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 > Your search for posts made by 'AH_AK' found 64 matches.

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RE: 2003 Bigfoot 10.5E Project

It does seem like they addressed a lot of the pain points after the reorganization. Grant was super knowledgable and responsive about my camper, which surprised me because how often do you find a company willing to support products that were made under previous ownership? I would buy a new one if I could afford it…I actually think their price point on new units is reasonable given the quality of the build. I think price point has a lot to do with the design decisions. I can almost guarantee Grant could design and build a super high end TC (think Oliver TT level) but it’d sell for $20k more. I think a post 2003 model that is maintained and stored inside is going to last a LONG time. The folks on this message board could definitely design a cadillac TC, but it wouldn’t translate to mass production and it’d cost $100k. Modding out a Bigfoot (like many on here have done) is the most cost-effective option (IMO).
AH_AK 09/12/21 07:13pm Truck Campers
RE: 2003 Bigfoot 10.5E Project

Excellent write up, very easy to follow along. You are obviously well skilled to start and finish a huge project like this. Do you have a garage etc to keep your BF out of the elements? I have always parked our camper inside since we bought it new in 2009...everything is dry and I have not re sealed anything...still like new. It makes a huge difference. Best of luck chasing the small "leaks"...you will win in the end. Once again a great write up. Thanks! I have a carport that I park it under, so it is out of the rain and snow, but exposed to the cold. I wish I had a heated garage that would fit my rig. That would have made the project much more enjoyable. I was working under a tarp with a space heater many nights. It really delayed me when it came to adhesive and sealant application. Had to wait for weather windows. Maybe when the lumber prices come down I will start the process of lobbying the treasurer (my wife) for a new garage. If you take care of these campers they will last forever, especially if you are storing them inside. Those small leaks are inevitable, but what matters is that you are paying attention and know where to look. Catch it quickly, and it'll be no big deal. One of the issues (IMO) is the marketing campaign that tells owners that these campers are leak-proof. In retrospect, when I told the previous owner that I wanted to have it inspected for water damage, he made a funny face and said, "it is a fiberglass camper" kind of incredulously. That should have set off the warning bells. Hindsight... I try to look at it positively though. I know that camper inside and out now. I feel like I can diagnose and repair most issues on the road. I think that'll pay dividends when we start taking multi-week trips.
AH_AK 09/11/21 11:24am Truck Campers
RE: 2003 Bigfoot 10.5E Project

Glad you were able to work through all the problems! A big undertaking, but I think you will enjoy the camper. It is too bad that Bigfoot doesn't go that extra 5% in some of the problem areas. To be fair I think they have improved (for example, my 2008 camper already had SS screws on all exterior uses) but they still have room for improvement. And as I have said in the past, though the construction quality of Bigfoot sucks, it sucks a lot less than most other brands. I agree. It seems like they have picked some of the low-hanging fruit in recent years, which is great. Good on them for switching to SS fasteners. The added cost is minimal. I still think they are the best TC for the money. Sometimes I would get annoyed at their design decisions, but then I'd consider the extra hours that would be required to manufacture with a better construction and thought about how that would affect the price point. Like you said though, some of the stuff is like, come on, really? Grant at Bigfoot is great to work with though. Makes me like the brand even more. I'd love to take a factory tour and pick that guy's brain on some of the design decisions and manufacturing tradeoffs.
AH_AK 09/11/21 11:12am Truck Campers
RE: 2003 Bigfoot 10.5E Project

Have to admit that I did not read every word - but enough to see that you did a lot of excellent work, and now have a great setup. BTW, your boss wonders when/if you're coming back to your real job. Thank you. I did the best I could and I am really happy with my setup now. I am on a 9 month contract and did this during my 3 off months. I definitely would have gotten fired if I tried to do this while working. I tend to lock onto projects and go all in. My wife regularly joked about how I was cheating on her with the truck camper. Even when we were together, she'd be talking and notice I was somewhere else...she'd say, "you're thinking about her, aren't you?" Then she would be treated to a vigorous discussion of adhesive sealants. She is an absolute gem for tolerating my obsession.
AH_AK 09/11/21 11:01am Truck Campers
RE: 2003 Bigfoot 10.5E Project

