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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. Thanks! Though I can't take the credit for this iteration of your design. I have a guy that does CAD work for my business and I asked him to look at your design and go from there. I agree that sliding side to side needs to be addressed in some way. We are also not relying on the box tubing because of it's lack of strength.
adamis 11/24/20 04:34pm Truck Campers
RE: Time to Develop a Solution for Scissor Stairs (Bigfoots)

A quick update on this project. Thanks to HMS Beagle's permission, I am looking at adapting his idea but with a slight change. The idea is a modular "accessory" bar that is mounted to the jacks. On this a solid platform for the steps can be added. It will have the ability to slide side to side on the bracket so access to the compartment underneath by just sliding the steps to the side. The goal is not to require changing out the sewer house tubing to simpliy installation. Additionally, in addition to the stairs, there might be the option to add some accessory brackets for attaching bikes, chairs or other items. I am working with my CAD guy to refine these ideas before we build a unit at the factory. If you like the idea of accessory brackets, let me know what type of brackets or items you think would be nice to have the ability to mount to such a bar. If you are interested in this, let me know. Once the design is finalized and first unit is made for my truck, if I'm satisified with it I am willing to offer it to others that might have an interest.
adamis 11/23/20 11:25am Truck Campers
RE: Solar + DC to DC Chargers

I ended up putting a switch on the DC to DC charger inside the camper. That way I can activate it if need to but turn it off (assuming I remember) if I don't. The way things are setup now, the 200w of solar hits the charge controller that tops off of the camper battery first and then will switch to the truck battery second. The DC to DC is only used as a secondary backup if the solar can't keep up in shady areas and we are on the move. Ordinarilly, our setup with a 100AH Battle Born LiFePo4 battery would be more than suficient. However, we did run into some low power issues during our California Foothill Booze Cruise trip two weeks ago. What caused it was a combination of high use items to include a bottle warmer for the twins (pulls ~23 amps for ~8 minutes through our 2000w inverter). The coffee maker (pulls ~50 amps for ~4 minutes). Then at night we needed to run the furnance to keep the babies warm and that pulled ~10amps for ~3 minutes every 30 minutes. After about the 3rd day of doing this and with the sun lower in the horizon, getting the battery topped off was getting difficult. Up till this point I wasn't really using the DC to DC charger because I didn't have the switch quite figured out but once the battery got low, I decided to run it while driving. Intially it didn't seem to be charging right as the amount of amps it was pushing to the battery was ~3 amps. Turns out, it was just a really cold morning and the BMS system was limiting the charge. Once things warmed up, it started putting 13 amps consistently into the battery. We also started using the generator more often for the coffee put and bottle warmers just to make sure we had power for the furnance at night. So a couple of thoughts on the lessons learned. 1. The need to keep babies warm required the furnance use at night where as the wife and I would normally just put more blankets on. 2. 200w of Solar is probably the minimum of effective capacity to maintain the 100AH LiFePo4 battery in the winter. Looking to add another 200w for 400w total when time and money allow. 3. Temperature of battery is a factor if high amperage use is needed at night when it is coldest. I am considering pulling the battery inside the camper completely. I have a compartment that would work well for it I think but I'm not really excited about rewiring all of my power cables at the moment. 4. DC to DC charger comes in handy when solar can't keep up. Just need to be careful because it can draw down truck battery if you don't turn it off when the truck is off. 5. Solar charge controller that I have requires voltage from the battery to work. If the BMS on a LiFePo4 battery cuts the battery off when it is drained, then the solar won't start charging it even if the sun is shining. By activating the DC to DC charger for a few miutes, it put enough charge back into the LiFePo4 battery for the solar to see it and start charging it again. 6. I will look into a more power efficient furnace for the future as a possible upgrade.
adamis 11/08/20 12:37pm Truck Campers
RE: Time to Develop a Solution for Scissor Stairs (Bigfoots)

