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Old 10-11-2016, 10:45 PM   #1
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: Oct 2015
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Year: 2003
Chassis: E-450
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Not another rivet question...

Hey guys, remember us?

Our build thread should be up shortly as we've finally started converting. We've been held back by a never ending parade of set backs. First it was losing the only set of keys, then it was having someone hook the batteries up with the terminals reversed frying some electrical components, then the only garage that can handle buses in our area took FOREVER to get the inspection done.

But we're back and at work.

Except those F%&$#!# rivets!

We actually got super lucky and almost everything on the bus is held together by screws that came out in no time at all

Except the l track / seat belt tracks on the walls. They have some nice big rivets going into the frame behind the wall, and we can't get them out.

The track system makes it pretty much impossible to get anything to grind/cut the heads off, and I've gone through the best drill bits I can find. Even a diamond headed one!

This has me scratching my head. Short of cutting the rest of the panel off and attacking them from behind, I'm out of ideas. I read through all the posts I remember discussing rivets, but didn't find anything I haven't tried.

Tips are appreciated, as are links to other people overcoming these same challenges!
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Old 10-12-2016, 01:15 AM   #2
Skoolie
 
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My opinion after trying various methods proposed in the forum is that most of them use way to much energy and take way to much time and I'm shock when people talk about using a chisel and a hammer in a 72 passenger bus and I was done after 10 rivets in my shorty so after much reading someone talked about this :

Flap discs

This is by far the fastest way ( not the cleanest, lot of dust will come up so use a mask and protective eyegear) and if you use the angle right you can tackle two rivets at the same time I did 753 rivets in about 4 hours with breaks. Use 40 grit it will be the fastest.
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Old 10-12-2016, 08:52 AM   #3
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Flap discs are good, I have one of these that will pretty much destroy anything in its path so be careful

https://www.amazon.com/--Norton-Grin...6&keywords=cup

We use them at work for grinding forging defects out of exotic metals, they eat aluminum and steel like butter.
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Old 10-12-2016, 12:56 PM   #4
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OMG those look even better!!!!!!!!
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Old 10-12-2016, 01:54 PM   #5
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Tell us more about the rivets. Are they blind or solid? Any idea what material they're made of? It sounds pretty hard. Do the drills just make a small dent and go dull? Are you running the drill too fast and without oil, thus overheating them and accelerating their demise? If it's a blind rivet, drive the mandrel out of the rivet with a punch first. The mandrel will be a harder metal than the rivet body is, and there's no need to drill it since it can just be hammered out.

Have you tried fire? (I'm serious.) If they're some kind of hardened metal maybe you could soften it by heating with a torch and make the drilling a little easier. Another fire approach: I found a plasma cutter did a fantastic job of burning away the heads of rivets in my bus. Maybe there's a shop near you that does some kind of metal work, has a plasma cutter or oxy-fuel torch, and would help out for a nominal fee, lunch, etc. Final fire approach: use a stick or TIG welder to strike an arc and hold it. If you can minimize the transfer of filler metal, maybe you can get the rivet head to deform so it's thinner, or even have some of the material drip away so there's less left to drill or grind.

If you're not hoping to re-use the track you could cut some of it away so that you have better access for grinding the heads off the rivets. Could also try grinding with a burr in a die grinder if a rotating disc type grinder can't get in there.
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Old 10-12-2016, 03:49 PM   #6
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I took all the ceiling panels off a bluebird in about an hour or so with just an air chisel/punch. Need a good compressor to keep up, but its fast and easy and less toxic on the lungs.
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Old 10-12-2016, 04:19 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EastCoastCB View Post
I took all the ceiling panels off a bluebird in about an hour or so with just an air chisel/punch. Need a good compressor to keep up, but its fast and easy and less toxic on the lungs.
Sorry but is hard for me to believe that, I have a big compressor and air chisel and in the aluminium rivets was ok but steel not at all.

how long do you take to get one rivet out using that method ?
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Old 10-12-2016, 04:27 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pepepito View Post
Sorry but is hard for me to believe that, I have a big compressor and air chisel and in the aluminium rivets was ok but steel not at all.

how long do you take to get one rivet out using that method ?
After three buses of practice, I'm GOOOD.
It was another forum member whose bus I de-riveted. Ask her if you don't believe me.

The key is you have to use a pointy punch type bit to drive out the mandrels, then you shear off the rivet head with a nice, sharp chisel bit.
The roof panels on that 30 footer were out in no more than 90 minutes using this method.
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Old 10-12-2016, 04:31 PM   #9
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After three buses of practice, I'm GOOOD.
It was another forum member whose bus I de-riveted. Ask her if you don't believe me.