Wow dude!!! :E That is a seriously big undertaking and repair!! And yes, I read every single word you wrote and studied every last picture. I have to compliment you on a difficult job well done. I know first hand the kind of work and effort that's required to do any kind of repair like that, especially if you don't strip and gut the entire rig. I totally rebuilt a completely rotten old Citation TT, so I can certainly relate to your work. (Check out mine if you feel inclined, link in sig) Again, nice work, and thanks for posting this. Sharing all of these repair / rebuild projects here is a huge help to others who want to undertake their own projects. Happy Camping!:) Ahhh a kindred spirit! Love your writeup. I feel like it really captures your thought process and the emotional rollercoaster of repairing a wet camper. So many cycles of "screw this, I am done" followed by "no, I can do this and I will do it right". Great work documenting everything as well. I wish I had taken more pictures along the way. There is definitely a satisfaction in knowing you did it the right way and improved on the original design. I really hope the person that scooped your Citation appreciated all the hours that went into it. You gave them a phenomenal deal. RV karma is real though and it looks like you ended up with a great rig.
AH_AK 09/11/21 10:54am Truck Campers
2003 Bigfoot 10.5E Project

So it has taken me quite a while to get around to posting this. Fortunately, it appears as though the bulk of the rehab work on my soggy 2003 Bigfoot 10.5E is complete. The mods to my Chevy 3500 SRW are at a point that I am feeling good about how it drives on uneven and unpredictable Alaskan “highways”. The easiest way to share a bunch of pictures and text seems to be a PDF. The link below is for a PDF writeup of the project on my G-Drive. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1I5fY_ojfdc8YNMedudA-5FZxnBqHyYC1/view?usp=sharing Some of the details in this document will likely be beyond what people want to read, but I will post them so that others that find themselves in a similar situation will have a reference. I can’t stress enough how instrumental this message board was in helping to encourage me to not give up on the turnkey camper that turned into a bit of a project.
AH_AK 09/11/21 03:11am Truck Campers
Best dual-pane windows

I am considering replacing a couple windows on my Bigfoot. The old ones have the well-known gasket creep issue. Several, including the emergency exit window are leaking as well. I plan to pull these, rebond the sandwich panel and either rebuild or replace the window. Does anyone have experience rebuilding these windows? Is it worth the effort to save money? By rebuild, I mean replacing all the seals on the sliders and the glazing if the gasket is creeping. If I can find a high quality replacement, I would just as soon replace the 19 year old windows. Anyone have experience with Motion Windows ?
AH_AK 06/19/21 07:50pm Truck Campers
RE: Rebedding jack mounting plates

Well, I’ll say this for it: it sure looks nice without the butyl goo oozing out from under it, and it will stay that way. I’m not really a fan of butyl tape under something that gets as much pressure put on it as a jack mounting plate does. OSI Quad and Sikaflex are both polyurethane sealants, and good quality products. They cure to a rubbery consistency that allows some movement without cracking. I’m not really too concerned about removing it either. The chances are slim I’ll ever need to, but if I do I’m sure I can do it. Might not be easy, but I’ll get it off. :):) I suppose of it is sealed right, there should never be a reason to remove it.
AH_AK 05/13/21 08:49am Truck Campers
RE: Rebedding jack mounting plates

I recently completed a Winter TC Repair Project that involved removing one of the rear jack plates to fix some water damage, and when I reinstalled the plate I bedded it in OSI Quad urethane caulk. The same caulk I used on all the edges and seams. It’s a little difficult to work with because it’s solvent cleanup, but it has great adhesion. Once it’s cured, I think you could remove the screws and bolts, and it would still hold the camper up. I hope I never have to remove the jack plate! :):) Bold sir. Glue it on there and go. I love the confidence.
AH_AK 05/12/21 11:00pm Truck Campers
Rebedding jack mounting plates

I had to pull my jack mount plates (T shaped steel) on my rear jack and now I am trying to figure out how to bed them. What was there from the factory was just caulk around the outer edge and at the holes. The manufacturer recommends covering the entire back of the plate with weatherproof putty. Do they mean butyl tape or plumber’s putty? Has anyone done this and used butyl tape? Any other methods/ideas? After I trim the butyl squeeze out, I plan to seal the edges and the holes/screws with 3M 4000UV.
AH_AK 05/12/21 04:12pm Truck Campers
RE: Ugh wet wood in Bigfoot

