Weights:"older model","later model" 17 ' Bigfo - Fiberglass RV


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Old 03-27-2010, 07:28 PM   #1
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Name: Joe
Trailer: 1989 17 ft Bigfoot Deluxe / 2004 Ford Ranger
Ontario
Posts: 115
Reading in another posting, I see reference to weights of 17 ' Bigfoot trailers determined by whether they were older or later models.
I have a 1989 model 17G Bigfoot, categorized as a "Deluxe" because of the extra equipment it was delivered with, such as A/C,roof ladder/ racks,roll-up awning,f/g propane tank cover, etcThe weight sticker , as I recall shows a dry weight of 1875Lb, and the axle rating as 3500Lb
Being a 1989 model, is mine considered an "older"or "later" model? Am I overloading my axle ?
I will be checking the axle for any evidence of deformation shortly, once I can get at it in storage.I was interested to learn from one of the posters something that is often taken for granted: your axle does NOT support the wheels, tires, brake assemblies, tongue weight and the axle itself, but rather only those components located ABOVE the axle, starting with the springs, and yet all these items would show up in the overall trailer weight when put on a set of scales.
Just wondering; any comments out there ?
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Old 03-28-2010, 10:11 AM   #2
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Name: Michael
Trailer: 1993 Bigfoot 17 ftCB / 2011 Toyota Sienna
Ontario
Posts: 207
Joe;
My 1993 17CB with similar equipment as yours weighed in at a Waste Transfer Station at just under 3500 pounds (actually 1570 kg) when I checked it a couple of years ago. That was with empty black and grey tanks and full water tanks and normal stuff inside.
I'm probably over that now as I added a few things. As I recall, your version is VERY similar construction and is the early 1500 series, not the later 2500 series. Bigfoot definitely did not overbuild the axle and tire specs, as the class of tires used is rated at 1760 lbs each. Only the fact that about 400 lbs is on the tongue allows that the ratings aren't exceeded.
However, that being said, I had previously not heard of any failures with their trailers and the fact that they have been made for at least 24 years attest to that. That person with the bent axle, I understand, had additional weight dropped on the unit, from a collapsed roof, or similar, not normal travel. Even severe snow load, which could damage the roof, shouldn't cause permanent axle deformation.
However, I am NOT an expert so am giving opinion.
I've decided not to worry about it and enjoy the trailer as it is.
Like yours, mine also has a ridiculously low specified 'Dry Weight'!
I'm looking forward to getting it going again, after I fix those dratted plumbing leaks that I made pulling forward off boards used to level the unit! Bummer!
Good luck.
Mike.....>


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Old 03-28-2010, 01:35 PM   #3
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Trailer: 2000 Bigfoot 17 ft (15B17CB)
Posts: 75
Quote:
I was interested to learn from one of the posters something that is often taken for granted: your axle does NOT support the wheels, tires, brake assemblies, tongue weight and the axle itself, but rather only those components located ABOVE the axle, starting with the springs, and yet all these items would show up in the overall trailer weight when put on a set of scales.
Just wondering; any comments out there ?
One other thing that is not often mentioned is the fact that the use of a weight distribution hitch transfers a significant portion of the tongue weight back onto the trailer axle as well as to the front axle of the tow vehicle. You can check to see the amount by weighing your trailer while attached to your tow vehicle(off scale) with the bars connected and then disconnected. The tension adjustment on the bars will also affect the amount of weight being transferred.

It is an error to assume that all of the static hitch weight can be ignored when calculating axle weight when a WD hitch enters the equation. Theory is fine, but the best way is to just weigh your rig axle by axle on truck scales when fully loaded and see for yourself how your rig fares. My trailer was marginal, so I did an axle/tire upgrade.

