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Old 05-07-2024, 05:20 PM   #1
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lil bigfoot axle....help please.

Well I've been reading EVERY thread I can find on the LIl Bigfoot axle replacement...and I still dont understand enough to approach a trailer shop.
If anyone can give me a detailed description of what they successfully had installed, I would appreciate it.

I've learned the original was a leading axle (that they dont make anymore) and it was attached up in the frame. I dont know what size or weight rating that original is.
To mount a new axel the frame has to be modified and the new axle is mounted under the frame which results in the trailer becoming higher.....not sure how much higher. Anyone have pics?

Now I've read about 2500lb, and 3500lb axles and that they can be downgraded by the manufacturer...to customize the weight. On the Dexter site it shows 1000-2200 lb axle and a 2300-4000lb axle.

What size/weight have folks used and is it always a "torsion axle"?

I would be sure to order it with brakes as well.

Thanks for any help
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Old 05-08-2024, 12:47 PM   #2
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We did replace the axle on our Lil BF about 8 years ago. I have been looking through my files trying to find details to share. I have the original schematic my late husband drew up by hand, and a photo with some notes, and something from the trailer place (which makes no sense to me, but maybe it will to someone else).

Ours was a leading edge, and we replaced it with a trailing edge. I think it was a Dexter. Also, no one in a travel trailer place here had a clue on what to do. We actually went to a commercial trailer builder/repair place in town. They were mystified and also charmed by this project.

The trailer did wind up being taller. I was sad, because it was the perfect height for me before.

I will figure out how to photograph and/or scan these and upload them later today. Also, maybe I'll be able to find more details back in my trailer "archives."
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Old 05-08-2024, 02:22 PM   #3
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Thanks so much EllPea! I did read all your previous posts about replacing your axle and I thought...they had the exact same issue. It would be great to know what weight axle you had put on, or any info that might help. I was on the ground looking at the construction today and I see why a new axle would result in raising the trailer. I note you mentioned your late husband...my sympathies. I hope you have many good RVing memories. Thanks again for anything you can gather.
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Old 05-08-2024, 02:29 PM   #4
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Paula, I have been working with several friends the past two years to do some repairs and upgrades on the interior. I'm almost ready to share photos of what we did (when you get a couple of OCD retired seniors with time on their hands the little projects can spiral down a rabbit hole, but we've been having fun).

Anyway, I'd love to see your interior if you'd like to share!

(also, thank you for your kind condolences.)
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Old 05-08-2024, 02:59 PM   #5
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I will take some pics and post them tomorrow. We have a 1993 Lil Bigfoot, for the last 12 years and have travelled throughout our province of Nova Scotia. It's my prized possession.
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Old 05-08-2024, 05:00 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by paulaj View Post
I will take some pics and post them tomorrow. We have a 1993 Lil Bigfoot, for the last 12 years and have travelled throughout our province of Nova Scotia. It's my prized possession.
Well, mine is even older and I love it like a child. When I spend days and weeks working on something *some* people ask me why don't I just buy a new one. After I immediately unfriend them, I go out and hug the trailer!
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Old 05-09-2024, 01:48 PM   #7
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1993 Lili Bigfoot

Here are the pics, I promised. Most things are original and working. I made new curtains as the old ones were pretty rough. Same for the vinyl flooring. On the exterior, I mostly just keep the frame well coated with rust proofing as we live in a pretty humid place. Changed all exterior screws to stainless. I replaced the rear window as the plexi glass was quite yellow and scratched. I check inside with a mositure meter regularly and it seems to have stayed nice and dry over the years.
Cheers,
Paula
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Old 05-10-2024, 07:18 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by paulaj View Post
Well I've been reading EVERY thread I can find on the LIl Bigfoot axle replacement...and I still dont understand enough to approach a trailer shop.
If anyone can give me a detailed description of what they successfully had installed, I would appreciate it.

I've learned the original was a leading axle (that they dont make anymore) and it was attached up in the frame. I dont know what size or weight rating that original is.
To mount a new axel the frame has to be modified and the new axle is mounted under the frame which results in the trailer becoming higher.....not sure how much higher. Anyone have pics?

Now I've read about 2500lb, and 3500lb axles and that they can be downgraded by the manufacturer...to customize the weight. On the Dexter site it shows 1000-2200 lb axle and a 2300-4000lb axle.

What size/weight have folks used and is it always a "torsion axle"?

I would be sure to order it with brakes as well.