You can reinstall the trim strip and the vinyl bulge for esthetics, just don't seal behind it or underneath it (or on top). It just traps water and guides it into the holes. Proof of this is the shaft of the screws being rusted, so you know water is going in there. The stripped screws are common, they overdrive a lot of them there and elsewhere, they are only going into the bottom shell most places. The bomb proof fix is to fiberglass over the joint which carefully done could look fine. Remove the gel coat to a tight line just above and just below the bump (structurally you need more below the bump but aethetically you'd want it to be even), tab carefully inside that line, paint the stripe to match or a contrasting color. It already has a bump and trim all the way around. It would be more work but a little cleaner to cut off the upper shell overlap before tabbing, the tabbing could be narrower and the bump would be less thick. If rescrewing instead, I'd go up to the next size screw so that the pilot hole cleaned the hole of dirt and old sealant, carefully - with a torque limiting driver - drive in the new screws, then remove them, coat them in 5200 or whatever, and drive them back. Other than the very front where wind might drive water up under it, the seam is unlikely to leak as gravity is very dependable. It is the screw holes that leak. I've thought about removing the screws, wedging the top away from the bottom slightly and cleaning out the seam then resealing it with 5200 prior to putting the screws back but it would be probably as much work as just glassing over it. Would maintain the factory look though. It's too bad the factory doesn't tab the shells together on the inside prior to installing the interior. It's probably half a days work for one guy at that point and would make the product far better. The gelcoat is in pretty bad shape around the fastener holes. That's what you get for having all those screws loaded in shear. I wonder how much load they actually see. I think over-drilling and upsizing the fasteners is the way to go. I am really not concerned about maintaining the factory aesthetics. I am comfortable that if I ever sell this camper, it'll be to someone that appreciates the practicality of the mods. As an alternative to fiberglass, I was thinking I could just use a high-end marine coating. Basically, I am thinking fill and the irregularities and holes with epoxy putty / bondo. Sand it. Drill more regularly spaced holes. Install SS screws with 5200 and seal the bottom lap with 5200. Then mask off a few inches above and below and apply the coating. I am thinking something bombproof like deck coats on a boat. Either match the color or accent as you mentioned. The coating would be the primary seal and the 5200 a secondary seal if the coating fails around the fasteners. It's be a weird look with painted over fasteners, but I wouldn't need to stress about the fiberglass disbonding from the shell. Also, coating application is easier than FG layup. I wonder if the marine world has a coating that would tolerate the flexing that might occur over the seam. I am thinking a truck-bed-liner style of material.
AH_AK 05/06/21 10:55am Truck Campers
RE: Ugh wet wood in Bigfoot

I can't answer your question but as a fellow Bigfoot owner, I would ask that you please document your repair process as much as possible! You appear to be headed were few have been before and so your experience (and pictures) will be an invaluable resource to the rest of us that may oneday walk the same path. Also, might be a great resource to send back to Grant at Bigfoot. Maybe they already know of this issue and have change procedures but having this type of feedback is always invaluable. Thanks in advance... Fellow Bigfoot Owner I will try and document as I go. I need to streamline my documentation process. I usually just take videos in case I forget how something was installed when putting it back together. Usually I am just rambling to myself in the videos. Perhaps I will try and be more coherent and post links here. One of the things I like about Bigfoot TCs is the community. There are some super-owners on this site (several have commented in this thread), that are DIY beasts and are very helpful. The worst thing for me is feeling alone and thinking I am going to make some terrible mistake and ruin my camper. I will try and help contribute to the community, even though my experience is fairly limited.
AH_AK 05/06/21 02:21am Truck Campers
RE: Ugh wet wood in Bigfoot