Bigfoot themselves moved to address the potential load issues with the 17 foot 1500 series in 2004 by switching to higher capacity 15" rims and tires. In 2005 the new replacement 17.5 footers came out with 4400lb axles standard.
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Old 03-28-2010, 07:59 PM   #4
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Name: Joe
Trailer: 1989 17 ft Bigfoot Deluxe / 2004 Ford Ranger
Ontario
Posts: 115
Quote:
Joe;
My 1993 17CB with similar equipment as yours weighed in at a Waste Transfer Station at just under 3500 pounds (actually 1570 kg) when I checked it a couple of years ago. That was with empty black and grey tanks and full water tanks and normal stuff inside.
I'm probably over that now as I added a few things. As I recall, your version is VERY similar construction and is the early 1500 series, not the later 2500 series. Bigfoot definitely did not overbuild the axle and tire specs, as the class of tires used is rated at 1760 lbs each. Only the fact that about 400 lbs is on the tongue allows that the ratings aren't exceeded.
However, that being said, I had previously not heard of any failures with their trailers and the fact that they have been made for at least 24 years attest to that. That person with the bent axle, I understand, had additional weight dropped on the unit, from a collapsed roof, or similar, not normal travel. Even severe snow load, which could damage the roof, shouldn't cause permanent axle deformation.
However, I am NOT an expert so am giving opinion.
I've decided not to worry about it and enjoy the trailer as it is.
Like yours, mine also has a ridiculously low specified 'Dry Weight'!
I'm looking forward to getting it going again, after I fix those dratted plumbing leaks that I made pulling forward off boards used to level the unit! Bummer!
Good luck.
Mike.....>
Thanks Mike for your reassuring comments on axle life expectancy on Bigfeet !
...good luck with your plumbing issues.
Joe
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Old 03-28-2010, 08:29 PM   #5
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Name: Joe
Trailer: 1989 17 ft Bigfoot Deluxe / 2004 Ford Ranger
Ontario
Posts: 115
Quote:
One other thing that is not often mentioned is the fact that the use of a weight distribution hitch transfers a significant portion of the tongue weight back onto the trailer axle as well as to the front axle of the tow vehicle. You can check to see the amount by weighing your trailer while attached to your tow vehicle(off scale) with the bars connected and then disconnected. The tension adjustment on the bars will also affect the amount of weight being transferred.

It is an error to assume that all of the static hitch weight can be ignored when calculating axle weight when a WD hitch enters the equation. Theory is fine, but the best way is to just weigh your rig axle by axle on truck scales when fully loaded and see for yourself how your rig fares. My trailer was marginal, so I did an axle/tire upgrade.

Bigfoot themselves moved to address the potential load issues with the 17 foot 1500 series in 2004 by switching to higher capacity 15" rims and tires. In 2005 the new replacement 17.5 footers came out with 4400lb axles standard.
Steve, your reply is very timely, as I was thinking of posting about some concerns I have about WDH use on my Bigfoot.First, let me just mention that My Wife and I are planning a trip for this Summer,taking the BF out to your part of this great country...we are headed to the NWT...Yellowknife to be exact;up the Mackenzie Hwy, and returning down on the Liard(gravel) Highway.
We have logged only 4 trips with this trailer, for a combined total of about 2500 km...all WITHOUT utilizing the WDH that came with the trailer. bought in Jan/09The reason was I had concerns about the strength of the BF's frame being subjected to that additional stress, exactly what you addressed.Towing with the 04 Ford Ranger was no problem at all...the occasional porpoising sensation from some dips in the road were taken in stride.The frame doesn't look much beefier than on our '73 Trillium we had before.I guess I'm most concerned with how the BF frame with WDH would react to sudden grade changes such as when pulling off the roadway, to enter a rough campsite, for example.
Before I close this, can I ask if you have travelled the MacKenzie/Liard route ? If you have, any advice...besides loading up on protection from flying gravel !!!
Thanks Steve, and any comments from other BF owners out there ?
Joe
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Old 04-01-2010, 02:43 PM   #6
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Trailer: 2000 Bigfoot 17 ft (15B17CB)
Posts: 75
Quote:
We have logged only 4 trips with this trailer, for a combined total of about 2500 km...all WITHOUT utilizing the WDH that came with the trailer. bought in Jan/09The reason was I had concerns about the strength of the BF's frame being subjected to that additional stress, exactly what you addressed.Towing with the 04 Ford Ranger was no problem at all...the occasional porpoising sensation from some dips in the road were taken in stride.The frame doesn't look much beefier than on our '73 Trillium we had before.I guess I'm most concerned with how the BF frame with WDH would react to sudden grade changes such as when pulling off the roadway, to enter a rough campsite, for example.

Joe
Joe, I would recommend using the WD hitch, it will make towing safer and smoother. You could just remove the tension bars when the roads were really rough if you have concerns about the frame strength. While I have seen bent axles on 17 foot Bigfoots, I have yet to see a broken frame. I am not certain whether Bigfoot ever changed tubing size or thickness over time with the 17 footers, but my circa 2000 frame seems sturdy enough.

As a clarification, a bent axle does not mean the axle has totally failed. All axles bend in response to the load, and actually come from the factory with an arch bent into the tube. As the load is applied the axle bends to nearly straight. If the load approaches or exceeds the axle rating, it will bend below straight and the tires will lean in at the top. Impact stress from bumps can also cause the axle to permanently bend, especially if you are already nearing the axle load rating. It is a common practice for axle shops to bend damaged axles back to specs. but unless there is a reduction in the load, the axle will just begin to sag again. This is also addressed recently here.
.
More likely problems arising from overload are prematurely worn tires (inner edge) and bearing issues as the axle seldom actually fails due to breakage. A failed bearing could cause the loss of the hub and wheel, and overloaded tires may blow out, either of which has the potential to cause a serious accident. Both are common consequences of pushing the limits, and are not worth the risk in my opinion.

