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Old 12-05-2019, 11:22 PM   #1
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Whole bunch of first-time riveter questions

We need rivets for two purposes at the moment: sheet metal patches to replace emergency hatches / vents, and at least a couple rivets that go through the outer sheet metal roof into the steel ribs (replacing ones missing). I've searched the forum for questions on riveting (never done it before), & hit up other resources, but still have a ton of questions:


1) Since we have the interior skin off, it seems the best bet would be solid rivets. True? If so, are there variations of solid, & what would you recommend?


2) For the appropriate rivets, recommend me a gun (please). I've got a compressor with a pretty large tank.


3) Assuming solid rivets, is 'bucking' something my wife should be capable of? How much, if any, strength does it require? Also, is a bucking bar necessary, or something easy to improvise from common tools?


4) 'Wet' installs... what sealant should I use?


5) What do you use to seal roof patches with? Do you apply it all at once after drilling holes? Do you have to rush before it sets?


6) clecos.... 'nice to have' or 'stupid to not use'?
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Old 12-06-2019, 12:21 AM   #2
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Every rivet I drilled out got replaced with a #10 panhead screw. Easy peasy, done.
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Old 12-06-2019, 01:15 AM   #3
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For exterior rivets you will want to use closed end pop rivets or solid rivets. So far I have seen one person use solid rivets. Closed end pop rivets are the norm.

I use Clecos and find them to be quite handy.

I have used auto body seam sealer and 3M 5200, with good success for sealing all of my new metal.

I found that on some of the rivets that I drilled out I wound up with the hole reamed a bit oversize. On those I went ahead and drilled out to 1/4" and used 1/4" rivets. The balance were 3/16" rivets.

I bought two of the Harbor Freight rivet guns. I set one up for 1/4" and one for 3/16". They worked well.

You definitely want stainless steel rivets. Aluminum rivets in steel panels can create problems.
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Old 12-06-2019, 08:10 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheHubbardBus View Post

1) Since we have the interior skin off, it seems the best bet would be solid rivets. True? If so, are there variations of solid, & what would you recommend?
Solid is probably unnecessary if it's only a few original roof rivets you're replacing. Getting yourself set up for pop riveting is going to be a lot more generally useful.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheHubbardBus View Post

2) For the appropriate rivets, recommend me a gun (please). I've got a compressor with a pretty large tank.
Harbor Freight guns (3/16" or 1/4") work well as long as you get one that is working from the outset (I had to return my first one, although I think it was me screwing up rather than HF - they were gracious enough to accept the return). The 1/4" gun works well for 3/16" rivets also so it's probably more generally useful and it's not much more expensive.

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Originally Posted by TheHubbardBus View Post

3) Assuming solid rivets, is 'bucking' something my wife should be capable of? How much, if any, strength does it require? Also, is a bucking bar necessary, or something easy to improvise from common tools?
Bucking is easy to do and doesn't require much strength. You're not relying on your own strength, you're relying on the mass of the bar to provide a backing for the multiple small impacts of the rivet gun, so you're basically just holding it in place. Nobody seems to ever improvise bucking bars so I wouldn't do that - you need something dense and smooth. The shapes they come in also make it easy to buck in hard-to-reach places.

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4) 'Wet' installs... what sealant should I use?
I use Dynatron-550. A little ring around the outside of the hole, pop the rivet, wipe off the excess sealant with mineral spirits. For pop rivets I also put a little dab of sealant over the center of the rivet - closed pop rivets are already waterproof through the center, so this is just for cosmetics.

Cheapest source by far for the 'Tron is Autozone, $15. Everywhere online is more like $20 plus shipping.

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Originally Posted by TheHubbardBus View Post

5) What do you use to seal roof patches with? Do you apply it all at once after drilling holes? Do you have to rush before it sets?
I would also use Dynatron-550 for this. You do want to fit the piece and drill all the holes, and then apply sealant during final installation. If you use self-tapping screws instead of rivets for the roof patches (which is what I'd do because they're easier and you won't really care what it looks like) you'd seal around the edges, place the piece and then run the screws in.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheHubbardBus View Post

6) clecos.... 'nice to have' or 'stupid to not use'?
Stupid not to use. Clecos are fantastic and easy to use and really not terribly expensive.
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Old 12-06-2019, 08:30 AM   #5
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+1 on the HF gun and Dynatron 550.
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Old 12-06-2019, 05:19 PM   #6
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+1 on the HF gun and Dynatron 550.
I was having a senior moment and couldn't remember the name of the auto body seam sealer that I used. It was Dynatron 550.

Good stuff.
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Old 12-06-2019, 11:06 PM   #7
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Thanks so much guys!


Going with blind rivets as suggested. I decided on what looks like a pretty powerful hand riveter instead of a pnuematic (says it can go up to 1/4 w/ steel rivets). The money I saved went towards a similarly designed rivnut tool. So we've got 2 new toys coming.
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