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Open Roads Forum  >  Truck Campers

 > Purchasing Warped Roof 1997 Bigfoot 2500 9’6”?

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HMS Beagle

Napa, California

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Posted: 12/23/21 09:54am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I have owned three Bigfeet: one built in 1986, one in 1996, and one in 2008. They were all built the same way*.

Yes, the interior walls are screwed to the sandwich shell, but the sandwich shell has the foam bonded in and paneling bonded to that before it is taken from the mold. The fiberglass by itself is too floppy to do that afterwards. Find one that has delaminated and check for yourself.

* Exception is that the earlier ones used extruded polystyrene while the later and current ones use expanded polystyrene. The extruded is harder to get and more expensive these days, but a better material structurally. Neither of these would be even considered for boatbuilding, rather you would use a structural foam like Airex, Divinycell, Corecell.


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jimh406

Western MT

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Posted: 12/23/21 11:36am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

ajriding wrote:

I think if it were me I would go to a fiberglass forum, not a wood n stick camper forum for advice.


I'm not sure why you are discounting the fiberglass owners who actually own TCs here. There are a quite a few. Many have owned them for years. Of course, most RV owners have experience with only one TC. If you think fiberglass last forever, then it would me most have very small reasons to get a second one.

Finally, many of the people here have friends with TCs of all types. Like most forums, there are people who know nothing of what they are talking about no matter which type of TC construction they own. Others, can provide useful information after years of interactions with TC owners of all types.


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mbloof

Beaverton, OR

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Posted: 12/23/21 04:09pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

The 'structure' IS the glass+foam+luanne sandwinch.

While complete rebuilds are few and far between there are examples of both NL and BF being "gutted" of everything but the shell (glass+foam+luanne) and rebuilt/remodeled.

These examples did not self destruct or collapse upon themselves.


- Mark0.

covered wagon

USA

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Posted: 12/24/21 11:21am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Thank you HMS Beagle for helping to inform me on the core vs solid. I appreciate that.

StirCrazy

Kamloops, BC, Canada

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Posted: 12/24/21 06:36pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

HMS Beagle wrote:

I have owned three Bigfeet: one built in 1986, one in 1996, and one in 2008. They were all built the same way*.

Yes, the interior walls are screwed to the sandwich shell, but the sandwich shell has the foam bonded in and paneling bonded to that before it is taken from the mold. The fiberglass by itself is too floppy to do that afterwards.


when I was there the only thing added to it while it was in the mold was the wood that got glassed in like at the jack mounting places, anchor points for interior finishings, and around the whole edge to enable the shels to be fastened togeather. it was a 4 pint lift out of the mold then onto a roaling bed which is where they used an adhesive glue to atach the cnc cut foam panels. I would imagin thluan is just atached to the wood mounting places and not nessasarly be part of any bonded system as it needs to be easy to replace and all the interior luan was installed before the top half was lowered into place so what you saw was a bottom shell with walls and a celing all built waiting for the top fiberglass and foam to be dropped down on top of it. struck me kinda funny, but made sence when I thought about it

maybe there building different now, might be the switch to a choped glass process much faster and easier then using glass cloth to build, who knows

Steve


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notsobigjoe

southeast

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Posted: 12/25/21 06:51am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

StirCrazy wrote:

HMS Beagle wrote:

I have owned three Bigfeet: one built in 1986, one in 1996, and one in 2008. They were all built the same way*.

Yes, the interior walls are screwed to the sandwich shell, but the sandwich shell has the foam bonded in and paneling bonded to that before it is taken from the mold. The fiberglass by itself is too floppy to do that afterwards.


when I was there the only thing added to it while it was in the mold was the wood that got glassed in like at the jack mounting places, anchor points for interior finishings, and around the whole edge to enable the shels to be fastened togeather. it was a 4 pint lift out of the mold then onto a roaling bed which is where they used an adhesive glue to atach the cnc cut foam panels. I would imagin thluan is just atached to the wood mounting places and not nessasarly be part of any bonded system as it needs to be easy to replace and all the interior luan was installed before the top half was lowered into place so what you saw was a bottom shell with walls and a celing all built waiting for the top fiberglass and foam to be dropped down on top of it. struck me kinda funny, but made sence when I thought about it

maybe there building different now, might be the switch to a choped glass process much faster and easier then using glass cloth to build, who knows

Steve


Steve, I'm asking because I do not know. Is the shell molded at different thicknesses in the parts that secure everything both inside and outside, such as the corners for the jacks and where all the interior attachments are made or is it laid as one thickness through out? I ask because when I got out of the Navy in 85 I went to work at a Bayliner dealership in Endicott NY. This was Bayliner good years but with one outstanding problem. The floors and the stringers would literally rot very quickly because of the poor molding techniques. This was later fixed by pouring a thicker area around the flex joints to keep the water out. It worked. Curious if there are any similarities...
Joe

StirCrazy

Kamloops, BC, Canada

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Posted: 12/25/21 06:28pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

notsobigjoe wrote:

StirCrazy wrote:

HMS Beagle wrote:

I have owned three Bigfeet: one built in 1986, one in 1996, and one in 2008. They were all built the same way*.

