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RE: Bigfoot (old vs new)

Don't worry about coming to Canada. Our poosy gov't doesn't have the walnuts to actually close the boarder like they should. I'm on Van. Isl and I've seen, Texas, Florida, Utah, Mass., Arizona, Cal., New York, etc, etc, etc..... license plates. And there's no way they are all new residents that just haven't changed their registration and they can't have 'accidentally' come to the Isl. going from Wash State to AK. I'm in Victoria so I'll have to check out T.C. Though I've not the need for one, always nice to see what's going on locally. One thing I never figured out is given how quick and cheap it would be, why don't manufacturers prime and paint the wood components. It's not the be all, end all. But would certainly help. Also, since you guys seem to know about fiberglass, something I wondered about was the holes for the windows, vents, etc. Why are they not built into the mould? Not like they custom move windows around for each order. Rather then hacking in a hole with a flat edge, a small curb could be moulded in. Just a 1/2" would do the trick. Would work for both roof and wall penetrations I'd think. But I'd be please to hear if you think this is not possible. I've got a boat stuck in Canada (Sidney) and they won't let me in. Friends of mine tried twice, once driving through Vancouver and another time flew to Victoria, both times got turned back without humor. Now, on fiberglass, why indeed do the penetrations not have molded features? I think the answer for Bigfoot lies in that they use the same mold for several models, which have roof skylights and windows in different places depending on floor plan. On a boat, you would have flat bosses for the flat windows and hatches, the core would be closed out around those holes to eliminate the possibility of leakage. On the roof, the boss would be raised, and since from the beginning of time water has run downhill that alone would cure 90% of roof leaks. These things have been done since the 60's on fiberglass boats. Even if you do not have specific features in the mold, on a boat when you penetrate a cored surface you rebate the core for about 1/2 - 1x it's thickness, and fill the gap between the skins with a watertight filler (usually thickened epoxy on a boat). This closes the core, and makes a hard rim to attach the window. Bigfoot kinda-sorta does this in some places, they replace the core with wood at the edges of known penetrations, sometimes. This is what I would do with a T-C built shell. If the core is very thick (which the T-C shells are), after rebating the core I'd bond in a fiberglass U channel or rectangular tube all around. Stiffens the hole edges, waterproofs the core, and provides a hard spot to fasten the window.
HMS Beagle 02/26/21 09:55am Truck Campers
RE: Solar with Lithium Battery

100W is a little light but not nothing. I have 200W and without any measures to conserve electricity (refer on, furnace on, lights on, computer charging), I can camp indefinitely with no other charge source. By 10 or 11 AM the batteries are recharged and the controller has switched to float. With 100W it would be mid afternoon. Obviously if you park in the deep shade, things are different.
HMS Beagle 02/18/21 09:16am Truck Campers
RE: Bigfoot (old vs new)

That's not a bad price. A Bahn molded shell is around $35K - 40K. I'm pretty sure I can have my boat builder custom build one for less than that. But probably not less than $20K.
HMS Beagle 02/13/21 10:23am Truck Campers
RE: Bigfoot (old vs new)

1200 lbs for a 9' floor isn't bad - I think a custom built layup might be 900 lbs. Total Composites don't have much info on their website about their kits, out of curiosity what sort of ballpark cost was quoted for that unit, if you don't mind telling? One of the problems with production RVs is that the cheap sealants they use are just good enough to keep the leaks at bay for the warrantee period, and that is all they care about.
HMS Beagle 02/12/21 05:59pm Truck Campers
RE: Bigfoot (old vs new)