Thanks for any help
Where do you live? We found a good axle shop in Indiana called Axle inc
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Old 05-10-2024, 09:56 AM   #9
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Beautiful! So well cared for. Lil Bigfoot was a premium small trailer in its day, and if I'm not mistaken, it is the basis for the Armadillo, which is one of the current high-end 13'ers. I know the axle presents challenges due to the non-parallel frame rails, but no personal experience to offer, just best wishes getting it sorted.
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Old 05-10-2024, 11:18 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by paulaj View Post
Here are the pics, I promised. Most things are original and working. I made new curtains as the old ones were pretty rough. Same for the vinyl flooring. On the exterior, I mostly just keep the frame well coated with rust proofing as we live in a pretty humid place. Changed all exterior screws to stainless. I replaced the rear window as the plexi glass was quite yellow and scratched. I check inside with a mositure meter regularly and it seems to have stayed nice and dry over the years.
Cheers,
Paula
Paula, which outside screws did you replace? I havenít looked into the belly band but am worried about it. We are washing and beginning to wax the LBF right now, and just got started on hygiene for the belly band, which has some gook behind it and needs a new seal.

I have been gently tapping the sealant with a putty knife and it comes right out. Some of it had already detached completely and under it is a lot of smutz which I want to clean out completely before resealing.

We did replace the front and back plexiglass. Iím really glad BF uses a clamp ring instead of the gasket installation which seems so challenging. The side windows both need removal and refurbishment but if I start that I may never camp this year🙄.

My info on the axle coming soon. I am very unhappy that I canít find all of the paperwork, and Iím the person who saves EVERYTHING.
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Old 05-10-2024, 11:27 AM   #11
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Smile

Quote:
Originally Posted by oldwave View Post
Where do you live? We found a good axle shop in Indiana called Axle inc
We're in Halifax, Nova Scotia. I've identified a spring and trailer shop nearby. I haven't contacted anyone, yet. Not until I understand more and I'm learning fast.
I now know what a torsion axle is and how they were built on these little rigs. They were placed within the frame itself and a new one will have to go below the frame, so that raises up the trailer. Also, some alteration of the frame will need to be made to attach the new axle, as the frame rails arent parallel and the new axle will likely be sitting a little forward/backward of the old one due to the length of the flex arms.
One of my concerns was that the trailer would be raised too high. I want to keep it as low as possible. I have learned about Flexiride axles which can be adjusted for height after the fact, whereas the Dexter axle height is set in the factory.
The next consideration is for the weight or rating of the axle. I'm not sure how many pounds it should be rated for. The trailer capacity is just under 1500lbs. I guess the professionals can guide me. I would like it to have 10 inch brakes.
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Old 05-10-2024, 11:42 AM   #12
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Every screw I could easily access, I changed out to stainless. So much cleaner looking.
The belly band is another story. I have lifted out the rubber trim and was able to remove some screws and put in new ones. I put a bit of butyl putty on the end of each screw as I placed it.
However, many were rusted beyond and I couldn't remove them. I intend to try again this summer and maybe carefully drill them out a few at a time, as I think its a weak point for water intrusion.
This area does collect alot of crud. I do plan to place a small bead of clear Dicor cap sealant, just on the top edge after I get it cleaned out.

Did you see this image of the construction under the belly band?
I saved it from somewhere off the forum. You can see the screws could be the weak point for leaks. If you start removing screws, only do a few at a time. I dont know if anything could shift, but better safe than sorry. I read that happened to someone with a Boler, I think, when he removed all the screws at once.
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Old 05-11-2024, 11:48 AM   #13
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Some details about our axle replacement

Very little in these notes makes sense to me, but hubby knew what he was talking about, and the trailer place seemed to understand it allÖ so I hope something here will help!
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Old 05-11-2024, 12:01 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by paulaj View Post
Every screw I could easily access, I changed out to stainless. So much cleaner looking.
The belly band is another story. I have lifted out the rubber trim and was able to remove some screws and put in new ones. I put a bit of butyl putty on the end of each screw as I placed it.
However, many were rusted beyond and I couldn't remove them. I intend to try again this summer and maybe carefully drill them out a few at a time, as I think its a weak point for water intrusion.
This area does collect alot of crud. I do plan to place a small bead of clear Dicor cap sealant, just on the top edge after I get it cleaned out.

Did you see this image of the construction under the belly band?
I saved it from somewhere off the forum. You can see the screws could be the weak point for leaks. If you start removing screws, only do a few at a time. I dont know if anything could shift, but better safe than sorry. I read that happened to someone with a Boler, I think, when he removed all the screws at once.
Paula, do you have any special strategies for cleaning behind the bellyband? I've used water pressure, various soapy sprays (dawn+water+vinegar is my usual go-to) and still the crud is just gunking down.

I have chipped/peeled away the old sealant, and do want to add new once it's clean in there. Is the Dicor cap sealant the stuff that also dries very fast? Someone mentioned using painter's tape to get a good edge, but also said the tape needs to be removed right away or it will be sealed on as well.

