1986 13' Cadet Owner - Fiberglass RV


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Old 02-11-2012, 10:53 PM   #1
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Name: Nick
Trailer: 1986 13' Cadet
British Columbia
Posts: 17
1986 13' Cadet Owner

I'm beginning to wonder what I've got myself into!!

I just (somewhat impulsively) bought a '86 Cadet trailer for $1450. After realizing what I'm up against, I'm beginning to wonder if I paid about $1000 too much for it. However it is really hard to find small light fibreglass trailers these days. The particular trailer I bought is probably one of the most sadly neglected Cadets in Canada. I fell in love with it's potential though, and hope I can restore it and create some special family memories with it.

These are neat little trailers that weigh only about 900lbs or so. The drive home was a 1 hour drive over a good sized mountain pass. My '95 Maxima towed it like it was nothing. I had fears that the tires would blow or the bearings seize, but there were no such problems.

The trailer was left to the elements for many years, and also suffered the skills of a handyman who was not so handy. The roof was left for so long that it has lichens and moss growing on it and some of the fibre glass has rotted creating pits and holes. This also caused leaks which damaged the interior.

The owners previous to me had rescued the unit from the neglectful owner with the hope that they could restore it themselves. They decided it was too much for them and put it up for sale.

Fortunetely the unit came with decent cushions, a decent awning, and the original curtains/screens and canvas surround for the poptop. The canvas is totatly rotted and will serve only as a template for a replacement.

I've cleaned the unit up, and covered it with a tarp for the time being. Once the weather dries out a bit and I finish some house reno's I'm in the middle of, I'll start putting time into the trailer.

I really have no idea what I'm doing, or what products to use, but so far my list is something like:

- Completely gut the unit and remove the remaining glue and foam backing from the inside.
- Pressure wash the lichens/moss off the roof
- Repair the fibre glass shell in multiple spots with new fibreglass/epoxy
- Paint the roof with some sort of heavy duty roof coating for RVs which will seal the fibre glass repairs I make
- Replace the pop-top, window and door rubber seals
- Seal all seams/cracks/holes throughout the entire shell (some sort of caulking?)
- Give the rest of the shell exterior a cut wax
- Replace the interior floor with new plywood and lino
- Check and repair/replace all wiring
- Buy new RV battery and install
- Install new appolstry to the interior
- Sew/cut/install new canvas for the poptop
- Make new screens and mounting system
- Make new curtains
- Do a better job repairing a crack in the front window
- Repair and reinstall cabinets/closet/benches/tables etc.
- Replace propane lines and regulator
- Check and replace/repair water tank, pump and lines
- Overwhelming? Yes! Maybe I'll be done this project by the time my 3 year old son moves out to go to college!

I'll keep you all posted. I'll also start reading through this site to see what others have done in my situation. Perhaps I should just write this thing off, part it out and not waste my money on it. I was hoping to save a few $$ by restoring a trailer, but I'm staring to wonder.

Cheers! Nick

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Old 02-11-2012, 10:56 PM   #2
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Name: Nick
Trailer: 1986 13' Cadet
British Columbia
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Old 02-11-2012, 11:06 PM   #3
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Name: Mark
Trailer: 1969 Boler (Flat Top)
British Columbia
Posts: 530
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Nick, Congrats on the Cadet. I my not be an experienced renovator but I do consider myself an experienced shopper. I think what you paid was a fair price. These "shells" really retain value. From the pics it looks ok. You may or may not save money doing the reno (Don't count your labour!) but when your done it'll be all your own.

Cheers,
Mark
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Old 02-11-2012, 11:12 PM   #4
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Name: Nick
Trailer: 1986 13' Cadet
British Columbia
Posts: 17
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Originally Posted by WildBirder View Post
Nick, Congrats on the Cadet. I my not be an experienced renovator but I do consider myself an experienced shopper. I think what you paid was a fair price. These "shells" really retain value. From the pics it looks ok. You may or may not save money doing the reno (Don't count your labour!) but when your done it'll be all your own.

Cheers,
Mark

Thanks Mark! That makes me feel lots better. Hopefully I can figure out the reno tricks and make 'quick' work of it. I can't wait to get out camping with my family in this thing. We hope to making camping 'easier' than setting up a tent, which will hopefully get us out more. I live in Victoria BC, and hope to explore more of the wonderful Island we live on.

I should have included a pic of the roof....haha. Also, I definitely don't count my labor on these sort of projects.

