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Old 12-05-2006, 10:15 AM   #1
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1974 31' Sovereign
jemison , Alabama
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new aluminum on exterior

I have a 2x2 section of aluminum I need to put where the water heater used to be. Can anyone reccomend a way to put it up? I was planning to seal it and then use rivets to secure it. I don't have the rivets that are on the rest of the body though. Any suggestions?

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Old 12-05-2006, 11:00 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by rama777
I have a 2x2 section of aluminum I need to put where the water heater used to be. Can anyone reccomend a way to put it up? I was planning to seal it and then use rivets to secure it. I don't have the rivets that are on the rest of the body though. Any suggestions?
Use olympic rivets and vulkem sealer.


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Old 12-05-2006, 02:31 PM   #3
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Greetings Rama-
Whenever patching a panel on an Airstream it is always a little painful and scary. Approaching the process as surgeon is probably a good idea. There are a few things you will want before starting; a good rivit gun. There are quite a few out there but my favorit is the Marson HP-2 Deluxe, model #4X577. You will need a #20 Drill bit, 5/32" Olympic Bulb-Tite Rivits and a Shaver tool for the 5/32" Olympic rivits and a roll of good 2" masking tape, 3M or Spectape. If you don't already have these figure a budget of about $190 for 100 rivits, the gun and the shaver. Shop around for a good price but also for great customer service. Next you are going to want a good piece of aluminum being sure all four sides are square and you have used some emery cloth on the edges to take down any sharp edges. At this point you want a good clean surface on the trailer and the patch. Clean both really well with acetone. Place two beads parallel of vulkem along the edges of your patch, the first bead 1/4" in from the edge and the second bead 1/2" in from that one. Once you place your patch in place use the masking tape along all the edges to hold in place. Now the hard part. I strongly suggest you practice this on scrape pieces before going right to the trailer. Starting in the center of an edge drill a hole 3/16" from the edge. I like to make a line on the patch with a pencil for the rivit line. Here insert your first rivit. On the opposite edge do the same and the on the other two edges. Now you can work your way around all the edges with the hole the rivit. Drill one hole at a time. The spacing of the rivits I will leave up to you, everyone has their own preference. Just look at your trailer and see what rivit patern you like best. Once all your rivits are in place you can shave them all to a nice round appearnace. Remove your masking tape and place a bead of Vulkem along the seam.
Have fun and please, practice on a few scrapes first.
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Old 12-05-2006, 08:12 PM   #4
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Central , Ohio
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Don't Hate my drive for Vintage

Really into vintage so have to ask why is the hot water tank gone..?

Can you not just back the hole with an aluminum sheet and attach the original hot water tank door....? Looks just like it came from the Mother Ship....

Good luck with your project...!!
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Old 12-07-2006, 03:26 AM   #5
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1964 24' Tradewind
1954 29' Liner
Woodstock , Georgia
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those original water heater doors are impossible to find, and the new water heater doors really don't look that great. if you don't have a replacement water heater, or are going electric, a simple patch panel would be a snap. if you have access to a shear, that makes a great, clean cut in the aluminum. i use one for all of my straight cuts. i'm planning on replacing the original water heater hole in my trotter with a louvered panel, if i can find someone to produce it for me. that's beyond my sheet-metal skills!

good luck! patch jobs are really rewarding when you're finished!


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