The Total Composites probably makes a decent camper, but boxy. I've drawn my camper in a number of variations, and slightly bowing the side and roof, and radiusing the corners, make it look a LOT better. Even the Bigfoot benefits from the slope of the sides. If you are going to all the trouble, you might as well have nice aesthetics. On the right, square corners, middle rounded corners, left rounded corners and curved walls. The curvature is the same for walls and roof, so making a simple curved ply surface you could layup a composite sandwich for all of them on one mold. A second mold would add the corner radius, again laying up lengths used for all the edges. The corners would need to be individual molds, or the lost foam process. It would not be as fast as Total Composites build for sure, but also (for sure) would look a lot better. You could achieve the middle look with the TC panels, and just make the corner radii. width=640
HMS Beagle 02/10/21 09:39am Truck Campers
RE: Bigfoot (old vs new)

You could build a lightweight wood or foam spar subframe and glass it to the shell with fiberglass mat. That would be pretty bomber. The weight would probably add up quickly, but if you did some structural analysis and were judicious with your resin it would be fine I think. On the other hand, it might be really cool to start from scratch and use stitch-and-glue for the shell ala Tolman skiffs. If your shell was structural your sub structure could be pretty sparse. Alas, I do not yet have a BIG heated workshop. I'd get the shell home, decide where I wanted all the windows and openings to be, surround those with heavy PVC core (like 24 lb Penske core), vacuum bag a real structural core of about 1" thick to the inside everywhere, then vacuum bag high quality ply (like ApplePly) to the inside. It would be only slightly heavier than the Bigfoot version and much tougher. Interior ply about the same weight as the luan, structural foam might weigh 80 - 100 lbs more than the bead board. You might save a lot of that back from all the wood. Building one from scratch is something I have thought a lot about, and might have done it except the wife won't let me. I'd lay up composite panels on a simple curved mold, layup radiused corner sections, then bond and tab together. I'd run the floorplan to the walls, and have the truck bed chopped Texas Welder body style. It'd be a killer unit!
HMS Beagle 02/07/21 09:20am Truck Campers
RE: Bigfoot (old vs new)

I am curious about the finish of the cutouts. You'd think they'd glass the cross section and use threaded inserts for the fasteners. I am just thinking about what I do for the mounting holes of my skis to prevent water from getting into the core. I either glue in the screws if it is meant to be permanent, or, use threaded inserts that are glued in if non permanent. Sounds to me like all the through-hull attachments/ flanges are just screwed into the hull (hopefully into wood frame too for reinforcement). It'd sure be a pain to upgrade everything, but better to do it all at once than piecemeal as it fails IMO. They could have built it with proper cored construction like a boat, but they don't - too expensive probably. Many of the large cutouts have wood surrounding them, but many also do not. For example in the roof of my 10.4, the Heki skylight over the bed has wood surrounding the hole, but the just as large skylight over the shower does not, nor does the refrigerator vent. Since they are using essentially contact cement for the lamination, even where wood is used it easily delaminates from the fiberglass. There are large wood blocks replacing the foam core in some areas, like where the jacks are attached and on my 10.4 where the table was screwed to the wall. It is not easy to retrofit a wood surround to an opening, because the shell and paneling are contaminated with contact cement and will not hold epoxy or some other adhesive well (though I have done this in one instance). The propane compartment that Adamis shows is particularly bad, as the door goes across the joint between top and bottom shells. The sides are angled (drafted) so they can be removed from the molds, you are trying to seal a flat surface to a bent one. I think one issue Bigfoot has is that they use the same molds for several different floor plans, which pushes the doors and hatches around - otherwise they could have proper molded features to accept the doors and hatches. On many of the openings, I've taken to reinstalling them with no screws. If the flanges fit well and surfaces are prepared carefully, using a marine polyurethane or polyether sealant, the screws are unnecessary and simply cause problems. Every once in awhile I think I'd like to talk Bigfoot into selling me just the fiberglass molded parts, and let me finish it out. It might be cheaper than starting from scratch as they already have the molds, and you could build a far better product.
HMS Beagle 02/05/21 10:12am Truck Campers
RE: Bigfoot (old vs new)