This is what I did on my BF10.4: One difficulty with the BF basement campers is the basement door must remain accessible, but placing the first step below it is a very large first step down from the door. I've used this since 2013 and it has worked very well. On my prior BF9.6, I built something slightly similar, but it was mounted on a hitch extension instead of the camper. The scissors steps are much more stable and safe feeling, if they are rigidly attached. If you are up this way you are welcome to have a look and a try. There is a simple video demonstrating. HMS Beagle, sent you a private message. Please take a look when you get a chance. Thanks!
adamis 11/08/20 09:54am Truck Campers
RE: Time to Develop a Solution for Scissor Stairs (Bigfoots)

Hay Rob, guess you did not look at my BF to realize my porch is what you need. Mine is 18" but you could do it less. Simple bracing from the rear jack brackets. Here is the build thread showing what Reddog1 and I did years ago. I did get the Glow Steps from Torquelift. A big difference in rigidity. Jim Hi Jim, Yes, I have thought of your rear platform as I have considered my options. I do like having the larger landing however one of my goals is to not add any additional length to the truck and camper. Part of that is because I tow a lot and although I have a super truss system, I don't want to add more length to my truss than necessary. At most I think I wold add maybe 8" past the door for any platform.
adamis 11/05/20 11:02pm Truck Campers
RE: Time to Develop a Solution for Scissor Stairs (Bigfoots)

This is what I did on my BF10.4: One difficulty with the BF basement campers is the basement door must remain accessible, but placing the first step below it is a very large first step down from the door. I've used this since 2013 and it has worked very well. On my prior BF9.6, I built something slightly similar, but it was mounted on a hitch extension instead of the camper. The scissors steps are much more stable and safe feeling, if they are rigidly attached. If you are up this way you are welcome to have a look and a try. There is a simple video demonstrating. I have seen your design previously and I really like it for the sheer simplicity of solving the problem. If I end up sticking with some sort of scissor step solution I think I will be looking at your idea very closely. One thing I think I could do to make this cost effective is to make my own secondary stair brackets and modify the brophy so it has two sets of arm brackets like the TorqueLift.
adamis 11/02/20 07:41am Truck Campers
RE: Time to Develop a Solution for Scissor Stairs (Bigfoots)

Thanks for the pics and the comments. This is exactly the type of info I'm looking for. Ideally I would like to get rid of the scissor stairs completely if possible. I want something solid but I will have to be creative to make it work.
adamis 10/31/20 11:07pm Truck Campers
Time to Develop a Solution for Scissor Stairs (Bigfoots)

Having just returned from a nice weeklong camping trip, the Mrs. has declared that the stairs on our Bigfoot 2500 10.6 camper have got to go. They are just too dangerous when carrying our twin girls up and down the steps and they are never level save for the middle step. When parked on any type of a slope it makes for precarious sitations as the top step tilts at a 20 degree angle. It is time to fix this deficiency but how to do it is the question. What surprises me the most is that Brophey (what I currently have) and Torquelift seem to think their stairs are gold plated. The top of the line units come to nearly $700 and they appear to only be marginally better. I am shocked that these stairs are even considered safe enough to sell but that is a different topic. I have seen a couple of other solutions to this problem all with elements that I like but I want to go a bit further. Here are my "ideal" list of parameters (help me refine if you are interested in this project). 1. Landing Platform of some type outside of door. 2. Platform must be able to stow in a position that doesn't add substantial length to the camper. 3. Easy access to basement storage compartment 4. If scissor steps can't be eliminated, reduce number of steps from 5 to 3 or 4. 5. Most be deployed in seconds preferably with just 1 hand. 6. Must be more cost effective than Brophy or TorqueLift solutions I roughly modeled the back end of the Bigfoot camper and will be working on a design as I think through the problem. If you have suggestions / pictures of solutions you think are worth incorporating please feel free to post.
adamis 10/31/20 10:00pm Truck Campers
RE: Any experience with a gas fire pit?

