you could go with a higher lift installation of your axle.

In standard orientation, a lot of molded FG trailers have low clearances. I've never had a gas station problem towing my Escape or my Trillium.

We lived and camped in western WA in the 1980s. We flipped the axle on our Alpenlite 5th wheel back then as we mainly camped in primitive forest service campgrounds.
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Old 12-04-2019, 09:32 AM   #5
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Define primitive? Off the grid camping? We have camped in Washington and Oregon for 40 years, but we are not boondockers.....camping in State and private campgrounds with our 21 and now 25 ft rq with no issues.
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Old 12-04-2019, 11:03 AM   #6
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I agree with others on not ruling out the so-called "axle flip". It's a very minor job. When you're into the kind of money that Airstream and Bigfoot trailers cost, moving leaf springs from under the axle to over them is a very, very minor expense. It's a common thing for people to do.

I agree that clearance is an issue. I take my trailer down 4x4 roads, but I've had far more trouble with parking lots than anything off road. My Bigfoot came with a 4" drop axle. The first thing I did after buying it was to have a local trailer shop (not an RV shop) put a straight axle on it, giving me 4" more clearance.
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Old 12-04-2019, 12:21 PM   #7
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I’m in WA with a 17.5 BF and no issues in campgrounds (state and USFS, and NP). My plan is to run the original axle till it is close to kaput and then replace with a straight axle for more clearance. Once while Boondocking the underslung plastic fence post that holds the sewer hose got roped off, but that was a cheap mod by me and a quick bailing wire fix. I’m sure the 21’ is a little more problematic.
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Old 12-04-2019, 12:26 PM   #8
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See here
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Old 12-04-2019, 02:51 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by ZachO View Post
I agree with others on not ruling out the so-called "axle flip". It's a very minor job. When you're into the kind of money that Airstream and Bigfoot trailers cost, moving leaf springs from under the axle to over them is a very, very minor expense. It's a common thing for people to do.

I agree that clearance is an issue. I take my trailer down 4x4 roads, but I've had far more trouble with parking lots than anything off road. My Bigfoot came with a 4" drop axle. The first thing I did after buying it was to have a local trailer shop (not an RV shop) put a straight axle on it, giving me 4" more clearance.
I agree with this completely. If you have a "drop axle", you can easily get 4" more clearance by changing to a straight axle. It's moe expensive than an axle "flip", but it is a proper design modification. On an older trailer, while doing this modification it would be a good idea to install new springs and U bolts too. They are not expensive and this will also get you new bushings. The whole operation takes about 2 hours max.
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Old 12-04-2019, 03:45 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by cpaharley2008 View Post
Is this how the 21' trailers are, or is there something off with that towing setup? It looks like there's 3 feet of clearance in the back and 6 inches up front. And that truck ought to be higher than the Nissan normally towing it. Weird.
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Old 12-04-2019, 04:00 PM   #11
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I think it is because of the tongue weight being so high on the BF. No, this does not occur with the E21...
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Old 12-05-2019, 12:23 AM   #12
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A properly loaded trailer with correct weight distribution should sit level and the tongue weight should not be an issue. I have friends who have had Bigfoot 21 trailers for many years and have never had a problem with clearance. They camp everywhere. I think you’ll find the difference between a 31 foot trailer and a 21 foot trailer will be quite noticeable where the 21 will not scrape going into gas stations etc.
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Old Yesterday, 11:49 AM   #13
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Seems the answers here differ. Perhaps you should clarify the clearance you are concerned with. I read it as top clearance. Others are reading ground clearance.
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Old Yesterday, 12:00 PM   #14
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Does the unit have a generator mounted underneath? That will compromise what is otherwise a pretty good clearance (even without flipping the axles - which shouldn't be more than $500).
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Old Yesterday, 12:06 PM   #15
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21' flipped Axles.

My 21' came with axles already flipped so I don't know the cost, but whatever it is it's worth it.

I've pulled my 21' bigfoot on horrendous jeep trails that I had no business being on. Never had a problem.

And best of all the scrapes against limbs, leaving black marks on the side of the fiberglass, buffed right out with fiberglass polish.

I can't imagine having a trailer that didn't have flipped axles.
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Old Yesterday, 12:13 PM   #16
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I agree it could be read both ways, but the "tree roots" and "axle flip" comments seem to imply we're talking ground clearance.

I should still have the receipt for my new axle, but it's in my camper which unfortunately I had to park outside of town for the winter this year. I checked my file cabinet at home and it's not there. I want to say it was in the $600 range for a brand new axle, installed. That includes brakes, leaf springs and everything. I would think it would be half that to move 4 sets of leaf springs to the top of the axle. When you're getting into trailers that cost over $20,000, it seems like a minor expense, but everyone manages their money they way they see fit.

Most people here are set on a fiberglass trailer. So they're going to buy one, then make it work for them. If something as simple as clearance is a deal breaker, when it can be easily "fixed", I wonder why a Bigfoot is even on your list. They really don't make much sense unless you're already a molded fiberglass die hard.
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Old Yesterday, 01:00 PM   #17
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Are there any issues for towing and drivability with a flipped axle? I'm kind of wondering why mfgrs. don't build them that way in the first place?
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Old Yesterday, 01:17 PM   #18
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Are there any issues for towing and drivability with a flipped axle? I'm kind of wondering why mfgrs. don't build them that way in the first place?
If buying new ,no reason Bigfoot Industries won't do that for you if ordered new. I may stand corrected but all the newer Bigfoots come with bigger wheels ( a bit bigger) and straight axles. If I remember correctly the drop axle was only on the 19 ft Bigfoot Spiritwing and maybe the 17 footers and possibly some of the older 5th wheels.
If all the BG had the higher setup then there would be those that said it was too high and would want the lower ....Can never satisfy everyone.
I did the axle flip on my '98 21ft myself ; the cost was new U bolts.


As to the clearance of what you are buying ; check it out before plopping down the cash.


As for underbody generators ; if there is clearance issues with that then there are far more issues for clearance in order as that is tucked up above and maybe in front of the axles.
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Old Yesterday, 01:31 PM   #19
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Name: Shangie
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Smile Ground Clearance

Thanks everyone for your comments. We are satisfied that it is a relatively inexpensive fix if we want more ground clearance.
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Old Yesterday, 01:32 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by MikeSinMN View Post
Are there any issues for towing and drivability with a flipped axle? I'm kind of wondering why mfgrs. don't build them that way in the first place?
I think many people don't need high clearance. The downside to lifting the trailer up is a little harder access (an extra step maybe) and possibly more wind drag and thus worse mileage - though I have not compared.

Also you are a tad more top heavy. This hasn't been a problem for me. I think high clearance always makes sense. Allows for less restrictions on where you might try to go.

I have experienced no downsides to the flipped axles. I enjoy the peace of mind, on or off the highway, that comes with knowing I can clear a big pot hole or road debris. Not to mention the 4x4 roads.
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