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Old 12-30-2010, 01:48 PM   #1
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Stainless steel screws instead of rivets?

I have an atwood 10 gallon water heater for my 1960 Overlander. I am going to put all the old exterior heating aluminum back on so it looks original. Since the exhaust is on the left instead of the right I am going flip everything over.

I want to put a solid sheet of aluminum over the orginal hole and cut out a perfect square to fit the water heater. I do not want any carbon monoxide coming back in. I don't have olympic rivets. I could use pop rivets but what I have read on the forum is they are for interior only.

Question:

Can I use stainless steel screws for the solid sheet of aluminum over the the old water heater hole. I do have pop rivets all sizes and a rivet gun. Can I use pop rivets?

Brian
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Old 12-30-2010, 02:27 PM   #2
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Hi Brian,

The problem with pop-rivets is that they have a hole in the middle once you rivet them into place, so they tend to leak. You could fill the hole with vulkum, but that would look ugly imo.

When I installed new roof vents, and new running lights, I used stainless steel screws. They were recommended by our local AS dealer for the roof vents as well.

I treated them pretty much like Olympic rivets in that I shot a dab of vulkum in the hole before installing the screw. So, they should work just fine for you on your project. If you have access to the interior, you can add vulkum on the backside of each screw as well as added security against leaks. The only real difference I think between the screws and the Olympic rivets will be the look. Both will function well and not leak if sealed during installation.

Chris
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Old 12-30-2010, 03:11 PM   #3
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Chris:

What size screws did you use? The orginal holes had screws in them. I did not have to drill any pop rivets. I went out and bought aluminum angle iron 2" X 2". I will connect that to the interior wall. I will anchor the hot water heater to it. I may use the outside wall instead. I am putting the plan together as I go. This is what I plan to do.

http://www.vintageairstream.com/Imag...terinstall.jpg

My biggest concern is making sure exhaust does not leak back into the trailer.

Thanks for the info

Brian
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Old 12-30-2010, 03:31 PM   #4
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I also would like to use stainless steel screw on some shelving and other projects on the interior. Does anyone know how long of a screw you can use on an inside wall? I sure don't want any screws sticking thru the outside.
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Old 12-31-2010, 08:25 AM   #5
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Brian,

I used #8, 1" long screws for the running lights, and #8 1 1/4" for the roof vents. The #8 screw is just the right size for an old rivet hole, as long as you don't over tighten it. But, match the screw size that was originally in the holes, or go one size larger. If you're drilling all new holes, then I would use either #8 or #10.

If you make the installation look like the picture you posted, then you will have no chance of fumes getting back into the trailer. Be sure to seal the seams with vulkum or parbond or some other AS seam sealer.

Doug,

The interior space between the inner and outer skins on a '72 is between 1 1/2" and 1 3/4". So, 3/4" or 1" long screws will work just fine. For shelves and and stuff like that, I'd go with a #10 screw. It'll have a bit more holding power than a #8. I'd use a lock washer or something like loctite on the threads to help ensure they don't loosen up going down the road.

Chris
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Old 12-31-2010, 10:34 AM   #6
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Brian, Chris has got you covered on the use of screws. I think he's right and it should work fine as long as you seal it up well.

I also have an Atwood 10 gallon water heater though, and I'll give you the heads up that it barely fits underneath the bed framing. In fact, I had to trim some of my bed framing to fit around the water heater. One problem you will notice during the install is that because the trailer's wall is angled in towards the belly, the water heater cannot sit quite flat on the floor. It will need to be shimmed up just a bit at the rear, which leaves even less room under the bed framing. Bottom line - it will fit, but it takes a fair amount of modifications.

One other suggestion that I know Frank has been using recently. If you can find some c-channel that fits inside the wall cavity, it is good to frame in around the water heater. The added structure provides for a much stronger installation of that water heater in the wall and would probably be especially helpful since you are using screws for the patch.

Norm
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Old 12-31-2010, 10:48 AM   #7
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Olympic rivets can be ordered and delivered pretty quickly, if it is not critical that you finish the job this weekend. Pop rivets a second choice.

I don't know the correct term, but if you use a different metal, such as stainless steel, aren't you inviting electrolysis corrosion to the aluminum shell?

Pat
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Old 12-31-2010, 10:50 AM   #8
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I used pop rivets on my last airstream, then silver colored gutter sealant to fill the holes, looked fine to me anyway.
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Old 12-31-2010, 11:52 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nmbosa View Post
One other suggestion that I know Frank has been using recently. If you can find some c-channel that fits inside the wall cavity, it is good to frame in around the water heater. The added structure provides for a much stronger installation of that water heater in the wall and would probably be especially helpful since you are using screws for the patch.

Norm
Just got through doing this on mine and it really helps the structure. Virtually any scrap aluminum you've got lying around can be bent into C channel, even without a brake. Couple of pieces of wood, some clamps, and a mallet will make C channel that's just fine for these short runs.

-steve
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Old 12-31-2010, 12:44 PM   #10
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I used Stainless phillips head screws on both the water heater & furnace panels. #8s on the furnace & #10s on the w/heater due to the oversized holes. If the panels ever must come off its easier. Was worried about vibration & loose screws, used thin butyl tape to seal at a very warm temp. Sealed, neat and locks the screws. C or angle chanel around the inside strengtens the flimsy .032 panel, strengthens the connection & removes any sigh of warps around the screw holes.
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Old 12-31-2010, 01:31 PM   #11
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Stainless should not cause electrolisis. Sal.
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Old 01-01-2011, 03:07 PM   #12
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My concern was about the corrosion that occurs whenever dissimilar metals touch.

Pat
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Old 01-01-2011, 03:21 PM   #13
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Norm:

I just realized today that I am going to have to make modification to make the hot water heater fit. I have the aluminum angle iron fitted around the hot water heater for support. I will have to raise the bed frame off the ground a little but I think it will work. I am all ready to go with finishing the water except the weather is not cooperating. I still have not made the decesion with either screws or rivets.

Brian
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Old 01-01-2011, 03:43 PM   #14
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Brian, stainless Steel and aluminum are very reactive as dissimilar metals. Not much issue under perfectly dry conditions. However just add a little salt mist or rain, wham. Galvanic reaction is documented on a lot of web sites. I believe there are a few here in this forum. I think you should stick to aluminum rivets.
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