Things to look for in a bigfoot trailer - Fiberglass RV


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Old 07-12-2021, 06:52 AM   #1
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Name: charlie
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Things to look for in a bigfoot trailer

Hi all,

I am on the search for a bigfoot, but on a budget.

I was wondering if there are certain years or 'generational changes' to the bigfoots, making some year groups better than others.

I know someone selling a 1981 but am not sure how it differs from my friend's 1989...

The 1981 has some "fiberglass cracks" as mentioned by the owner, but I am not sure how series they are (I am hoping he will get me some pics).
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Old 07-12-2021, 07:22 AM   #2
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With Bigfoot trailers my biggest concern would be water damage inside the walls or floor. The walls have wood furring strips and rigid foam insulation under the panels. Look for water stains and feel for any softness, especially under windows. For the floor, feel for any sponginess when you walk on it. Check inside cabinets and seats as well.

Fiberglass cracks range from non-structural “spider cracks” in the outer gelcoat layer to stress fractures that go all the way through. The latter typically happen around doors and windows, often at the corners, and require accessing the inside of the shell to do a proper repair.

Beyond that, do the usual tests of all systems and follow your nose. Replacing major appliances like the fridge can get expensive.

Others will be along to highlight any significant changes over the model years. I only know that on older units the full fiberglass shower enclosure was an option. Some have just a toilet.
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Old 07-12-2021, 07:31 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Jon in AZ View Post
With Bigfoot trailers my biggest concern would be water damage inside the walls or floor. The walls have wood furring strips and rigid foam insulation under the panels. Look for water stains and feel for any softness, especially under windows. For the floor, feel for any sponginess when you walk on it. Check inside cabinets and seats as well.

Fiberglass cracks range from non-structural “spider cracks” in the outer gelcoat layer to stress fractures that go all the way through. The latter typically happen around doors and windows, often at the corners, and require accessing the inside of the shell to do a proper repair.
One I am considering is 1981. It has a newer fridge (2016). The hot water to the bathroom was capped off due to a small leak. And apparently there is/was a tiny leak by the rear window. The PO said they re-sealed the window but the leak sporadically appears. The seller mentions some cracks but was not able to expand on how severe they were (structural or gel coat)...
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Old 07-12-2021, 10:11 AM   #4
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I am not sure when but, sometime after 1995, some nice changes were made to the 17' Gaucho plan -- smaller upper cabinets and larger windows being amongst the most noticeable.

I can attest from firsthand experience that older Bigfeet are likely to have water damage that is not all that visible.

Rotting of the wood parts in the doors are also a problem.

https://www.fiberglassrv.com/forums/...oor-92393.html
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Old 07-12-2021, 09:56 PM   #5
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Name: Mark Bradley
Trailer: 1976 Boler B-1300 1980 Bigfoot B-17
Manitoba
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For sure check for water damage under the windows and go a little further down and check the floor for rot. The fiberglass roof is very thin and can be easily punctured over time which can cause the wooden supports for the upper cabinets to rot. The design of the windows is not good and even if the window has been removed and re-sealed there is still a possibility of leakage between the window pane and aluminum frame. If the 1" styrofoam that is glued to the ceiling separates there is a very good chance the roof will be sagged as well as an uneven and separated ceiling. Check the converter to ensure it does operate all the 12 volt D.C. lights and water pump from 120 volt A.C. power.

I own a 1980 Bigfoot Gaucho and these are the problems that I found so far. Needless to say it is still a work in progress!
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Old 07-14-2021, 07:11 AM   #6
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Thanks for the tips all.

Sometimes I wonder how many people are just living with the issues in the sense that they either tolerate them or ignore them?

I'd hate to pass up on a deal because of an issues that is common and bearable.
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Old 07-14-2021, 07:18 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cmattina View Post
Thanks for the tips all.

Sometimes I wonder how many people are just living with the issues in the sense that they either tolerate them or ignore them?

I'd hate to pass up on a deal because of an issues that is common and bearable.
Some people use things to failure rather than repair and maintain. This can be the case with cars, boats, RVs, even homes. As an engineer, I consider this a HUGE mistake as ignored problems only get worse, damage spreads, whatever. Its the old pay me now (a little) or pay me (a lot more) later.

There are several molded FG trailers with extensive wood interiors, Bigfoot being one of them. The more wood, the more opportunities for rot and damage. Inspect carefully. Rot you find later (after you own it) are your responsibility, rot you find before you buy is money saved.

In almost all cases, leaks are bigger than people think and damage is much worse. You will need to be a world class sleuth/inspector.

Leaks may be common, but I would NOT consider them bearable! Damage never sleeps, a small problem just gets bigger, and bigger.

The first thing people buying "projects" need to determine, "Do I have the TIME to work on this trailer?" Time is the thing most people run out of, even before money. Most people are busy already, and the "savings" from buying a cheaper project are illusionary.

