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Old 12-12-2019, 03:06 PM   #1
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Mystery of the Exploding Rivets

After seventeen years and over one hundred thousand miles traveling with our 1962 Safari we decided to address leaks and floor issues.

In the process of exposing floors and walls I discovered what looks to be double layers of exterior aluminum and rivets with holes in the ends of the rivet shaft.

I did text one of my Restoration experts and friend who informed me they could be Exploding repair rivets. His suggestion is to replace them with Buck Rivets which I can do now that the front street side panel is exposed from the interior.

To my surprise and a little bit of shock the rear corner panels also have these rivet and also look like double layered aluminum.

Now I am wondering if this trailer had a much more adventurous life than we ever knew. By the way there is no sign of damage on the interior sides.

Has anyone had experience with these rivets? What did you do?
Thanks
Gary
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Old 12-12-2019, 04:20 PM   #2
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I found just a few in my '59 Tradewind. They were not part of a repair.

I wonder if Airstream maybe used these in inaccessible locations.

I don't know if Olympic rivets were available back then, and these would have been a good way to perform one sided riveting.
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Old 12-12-2019, 06:58 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markdoane View Post
I found just a few in my '59 Tradewind. They were not part of a repair.

I wonder if Airstream maybe used these in inaccessible locations.

I don't know if Olympic rivets were available back then, and these would have been a good way to perform one sided riveting.
Thanks Mark
I wish I only found a few and not maybe hundreds and double layers of aluminum to boot!
And all of these panels would have been accessible with a bucking bar during construction.
In the rear the insulation was saw toothed which looks to me like the explosion blew the fiberglass away.
I just removed the Olympic rivets from the Safari in a few areas (maybe 25) and about half showed signs of leaking. They where also loose mostly and happy to get rid of them.
I removed over three hundred from an Overlander project with prior damage and would avoid using them except as a last resort.
I have to decide if is worth removing these to replace with the real thing, or overtime with the chalking gun.
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Old 12-12-2019, 07:02 PM   #4
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Mystery of the Exploding Rivets

Exploding rivets were used in the 60s as a fast blind rivet method on aircraft before pop rivets were invented. They used a heat sensitive explosive. Used to be available in bulk quantities loose in boxes through military surplus stores and the like. The technique was to insert the rivet, and press a hot soldering iron or the like to the head from outside to set the rivet with a bang!

If they are still tight, I’d leave them alone.
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Old 12-12-2019, 09:02 PM   #5
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Certainly if you now have access to the back of the panel you should replace them with bucked rivets.
I think from your description the exploding rivets were used in a repair the same way Olympics are used today--to avoid needing to remove the interior skins.
The exploding rivets I found were loose and unexploded inside the skins, leading me to think they may have just fallen out of someones pocket during construction.
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Old 12-12-2019, 09:39 PM   #6
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I don't know how long this type of rivet was used for repair. The 72 Tradewind had a complete replacement front upper segment and wing window held together with these. About one quarter were loose and leaking water.
I replaced them with Olympics not having all the tools, removing the plastic interior front shell or anyone to buck the backside.
Nine seasons later and they are still tight.


Good Luck,
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Old 12-13-2019, 09:49 AM   #7
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Thanks Mark & Tom
I was fully prepared to replace the front street side explosive rivets but the rear corner panels discovery has me rethinking if it is wise. They look and feel tight (so far) but will check each one inside and out.

I will be removing the front middle (under window) panel which had the original and distressed battery box attached. So that will give me more opportunity to test rivets.
I do like buck riveting stressful as is sometimes, but I don’t want to get carried away with doing unnecessary work.

I will report back what I find and decide to do.
Gary
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Old 12-13-2019, 05:11 PM   #8
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Gary,
I had the same issue in my trailer, Replaced most of them but opted not to around a window because I didn’t have buck rivers of the right length. That decision has come back to haunt me as I’m chasing leaks in that area. Probably going to have to remove the skins and redo. Thankfully there’s no cabinets in the area but I wish I had done it right to begin with ... my advice is that if you have the interior skins out, buck it properly. The exploding rivets weren’t leaking at the time so I thought I was okay...
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Old 12-13-2019, 07:24 PM   #9
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Wow I never heard of those before, learn something new every day. Can you just buck the existing exploding ones? Wouldn’t that tighten them up?
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Old 12-13-2019, 08:33 PM   #10
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Wow I never heard of those before, learn something new every day. Can you just buck the existing exploding ones? Wouldn’t that tighten them up?
I suppose you could, being careful with the bucking bar so that you flatten the stem without rolling it over to one side or the other.

But if you're looking for and fixing leaks, I wouldn't try to fix a leak by just bucking over the existing rivets. If they leak I would drill them out and buck in rivets of the proper length.
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Old 12-13-2019, 11:48 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markdoane View Post
I suppose you could, being careful with the bucking bar so that you flatten the stem without rolling it over to one side or the other.