So the shell seal was definitely the source of my leak. I found all sorts of fun stuff under there. Missing fasteners (holes appeared filled by the butyl tape on backside). Did Bigfoot use gray butyl there, or was that part of a repair? About 1/3 of the fasteners didn’t have purchase at all. Around my leaky corner the screws were nuked. Maybe 40% diameter remaining, all the threads corroded away. The butyl tape was “normal” in most places, but then watery and oily in others. Never seen that before and not sure what caused it. Only a few fasteners were clean of corrosion, mostly towards the door (yay at least I have some dry spots). It looks like Bigfoot used a construction adhesive/sealant on the shell lap (beige colored) and the screws go into that stuff where there is not wood. That sealant appears to get rubbery and expand when it gets wet. It was bulging out of my leaky corner. I pulled some of it out while cleaning up the wet wood corner beam. Didn’t know what it was. Now I know. I am pretty committed at this point to replace the entire shell seam. I really don’t want to use the crappy trim that it came with and I am not too worried about aesthetics. My thoughts are: 1. 316 stainless strip with countersunk holes and stainless screws bonded to shell with either 4200 or 4000UV (hopefully it is never coming off again). 2. Get it all cleaned up, install stainless screws, take it to the boat yard and have them glass the entire seam and finish with gel coat. This will look a little weird and cost more, but imagine that, a 1-piece shell. Throw a transom on there and mount a 30hp and she’ll be ready to go fishing. If 1, I will fill the holes with thickened epoxy so that I don’t need to worry about new holes lining up with the old ones. Any other ideas for how to re-finish the shell seam?
AH_AK 05/05/21 07:18pm Truck Campers
RE: Ugh wet wood in Bigfoot

If you have the fiberglassing skills, do that. I never like plyood embedded in fiberglass, it is just a time bomb, particularly if it has any screws driven in (which is usually the reason for it). A non-embedded plywood backing pad can at least dry if given a chance. When you say center seal, do you mean the seal between top and bottom that runs all the way around? That can be an ingress point, particularly the way they sealed them at the factory. The top overlaps the bottom, so if left that way it would never leak. But then they put a piece of trim on it, drill a million holes drive in a miilion screws (which used to be steel but they do use SS now), then seal the trim top and bottom with a fillet of silicone. The last bit is the coup de grace - usually the top fillet, being exposed to more sun and weather fails first, allowing the bottom seal to collect a pool of water behind the trim, which has no place to go but through the aforementioned million holes with rusty screws. Would have been much better to let the water run out the bottom, sealing the top (though the top seal is useless after a year or two). I think it is practically no possible to reseal the actual overlapping seam, but also not necessary. Pull the vinyl trim strip, remove all the screws, seal the threads themselves with a good marine grade caulk as you drive in new SS screws. Clean all the failed silicone off the top and bottom of the trim and do not replace it. All the trim does is hide the screw heads, it has no sealing function at all. This is so helpful. All I can say is thank you so much and if you ever come to Anchorage, AK you are welcome to park your rig at my place up on the hillside.
AH_AK 05/05/21 02:50pm Truck Campers
RE: Ugh wet wood in Bigfoot

Update: the source of my rear passenger side leak appears to have be the center seal. A lot of the silicone caulk on the bottom seam of the center seal is cracked/ separated. Probably not a big deal but at that exact location the top silicone seam was also separated which would allow water running down the exterior wall to go directly behind the seal. Does anyone have a drawing/picture of the center seal construction? I was always told these seals rarely leak and that the source is almost alway something up higher, but I have checked higher up and it is bone dry. Seems like the screws on the center seal allow an easy entry point for water if it gets behind the cover. I really just want to open up that entire mod seal and look for rusty screws. Unsure how one would do that though. Anyone know? Now the super depressing part. I found more wet luan on the passenger wall behind the kitchen counter. This will be very hard to replace without removing the cabinets/ oven. It seems pretty limited and only extends 4-5 inches up from the floor. It is wet, but I do not see any mold. I am thinking since I am resealing everything anyway, i might be able to run a big dehumidifier out there in the interim to get it all dried out. My thought is If it doesn’t present a structural threat, there is only foam behind (which appears relatively impervious to water), and no mold present, then getting it dried out seems like an acceptable solution. Tearing apart the kitchen seems like a bit more than I am willing to do at this time.
AH_AK 05/05/21 10:23am Truck Campers
RE: Ugh wet wood in Bigfoot

Can you source Azdel panels to use in place of plywood? Would need to have them shipped to AK, so not really a great option for me.
AH_AK 05/05/21 10:02am Truck Campers
RE: Ugh wet wood in Bigfoot

I am going to install a soft start on the A/C and then use a 2.2kW portable generator modified to run on LP. Power on propane is derated about 10 to 15%. I suggest jumping to a 2.8 kw portable such as the Champion 3400 inverter/generator with remote electric start. The issue here is size. The Honda will bArely fit where I plan to store it. Really it just needs to run the 11,000Btu A/C. I know several people that have done this will the old 2000W honda and a soft start on the A/C to reduce the current surge when the compressor kicks on.
AH_AK 05/05/21 10:01am Truck Campers
RE: Ugh wet wood in Bigfoot