We made the switch about four years ago after we were on an early spring camping trip and the weather was drizzly and cold. They won't let you bring your own firewood in many of the campgrounds out in California because of insects so you have to purchase from the campground. Usually it's about $7-$10 a bundle and that lasts a couple of hours. They actually prohibited scavenging for wood on the ground but we did it anyway on this cold weekend or we would have spent $100 on firewood just to stay warm. Because of the rain and scavenging, most of the wood was wet and our fire was pitiful and smokey. Nearly wasn't worth the effort. I would have just gone in the camper and called it a day but we were the hosts for the trip and everyone else was tent camping so that would have looked bad. One of the coldest weekends of my life... After that experience, I decided there had to be a better way. Searching on amazon led us to gas fire pits and we pulled the trigger as others have. However, we went one step further and also purchased an outdoor canopy with a mesh enclosure on the side walls. It's large enough to fit the gas fire pit and about ten chairs. What we get is a bug free, smoke free, rain free camping experience. Because of the mesh, it helps to hold the heat from the fire inside and it can easily be about 5 to 10 degrees warmer. This has changed our camping experience entirely. We store the fire pit in the shower and an extra 20lb propane bottle under the dinette. It only takes about ten minutes to setup fire pit and canopy and we have an enjoyable outdoor space if we want it. One tip to add... At campgrounds that have fire restrictions, it is important to ask the host if they will allow a gas fire pit or not. Most may but not all. Last place I was at they were fine with it, just asked that I raked the pine needles away from the fire pit.
adamis 10/30/20 07:25am Truck Campers
Decal Removal on Bigfoot / Fiberglass?

My Bigfoot camper is approaching 20 years old and the decals are not in the best condition. I'm considering removing them entirely at some point and having the entire exterior waxed and polished. Has anyone else removed the decals on their fiberglass camper and if so, do you have pictures of what the color difference looked like between what was exposed to the sun and what was under the decals?
adamis 09/29/20 07:28am Truck Campers
RE: Solution to Trash Left Behind!

From personal experience, I know one type of crowd that leaves trash behind are those that like to booze it up big time at night and then leave that night or early the next day. I've picked up dozens of bottles and cans left behind as these boozers down on then casually throw it over the shoulder. These are younger kids doing this from what I can tell. They are also the ones that will play their music loud at night while they "party". Rangers should crack down on this behavior with heavy fines. The forest isn't for partying it up. The second type are just the lazy and thoughtless people. Annecdotal evidence suggests there is some cultural element to it as well but not exclusively. What surprises me is that we as a society have adopted the use of plastic for everything and yet only just recently are we coming up with ways to handle the waste stream. It is with much irony that our "recycling" efforts for the last 30 years have involved collecting what we can then putting it on a ship and dumping it somewhere else. Did we actually recycle anything or are we just making some people feel good about it while ignoring the problem further? Might we have done better just to bury or incinerate it ourselves where we can control the method it is done in? Today there are modern recycling plants that can effectively sort single stream waste plastic efficiently and effectively to make the end product valuable to manufacturers but that is a relatively new development. In my own perfect world, plastic wouldn't be used for single use applications. IE, anything at a fast food resteraunt should be compositible. Any single use consumer plastic product should be designed to break down within a few weeks of exposure to UV rays or salt water. We can put a man on the moon, (or could at least at one point...) how come we can't design plastic for our potato chips that disintegrates when exposed to sun or salt water?
adamis 09/26/20 08:45am Truck Campers
Solution to Trash Left Behind!

We have all seen it before. People leave their trash behind at a nice campsite or on the side of the road. To the extent we can, we pick up what is there to dispose of later but the process just leaves a bad impression of hummanity in general. Litter fines do nothing to solve the problem. Searching for solutions, it appears that Thailand has found one option that I'm for...
adamis 09/25/20 04:12pm Truck Campers
RE: Surrounded By Sheep!

If you haven't read it already, I highly suggest reading John Muir's Summer in the Sierra biography. It his first time visiting Yosemite to which he literally walked there from San Francisco. He signed on to heard sheep from the Central Valley floor up to Tolumne Meadows through what is now Hetch Hetchy Resivoir. The story is surprisingly funny as his humour is well played. There is a particlar story about getting the sheep to cross a stream that had me busting out splitting my sides while I read it.
adamis 09/24/20 12:03pm Truck Campers
RE: Overland Build Idea

It is an interesting idea and perhaps there is a market for such a beast but I think the largest struggle you are going to have is keeping the trailer from twisting itself to pieces. Generally speaking RVs are poorly constructed unless purpose built for an application. If all you wanted was just the look of an overland vehicle that could handle some occaisional logging roads it would probably suffice but overlanding is really about going where there are no roads.
adamis 09/21/20 07:18am Truck Campers
RE: Why do I need a DC to DC charger?