The key is you have to use a pointy punch type bit to drive out the mandrels, then you shear off the rivet head with a nice, sharp chisel bit.
The roof panels on that 30 footer were out in no more than 90 minutes using this method.
Next time please make a video because I follow those steps before and that didn't work for me, maybe I'm doing something wrong.
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Old 10-12-2016, 06:03 PM   #10
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Bring your bus, and I'll do em for ya. For free, like the last member I did the de-riveting for.
OR if anyone else in the area needs help with demo or rivets let me know, I'm always down to help out anyone who's friendly.
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Old 10-12-2016, 06:10 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by EastCoastCB View Post
Bring your bus, and I'll do em for ya. For free, like the last member I did the de-riveting for.
OR if anyone else in the area needs help with demo or rivets let me know, I'm always down to help out anyone who's friendly.
I already removed the rivets but I just wanted to know how to do it with the air chisel.
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Old 10-12-2016, 07:11 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EastCoastCB View Post
The key is you have to use a pointy punch type bit to drive out the mandrels, then you shear off the rivet head with a nice, sharp chisel bit.
The Harbor Freight chisel bits I used were made with a taper on both sides, shaped the same way most knife blades are. I found they worked substantially better for shearing rivet heads if I ground the edge of the bit to have a taper on just one side, like a wood chisel. It had to be re-ground periodically when the edge became too deformed.

What shape do you prefer for shearing rivets? I assume you must re-sharpen or replace the bit in the course of the project.
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Old 10-12-2016, 09:49 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by family wagon View Post
The Harbor Freight chisel bits I used were made with a taper on both sides, shaped the same way most knife blades are. I found they worked substantially better for shearing rivet heads if I ground the edge of the bit to have a taper on just one side, like a wood chisel. It had to be re-ground periodically when the edge became too deformed.

What shape do you prefer for shearing rivets? I assume you must re-sharpen or replace the bit in the course of the project.
I've used one chisel bit to do two buses. I've put a bit of a sharper edge on it but never too sharp. Just a bit sharper than they come.
I use hf stuff a lot, but the expensive bits I bought at the local hardware store have served me very well.
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Old 10-13-2016, 11:29 AM   #14
Bus Nut
 
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I haven't had a chance to get out to the conversion location to measure the exact size of the rivets, but they are the biggest I have personally seen.

I'll be the first to admit that I don't know all that much about the different types of rivets, but I believe they are blind rivets and definitely made of steel. I know there is a distinction between open and closed, but I don't know what that is in practice or just to look at...

I haven't tried grinding because the bottom rail is deep and not very open because of the lip used to secure bolt heads for the actual seats, so I'd have to cut away pieces of the rail to be able to get any type of angle at all. I could grind the top, but I'm looking for a solution that I can just use on all of them.

Thanks for all of the suggestions, I'll try them out when I get over there next (possibly tonight, though the weather is terrible here today).

Anyone ever try this out?



I stumbled across this and am thinking it may work well on the bottom since I could get the blade straight in and not have to worry about any angles.
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Old 10-13-2016, 01:07 PM   #15
Skoolie
 
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Those rivets that he is taking out in the video are far easier than the steel top ones, you can even take them out with just the chisel.

the problem I see is using the angle grinder overhead to take the celing rivets.
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Old 10-13-2016, 03:10 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pepepito View Post
Those rivets that he is taking out in the video are far easier than the steel top ones, you can even take them out with just the chisel.

the problem I see is using the angle grinder overhead to take the celing rivets.
The grinder is gonna make a bunch of dust and make it miserable to work.
I'll look for some rivets when I go out to the bus this weekend, and I'll make a vid of how to QUICKLY and easily get rid of those pesky rivets. Mine are the worst case scenario for removal. They're oxidized and they're twice as stubborn as the rivets on that Bluebird I worked on. But they're still a piece of cake if you have the right tools and technique.
Now that I think about it- I still have a panel over the driver seat area and the rear skin is still on. So- Vid to come!
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Old 11-23-2016, 11:25 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by EastCoastCB View Post
The grinder is gonna make a bunch of dust and make it miserable to work.
I'll look for some rivets when I go out to the bus this weekend, and I'll make a vid of how to QUICKLY and easily get rid of those pesky rivets. Mine are the worst case scenario for removal. They're oxidized and they're twice as stubborn as the rivets on that Bluebird I worked on. But they're still a piece of cake if you have the right tools and technique.
Now that I think about it- I still have a panel over the driver seat area and the rear skin is still on. So- Vid to come!
I'd love to see a quick video of your process. I'm going to be pulling the roof panels down in the spring and I don't want it to be a huge ordeal if it doesn't have to be. Anxiously awaiting your technique!
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Old 11-23-2016, 06:26 PM   #18
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I'd love to see a quick video of your process. I'm going to be pulling the roof panels down in the spring and I don't want it to be a huge ordeal if it doesn't have to be. Anxiously awaiting your technique!
Sorta got sidetracked with work and other projects, but I PROMISE I'll actually make a video this weekend.
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