And, when you took off the plastic trim in the belly band, did it go back in easily? Since mine is 35 years old, I'm fearful that pulling it out will damage it, and I find no good reports on the new replacement items.

Lastly, on the belly band right next to the door, is yours tight to the body, or does it have a gap. Mine has a 1/2" gap on either side that was originally filled with old sealant. We have pulled that out, and can see that screw seems loose. I would pull the trim and try to replace the screw if that is supposed to be tighter... will add a photo here if I can make it work.

And yes, I did find that image of how the pieces go together... that has been very instructive when others just can't understand how this all went together originally!
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Old 05-11-2024, 01:11 PM   #15
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Hello, I have no special tricks for cleaning the belly band but when I lifted the plastic trim, I could clean much better.
I'm away from home for a few days, but I will send you a pic of the trim lifted out. Its easy to lift it out on a warm day when it is pliable. Although, it might be awhile before we get a warm day here....LOL. I didn't fully remove it, as it was still attached at either side of the door. Kinda pinched in there.
Yes, my belly band does have a gap near the ends that was also filled with sealant.

pj
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Old 05-13-2024, 04:16 PM   #16
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I removed part of the rubber trim on the belly band to show the rusty screws. It's best to remove on a warmer day when its softer and more pliable. I only changed about half of them previously but now am getting a mystery leak and will change the rest.
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Old 05-15-2024, 11:05 PM   #17
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Plastic trim.

The plastic trim is available online or at most large RV supply stores and come in different colors, white, beige/tan, black. You can also coil it up and put it in hot or boiling water to soften it up. The trim is usually a standard size. On Trilliums the belly band has metal on the inside and rusts out and the screws break off. Some people remove the belly band aluminum and fish out the metal and fiberglass over the hole and then paint a new stripe around it to keep it from leaking again, it is a lot of work to do.

Here is the vinyl
https://www.etrailer.com/RV-Trim/JR-...BoCAkkQAvD_BwE
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Old 05-18-2024, 09:51 AM   #18
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[QUOTE=ROBERT ONEILL;866032]The plastic trim is available online or at most large RV supply stores and come in different colors, white, beige/tan, black. You can also coil it up and put it in hot or boiling water to soften it up. The trim is usually a standard size. On Trilliums the belly band has metal on the inside and rusts out and the screws break off. Some people remove the belly band aluminum and fish out the metal and fiberglass over the hole and then paint a new stripe around it to keep it from leaking again, it is a lot of work to do.

Thank you Robert🙂
When I get back to this project I will look for new stuff here if the old does not cooperate!
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Old 05-28-2024, 09:25 PM   #19
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Did you ever get your axle figured out?
I replaced mine a little while back. It sounds like you are on the right track. Just make sure they can handle the frame modifications including welding the frame rails back together where they are notched out for the old axle and mounting plates for the new axle.
If you are concerned about the added height, the flex ride axles are a good option. You can have them adjusted lower but I believe they have a recommended range that is still probably quite a bit higher than original. I was happy to get the extra clearance and bought a small stool to make it an easy step in the door. I donít worry about dragging the back of the trailer on rougher roads anymore.
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Old 05-29-2024, 03:32 AM   #20
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Thanks for enquiring Nick.
Well, the axle got put to the backburner when I discovered a huge leak that soaked the plywood of the floor. I found it when digging around under a bench at the edge of the old vinyl.. There was no visible surface water so this really surprised me. I proceed to remove all the benches and tear out the vinyl floor. Yesterdays heavy rain revealed a large leak at the inside lower corner of the door. I'm not sure where it orginates on the outside but plan to remove the door soon.

Back to the axle:
I understand that mounting brackets will need to be fabricated and the hole left in the frame patched. I see you removed your trailer from the frame. Do you think the shop can work on mine with trailer attached to frame? I cant imagine having to remove it.

It looks like the options are a Dexter Torflex axle or a Flexride axle.

From what I understand:
The Torflex axle #9 is rated for 1000-2200lbs comes with 7 inch brakes. I read on their site that it can be ordered with "various starting angles to adjust height". Their order form shows options for 45*down, 32*down,22.5*down,10*down, 10*up and 22.5*up. I know thats not adjustable after the fact.
I would ask if 10 inch brakes are an option as well as I read somewhere that it is.

The Flexride axle 2000lbs also seems to have 7 inch brakes. They say arm angle is optimal 24 degrees down, but I see online they show +6*,0*,-6*,-12*,-18*,-24*,-30*,-36*and-42* settings, so how important is optimal?

My goal is to have the trailer lifted as little as possible while getting a new axle with brakes. I know it has to happen based on the relocation of the axle from within the frame to below it.

In the end I will really be at the mercy of the shop as to their expertise and recommendation.

Paula
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