Yes, the interior walls are screwed to the sandwich shell, but the sandwich shell has the foam bonded in and paneling bonded to that before it is taken from the mold. The fiberglass by itself is too floppy to do that afterwards.


when I was there the only thing added to it while it was in the mold was the wood that got glassed in like at the jack mounting places, anchor points for interior finishings, and around the whole edge to enable the shels to be fastened togeather. it was a 4 pint lift out of the mold then onto a roaling bed which is where they used an adhesive glue to atach the cnc cut foam panels. I would imagin thluan is just atached to the wood mounting places and not nessasarly be part of any bonded system as it needs to be easy to replace and all the interior luan was installed before the top half was lowered into place so what you saw was a bottom shell with walls and a celing all built waiting for the top fiberglass and foam to be dropped down on top of it. struck me kinda funny, but made sence when I thought about it

maybe there building different now, might be the switch to a choped glass process much faster and easier then using glass cloth to build, who knows

Steve


Steve, I'm asking because I do not know. Is the shell molded at different thicknesses in the parts that secure everything both inside and outside, such as the corners for the jacks and where all the interior attachments are made or is it laid as one thickness through out? I ask because when I got out of the Navy in 85 I went to work at a Bayliner dealership in Endicott NY. This was Bayliner good years but with one outstanding problem. The floors and the stringers would literally rot very quickly because of the poor molding techniques. This was later fixed by pouring a thicker area around the flex joints to keep the water out. It worked. Curious if there are any similarities...
Joe


they were spraying a roof and a floor section while I was there. the gel coat is the same thikness throughout, and they they are using a chop gun and the way he explained it is it is all the same thickness for structural stength then after they get that done they place the wood around the seem and the rest of the anchor points and spray them in. when the one guy was spraying the shell, he kept using a poker to look at the thickness and he did that all over the place so it looks like ots all the same to me. and the cured one they pulled out of the mold from the 4 corners didn't flex at all. I the owner mentioned by using the fiberglass chop instead of the old matt and resin method as it is stronger, faster, and cheeper. I dodn't ask him if they used to tuse mat and resin, next time I go down there ill ask him. the wife wants to see the process before we decide which camper to buy. have it narrowed down to bigfoot, northern light, or adventurer.

Steve

HMS Beagle

Napa, California

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Posted: 12/26/21 03:15pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I'll stick to my story: they are a sandwich, not just fiberglass structure, and the interior paneling is put in in the mold. Take a look at this recent article in Truck Camper Magazine, in particular scroll down to the photo of the interior paneling being installed in the mold. Also several photos of top and bottom halves being pulled from the mold, with paneling already installed. When I ordered mine from the factory in 1996 I was specifically told this is how it was done and it appears still is. They use a contact adhesive and pound it with rubber mallets to ensure contact. You cannot do that out of the mold. There are other pictures showing them assembling top and bottom with paneling in place.

If you think the fiberglass is the only structure, pull the paneling, foam, and wood stiffening out of the roof of one and walk across it. I guarantee you will think again.


From TC Magazine:
[image]

HMS Beagle

Napa, California

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Posted: 12/26/21 03:22pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

One thing I did notice in that article is the use of aluminum honeycomb, apparently for some high stress areas. This must be a new innovation, there was none in any of my campers. That would be a much better core for the whole thing if you could get them to do it.

notsobigjoe

southeast

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Joined: 09/15/2016

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Posted: 12/26/21 03:35pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

HMS Beagle wrote:

I'll stick to my story: they are a sandwich, not just fiberglass structure, and the interior paneling is put in in the mold. Take a look at this recent article in Truck Camper Magazine, in particular scroll down to the photo of the interior paneling being installed in the mold. Also several photos of top and bottom halves being pulled from the mold, with paneling already installed. When I ordered mine from the factory in 1996 I was specifically told this is how it was done and it appears still is. They use a contact adhesive and pound it with rubber mallets to ensure contact. You cannot do that out of the mold. There are other pictures showing them assembling top and bottom with paneling in place.

If you think the fiberglass is the only structure, pull the paneling, foam, and wood stiffening out of the roof of one and walk across it. I guarantee you will think again.


From TC Magazine:
[image]


Very interesting and informative. I wonder if the designer just took everything from the roof and put them on the side if that would be a leak-less model? Guys I love threads like these, nothing but info, good info!
Joe

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