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Old 03-11-2016, 01:32 PM   #15
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1998 30' Excella 1000
Livingston , Texas
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Originally Posted by Ray Eklund View Post

My 2006 with the interior material would have lines of dark "aluminum dust?" on the interior. It obviously was coming from the contact of the aluminum interior skin and the material. I never made any connection with the aluminum and material vibrating creating these scattered dark spots showing on the interior. Obviously... a different discussion, but did not investigate it any further.
Same on my rig. Has anyone pulled off the mouse fur and found that sheared rivets were the cause of the dark aluminum dust?

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Old 03-11-2016, 01:37 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Siegmann View Post
Same on my rig. Has anyone pulled off the mouse fur and found that sheared rivets were the cause of the dark aluminum dust?
Only in the areas behind the sofa around wiring and battery boxes cutouts, where it isn't visible. That's where I found the popped rivets. The gray streaks indicate the probability of a popped rivet or one that is very loose and about to break/rub through.


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Old 03-11-2016, 04:08 PM   #17
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Good thinking, Ray. However, I agree with others--the dinky 1/8" interior rivers are just sometimes not up to the task of internal shear loads from the natural tectonic shifts of the interior aluminum plates as the trailer naturally torques and twists going down the road.

We have had interior rivet heads shear off, and other rivets loosen, ever since we got our 28' International new in 2009. Some in the main cabin, some in the rear bedroom, but most frequently in the hallway between shower and sink/toilet. 1-3 rivets in this area would go every year. I've eventually replaced a few with 3/16, and no problem since. But we certainly know that a rivet head on the floor means we must find the popped rivet in the ceiling! And I do an annual interior inspection of rivets--once one goes, it increase the loads on the surrounding fasteners.

Last year, we switched to 16's and XPS ribs and started them at 80 psi. Not only did we have 3 rivets in random places pop on our first 1000mi journey, but cabinet doors opened and dishes were spilled out for the first time ever. Based on careful reading of opinions expressed here and looks at the Michelin charts and experience with truck tires rated at 80psi that we have for decades deflated to 55 psi when not towing, our latest setting has been 73 psi. Higher than a high load bearing safety margin, but lower than we'd prefer for tight maneuver front tire shear loads, lower rolling resistance, and overall sidewall durability, t's our guess as to the best compromise. So far, no loose rivets for that subsequent 1000 miles. We do LA to Corpus Christi (1600 miles) next week and we'll check it out!

Oh, we're 6100 empty, 7300 max, and weigh 6980 loaded for travel, including a 1/4 tank of fresh. Also, the rear suspension of our Sprinter one-ton is pretty stiff, even though those Continental 80psi duallies are set at Mercedes' recommended 61psi.
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Old 03-11-2016, 04:56 PM   #18
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Long before the Starship Enterprise, William Shatner KNEW there were gremlins poping rivets on airstreams and airplanes.

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Old 03-11-2016, 05:02 PM   #19
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Hi, Centramatics is the answer. My Safari also has a vinyl headliner and mouse fur walls, But there are aluminum trim pieces at both ends of my trailer and my kitchen wall is also aluminum. These three areas have exposed rivets and none have broken.

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Old 03-11-2016, 05:11 PM   #20
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I've had a few interior pop rivets come loose over my 50,000 miles of towing. A common location is over the door in a high stress location.

Exterior buck rivets? Never on any of my trailers BUT I have replaced a huge number on a 13 panel trailers end caps. What's the difference? The end caps on these vintage trailers are not assembled to proper riveting standards. The layers of aluminum don't actually touch where the rivet line is. When bucking them you can't get down on them or you smash the rolled edge. Click image for larger version

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Old 03-11-2016, 05:51 PM   #21
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I purchased my 2012 23D from original owner with less than 500miles original 14"
tires. My trip to Arizona from Dallas Tx. and return (aprox.2800 mls.) while on the trip I found a rivet head on the foor next to the sink cabinet. It came from the curved surface just above the right of the door Ihave not replaced my 14" tires yet so I don't think that is the problem. With my experence working on small air craft i think it is from over torque the small rivet there my be a small gap from the ribe and the skin. Will report if I have any futher problemsl
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Old 03-11-2016, 06:02 PM   #22
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MoJo #18... Yep.... this was the video made to explain popped rivets on turboprop aircraft... well after trailer's were using the same gremlin found working on the Aircraft's wing as a designing engineer. He also designed an automobile with the same name.

Do you have one for an Airstream?

I have never had an exterior rivet pop.

I have had hinges come loose, drawers open and/or fall out and sliding doors bounce out of their slides. This is primarily for a 2006 Safari 23 footer, but can be applied to all models to secure things that slide, open or can vibrate loose.

My cure:

- Clothes closet I tie the handles together when traveling with a short piece of rope.
- Drawers of the 2006 Safari 23 foot on driver's side near couch... tied a knot on the bottom drawer handle and run the rope through the other handles up to the magazine stand retaining rods and tied it off there.
- Sliding doors took a short piece of wood working trim and laid it into the the slide, long enough to keep them from moving while towing.
- Loose hinges... kept a philips screwdriver handy at all times when camped

What does this have to do with popped rivets?

Well...over time you will pop a few of your own rivets and you have to do the best you can under the circumstances.
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Old 03-11-2016, 06:08 PM   #23
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I fly boz #21:

My 25 foot 2014 International has the rivet popped at:

A new panel of aluminum fits between the two windows over the sink. The sixth rivet from where the first rivet joins the two sections is extended out from flush. Rivet seven has popped already.

