Our Modifications: 1980 Bigfoot - Fiberglass RV


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Old 01-13-2020, 05:33 PM   #1
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Name: Shawn
Trailer: Bigfoot
British Columbia
Posts: 32
Our Modifications: 1980 Bigfoot

Since we purchased our Bigfoot in 2015 we have made a lot of modifications to make our camping more enjoyable.

1) SOLAR: After fixing the saggy roof we turned our attention to solar power. We went with a 100w Renogy monocrystalline panel. Well made and affordable. The charger is a Morningstar Sunsaver. It is a 4 stage (bulk, absorption, float and equalization) charger and has temperature compensation. Documentation and customer support is really good. Two 6v golf cart batteries provide ample power. Since we like to know where things are at with charging and discharging we installed voltmeter gauges for the panel and the battery. An ammeter for the panel is also very useful. Knowing a bit about battery behaviour allows us to avoid purchasing an expensive battery monitor. We are very happy with the setup.

2) INVERTER: We enjoy watching DVDs in the evening and since we frequently camp without hookups, an inverter was required. After a fair bit of research we decided on the pure sine wave PST-300-12 inverter from Samlex. For solar applications it is ideal as it will tolerate a fairly high input voltage. In addition, it is very quiet as the fan only comes on when needed. Like the solar panel, it is affordable, well made and comes with good documentation and customer support.

3) TV/DVD: We had some leftover equipment kicking around the house that fit quite nicely inside the trailer. Building the mounts took a fair bit of work. Simple, cheap and effective.

4) BATTERY BOX: Dealing with two plastic battery boxes was a pain so we decided to build something that was more convenient and secure. The new box has drain and vent holes and is bolted to the trailer.

5) FRIDGE FANS: The original absorption refrigerator works well as long as it is not too hot outside. Looking for some performance gains we installed some second hand computer fans both inside and out. This summer we will find out how much of an improvement the fans make. The fans are controlled by an inexpensive switch mounted below the solar charge controller.

6) ACCESS SLIDERS: Improving access to storage areas has been a great help, especially when setting up camp.

7) BUILT-IN CABINET: Purely cosmetic, but worth the effort.

8) SHELVES: We found that shelves in the closet helped greatly to store clothes and other items. The shelves for dishes and food are also useful.

9) COUNTER EXTENSION: This extension was made with some leftover laminate that was glued to plywood. Hardware cost only about $3, but the mounting was a bit tricky.

10) EXTERNAL DRAIN: The factory location underneath the trailer was a real pain. Much easier now.

11) HANDLE: Getting in and out of the trailer is now a lot easier and safer. Due to the non-planar surfaces a special mounting block was cut from a piece of yellow cedar.

12) STEP: Keeping with our theme of simple, inexpensive and effective, we repurposed a piece of scrap aluminum to give us a wider and deeper step. A wooden removeable support is used underneath.

13) GARBAGE CAN: It took us a while to find a good location for the garbage can. A few zip ties and this mod was completed.

14) INTERIOR: We painted the door fronts white and used a funky colour on some of the walls. The doors were very fiddly to do.

15) MECHANICAL: Two years ago we ditched the drop axle and purchased a new axle from a local supplier. We added new Dexter self adjusting brakes, tires, u-bolts and heavy duty greasable shackles. The axle was triangulated properly to avoid any alignment issues.

The next big project is to paint the exterior. We plan to spend a few days doing prep work and then shoot it with epoxy primer followed with single stage 2 part acrylic urethane. Finding time is the hardest part.
Attached Thumbnails
solar charge controler1.JPG   inverter.jpg  

tv and dvd.jpg   battery box.jpg  

fridge fan internal.JPG   lower fan.jpg  

upper fan.jpg   refrig. ext. opening.jpg  

access slider.jpg   built-in and access slider.jpg  

built-in.jpg   closet shelves.jpg  

counter extension.jpg   counter extension2.jpg  

external drain.jpg   handle.jpg  

step.jpg   garbage can.JPG  

painted door front.jpg   interior2.jpg  

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Old 01-13-2020, 06:10 PM   #2
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Love the teal/turquoise color! That's great you're making it more and more cozy for you folks to use.
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Old 01-14-2020, 11:39 AM   #3
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I like how you found ways to create storage cubbies here and there.
Looks cozy in there!

