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Old 10-24-2015, 10:21 AM   #1
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1976 31' Sovereign
Pittsburgh , Pennsylvania
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Belly Pan Rivets Keep Breaking Drill Bits

Hello all,

I just broke two bits in less than five minutes trying to remove the strip that covers the belly pan seam. I only broke one or two while removing the entire interioir skin set. Are the exterior rivets make of a different metal?

(FYI I am asking about factory installed pop rivets, not buck rivets.)

Any thoughts?
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Old 10-24-2015, 11:00 AM   #2
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1981 31' Excella II
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You might be using a drill bit that is too large. The frame is steel so when the bit hits that, it causes it to jam and break off. These are pop rivets are they not? Also you can get short bits for drilling pilot holes and drilling out rivets. Short bits are more rigid. Someone could have used steel core rivets which might also contribute to the problem. What size bit are you using.

Perry
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Old 10-24-2015, 11:26 AM   #3
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They are pop rivets.

I'm using 1/8 bits.
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Old 10-24-2015, 11:40 AM   #4
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Try some of these from mcmaster.com. Much less likely to break off.

McMaster-Carr

Perry
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Old 10-24-2015, 03:51 PM   #5
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1976 31' Sovereign
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I just picked up some cheep versions of the same thing at Harbor Freight. They work much better and don't seem as likely to break.

The rivets are still harder to remove than expected. I'm wondering if the are olympic rivets that have been shaved. They have a metal core not present in a pop rivet.

Do I handle the olympic rivets the same as pop rivets?
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Old 10-24-2015, 07:37 PM   #6
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Hot Springs , Arkansas
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Use a 1/8 drill bit and remove only enough metal on the rivet head, cutting to the belly pan strip. Then take a small punch and gently tap the rivet anchor into the pan. Slow drill speed and light pressure. Works like a champ and a good quality bit will last a long time.
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Old 10-24-2015, 10:06 PM   #7
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Snoqualmie , Washington
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I found the easiest way, for me, was to take a nail set and punch the mandrel up first, then use a 1/8" bit to drill off the head. I did shorten the shank of the drill bit toward the end of the process and that stopped the bit from breaking.
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Old 10-25-2015, 12:38 AM   #8
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I use a slightly larger bit, stop the drill when rivet head spins, push or punch out the remains.
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Old 10-25-2015, 06:36 AM   #9
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Nauvoo , Alabama
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I am restoring a 67 Sovereing and had the same problem, breaking 2 out of 3 1/8 bits. It is a learning process and I found light pressure using good bits worked as fast as pushing into the revits. I am still using the 3rd bit after two weeks! On the belly pan I am replacing all revits with stainless steel core revits to insure a longer holding life of the revits and when I mess up, the puch prosses mentioned above was a huge help.
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Old 10-25-2015, 08:27 AM   #10
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These are awesome to punch the mandrel and loosen things up. Also great for making a center point for starting solid rivets.

Also, I didnt see that anyone mentioned steel mandrels.... I found many rivets on mine that were steel mandrel. My guess is that any previous owner didnt know the difference between ALL aluminum rivets VS. aluminum with steel mandrel. I found these both inside and out in various places.

Steel mandrel on an aluminum rivet can be a PITA to get out. The center punch pushes that mandrel back in and allows you to drill the softer aluminum rivet.
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Old 10-25-2015, 08:27 AM   #11
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Oops... forgot the link:

Center Punch - Automatic Center Punch with Brass Handle
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Old 10-25-2015, 12:01 PM   #12
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a sharp wood chisel with the bevel up so it will not dig in works excellent. may have to sharpen often, but is quicker and much less effort. no spinning rivets, no chips and leaves cleaner holes once the old rivet is punched out. masking tape cam be used if you are concerned about leaving marks. theoretical you are shearing the rivet and not cutting it.
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Old 10-25-2015, 01:34 PM   #13
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A/S service manual recommends using a # 30 split point drill bit just a bit over 1/8 inch ( 128.5 thou.) If your bit is skating just a little off center it will catch steel on one side and that will kill it more often than not. Punching out the mandrel before starting helps to keep on center. Stop drilling as soon as you get past the rivet head and drive the rest of the rivet out with a punch. I buy jobbers drills, double ended in 10 packs and expect them to break. You get twice the use from a double ended bit.
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Old 10-25-2015, 07:12 PM   #14
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Make sure you are using titanium bits or ones made expressly for steel. Wood bits will break.
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