Instead of plywood, use Coosa Composite for your repairs. It’s impervious to moisture. Coosa board is not a very strong structural material. I'd suggest G10 fiberglass sheet. It is reasonably available in almost any thickness, consistent, strong, bonds well, will hold self tapping or tapped machine screws as well as aluminum, and will not rot. I emailed Grant at Bigfoot to see what he thought. I was considering a hybrid option of a fiberglass laminate with a plywood core (ala Tolman skiff glass over plywood). Basically a plywood FRP sandwich panel. I could also just build up an FRP laminate to whatever thickness I want (G10 is pricey). I actually have access to a vacuum bag system at work. Epoxy and FG weave is relatively cheap. I usually do hand layup and vacuum bag to get a good fiber fraction. If I want to do a really thick section (many plies) it might make sense to do vacuum impregnation. The other tricky bit is that I am going to have to splice two halves together to get it into position. Either that or I will need to cut out a section of the generator floor and then patch it after. I digress. I might be overthinking this. I don’t plan to reinstall the generator so I am going to leave the compartment open so I can easily inspect for water ingress. I am going to install a soft start on the A/C and then use a 2.2kW portable generator modified to run on LP. Anyone want to buy a 2.5kW Onan LP generator with less than 50 hours?
AH_AK 05/04/21 11:38am Truck Campers
RE: Ugh wet wood in Bigfoot

Without access to the back, it will be difficult to make a durable repair. People say these are built like boats but they are not really. The core is plastic and does not rot (though it can degrade and delaminate from the skins), the inner skin is luan plywood which is what rots. Pushing epoxy through the holes from the outside will not fix the luan on the other side of the core, it'll just make a mess. It might do some limited good for the plywood backing the jack area, but you'd be doing it blind and would never know. On a boat, you would cut a piece of the outer skin off, fix what's underneath, then splice the piece back on, that isn't that much work but then finishing it to look good is a lot of work. I think I might be tempted to cut a nice neat hole in the shower, do what needs doing, then put a nice neat access panel over the hole. That will look OK if you do it carefully. Use 1/8" G10 fiberglass, round the corners, paint it the same color. Could be pretty big, I'd start with some smaller exploratory holes to see that I was in the right place and then extend to where I had to go. Well it looks like the rot on the passenger side goes all the way up the wood corner strip. I am likely only going to replace what I can access from the battery and generator compartments. Looks like the water followed the foam-plywood interface from above. Found the coat hanger thing (not sure if that is what it is) screws were very loose and was not sealed. If that is the source, then that water ran a long way. Has anyone take the door frame apart? I was planning on just resealing the edges, but if it is similar to the windows, it might be worth pulling to see if there is evidence of water intrusion. What do you think I should replace the plywood with? I was thinking pressure treated plywood (just in case). Not sure it will bond as well with the shell. Would need to test. The driver’s side doesn’t seem as wet. My thought is to get in the shore power box with an oscillating tool, cut out the luan and assess the underlying wood. Let it dry. Inject JB marine weld (made to cure in wet environments) into the jack plate fastener holes. I don’t expect it to travel far, but at least the threads will have purchase. Predrill cured epoxy before reinstalling jack plate bolts. Consider applying Bondo (or similar) to backside to hopefully tie some wood fibers together and then patch the luan and leave a good dessicant in the shore power box. An alternative would be to build up the outside to sure it up. A fiberglass reinforcement patch in and around the jack mount point (maybe reinforce the whole corner. I would have a legit boat fabricator do this (lot’s of them in AK). Not pretty necessarily, but safe. If I went this route, I would just leave the luan open on the back to let the wood continue to dry. Would like to take a moment to thank whoever invented oscillating tools. I am not sure what I would do without it.
AH_AK 05/03/21 09:56pm Truck Campers
RE: Ugh wet wood in Bigfoot

Wow, you are digging in.... I am rooting for ya. Keep us informed! Jim Thanks Jim! All you DIY warriors on here inspired me to just buck up and get after it.
AH_AK 05/03/21 09:36am Truck Campers
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