But if you're looking for and fixing leaks, I wouldn't try to fix a leak by just bucking over the existing rivets. If they leak I would drill them out and buck in rivets of the proper length.
Markdoane's not far off here. Actually I found the best way to drill these out is to first carefully buck them. It only takes a few minutes but it almost guarantees you won't have a rivet that spins and wobbles out the skin.
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Old 12-14-2019, 02:47 PM   #12
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Mystery of the Exploding Rivets

Those could be exploding rivets but it is hard to tell from the picture. I have used them in the past but I used ones made of inconal internally on turbine engines.

There was also a blind rivet made by Olympic that we just called Olys. They were what was called a “self plugging friction lock blind rivet” these were really cheap and loosened up all the time. I haven’t seen one in decades. They were not considered structural. The Cherryloc rivet (which were replaced by the CherryMax) was a better rivet. I suspect these are the rivets you are seeing. Exploding rivets had a large bulbed buck tail.

Just my observation and I could be way off here.
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Old 12-15-2019, 09:57 AM   #13
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Gary,
I had the same issue in my trailer, Replaced most of them but opted not to around a window because I didn’t have buck rivers of the right length. That decision has come back to haunt me as I’m chasing leaks in that area. Probably going to have to remove the skins and redo. Thankfully there’s no cabinets in the area but I wish I had done it right to begin with ... my advice is that if you have the interior skins out, buck it properly. The exploding rivets weren’t leaking at the time so I thought I was okay...
Hi Shelly
Nice to hear from you. I know the last we meet and shared our stories of the continuing leaking saga, I knew we needed to finally dig in and attempt a real fix to our Safari.
Since then we completed the 1963 Overlander and it out in the real world and the owner loves it. Of course the extensively caulked and rebuilt windows both leaked within the first month. Somehow I fixed the front but the rear inner frame turns out to be bent and will have to come out...but not until spring. That’s going to be messy.
I was surprised by the front street side (holed) rivets and the double sheet of aluminum when I removed the interior in front, but really taken back to see the two rear corner panels with the same treatment.
I think you’re right, the only safe thing to do is remove and replace.

I am getting some other good advice that I will respond to below, like pre-bucking the exploding rivets so they won’t spin when drilling.

I was not planning to remove the black tank and shower...so maybe it’s new floor time too. Vintage Airstream reality check for sure.

Thanks
Gary
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Old 12-15-2019, 10:00 AM   #14
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Wow I never heard of those before, learn something new every day. Can you just buck the existing exploding ones? Wouldn’t that tighten them up?
Hi bibs
Yes, the does sound like a good idea, but now I think I have to do more.
Thanks for the input.
Gary
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Old 12-15-2019, 10:05 AM   #15
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I suppose you could, being careful with the bucking bar so that you flatten the stem without rolling it over to one side or the other.

But if you're looking for and fixing leaks, I wouldn't try to fix a leak by just bucking over the existing rivets. If they leak I would drill them out and buck in rivets of the proper length.
Hi Mark
Yes, I am heading in that direction as it would be too risky to go the flattening route. Sounds like Goransons is on to something about the rivet spinning during removal so I get to flatten them anyway!
Thanks
Gary
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Old 12-15-2019, 10:15 AM   #16
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Markdoane's not far off here. Actually I found the best way to drill these out is to first carefully buck them. It only takes a few minutes but it almost guarantees you won't have a rivet that spins and wobbles out the skin.
Great idea! I hate spinning rivets. Actually I hate these rivets and they’re not even spinning yet. Still, they are very interesting.
Now that is has happened I realize these exploding rivets came up in ( The Around The World Caravan) I believe. That is the only thread I can up with while searching for information.
I will report back on this thread how it goes.
Thanks
Gary
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Old 12-15-2019, 10:21 AM   #17
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Those could be exploding rivets but it is hard to tell from the picture. I have used them in the past but I used ones made of inconal internally on turbine engines.

There was also a blind rivet made by Olympic that we just called Olys. They were what was called a “self plugging friction lock blind rivet” these were really cheap and loosened up all the time. I haven’t seen one in decades. They were not considered structural. The Cherryloc rivet (which were replaced by the CherryMax) was a better rivet. I suspect these are the rivets you are seeing. Exploding rivets had a large bulbed buck tail.

Just my observation and I could be way off here.
Cherryloc! I will take more photos today and post them here. There are definitely varied stems on these rivets, some straight, some bulbed and bulged.
Thanks Aerowood
Gary
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Old 12-15-2019, 12:16 PM   #18
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Easiest way to check, take a small center punch and hit the center of the head, if you drive a “stem” into the rivet it is a self plugging friction lock. If the stem drives in and a small “stem locking ring” falls out then it could be a CherryLoc. If there is no separate stem then it is most likely a exploding rivet.
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Old 12-15-2019, 02:58 PM   #19
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Went back into my pics of the segment and wing window repair and found a couple that might be of interest.
The ad for the rivets is from 1945.
Second pic is the inside frame of the window. They used the explosive rivets but they were obviously not long enough and you can see the streaking from the water leaking in.
Last is the rivet heads having been drilled out. Uppers are bucks and the others are explosive. There were no stems in these.
A search of youtube found a couple of vids. Here's a short one.


Tom


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Old 12-15-2019, 03:40 PM   #20
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Well regardless of what they are, are you going to replace them with solids?
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