On weights, my 1988 5th wheel and 1996 camper were both well over the placard weight. The 2008 camper is over but not by as much. You can account for some of the difference in optional equipment, but I think they have gotten more honest with time, though still not honest. If you order a new one instruct them not to put ANY holes in the roof. They build a pretty nice waterproof shell and then punch holes in it like a sieve. Some are required by regulation but many are not. I did that on the 1996 (which I ordered from the factory) and it had maybe 1/2 or 1/3 of the holes in the roof compared to the 2008 which I did not order. They could build it with none if they tried a little harder. Adamis summarizes many of the areas of concern. I had the same issue with the propane compartment and did just what Tx did - repaired the lip across the bottom. Again I think that is regulation, propane is supposed to drain, but honestly the amount of propane trapped by that lip wouldn't even wake you if it went off. I've found the pourable sealant they use to be horrid, it just cracks away in short order. Fortunately the newer ones are sealed with butyl under the flanges, unfortunately they didn't do the best job sometimes. The only thing I haven't removed and resealed properly on the latest one is the bath vent. Like Adamis, I still consider Bigfoot to be at the pinnacle of quality in a production RV - but the valleys in that industry as so very low, the pinnacles don't have to be high to stand out.
HMS Beagle 02/03/21 11:22pm Truck Campers
RE: Bigfoot (old vs new)

I can't answer many of the questions, but have owned a 1988 5th wheel, 1996 camper, and 2008 camper. I think the newest does have more wood. I don't know if the fiberglass thickness is any different, the new one isn't all that thick and they are chopper gun layup so you really can't go too thin either. The 1988 and as I remember the 1996 ones had XPS foam while the 2008 has EPS foam ("bead board"). The XPS could be used sort of as a structural core, while the EPS really can't. I doubt the fiberglass can support the shell without reinforcement. On the newer ones they seem to be relying on wood stiffeners glued to the shell, and the interior panelling making of the second skin of the sandwich.
HMS Beagle 02/01/21 03:48pm Truck Campers
RE: Autosocks (chain replacements) Experience

I run chains a lot in winter. My last pair lasted over 10 years. You have to buy quality chains..have run cables also but when it’s nasty I grab the chains Chains last a long time in Alasaka. In California, where the CHP will make you drive for 20 miles on dry concrete pavement with them, not so long.
HMS Beagle 02/01/21 09:16am Truck Campers
RE: SiO2 Batteries

One question on the SiO2 to which I cannot find a good answer: What is the charge current limit? On good quality AGM (Lifeline) you can bulk charge, voltage controlled, with no current limit. Practically for Lifelines it will take about 0.5C for about 1/2 an hour, then go down to maybe 0.3C for a couple of hours, then taper slowly to 0.02C at the end of charge. Much of the SiO2 advertising says "charge faster than AGM" yet their charge limit seems to be 0.3C. That is not faster than AGM, and requires the charger be current limited which leads to power management problems.
HMS Beagle 01/28/21 04:39pm Truck Campers
RE: SiO2 Batteries

The "fast charging" advantage is mostly bogus in real life, because your charger can't go any "faster" no matter what kind of battery you have. People can't seem to get their minds around what "faster charging" really means. "Fast charging" is a complicated issue, especially with AGM and perhaps SiO2. I can't find a lot of good charging information on SiO2, but they appear to mirror AGM in charge characteristics. An AGM must be recharged fully, periodically (say once a week) or it will lose capacity. The problem is the acceptance rate reduces as you approach full, consequently you cannot fully recharge an AGM in less than about 6 hours regardless of source. You can get it to 80 or 90% pretty quick, but the last 10 or 20% takes a long time. SiO2 appear to have a similar slow charge tail, but are claimed to not suffer from sulfation, and may not require that periodic full charge. The claims on that are mixed, some of the literature suggests that they need to be cycled periodically and charged at fairly high current or they will degrade due to moisture locking up in the plates. In contrast LFP batteries will take full charge current right up to 100%, and don't care how much current, high or low. The tail on the acceptance rate in absorb only lasts a few minutes. Their recharge time depends mostly on the capacity of your charge source. So with a current limited charge source, AGM and LFP may get to 80% at just about the same time, but the LFP will get to 100% much faster. Whether this matters or not depends on your useage.
HMS Beagle 01/28/21 10:30am Truck Campers
RE: Ram 3500 with factory airbags

