13í Bigfoot axle replacement - Fiberglass RV
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Old 01-11-2023, 02:47 AM   #1
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Name: Nick
Trailer: Lil bigfoot
British Columbia
Posts: 30
13í Bigfoot axle replacement

Last year I bought an 87 Lil Bigfoot and have been getting familiar with the joys of old trailers. Got the appliances working and the saggy upper cabinets dealt with last summer. This spring Iíd like to deal with the axle. Itís likely original, the tube is bent and thereís signs that the tires rub a bit on the wheel wells. Iím looking forward to giving the trailer a smoother ride and a bit more clearance.

Iíve spent some time reading old threads about the difficulty involved with this trailer design and have been debating whether to mount the new axle as the original was with the arms leading or switch to having the arms trailing. The first option seems a bit simpler to mount but I understand it isnít recommended by the axle manufacturers. Iíd like to add brakes and I think this setup may complicate that also.
The second option means mounting further forward and with less space between the mounting brackets. Iím not sure if this may have stability implications or maybe stress the trailer by changing where the axle bears the frame. Does anyone on here have this setup on their 13í bigfoot?
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Old 01-11-2023, 09:34 AM   #2
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Name: You can't call me Al
Trailer: SOLD: 1977 Scamp 13'
Massachusetts
Posts: 824
Contact @Ell Pea in CA, they did an axle replacement and might be able to help.

https://www.fiberglassrv.com/forums/...+ca-64754.html
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Old 01-11-2023, 12:20 PM   #3
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Name: kenny
Trailer: 93 "Lil" Bigfoot 13.5'
Utah
Posts: 522
I replaced my axle a year ago, maybe more ???
leading link axles are not manufactured. I used a dexter trailing link. it is mounted about 17 inches forward of the original. the spindle of the brake drum is centered in the wheel well. It has 10" brake drums self adjusting
it is a detuned 2500lb down to 1700 by dexter.
the original has mounting brackets set at 13 degrees. NO ONE will make you an axle like this. It was a poor design and dexter made the original axles they will not do it again.
To make a new axle work, the frame has to be widened to support the new position of the mounting brackets
I could have welded new mounting plates on the existing frame, but I did not. I bolted my plates to the frame. they could still be welded in place. I bolted the axle brackets to the new plates that are 1/4 inch thick. not welded,
the hole in the frame where the old axle went, must have a plate fabricated to make the frame whole again. No other companies cut the axle into the frame like our trailer; BAD DESIGN .
The new axle sits up against the bottom of the frame, and not inside the frame, it raises the body approximately 6 inches
It is a perfect repair.

I have plans and sizes as well as pictures

Later Kenny
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Old 01-11-2023, 01:30 PM   #4
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Name: Denise
Trailer: Trillium 1300
British Columbia
Posts: 37
Axel question

Depends where you are in BC, but Iíve gotten straight advice about changing an axle, and great service from Nomad Trailer Axle & Brake in Vernon. Theyíre also close to the Big Foot factory, although I canít say whether that might mean theyíre more familiar with Big Foot trailers.
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Old 01-11-2023, 05:47 PM   #5
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Name: Matt
Trailer: Bigfoot
Montana
Posts: 8
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Following. I have a 1988 Lil Bigfoot due for an axle...
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Old 01-12-2023, 12:13 AM   #6
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Name: Nick
Trailer: Lil bigfoot
British Columbia
Posts: 30
Thanks for the replies. Iím in Nelson, so Iím probably about 4 hours or more from a shop that has any kind of relevant experience. Planning to do it myself, maybe with a little hired help if needed.