Steve.
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Old 04-01-2010, 10:11 PM   #7
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Name: Joe
Trailer: 1989 17 ft Bigfoot Deluxe / 2004 Ford Ranger
Ontario
Posts: 115
Quote:
Joe, I would recommend using the WD hitch, it will make towing safer and smoother. You could just remove the tension bars when the roads were really rough if you have concerns about the frame strength. While I have seen bent axles on 17 foot Bigfoots, I have yet to see a broken frame. I am not certain whether Bigfoot ever changed tubing size or thickness over time with the 17 footers, but my circa 2000 frame seems sturdy enough.

As a clarification, a bent axle does not mean the axle has totally failed. All axles bend in response to the load, and actually come from the factory with an arch bent into the tube. As the load is applied the axle bends to nearly straight. If the load approaches or exceeds the axle rating, it will bend below straight and the tires will lean in at the top. Impact stress from bumps can also cause the axle to permanently bend, especially if you are already nearing the axle load rating. It is a common practice for axle shops to bend damaged axles back to specs. but unless there is a reduction in the load, the axle will just begin to sag again. This is also addressed recently here.
.
More likely problems arising from overload are prematurely worn tires (inner edge) and bearing issues as the axle seldom actually fails due to breakage. A failed bearing could cause the loss of the hub and wheel, and overloaded tires may blow out, either of which has the potential to cause a serious accident. Both are common consequences of pushing the limits, and are not worth the risk in my opinion.

Steve.
Thanks for the sound advice...worth heeding.
As for bent/stressed axles, have you ever seen those sections of rod welded to the underside of an axle to prevent the "sag"? Is that worth considering, or does it mean a new axle required ?
I seem to recall seeing them on the rear axle/differential of "muscle cars"
We plan to take an extended trip this summer, up to the NWT, and want to get any axle problems sorted out before then !
Have you towed up into the NWT ? What kind of road surfaces, and grades can we expect ? We aready know the Liard Hwy is mostly all gravel/the Mackenzie Hwy paved.
Joe
(will be off-line for a few days starting tomorrow))
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Old 04-02-2010, 11:42 AM   #8
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Trailer: 2000 Bigfoot 17 ft (15B17CB)
Posts: 75
Joe,I suppose you could reinforce the axle in this fashion, but I think it would be better to check the actual weight of your trailer to see if anything is required. If you are near the capacity rating, I think reinforcing the axle would be a waste of time as the brakes, bearings, wheels and tires will be marginal in any case.

For a trouble free trip, I would inspect and repack the wheel bearings, inspect the brakes, check the spring bushings/shackles for wear, and carefully inspect the springs for wear or cracks. I would replace the tires if they were much more than 5 years old as well.

I think you may find that many of these parts will need replacing, and if so, replacing the entire axle assembly could be the best option. At this point you could decide if you needed a higher capacity axle. Dexter makes a heavy duty shackle kit to replace the standard parts which will probably be badly worn, hopefully it would provide longer service life. There are also shock absorber kits available to smooth out the ride.

I have not ventured up to the NWT, and avoid long trips on gravel roads as I have not yet taken steps to armor the front of my trailer.

Steve.
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Old 04-05-2010, 06:56 PM   #9
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Name: Joe
Trailer: 1989 17 ft Bigfoot Deluxe / 2004 Ford Ranger
Ontario
Posts: 115
Quote:
Joe,I suppose you could reinforce the axle in this fashion, but I think it would be better to check the actual weight of your trailer to see if anything is required. If you are near the capacity rating, I think reinforcing the axle would be a waste of time as the brakes, bearings, wheels and tires will be marginal in any case.

For a trouble free trip, I would inspect and repack the wheel bearings, inspect the brakes, check the spring bushings/shackles for wear, and carefully inspect the springs for wear or cracks. I would replace the tires if they were much more than 5 years old as well.

I think you may find that many of these parts will need replacing, and if so, replacing the entire axle assembly could be the best option. At this point you could decide if you needed a higher capacity axle. Dexter makes a heavy duty shackle kit to replace the standard parts which will probably be badly worn, hopefully it would provide longer service life. There are also shock absorber kits available to smooth out the ride.

I have not ventured up to the NWT, and avoid long trips on gravel roads as I have not yet taken steps to armor the front of my trailer.

Steve.
Steve
Your comments, as usual, are very informative, and contain good advice.I may have to price out an axle after all, after having the current one checked out;When doing a left turn , I swear the left trailer tire is tilted in at the top, when viewed in my mirror, and yet careful scrutiny of the axle shows no sign of losing its "arch, and the tires, after 2500 km of use, show no unusual wear...brand new ST 205 R14 trailer duty (Nitrogen Filled)
Thanx,
Joe
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