INTERVIEW: Bigfoot Outrigger Pads

E&C’s interview with Bigfoot Outrigger Pads, an American family business and only major manufacturer of both custom composite and wooden outrigger pads.

E&C: Tell us about Bigfoot Outrigger Pads.

BF: The company was started by Bill Steiner “Bigfoot Bill” while working in the concrete industry. Bigfoot was started from the ground up, with a hands-on approach to building and engineering outrigger pads for safety. Now Bill’s 2 sons run this business, maintaining the craftmanship & legacy of their father while working for him for over 20 years.

E&C: Where did the name “Bigfoot” come from?

BF: The reason for our Bigfoot name is, our outrigger pads make a BIG FOOT print or expand the point of contact from your equipment’s outrigger. The Bigfoot outrigger pads are an engineered tool for safety & success. The custom composite outrigger pads were built by Bigfoot Bill, working with engineers to get the maximum PSI value and guarantee these pads for life.

E&C: What’s the purpose of the outrigger pad?

BF: Outrigger pads are used with the outrigger system or down jack on your equipment. The outrigger pad expands & displaces the point of contact from the equipment’s outrigger/ pontoon/ shoe/ float. This will decrease the PSI or PSF for the GBC (ground-bearing capacity). The GBC is the maximum PSI or PSF the ground can hold before it displaces. The point of contact on the equipment is small with exceptionally high PSI using outrigger pads to hold up and displace the PSI by expanding the point of contact to the ground.

E&C: What are the different systems of equipment for the outriggers or down jacks?

BF: There are a few. The out and down outrigger system is vertical pressure from the equipment and has a rubber up method. This system is designed to widen the footprint of the equipment, getting the rubber or tires up to make sure the PSI is not addressed through the suspension of the equipment but through the outrigger system.

E&C: Then there’s the A-frame system, yes?

BF: Also called the “45-degree” outrigger system. Smaller cranes or boom trucks have this style, as well as quarter mount equipment with a kicker leg being the 45-degree outrigger. Then there’s combo of out and down with 45-degree outrigger systems on one unit.

E&C: What about Down Jacks?

BF: This system is common for the trucking and RV industry with lowering gear for the down jacks to drop a trailer or set up level. Just remember to always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations of the equipment you are using or operating for set up.

E&C: Bigfoot Outrigger Pads are made from what types of materials?

BF: The materials Bigfoot uses are the highest quality with our American custom composite or Premium Birch.

E&C: How does Bigfoot’s custom composite compare to steel?

BF: The custom composite is 1/7 the weight of steel with comparable PSI values to high-grade American steel. This material is exceptionally resistant to water/ electricity/ corrosion and guaranteed for life.

E&C: Does the premium birch wood hold up?

BF: The Premium Birch has been used in the field for decades in the harshest conditions with exceptional results. This has a typical life span of 10 years with normal conditions and setup.

E&C: What makes outrigger pads a tool of safety?

BF: 50% of crane failure includes collapse from improper use of outriggers. The outrigger pad is used to displace the point of contact pressure PSI/ PSF that the ground sees.

E&C: So, it’s about stability.

BF: Stability is dependent on the equipment’s footprint and center of mass. The footprint is the total area enclosed by the support structures of the equipment. The center of mass is the point at which the equipment would balance if it were set on top of a single point of support. If the center of mass is off the edge or outside the footprint, the equipment will topple.

E&C: But cranes have counterweights for stability.

BF: There are two ways to provide extra stability: Use a counterweight to help shift the center of mass back over the footprint or make the footprint bigger. All cranes have counterweights but there is a limit to how heavy they can get for transportation and setup. The ground can only carry a certain PSI/ PSF before it will displace or collapse.

E&C:  So, you’re saying retractable outriggers to extend the footprint is essential for the crane’s stability.

BF: That’s right. After deploying the equipment’s outrigger system, using Bigfoot outrigger pads to expand the point of contact will displace the PSI/ PSF for the GBC.

E&C: What types of materials should not be used for outrigger pads?

BF: Let’s start with fiberglass. It will have brittle failure with no warning, even with inspection prior to use or set up. Fiberglass/ FRP is for lightweight usage and should not be used for the high PSI values that are seen with cranes or bucket trucks in any critical lift.

E&C: The use of fiberglass has had to reduce its load ratings, I believe.

BF: By a whopping 40%+ with real field conditions and use in a very short time. While reducing the load rating, they are still punching holes in Fiberglass for lightweight use. Fiberglass has no place in the real field for use on setup or supporting cranes, or any equipment in a safe or secure manner.

E&C: How about the use of 100% recycled materials for outrigger pads?

BF: 100% recycled material has nowhere near the strength of our custom composite. The recycled material is too inconsistent to give accurate PSI values, nor will it hold over time under the high comprehensive loads seen in this industry.

E&C: Bigfoot has a bone to pick with so-called “American made” outrigger pads.

BF: There are companies that claim “made in America” while using non-American materials. Having material made outside the USA and then sold here as a vendor or marketing company is not made in America. Bigfoot has had several non-American custom composite 3rd party tested. The results have been a 25% PSI value of our American custom composite.

E&C: Bigfoot can honestly claim their outrigger pads are “Made in America.”

BF: Absolutely. Bigfoot’s portable and user-friendly outrigger pads are American made by American Veterans and our custom composite is guaranteed for life.

E&C: What else should we know about Bigfoot Outrigger Pads?

BF: Bigfoot Construction Equipment is the longest in-house manufacturer of both wood and Custom Composite outrigger pads. Building custom outrigger pads to maximize strength, stability, and safety is our business. Feel free to contact us for a custom pad quote.