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Old 04-14-2016, 12:58 AM   #1
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popping rivets while towing?

I just read a post about popping rivets while towing on somewhat bumpy freeway, to me this freeway is normal in California. Is this a common thing to happen with airstreams, New, old, etc?
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Old 04-14-2016, 04:50 AM   #2
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When I bought my first new airstream , ( 19 foot) , I drove home approx 300 miles , on normal roads and it popped two rivets on the the ride home, I was told this is normal , I had no weight distribution bars on , I'm told if the bars are on and too strong this can happen more . I did install proper weight distribution bars and had the missing rivets replaced and never loss any more until I sold it a year later. I replace the 19 footer with a 16 footer airstream and the 16 footer never loss a single rivet from day one. I would guess the 16 footer is more rigid and has less flex . From what I heard its normal to loose a few rivets now and then in a new or old airstream .

Don
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Old 04-14-2016, 05:39 AM   #3
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In my experience, it is more common in new trailers. Because they are hand built...and in sections....after it is all assembled, there are bound to be stresses all over the trailer that are only relieved after the "settling" of the assembly, in its entirety, after miles of jouncing and flexing. I lost a few early in the life of the trailer, then nothing....well, one in the exterior of the rear compartment door frame. But that was definitely associated with a pretty firm tail drag while exiting a gas station in the Keys on the left rear corner only.
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Old 04-14-2016, 06:38 AM   #4
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We popped rivets on a 2011 30' AS on every trip towing with an F250 Diesel. In 10,000 miles with a new 30' FC being towed by an F350 much stiffer ride we did not pop one rivet I could find. Go figure, because I cannot. Popped the kitchen cabinet with the sink in it away from the wall because the factory never attached it.
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Old 04-14-2016, 08:20 AM   #5
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I think there are always some interior rivets that are going to pop. More a factor of soft, short rivets that maybe were not in good than anything else. There is nothing really strong about the interior rivets. After I replaced a few it mostly quit happening.
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Old 04-14-2016, 11:45 AM   #6
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good info from everyone thank you! So from what I'm understanding this is typically interior rivets that pop and are relatively an easy repair for someone who is handy or skilled?
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Old 04-14-2016, 12:11 PM   #7
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The exterior are bucked rivets and I have never seen one pop loose. I think the skin would tear first.
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Old 04-14-2016, 12:55 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by jackvosney View Post
I just read a post about popping rivets while towing on somewhat bumpy freeway, to me this freeway is normal in California. Is this a common thing to happen with airstreams, New, old, etc?
There are a number of reasons that cause interior as well as exterior rivets to "pop".

I base this on my 50 years experience with the Airstream products, as well as having written the crash book in 1970, for what then was the insurance division of Airstream.

Excessive rated tow vehicles, excessive rated hitch bars, unbalanced running gear and/or an out of round tire, and bad axles.

For some reason, some owners as well as some dealers spell out heavy duty load equalizing hitches with excessive rated tow vehicles.

Simple Physics demonstrates that with any given Airstream trailer,
the heavier duty the tow vehicle, the lighter rating bars must be used.

Many owners on this Forums have made that change and not one of them has ever said anything other than "WOW" what an improvement, or words to that degree,

Yes, scalloped road can cause rivets to shear, but very rarely.

What must be kept in mind, it that an Airstream trailer or motorhome, "FLEXES" to some degree when towed. The more the shell flexes, the greater the chances of rivets shearing, both pops well as buck rivets.

Keeping the ride for an Airstream trailer "SOFT" which it demands, is keeping rivet shearing in check.

Andy
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Old 04-14-2016, 01:00 PM   #9
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If I remember right there is (2) different lengths of interior rivets in a newer model AS. My memory is (1/8" by .5 long) and (1/8" by .75 long. Is that correct)?
Thanks
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Old 04-14-2016, 01:04 PM   #10
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We have towed our 2005 Classic over 30,000 miles including a trip to Alaska and have never popped a rivet towing with a Ford F250SD.
Dennis
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Old 04-14-2016, 01:23 PM   #11
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good info from everyone thank you! So from what I'm understanding this is typically interior rivets that pop and are relatively an easy repair for someone who is handy or skilled?
I am not particularly handy or skilled but a little reading, sourcing the correct pop rivets and riveter and a number 30 drill (i think that was the size for clearing out the interior rivets) and this task is not really a challenge- just take it slowly and carefully. I would agree with others that over time, the rate of poppa slows.
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Old 04-14-2016, 01:57 PM   #12
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We have towed our 2005 Classic over 30,000 miles including a trip to Alaska and have never popped a rivet towing with a Ford F250SD.
Dennis
Does a 2005 Classic have interior aluminum panel rivets?
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Old 04-14-2016, 02:04 PM   #13
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Does a 2005 Classic have interior aluminum panel rivets?
Yes
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Old 04-14-2016, 02:38 PM   #14
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We used to pop between one and three interior rivets annually in our 2009 International 28. When we switched to 16" wheels and Michelins w Centramatics last year, we now lose about one a month. I currently see about 6 interior rivets that are loosening up (you can get a fingernail under the head.) Our only conclusion is that the higher tire pressures (we've lowered from 78 to 73, but this is still higher than the old Marathons and TowMax at 65) are bouncing the rig uo and down more in rough roads.

The occasional popped interior river seems to be normal--lotsa shear loads going down the road, particularly when you go over a driveway at an angle and one side lifts before the other for a nice twisting if the fuselage.
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