Nice job.

Fran
'74 Compact II
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Old 01-14-2020, 12:39 PM   #4
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Name: Zach
Trailer: 91 Bigfoot 17
Montana
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Interesting ideas. I have a 100W Renogy panel on my roof, installed last summer. I have the same inverter except only I think 150W. A little low but it works for me for now.

Is that a center bath model? I can't quite figure out what I'm looking at in some of the photos. I've been planning to paint the panels of my cabinet doors, too. It's great to see your results! That's more or less what I had in mind for mine.

Looks like you've done some good stuff to make it work better for you. I've mostly been using mine as-is and making due, but I sometimes lay on the couch and look around and brainstorm what I could do if I had the motivation. It's good to see your ideas.
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Old 01-14-2020, 02:44 PM   #5
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Name: Shawn
Trailer: Bigfoot
British Columbia
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Thank you for all the nice comments.

The bathroom is in the back corner.
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Old 01-14-2020, 03:24 PM   #6
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Ah, I guess it's the older, older version? Where you have cabinets next to the stove is where my bathroom door is. I see now that it's an 80.

Let us know how those fridge fans work for you. I tried all kinds of stuff with my fridge and it's still only marginal when outside temps hit the 80s. The biggest difference for mine was installing a fan that sucked the hot air out of the upper end and blew it out the upper vent.

One thing that would help yours a lot, from what I can see in the photo, is to seal off the top of the fridge cabinet. If it's like mine, there's space above the fridge and to the sides up at the top, and a lot of hot air collects in there. I'll find a photo of what I did, but basically I stuffed insulation all around the fridge sides, because it was just open space there where hot air collects, then sealed off as much of the upper compartment as possible, forcing the air out the vent.
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Old 01-14-2020, 03:37 PM   #7
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Well nevermind I must have deleted them when I was last cleaning out photos.

Here's my upper fan. It's ugly, but it's the only idea that works. The execution could be much better, but the concept is what counts. With the fan installed inside the upper vent against the back of the vent cover, it mostly blew air around in circles up there. It just created turbulence. This way, it works with the way the fridge coils are supposed to work, with cool air being drawn in the bottom vent and out the top vent in a chimney effect, rather that air getting all crazy up in the top vent.

This is a cable hatch, meant for the power cable. I keep it closed while driving, raining hard, or if it's below 70 during the day.

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For the upper part of the compartment, though, you've likely still got a square, with an upper edge and corners slightly higher than your upper vent. The hot air stagnates up there. What you need is something like a thin piece of flexible sheet metal bent into a curve, not allowing the hot air to get up there, but instead guiding it out the vent. I could have avoided this whole paragraph with one photo...oh well. In this case one photo would be worth somewhere just short of 80 words...
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Old 01-14-2020, 06:33 PM   #8
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Name: Shawn
Trailer: Bigfoot
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Great ideas. I hope to give it a try this spring. A cold fridge on a hot summer day would be a big improvement.
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Old 03-17-2020, 07:02 PM   #9
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Name: Shawn
Trailer: Bigfoot
British Columbia
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I put this together with some free computer parts and an exterior electrical outlet cover. A 3" pneumatic cutoff saw and a jigsaw were used for cutting the metal. The extended cut on the top louvre allows it to lay flat when the cover plate is attached. Sealed with butyl tape. Looking forward to trying it out in the warmer weather.
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Old 03-21-2020, 12:06 PM   #10
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Name: Elliott
Trailer: Bigfoot
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That's a lot of rust on that fridge. It might be worth replacing, or at least keeping a close eye on it, because if the hydrogen and ammonia leak into where the propane is burning it can start a fire.
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