I'm surprised this wasn't mentioned already... A DC to DC charger on a camper that has solar is an excellent backup if the sun isn't shining. Think cloud / smoke coverage or camping in thick tree coverage. Your alternator is concerned about charging your starting battery. Hooking your camper battery straight to it leads to two different loads and the camper battery at best is maintained but charging properly can be difficult. AGM and lead acid batteries on a DC to DC charger probably isn't as necessary but for LiFePo4 it is. They charge at a higher voltage than the standard alternators are going to provide. They are also expensive so a charger that is dedicated and has the proper charging profiles is a worthwhile insurance plan. What the unit does is it regulates the voltage to the camper battery to be consistent with the charging profile appropriate for your battery type. It does that regardless of what the alternator is doing. By the way, the alternator voltage at least in my 99 7.3 Super Duty is anything but constant. It is constantly fluctuating and changing every few seconds. Not a great way to charge a battery. The way these things regulate the voltage to be constant is they pull more current when necessary and through fancy electronic engineering that others could explain better raise keep the voltage constant on the output side. V=IR is the equation you are hunting for. If the voltage is dropping because of a load, you increase the current pull to maintain that voltage. In short, you may not NEED one unless your use or battery type make it necessary.
adamis 09/19/20 08:06am Truck Campers
RE: 2000 Bigfoot 10.6 Electrical Upgrade/Solar Advice

In regards to powering your AC off the solar / batteries, it is possible, indeed, you are most of the way there. I have not done it personally but others on here have. With you having 2 100ah Battle Born batteries you are most of the way there. The bigfoot will easily take 400w of solar on the roof, possibly a little more if you got fancy. You need an efficient AC and a soft start capacitor and it can be done. This isn't something super high on my prority list but if I was to be full time, I could seriously see going that route. I've had more than a few times of stopping for lunch and it is so dang hot in the camper. The generator sucks gas and poops out when it gets too hot as well. Being able to run the AC on battery for 30 minutes to 60 minutes on battery is perfect for a quick lunch stop. In regards to the thick cables in the truck, you can do it but I'm not sure it is really worth it. My DC to DC charger is only 20 amps but that is 10 amps more than my 200w of solar. I would have to measure the thickness of the cable but I know it isn't as heavy as welding cables. Higher amperage DC to DC converters are available but remember that you would have to you make yourself a custom 7 pin connector to the camper and rewire the connector in the camper to benefit from all of that. I don't know how much that is worth the effor though. With my 20 amp DC to DC charger, I am using the current cables without issue. In theory it would take about ~5 to 6 hours of driving to charge the battery up from complete dead on the rare occaision that happened. Most of the time after a day of use I'm more like at 60% so a good 3 hours of driving would top that off well enough. That is assuming solar wasn't even available. The rot situation raised my eyebrows but I think it's very minimal from what I can tell. One thing you should do though is replace all of the exterior screws with stainless steel. Bigfoot used regular screws up until ~2001. My camper was purchased from someone who lived on the coast and he stored it outside. Unfortently, that meant a lot of cold condensation on those screws which meant that over time, the rusted completely out. The majority of screws I pulled from the various cargo hatch frames had no threads on them. Also note that these screws are threaded into pretty much just the fiberglass and possibly some foam insulation. You can't tighten them down tight without stripping the fiberglass. I'm looking at adding a then strip of aluminum or wood as a backing to get more bite when I redo the hatches. Last thing... Did you have the insulation sucking to the center of your sliding windows? Apparently it was an issue on these campers. I have it really bad and need to get them repaired. Just haven't had the time or money to get to it. Posting image link is here:
adamis 09/18/20 05:46pm Truck Campers
RE: 2000 Bigfoot 10.6 Electrical Upgrade/Solar Advice