Kenny, Iíve read a lot of your posts on other threads but didnít realize you had replaced the axle. I thought you had just shimmed up the original for clearance. Good to hear you got it replaced. Iíd love to see some pictures of what you did, sounds very similar to what Iím thinking. Iím leaning toward ordering a flexiride axle. They have splined arms that can be adjusted. I like the idea of being able to make adjustments to the height if It seems too high or low once Iím done.
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Old 01-12-2023, 07:50 PM   #7
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Name: Matt
Trailer: Bigfoot
Montana
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small world

Nick, please keep posting updates

Surprisingly and against the odds for sure, I bought my 88' Lil' Biggy as I call her from a fellow in Nelson. He had stored her in a field between there and Salmo. Currently I'm living in my Lil Bigfoot year round (GNP summer/US SW for winters. Lil' Biggy ain't much beyond really functional (new insulated marine plywood subfloor, intensive structural repair to roof from excessive snow load overwinter in BC, fridge and heater gone, wall mounted cubic mini woodstove where closet was, 12v solar system, all upper cabinets gone, extra 1/2" white closed cell foam is interior finish; it's sort of a hut on wheels that still needs lots of tweaking. A new axle with a bit more ground clearance is a goal for this summer.

From weighted to unweighted my passenger side axle moves 1.25 inches. Somewhere, at Boler I think, I read that less than 1.5 is replacement time. Mine is nowhere near to making contact with the body, but it is basically a pogo stick with no dampening and almost zero travel.

Cheers from the Sonoran Desert, Matthew
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Old 02-02-2023, 08:35 PM   #8
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Name: Nick
Trailer: Lil bigfoot
British Columbia
Posts: 30
Hi everyone.
I think Iíve got a plan for my axle replacement and will likely order my axle next week. Just have to block up the trailer a little higher and do some careful measurements this weekend. Thanks to everyoneís help/advice on this.

One thing I havenít put a ton of thought into yet is what weight to have my axle built to. Any suggestions?

The base axle Iím ordering (flexiride) is rated to 2000lbs and can be destined to 1700 or 1400(roughly, canít remember the exact numbers). It sounds like the dry weight of this trailer is between 900 and 1000 lbs. gvwr is listed at 1429lbs. I think the original axle was rated at 1800lbs. Iím leaning towards detuning to 1700. Any thoughts?

Iíll post some pictures of how everything works out as I go.
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Old 04-07-2023, 06:11 PM   #9
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Name: Nick
Trailer: Lil bigfoot
British Columbia
Posts: 30
Update

The trailer is finally sitting on the new axle after a couple a month or two on blocks.
I ordered a flexiride axle from Pacific Spring and Axle here in BC. They were good to deal with and got the axle shipped out to me quickly. Iím pretty sure I settled on 2000lbs with a 15deg. down angle. 15 degrees was the recommended optimum angle for the suspension but I can always change the angle if Iím not happy with the ride height.
I added steel plates with gussets on the bottom of the frame to accommodate standard straight mounting brackets on the new axle, similar to what many others on here have done. The new axle mounts forward of the old and on the outside of the frame rails. I originally wanted to mount just inside the frame but the axle projection from the mounts was too much with this configuration.
While I had the frame out I also added a 2Ē tube crossmember that supports the floor where there is a joint in the plywood(thereís a bit of a sag there in my trailer). I intended to repair the original leveling jacks but once I had a good look at them I decided it wasnít worth the effort. I replaced them with another 2Ē cross member and will get some stacking stabilizer jacks or something instead. I also extended the frame past the back of the trailer and built a 2Ē square tube bumper that will bolt on to these extensions. The old frame stopped short of the back of the trailer and the back edges were rubbing through the fiberglass bottom. I figured that the extensions and bumper would give some protection to the rear of the trailer from dragging if pulling it over uneven terrain but now that I see the clearance Iíve gained, Iím not sure itís necessary. The trailer sits much higher than it did before, weíll see how it handles over the next few trips. The extensions should support the rear of the floor better and be a good spot to set up stabilizing jacks.
Once I got all the frame modifications done I prepped the frame and painted it with POR-15 and top coated the spots that will see sunlight. I just did the parts that sit under the trailer, I plan to strip and coat the tongue portion later. I installed grade 8 bolts to replace the rusty ones I had to cut off the remove the frame from the shell and drilled holes for 4 new locations in the back. New locations because the plywood at the old bolt locations seemed a bit questionable and also because 4 bolts total to hold the trailer to the frame seemed a bit sparse.
Iíll post a few pictures if I can figure that out.
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Old 04-07-2023, 06:17 PM   #10
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Name: Nick
Trailer: Lil bigfoot
British Columbia
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Old 04-07-2023, 06:23 PM   #11
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Name: Nick
Trailer: Lil bigfoot
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Old 06-12-2023, 03:54 PM   #12
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Name: Ryan
Trailer: 1977 Scamp
Washington
Posts: 3
Hey Nick G, that axle replacement and frame reinforcement look great!