The RAM air suspension is certainly not full air suspension as you might see on a semi. Many differences starting with the semi-elliptic spring to locate the axle. But I'd agree that the thing being called an "overload" is actually intended to prevent axle wrap, not carry any load. That system will also have some problems with torque jacking of the suspension - they should have stuck with and refined their first attempt. Or better still, licensed the system from Autoflex, who solved this problem (how to easily install true air suspension with no frame mods).
HMS Beagle 01/13/21 09:47am Truck Campers
RE: TC Fitted Cover

The standard is the Calmark cover. I've tried several of the covers from the RV store made out of the inexpensive car cover type material. The best I've had is two seasons looking worn, completely shredded by the middle of the third. The Calmark I bought is in perfect shape approaching it's 8th season. To be sure, it costs more, around 3 or 4x the cheap ones, so it needs to last 3 or 4x to break even. It appears to be doing that easily. One downside is that the fabric is heavier and real Sunbrella outdoor fabric, so it weighs significantly more than the cheapies, which makes it more work to put on and take off.
HMS Beagle 12/16/20 10:18am Truck Campers
RE: Espar type heater to replace older furnace.

Propane RV furnaces with ducts are common. Cold air return is available, but less common. The Espar/Webasto type heater can be VERY load outside. These heaters are common on boats in the PNW. The worst of them will keep the whole anchorage awake at night. The best sound about like a propane RV furnace. It depends somewhat on the installation, manufacturers offer mufflers for the exhaust.
HMS Beagle 12/07/20 09:50am Truck Campers
RE: Espar type heater to replace older furnace.

Efficiency of a furnace is Heat Out / Fuel In. But thermal efficiency in an RV furnace is really not that important. More important may be noise, fuel availability, AH requirements, installation volume, among others. In my opinion an Espar/Webasto (or better still a Wallas) is a better option than the typical Rv furnace, held back by the need for a separate diesel tank when most RVs already have a propane system. Better even than that would be a Webasto or ITR hydronic, which solves the domestic hot water issue as well. Wallas even makes a diesel stove, you can get rid of the propane altogether.
HMS Beagle 12/06/20 04:54pm Truck Campers
RE: Espar type heater to replace older furnace.

On the other hand, no way a diesel Espar type is going to be 90%. To get into the 90s a heater has to be condensing, and they are not even close to that. Getting 87% combustion efficiency is fairly normal on oil, there are even blueflame burners that are in the low 90% range that are non condensing. I'd be shocked if an Espar/Webasto type hot air heater could achieve that efficiency. Yes, maybe a large home unit. Looking at the specs, one model for example uses 0.23L/h while producing 6150 btu, that is an efficiency of about 73%. A decent propane furnace is probably around the same, or maybe a little less.
HMS Beagle 12/05/20 09:44am Truck Campers
RE: Espar type heater to replace older furnace.

On the other hand, no way a diesel Espar type is going to be 90%. To get into the 90s a heater has to be condensing, and they are not even close to that.
HMS Beagle 12/04/20 06:14pm Truck Campers
RE: Time to Develop a Solution for Scissor Stairs (Bigfoots)

You may want to check your height of door sill to ground and see how it divides into the step rise. I used the Bigfoot supplied scissors, and concluded that the rise needed to be a bit more to get an even rise including the last step into the door. I added some length to the vertical members of the scissors to accomplish that, it changes the folded profile a little.
HMS Beagle 11/25/20 09:50am Truck Campers
RE: Time to Develop a Solution for Scissor Stairs (Bigfoots)

I like it!. There would need to be some way to lock it in the middle, or it will migrate to the side while you drive. I would not depend on the square tube bumper for much strength, it is not attached to the shell with that in mind.
HMS Beagle 11/24/20 09:39am Truck Campers
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