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 > bigfoot and northern lite details on their construction

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eou_edu

Oregon

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Posted: 08/29/19 01:59pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

So I've had some very bad luck with campers. My first two wood ones rotted away. The third I spent some more money and bought a 2005 bigfoot. Unfortunitly through some dealer trickery they masked the rotted out wooded floor by covering it with a carpeted piece of plywood. When I went to fix the floor the wood floor trusses were so rotted they were sawdust. Then there was no way to fix it without completely gutting out the camper and redoing the whole floor. Instead I sold it to someone wanting a project (full disclosure of the problems).

I am aware of the 2 piece fiberglass construction of these campers. But fiberglass itself needs structure. I don't know all the technical terms for fiberglass construction but I know of basically three types:

1) Not reinforced. This is the way my 2005 bigfoot was. It was just fiberglass and the structure was the wooded floor. Once I took the rotted wood out of the floor the only thing left was the fiberglass. Had I attempted to walk on it while it was in the air my foot would go right through the bottom.
2) Reinforced fiberglass with a wood core. There can be delamination problems. Everywhere where there has been a hole in the fiberglass can created avenues for water to come into and rot the wood.
3) Reinforced fiberglass with a compostite core. Most boats are going to this. It has created some rocky starts but long term this appears to be the way to go for boats.

So which of these are bigfoot and northern lites. My 9'6" 2005 bigfoot was the first one with wood. Did bigfoot every change this method or are they still doing the same? Do they now use aluminum where they used to use wood? What about northern lite? I know their old factory burned down and they restructured their business. But did they change the fiberglass construction method then or were they already doing it? BTW I'm not looking for a wood vs aluminum debate. For me little to no wood is the very best. But I also live in the Oregon coast where it starts raining in September and doesn't stop until June and rarely freezes. If you live in the great lakes your priorities might be different. Different strokes for different folks.

stevenal

Newport, OR, USA

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Posted: 08/29/19 04:23pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

5) Fiberglass skin over a wood frame.


'18 Bigfoot 1500
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Old Days

Colorado

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Posted: 08/29/19 04:44pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I own a NL 811,like every camper if you don't do maintenance it will fall apart. I haven't seen any aluminum in my camper.

JD5150

Anywhere

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Posted: 08/29/19 05:35pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I'm also looking at Northern Lite for the construction and a true 60x80 queen bed and 6'8 interior height.

I like the one seam fiberglass but still concerned about delamination. I know maintenance is key to keep water intrusion out.

I know what water does to structure. I've been around the water damage business all my life.

I've been looking at Eagle Cap and Cirrus construction. Aluminum frame, fiberglass sidewalls with azdel composite backing. Might be wood inserts in the aluminum tubing so a screw will take a bite but I think that is all the wood in Eagle Cap. Cons are massive seams to maintain on these two campers.

Wish Northern Lite would treat the wood with something to keep rot away or use aluminum or composite like coosa. Hallmark uses coosa

SideHillSoup

South Eastern British Columbia

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Posted: 08/29/19 06:01pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

There is no “core” in my 2018 NL 8-11. It’s two prices fibreglass.
There is wood frame is to hold the floor up and wood frame for the walls, but they are not structural. I went on a tour of Northern Lite manufacturing and watched them build a number of units as they are all built on a line. Yes there is wood inside, but it’s to hold up the inter walls and floors cabinets etc..
I opened up the compartment where the dump valves are it’s fibreglass outer walls with no wood support.
Here is looking straight up the driver side outside wall towards the front of the camper.
The white box on the wall is the outside shower, the brown wall is the shower stall. The pipes are for the shower, toilet sink... no wood other than for floor support
[image]


2018 Northern Lite 8-11 EX Dry Bath
2017 Sierra SLE, 3500 HD / 4x4 / Duramax with a 6 speed Allison Trans
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JD5150

Anywhere

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Posted: 08/29/19 06:29pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

SideHillSoup wrote:

There is no “core” in my 2018 NL 8-11. It’s two prices fibreglass.
There is wood frame is to hold the floor up and wood frame for the walls, but they are not structural. I went on a tour of Northern Lite manufacturing and watched them build a number of units as they are all built on a line. Yes there is wood inside, but it’s to hold up the inter walls and floors cabinets etc..
I opened up the compartment where the dump valves are it’s fibreglass outer walls with no wood support.
Here is looking straight up the driver side outside wall towards the front of the camper.
The white box on the wall is the outside shower, the brown wall is the shower stall. The pipes are for the shower, toilet sink... no wood other than for floor support
[image]

Thanks. I guess I shouldn't worry about it because I do have the know how and the equipment to dry out what wood is in there if it did get wet. As long as I can get air to it I can dry it out. When a piece of wood is trapped somewhere and not able to get air to it then it will become a problem. There is still ways to get air where moisture is trapped if you know what you are doing.

I guess an owner that has their camper outside and not under cover really needs to pay attention to moisture. Weekly and after every rain or snow melt, condensation after camping in it. Neglecting these things is the worse thing you can do. If you have moisture or water intrusion it's time to open up the damaged area and get air to it and get it dry or you will pay for it later.

eou_edu

Oregon

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Posted: 08/30/19 12:00pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I thought I'd get it straight from the horses mouth so I emailed northern lite:

We have fiberglass with foam bonded to the glass with plywood ribs and then plywood on top of that. We have always put drain holes in the bottom in the event something breaks it has a path out of the shell and have had no problems. Hence why we can offer a 6 year warranty.



I hope this helps.



Thanks

Kayteg1

California > Nevada

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Posted: 08/30/19 12:27pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

eou_edu wrote:



We have fiberglass with foam bonded to the glass with plywood ribs and then plywood on top of that.


With all the experience I have in construction - I tried to visualize it.
NOPE, no clue.





Siletzspey

Shedd, OR

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Posted: 08/30/19 05:33pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Kayteg1 wrote:

eou_edu wrote:



We have fiberglass with foam bonded to the glass with plywood ribs and then plywood on top of that.


With all the experience I have in construction - I tried to visualize it.
NOPE, no clue.


Just picture a sheet of fiberglass topped with a 1" sheet of foam topped with a ~1/8" (or 3/16?) sheet of plywood. |III|. At least that's what I see in the basement near the gray water tank. I can't see the ribs, but the ribs would help explain how some things are screwed into the walls with strength.

In some rare cases with older NLs, I have seen discussion of the layers de-laminating, and loss of structural strength, typically where the cab-over meets with the rest of the camper.

--SiletzSpey

JD5150

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Posted: 08/30/19 05:51pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

It does say on their website under construction.
Once both the top and bottom are pulled out of the molds, the top shell is placed over the bottom shell which has a plywood lip along its top. I'm guessing it's the whole seam this plywood lip is. They should treat this wood and other bare wood with a moisture resistant stuff. Probably would double the life of this bare wood if it was to get wet numerous times

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