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Old 12-28-2012, 10:25 AM   #1
2 Rivet Member
1971 21' Globetrotter
Redondo Beach , California
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 31
Rivet guns and other tool recommendations?

I'm just getting started on the newly acquired camper, and was wondering what you all's recommendations were for a standard rivet gun. My beltline trim is coming off in places, and I'd like to pull off some banana skins to try and straighten them as well. So, I need a rivet gun, some properly sized drill bits, and rivets. I have a shop full of tools, but no rivet gun. Also, what size/kind of rivets should I buy for the repairs?

And while I'm asking, since I'm new to this game, which tools do you all think are must-haves in the AS owner's kit?

1971 Globetrotter

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Old 12-28-2012, 12:00 PM   #2
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1985 31' Excella
Fresno , Texas
Join Date: Apr 2011
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5/32" Olympic Rivet uses a #21 drill bit. The factory rivits are buck rivets. The Olympic when shaved looks like a factory rivit until a very close inspection. You can get the rivits from any Airstream dealer or Blind Pop Riveting

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Old 12-28-2012, 01:03 PM   #3
2 Rivet Member
1971 21' Globetrotter
Redondo Beach , California
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 31
It looks like my beltline is attached with standard pop rivets, not the Olympic type. Is that normal, or did the PO remove it and reattach it incorrectly?

I don't mind spending a few hundred on the Olympic riveting system, but will save that purchase for later if I don't need it for this job.

Also, I'm missing one of the "Land Yacht" trim pieces on the right side. Any ideas where to source one?
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Old 12-28-2012, 02:16 PM   #4
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1968 24' Tradewind
Oxford, , Mississippi
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Posts: 1,307
Harbor Freight has manual and pneumatic pop rivet guns. Any of the big box home improvement stores have manual tools as do most Ace Hardware stores (around here Ace has a much better assortment of rivets than HD). For a few rivets at a time, the manual type tool is all you will need. If you start pulling out the interior and have hundreds to install, buy the air riveter from Harbor Freight too. Most manual tools come with different size collets for different size rivets. You will use 1/8 in. the most but you can pull other sizes by changing the collet. When you buy pop rivets get an assortment of "grip ranges". The grip range is the thickness of material that the rivets will fasten. Also, buy pop rivets with the aluminum mandrel.
Bruce & Rachel
68 Trade Wind
2001 Toyota Tundra
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Old 12-28-2012, 02:57 PM   #5
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1988 25' Excella
1987 32' Excella
Knoxville , Tennessee
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You can buy the rivets directly from Airstream or from Outdoors Mart or Vintage trailer. Possibly also the trim. In addition to the standard 1/8 and 3/16" rivets I keep a supply of the large head rivets for the belly pan. Standard rivet gun. But get a pretty good one. Takes some force for the 3/16" rivets. Be sure to use a stop block on the drill bit when drilling rivets to keep from having an "all the way through" accident wnen the drill catches. I do not think you will need Olympic rivets unless you have skin damage on the sides or roof. I have a dent with 2 rivets pulled from a rib and am considering how or even whether to repair it. Since it does not show I will use Olympic rivets and grind them with a Dremel rather than the rivet shaver if I do work on it. I also keep some stainless steel sheet metal screws in an appropiate size. And a tube of the caulking for Airstreams, Tempo or Vulkum or whatever they call it now. And a good working caulking gun. If you have to cut panels some type of grinder with a thin cutoff wheels seems to work best. I bought a nibbler for the sheet metal pan under the tanki, but a grinder might have been a bettter choice.
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Old 12-28-2012, 03:52 PM   #6
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1972 25' Tradewind
Currently Looking...
McHenry County , Illinois
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All good advice. The only thing I'll add is that you need to buy a quality hand rivet tool.
I'd recommend the Marson brand.
Marson 39000 HP-2 Hand Rivet Tool: Industrial & Scientific
The knock-offs I've used can't compare to the ease of use and longevity. I've used this tool at work for 30 years without any binding, stuck shanks or tired sore hands.

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Old 12-29-2012, 09:59 AM   #7
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1971 21' Globetrotter
Redondo Beach , California
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 31
Okay, good info, thanks. I ordered the Marson riveter. Any advice on brands of rivets that are the best quality? I'd like to order a large assortment of whatever I might need in the year to come as I slowly renovate. Bruce & Rachel, you mentioned getting ones with an aluminum mandrel; Is the head also aluminum, or SS? Is there any reason to get all stainless rivets?

Suggestions for a nice, complete rivet assortment?

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