Nick
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Old 02-12-2012, 06:49 AM   #5
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Name: Donna D
Trailer: Escape 5.0 TA, 2014
Oregon
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Welcome to FiberglassRV Nick, we're glad you're here. I think you got an nice little trailer and the fact it appears the windows (which are special)... are intact is terrific!

Thanks for posting the pictures, we'll all be following the improvements too
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Old 02-12-2012, 10:36 AM   #6
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Name: Nick
Trailer: 1986 13' Cadet
British Columbia
Posts: 17
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Originally Posted by Donna D. View Post
Welcome to FiberglassRV Nick, we're glad you're here. I think you got an nice little trailer and the fact it appears the windows (which are special)... are intact is terrific!

Thanks for posting the pictures, we'll all be following the improvements too
Thanks Donna! After sleeping on it, I'm starting to feel more optimistic about the project.

The windows are in good shape, except the front window looks like it was hit by a rock at one point. There is a star crack in the middle that someone tried to repair at one point. I'm going to remove the window and repair the crack properly when I get the chance.

Thanks again. I'm looking forward to learning about RV restoration. Let the reading begin.

Cheers!
Nick
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Old 02-12-2012, 10:47 AM   #7
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Nick, have you looked at the Cadet album yet? Cadet

If you've done much reading here on FiberglassRV about the Cadets, you know how very special those windows are. I'm only continuing to mention it because it seems like every owner that's posted needed replacements, at least for the front window ... and they're not to be found except from across the Atlantic (that we've ever heard about).

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Old 02-12-2012, 11:09 AM   #8
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Name: Carol
Trailer: 22' Airstream Formerly 16' Scamp
British Columbia
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Welcome Nick! Hope you get it fixed up & join us at one of the Fiberglass meet ups on the mainland in the near future.

It actually looks pretty good . As many here have gone down this road before you they will be able to help you with each step - all you need to do is ask how to.

Have fun with it!
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Old 02-12-2012, 11:22 AM   #9
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Name: kootenai girl
Trailer: 2004 Casita Liberty 17
British Columbia
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Welcome, I thought from your description it would look a lot worse than it does. You should see some of the trailers people have brought back to life on here!
I am sure it will be a fun project and they are so neat looking, I have yet to see one in real life.
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Old 02-12-2012, 12:58 PM   #10
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Name: John
Trailer: 86 Cadet
Ontario
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Hi Nick,
I also brought a Cadet Last summer in even worst condition than Yours. No regrets... I gutted the interior, insulated the walls and floor. Removed the two windows and resealed it. Removed the propane lines since my didn't come with a stove. Changed interior lights to LEDs. Will be adding screens to the windows and the roof this spring before going camping. (need to figure out the best solution). The trailer will be repainted this spring to give it a fresh look. I did tow it up north to Lake Superio and did some camping in October last year to test it out. This is a great camping trailer! It's perfect for me as I can park the trailer in my driveway and still have room to park my second car.

I would repair all the leaks before doing any work inside. You may find the plywood floor still solid. I had to replace a section at the door, no need to replace the whole floor if not needed. This site is great for ideas and how to. Have fun fixing the trailer and campin in it.
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Old 02-12-2012, 03:04 PM   #11
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Name: Nick
Trailer: 1986 13' Cadet
British Columbia
Posts: 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Donna D. View Post
Nick, have you looked at the Cadet album yet? Cadet

If you've done much reading here on FiberglassRV about the Cadets, you know how very special those windows are. I'm only continuing to mention it because it seems like every owner that's posted needed replacements, at least for the front window ... and they're not to be found except from across the Atlantic (that we've ever heard about).

Hey Donna, I just checked out the album, thanks! That is a nice looking Cadet!

I did do some reading on the Cadet's before I went and looked at the one I bought. I learned the shell is made in Poland, and a modern version is still being made in Europe. The only problem is the cost of obtaining and shipping parts to North America (like new windows!). I may try to make some sort of rock guard for the front window to preserve it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Carol H View Post
Welcome Nick! Hope you get it fixed up & join us at one of the Fiberglass meet ups on the mainland in the near future.

It actually looks pretty good . As many here have gone down this road before you they will be able to help you with each step - all you need to do is ask how to.