Looks like you are making some good progress. I have also wondered about the circuit breaker under the sink but not enough for me to move it at this point. I did add a 2000w sinewave inverter under the sink right next to that circuit and ran the power straight to the battery just below it. For our last trip we used that inverter constantly for bottle warmers (twin newborn babies) and a small coffee maker for the wife (I don't drink coffee). It was extremely nice to be able to just juse the inverter for a quick thing versus firing up the generator, especially when in RV Parks with neighbors close by. For my Renogy panels, I just eternabonded them straight to the roof. I've not had an issue with cupping because the tape is secured all around the perimeter and some double sided tape in the center. . I've not worried about keeping the panels cool. Although I am sure it could be a factor in extreme conditions, I'm not planning on camping in the desert when it is 120+F anyway... It is nice to see you went with two Battle Born batteries. I am curious how you managed to get them both to fit in the compartment. Looking forward to some pictures. One thing of note... I just started resealing my outer compartments and when I removed the hatch on the battery compartment, I discovered some dry rot. It is ironic that a fiberglass camper is still susceptible to water damage because of the interior structural wood used. At this point I haven't dealt with it since the LiFePo4 battery is 1/3rd the weight of an AGM, I think there is enough stregnth in the wood to hold for now but it is another thing on the todo list... In my setup, I ran my solar charger and battery monitoring next to the stero (see pic below). It did require running longer wires from the battery compartment up to this area but I like the convienence of being able to observe everything while seated at the dinnette. One thing you might also consider is that your solar charger might be capable of charging both a house bank and starter battery. If that is the case, connect your charger up to the 12v line coming in from the umbilical so that it will keep the truck charged up as well. You will have to keep these two circuits isolated so you would need a DC to DC charger if you wanted to also charge the battery from the truck while driving but not draing the batteries when parked. I am still working on this part to get it right, I have a DC to DC charger (from Renogy) installed in the compartment where the furnance is but I don't currently have the D+ signal wire hooked up because I need to either have a voltage sensative relay added or a manual switch so the charger doesn't run constantly. I posted in another thread about this issue a few days ago if your interested to know more about it. At any rate, looking forward to the pics when you got them!
adamis 09/18/20 07:27am Truck Campers
RE: butyly tape for solar panel install question

I have two renogy 100w panels on my camper. They are the thin film / flexible type. Since these lay flat on the roof and don't have a frame, no screws where necessary. I used double sided eterna bond tape for the center of the panel and regular eterna bond tape for the perimeter. They have held on for thousands of miles and the panels provide plenty of power. Why people use more traditional framed / rigid panels I don't understand. I know there are reasons and everyone has to row their own boat and I respect that. But for me, any hole in the roof is a recipe for disaster no matter how much due diligence to seal it. Best not to start with a hole at all and the thin film panels allow exactly that.
adamis 09/17/20 11:01pm Truck Campers
Resealing Compartment hatches, what do I use?

I've started the process of resealing the compartment hatches all around the camper in preparation for winter weather. I did a couple of quick repairs while on the road using silicone sealant but now it's time to do it right. On the bigfoot campers, there is the fiberglass exterior and then a layer of foam for insulation. The frames of the doors are held in by screws that bite into the fiberglass shell. When I pull the frames out, I see there was a thin layer of foam tape around the border of the inside of the frame. A lap sealant of some type appears to be used to fill gaps between the fiberglass and frame when installed on the camper. Looking at products on amazon, I see there is foam tape and butyle tape options. It appears that butyle tape is more commonly used on windows. Looking at what was present on the frames I've removed, it appears that foam tape is more common on compartments. Why the differences I don't know... So anyone who has resealed their exterior compartments, what product(s) are you using and what suggestions / tips might you offer? Also, on the propane compartment, it appears that some sort of rubber compound was used to completely seal the gas from being able to leak into the camper. This was a bear to get the compartment frame out of and I've never seen anything like it. Wondering what I should use when I put it all back together to keep it air tight.
adamis 09/13/20 06:15pm Truck Campers
RE: How do you store bikes inside your Truck Camper?

I did a similar setup to Bert the Welder. The only major difference I think is that I used a removable board to hold the bike clamps and then used velcro attached on the board and the seats. That made it fairly easy to remove everything once we were in camp.
adamis 09/13/20 09:01am Truck Campers
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