I am in the same boat right now (and am in BC too , and I'm just wondering if you could share any details on the dimensions of the axle you ordered, if possible? (e.g. 'frame width' for mounting points, and hub face length)



Are you liking the 2000lb with 15 degrees down so far?



Thanks again for this excellent info!



~ Ryan
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Old 06-12-2023, 10:00 PM   #13
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Name: Nick
Trailer: Lil bigfoot
British Columbia
Posts: 30
Hey Ryan

The 2000lbs axle seems like a good fit for me. I wish it had bigger brakes, the 7Ē are pretty weak but I pull with a truck so itís not a big deal. The next size up came with bigger brakes but seemed like too stiff of an axle.

I just checked my order sheet and I actually went with the recommended 22.5 degree down setting. Itís a big lift, I need to find a step. It works well for us but probably a bit high for some folks. We like to camp at more remote rec sites and last year we had to get creative to get the trailer through some of the roads. We wonít be dragging the rear end anymore!

Iím reluctant to give out exact measurements. There are some tight spots in the design and I found my frame wasnít exactly symmetrical. I think itís best to do your own layout. After removing my old axle I clamped a strip of plywood to the underside of the frame in the area of the axle. I traced out both sides of each frame rail and marked the old axle cut frame cut outs and centre of the wheel wells. Then I pulled it out and drew all my reinforcement pieces and plates for the new axle. Then I figured out the new axle mounting holes, etc.

Private message me if youíd like more details. Iím happy to share how I did mine.
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Old 06-13-2023, 11:32 AM   #14
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Name: Ryan
Trailer: 1977 Scamp
Washington
Posts: 3
Hey Nick,

That's great input about the brake size and lift with the 22.5* down, thanks!

And, that's fair enough about the exact measurements. It's good to know that each frame might be slightly different I'll reach out if I have any more questions, thanks again!
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Old 07-14-2023, 10:19 PM   #15
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Name: tom
Trailer: 1992 Little Bigfoot
Alberta
Posts: 6
little bigfoot axle replacement

Hi my little bigfoot is due for an axle replacement. I'm in Calgary, Alberta. any idea what cost you have expereinced. thanks in advance.
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Old 07-15-2023, 04:14 AM   #16
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Trailer: '79 Boler
on Ontario
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My Boler 13 replacement last year was almost $1300 with electric brakes.
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Old 07-15-2023, 11:35 AM   #17
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Name: kenny
Trailer: 93 "Lil" Bigfoot 13.5'
Utah
Posts: 522
Tom
there is an axle co in Calgary named Standen's axles. they may help you.
They replaced my sisters boler axle a few years ago. She lives in Canmore.
In the USA, Salt Lake City Ut. in 1921 my axle cost $900. US retail RVparts store my metal parts to fill the hole and be a mounting plate were cut and bent by a co. for $90. US. I bolted all these parts in place, the drilled holes are exact no movement, they could still be welded.
I got an axle with 10 inch brake drums, they are auto lube, auto adjustment; I can take them apart to see if all is well. Dexter made the axle from the 2500 lbs. model, the core was downgraded to 1750Lbs. works great not overloaded.
( I think anything over 2000lbs will be too stiff.)

Later Kenny
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Old 07-15-2023, 06:54 PM   #18
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Name: Nick
Trailer: Lil bigfoot
British Columbia
Posts: 30
I canít seem to find the invoice for my axle. I think it was roughly $700(part cost only), I could be off. I went with a flex ride axle from pacific spring and axle in BC. Iím pretty sure they have a couple of Alberta locations also. They were straightforward to deal with. They were able to give me a price over the phone when I first called and had the parts available to build and ship the axle within a couple of weeks. I measured everything up and did all the frame mods and install myself. Iíd guess I spent $200-300 on steel, paint, bolts, etc.
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Old 07-17-2023, 07:49 AM   #19
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Trailer: 1992 Little Bigfoot
Alberta
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thank you all for your replies
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