Yes, she would be able to do it fine. The bucking portion is simply holding a heavy bar against the rivet so you have a hammering surface. It is physically demanding, after a while. Just stop doing it for the day when you're too tired.
Use 3/16 or 1/4 where necessary. On the bluebird, the rub rails appear to be set with 1/4 rivets, and the 3/16 are in the roof and walls. Use the same or similar spacing they did, and pre-drill and get a ton of clecos. The more clecos you have, the more you can work in advance predrilling holes.
I'd probably go with regular steel rivets since they're a lot cheaper, but you'll need to make sure to paint them. An additional thing you can do is treat each hole with a quick shot of cold galv spray paint, which will help cut down on corrosion significantly.
Clecos are magic and will be useful for tons of things. They are basically removable rivets, and will hold the panels together. Use whatever techniques will work for you to get the panels in place, like that bottle jack jig, or just muscling them into place. Once they are there, you can drill and mount a couple to get going. When you drill your holes, drill in a pattern that spreads the metal out and does not induce ripples or bubbles. You want to drill and then add clecos then drill some more. Don't pre-drill everything unless you're really sure it's dead on.
In some cases, I'll skip drill holes, then add clecos to all those, then go back and drill the holes between. The clecos help hold the metal panels (ribs and sheets) together so the hole I drill is precise.
I think the best way I visualize it is it's sort of like applying a big sticker to a surface, you start in the middle and spread your way out so you don't trap any air under it.
A 4x rivet gun is the size you want if you haven't done this before. Anything smaller will wear you out and take longer, anything larger is too heavy or risks damaging the vehicle.
Using a bucking bar is all about technique, hearing protectors, and some work gloves. It's not that heavy, but it will vibrate the piss out of your hands after a while, for both parties involved.
The trick is to develop the language on both sides of the panel. Here's what I do:
Riveter: (optinally remove cleco first)
Riveter: Insert rivet
Riveter: Immediately position rivet set on rivet head to hold in place. (Riveter keeps pressure on gun and set because of the next step)
Bucker: Place bar against stem of rivet, give one firm push, but not enough to push the rivet out of the hole - indicates "ready"
Riveter: Pulls rivet gun trigger for specified amount of time. This will take practice, but you can tell when to stop by the sound. As soon as the rivet is fully set, the tone changes.
Bucker: when rivet gun stops, watch for next rivet to be pressed through hole.
Riveter: repeat process
This whole exchange happens very quickly once you've got practice at it, and it's why you can pre-drill a ton of holes if you have a giant bucket of clecos to hold everything in place.
It's sort of fun, working as team because you get to read each other's mind and work together to get it done. Occasionally something happens, like a rivet drops out, or it goes sideways, or doesn't fit, or an additional hole is drilled, but that's all fine.
Originally Posted by TAOLIK
I sensed a sincere knowledge based tone behind your solid rivet suggestion/insistence. I feel I should reevaluate my decision now. I can probably hustle my wife into holding a bucking bar, would holding a bucking bar demand strength or is this something that could be done by someone with the strength of a 8 year old boy?
If I change my plan according to your suggestion, could I have you confirm the following?
I should use stainless steel (or steel) rivets, either 3/16 or 1/4 inch depending on the existing thickness of the current rivets which are in the bus.
The length of the rivets should be about 1.5x the thickness of the total steel I'm joining.
I should predrill, set the metal, get a lot of clico's to hold the metal over the bus, and then hustle me some help to do it the right way with solid rivets?
Thanks again for taking interest!