There already seems to be a trend of popped rivets near the doors. Hmmm.
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Old 03-11-2016, 06:39 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by Ray Eklund View Post
-- snip -- seems to be a trend of popped rivets near the doors. Hmmm.
Yep - the only one we found was there. Pat
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Old 03-11-2016, 07:25 PM   #25
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If they are close to the door, perhaps they are trying to escape....
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Old 03-12-2016, 02:36 PM   #26
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More on rivets and the causes

After spending about an hour my keyboard on this subject, it got dumped. SOooooo, this one is GREATLY reduced in length.

I've had four Airstreams: a 1972 30' Ambassador bought in 1982, a 1974 30' I inherited from my dad in 2003, a 1985 Excella 28' I bought in 2006, and a 2002 30' Classic we bought in 2012. The first made 6-8 trips to NM/Colorado plus many in-State weekend forays. The second made dozens of trips to NM/Colorado by my parents, including Yellowstone, and two trips up and back to Alaska, and uncounted in-State trips, and several trips to NM/Colorado and the Grand Canyon after I got it. The Excella made one trip to NM/Colorado, and was sold when I got the 2002. A fair amount of these miles were unpaved roads, but adequately maintained.

None of these had ANY issues with rivets, interior or exterior. Then came the 2002.

We took several in-State trips, with no problems.

In 2014, we went to the National Quartet Convention in Pigeon Forge, TN, from Houston. We decided to take the "southern" route, Houston to South Louisiana on I-10, then I-59 to the northeast from there.

First, the tow vehicle is a 2011 Ford F-250 diesel pickup, with a PROPERLY SET UP Reese equalizing hitch and friction sway bar. For the record, this setup is almost impervious to big rig bow waves, as well as 50 MPH crosswinds from grain silos in the Texas Panhandle.

There are several stretches on I-10 that are "blessed" with lousy sections of Interstate. It's not just rough, it has undulations in stretches that are not marked in any way. Suddenly you'll hit a stretch of maybe 150-200 feet (or maybe a half mile in places) where these undulations are maybe 6-8 inches tall, with a frequency that's conducive to setting up quite violent reaction in the rig that's sometimes enough to pitch the passengers up against their seatbelts. And what the tow vehicle does, the trailer follows. There are places where it's necessary to slow down to 30-40 MPH to allow the oscillations to subside. The ONLY thing the brakes are good for is to slow the rig down; they don't damp the oscillations at all. When it happens (many times on bridges), there is an instant decision to be made as to how hard to brake. If you're not being closely followed, then you can use the brakes liberally. If you're crowded behind, or on a bridge, the best thing to do is probably to stay off the brake and let the wind slow you down, or put the brake on lightly to signal the car behind. I-59 north was no problem, but we had the reverse problem on the return. We knew where to watch but it’s ridiculous. When we got back, I noticed a very slight separation between the vertical skin on the front of the skin above the storage compartment in the tongue.

Last November, we decided to take another route to go to Martinsburg, WV for Thanksgiving. So we went US59/I-69 from Houston to I-20 near Shreveport, then east to Atlanta and on up. This was worse than the year before. Shreveport/Bossier City was a disaster, with good stretches to lull you into going the speed limit only to be surprised with another “speed trap”. The stretch on the south of Jackson was just as bad as Shreveport or worse. And, just like the year before, we still had to turn around and go home.

On both trips, once we turned north, things were good to excellent. So, what’s the next plan? Why, I-40, of course. Anybody have anecdotes about this route?

When we got back the second time, the separation was obvious on the front and the rear. My repair facility is Bob Jones RV in South Houston. They’ve been in business since the early 70s, and they’re excellent. Chris, the owner, told me that it’s not really uncommon DEPENDING ON ROADS, , and my experience is typical. He said that he has seen a number of these examples on trailers that have made the Alaska trip on the AlCan. The point is the flexing of the frame caused by the undulations of the highway. This isn’t a problem for single vehicles, because the vehicle unit’s shocks take care of the individual bumps, and these shocks are not repetitive. The big rigs aren’t particularly bothered, because they have two sets of wheel supports, the cab unit set, and the rear trailer set; the undulations aren’t of a frequency to set up the oscillations on those rigs, and the trailers themselves are far stiffer than an AS frame. The AS trailer unit is two halves evenly balanced over the wheel assembly fulcrum. When the assembly starts bucking and rocking, the trailer frame, and the skin, flex. Aluminum is soft, and the rivets are early victims.

So, what are the lessons?

1. Always drive on new Interstate highways.
2. Never drive over 50 MPH.
3. Never trust bridges.

Lastly, Bob Jones RV does complete renovations, including manufacturing brand new frames.

Happy trailering, all…….
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Old 03-12-2016, 03:15 PM   #27
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1998 30' Excella 1000
Livingston , Texas
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I've always wondered whether or not the monocoque structure of the Airstream was compromised when they greatly reduced the rivet density in exchange for double-stick bonding tape. Maybe not when new, but possibly with age. My '98 has numerous areas on the exterior side panels where the skin has separated from the ribs as evidenced by my ability to press on the skin and have it move in about 1/8 inch before it contacts the rib.

I wonder if your experience with the frame flexibility you encountered with your newer rig, might not have happened if you still had one of your older ones. Don't know. Just thinking out loud.
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Old 03-12-2016, 07:31 PM   #28
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Interesting ....^^^^ I would not say NEVER drive over 50! However there is a message in that post. It may be the same messages for drugs applies in some cases. Speed kills! And I know there are owners that drive 75+. There are a lot of reasons I tow in the mile a minute range. (+ or -) Uneven payment is just one.


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