I never buy into the concept of a "small leak". Capping something off because it leaks to me = maintenance avoider = I'm not a buyer.

Similar to Jon below, I treat some projects as entertainment, do all the work myself. It’s a hobby, not a money maker. Spent COVID lockdown remodeling a house.
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Old 07-14-2021, 08:37 AM   #8
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Well said, thrifty bill.
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Old 07-14-2021, 08:57 AM   #9
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ceiling replacement due to roof leaks and extensive rot

There are several threads on this forum detailing complete removal and replacement of the Bigfoot ceiling covering, wood ceiling "joists" and ceiling insulation due to roof leaks leading to extensive rot. The symptoms are serious roof sag (check top of the roof) and probably ceiling water stains, sagging ceiling and moldy smell.

This would be a major repair. I would not buy a trailer that showed evidence of this problem.
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Old 07-21-2021, 10:36 AM   #10
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Name: linsey
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Hi,
I bought an 83 4 years ago and couldn’t be happier! I have re done all the windows, down to the glazing tape between the aluminum frame and glass. It went a long way to keeping us leak free. I bought the trailer with some visual water damage, around the windows and some small spots Around the vents. The Awning (which I love) is also a spot for leaks, and do diligence in reapplying butyl, changing out screws and adding flex seal has stopped the leak. I do notice this year some floor softening around the fridge (it’s the original). That’s got my attention and concern. We also had a cupboard sag with the roof. I think it was mild, and we installed a support dowel under it and extended it to the floor. We used a 3m spray glue to the delaminated spots called 78 adhesive (made for the insulation) and it was a quick and easy fix. Now, I bought my trailer for 2800$ Canadian. The going rate is 10,000-18,000$ for these guys. That would be a deal breaker for me. I do believe that the 81 has a different window and finding locking gaskets is near impossible. Sunveiw industries did the windows for many of them and can still provide parts. If I am indeed right and it was pre sunveiw I would hesitate a purchase as windows are a large leaking point. My windows had the sunveiw sticker on them still.
Another consideration is the older bigfeet are lighter and if found in relatively good shape and a good price point are absolutely worth it!

Hope this helps
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Old 07-21-2021, 10:41 AM   #11
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Name: Dany
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Look for trouble in a BF

I own a 2000 21ft Bigfoot.

The components in general have been more durable than our previous trailers, which was a nice change from the "lowest bidder" accessories we kept finding in our Keystone & Co trailers.

I'd check for the front window protector panel (not really an awning): it has a long hinge screwed directly into the shell of the trailer, and the caulking which covers the screws tends to dry and leak. This allows water into the shell, which soaks the solid insulation and can rot the wooden "studs" which hold the inner wall partition.

I've found that the walls don't sag unless they're completely rotten to the core, and even then, so leakage from that front panel's hinge can go undetected for years.

The underside of the BigFoots is covered in urethane: a quick crawl-through will allow you to check that the urethane layer is intact, and water has not reached the solid plywood floor underneath it.

The roof vent is made of plastic: inevitably, it dries up due to UV exposure. I'd climb on the roof and check it out. Not an expensive fix, but an annoyance when you're traveling.

Finally, I owe it to my grand-father to remind you to repack your bearings. A greasy, dirty job, but an easy one which will save you much aggravation down the road.

Other than that, I've found these BF to be essentially bulletproof.
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Old 07-21-2021, 10:47 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by cmattina View Post
Hi all,

I am on the search for a bigfoot, but on a budget.

I was wondering if there are certain years or 'generational changes' to the bigfoots, making some year groups better than others.

I know someone selling a 1981 but am not sure how it differs from my friend's 1989...

The 1981 has some "fiberglass cracks" as mentioned by the owner, but I am not sure how series they are (I am hoping he will get me some pics).
What model/length Bigfoot are you looking at? 13’, 17’, 19’, 21’, 25’?

Are you in driving distance of the trailer?

In addition to excellent suggestions regarding water damage ...

Check the roof. There have been problems with the roof loosing integrity. It should be flat, not wavy.

You also need to look carefully at the fiberglass shell. There’s a big difference between cracked in the fiberglass & damage due to an accident, or hailstorm. Fiberglass can be very expensive to repair, so don’t take damage casually.

Check the charging system. The trailer will most likely be on shore power. What happens when you unplug it? My first trailer had major charging problems, we discovered on our first camping trip. Luckily, friends loaned us their generator.

I strongly recommend you hire an RV expert, hopefully someone familiar with fiberglass trailers, to inspect the trailer. He’ll know exactly what to look for. It will cost you $200-$300, but you’ll never regret this investment.

There are mobile RV repair services you can contact. We found one guy by calling used RV dealers. They typically call someone in to look at used RV & travel trailers the dealership has recently purchased.

Offer to give the owner a $100 deposit to hold the trailer, pending the inspection, as it may take several days to get an appointment. If the owner bulks at having an inspection, continue looking for another Bigfoot.

Best of luck.
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