Have fun with it!
Thanks for the welcome! This is a great forum with some great people! That would be fun meeting up with you folks on the mainland sometime! I'll definitely look into it once my Cadet is camp-worthy. Definitely seems like all the knowledge I need is here.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kootenaigirl View Post
Welcome, I thought from your description it would look a lot worse than it does. You should see some of the trailers people have brought back to life on here!
I am sure it will be a fun project and they are so neat looking, I have yet to see one in real life.
The pictures make it look better than it is to tell the truth. I should have taken a shot of the condition of the roof. The rotten pits in it are about the size of a quarter, and there are probably about a dozen. Each pit has smaller holes that extend right through the roof. Also, the pop top doesn't even fit down to the profile of the roof for some reason. There is a 1 inch gap in the front. Not sure why yet, but hopefully it won't be too much of a problem to fix (unless the fibreglass pop top has warped somehow).

Quote:
Originally Posted by jmark View Post
Hi Nick,
I also brought a Cadet Last summer in even worst condition than Yours. No regrets... I gutted the interior, insulated the walls and floor. Removed the two windows and resealed it. Removed the propane lines since my didn't come with a stove. Changed interior lights to LEDs. Will be adding screens to the windows and the roof this spring before going camping. (need to figure out the best solution). The trailer will be repainted this spring to give it a fresh look. I did tow it up north to Lake Superio and did some camping in October last year to test it out. This is a great camping trailer! It's perfect for me as I can park the trailer in my driveway and still have room to park my second car.

I would repair all the leaks before doing any work inside. You may find the plywood floor still solid. I had to replace a section at the door, no need to replace the whole floor if not needed. This site is great for ideas and how to. Have fun fixing the trailer and campin in it.
Cool! Thanks a lot for posting in this thread. I'm excited there are others who've been through the same work I'll be doing with the same trailer. I'll try not to bug you with many questions, but I gotta know: How did you deal with recovering the ceiling and walls on yours? Did you use automotive upholstery over insulation? Do you have any pictures of your Cadet? What type of paint do you plan to use?

Thanks all!!

Nick
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Old 02-13-2012, 09:55 AM   #12
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Name: John
Trailer: 86 Cadet
Ontario
Posts: 12
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Hi Nike,

Wall covering: I got the idea from a member on this site. Andrew GPSMapNut

Guess what I'm using for insulation!

I found this material very easy to work with.
I used the grey version from Costco. It a little dark but I will be put a coat of paint over it. My Cadet will be painted by an auto body shop. A coat of primer and a couple coat of auto paint will make the trailer looking like new.

My trailer is no-frill. No propane stove, no fridge, no heater. 'Just camping' A quick get away for me, the wife and my dog...

I will post some pictures when I have a chance.

Cheers...
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Old 02-13-2012, 10:29 AM   #13
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Name: Nick
Trailer: 1986 13' Cadet
British Columbia
Posts: 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by jmark View Post
Hi Nike,

Wall covering: I got the idea from a member on this site. Andrew GPSMapNut

Guess what I'm using for insulation!

I found this material very easy to work with.
I used the grey version from Costco. It a little dark but I will be put a coat of paint over it. My Cadet will be painted by an auto body shop. A coat of primer and a couple coat of auto paint will make the trailer looking like new.

My trailer is no-frill. No propane stove, no fridge, no heater. 'Just camping' A quick get away for me, the wife and my dog...

I will post some pictures when I have a chance.

Cheers...
Awesome! I like it! Thanks for that link. I think I may do the same thing. And I definitely look forward to pics!

Cheers!
Nick
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Old 02-13-2012, 11:41 PM   #14
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Name: Dave
Trailer: 86 Cadet
Surrey, B.C.
Posts: 14
HI Nick,

I've had an '86 Cadet for 3 years. Mine came from Vanc. Island too but I've had it all over southern B.C. since. (I'm in Surrey) I just stripped the inside of mine bare and have begun the reno/rebuild process. Yours is in pretty good shape judging from the pics and I agree with Mark above that you paid a fair price.

I think I can tell you why there is a 1" gap on the front of your roof. Someone took it off and put it back on back to front. Please don't ask how I know that.
I just now came in from ripping up the plywood floor. This was actually the reason I decided to gut the thing. I think that a previous owner left it on the beach at low tide because it has always had that funny smell that plywood gets when it has been soaked in seawater. Sure enough, the rear half of the floorboards were pretty rotten There was a biology experiment still going on under the boards. The good news is that the bottom of the trailer ( under the boards) is still in very good condition.

I've just finished re-doing the roof lid and am happy with the results.

Pictures to follow but send me a message if you have any questions.
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