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Old 03-11-2016, 09:31 AM   #1
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Rivet Popping due to Tire Stiffness? Maybe not.

I have followed tire threads and rivet popping since 2006, upon the purchase of my 2006 Safari 23 footer. Tires, tire pressure, rough roads, unbalanced tires, etc, etc...

Rivet Poppers.... may not be a "tire issue", but the tension of the aluminum skin upon the frame members that are attached by rivets.

My 2014 Airstream Interstate 25 foot has had a mild traveling experience in its first 12 months, mostly upon paved highways between Colorado and Nevada. Nothing the 2014 model has experienced, that our 2006 Safari 23 footer was able to easily travel Boondocking for eight years.

The interior frame member between the front door and sink has already one rivet head popped and a second ready to pop soon. This is the vertical rib parallel to the door and sink. One head was loose on the floor, so another must be popped, somewhere... This was within several months of ownership.

It is really convenient to blame the "stiff tire or tire pressure" as the culprit of popped rivet heads and not the tension of slight variations in the factory's manufacture process. I toss out the premise that it is more the riveting process at Jackson Center, Ohio creating the conditions of popped rivets and NOT the tire pressure or stiffer tires from inflating to or near maximum tire pressures.

Aircraft with riveted metal panels pop rivets, surely not only from taking off or landing, but stress loads that are created through their manufacture and relieved by popped rivets with excessive "rivet pinch points".

The rivet heads I have recovered in my 25 footer with Marathon tires are cleanly sliced by the aluminum sheet edges. Not pulled out.

This year my International will be tested off the paved roads. I will follow future rivet popping issues and try to keep those rivet heads that I can recover.

My suggestion is that it is the tension being relieved from the manufacturing process and less the tire. I would welcome others to add their experience as to WHERE their rivets have popped inside your trailer. If it happens to be within the same areas... we may have discovered the real issue.

Tires were just a convenient pass time and may have been a very minor issue for the popped rivets found within our Airstreams.

What say you...?
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Old 03-11-2016, 09:37 AM   #2
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I agree, Ray. With the exception of one (discussed later), the only popped rivets I have had were shortly after purchase. I believe there is a "settling" which occurs over the first few thousand miles which relieves stresses of assembly. They were interior rivets.

I had one bucked exterior rivet pop from the street side edge of the rear compartment door frame corner. I recalled dragging that corner relatively firmly a few days earlier coming out of a gas station. Pretty sure that was the cause.

I don't believe tires, nor pressure are as big a concern as healthy axles and proper loading and WD application.
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Old 03-11-2016, 09:40 AM   #3
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I do, however believe the constant cyclical harmonic vibrations caused by out of balance rotating tire/wheel/hub assemblies...and yes...bad shocks...will "work" rivets loose and fail them eventually.
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Old 03-11-2016, 09:45 AM   #4
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Since my AS has a vinyl ceiling and mouse fur, I guess what I can't see won't hurt me.

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Old 03-11-2016, 11:09 AM   #5
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Rivet Poppers...

Rich Post #2... I suspect this is the exact situation my rivet popping occurred. That break in period will discover the misaligned or areas that tension is relieved by popping a rivet here and there. It would be interesting to hear from anyone that replace a rivet, only to have it pop again.

Rich's Post #3... the trailer "shocks". When we took our 2006 Safari 23 footer to Jackson Center, OH with our warranty list, I mentioned the leaky shock between the two axles. Their comment was... "they really do not do much". Not an issue. They did not replace the shock.

I have yet to have an exterior rivet pop. Like KJ in post #4, our Safari had a fabric glued to the aluminum interior... so possibly what I did not see, I did not notice. Although no exterior rivets loose or popped and no interior leaks.

IF I were the Airstream Warranty provider... Popped rivets are YOUR fault... not theirs.

Think about it. Until now, I have not...but to replace rivets are not likely to match, nor if some areas are more prone to "pop a rivet", it could be a costly admission of responsibility of Airstream.

Do any of the vintage Airstream owners find MORE or FEWER rivet popping issues? Over a decade of use, the aluminum skin finds an equilibrium and its rivet popping days are over....?
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Old 03-11-2016, 11:23 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Ray Eklund View Post
Do any of the vintage Airstream owners find MORE or FEWER rivet popping issues? Over a decade of use, the aluminum skin finds an equilibrium and its rivet popping days are over....?
When I got my '66 Overlander in 2002 or so I came across this site and to discussions about popped rivets mostly revolving around out of balance running gear.

I remember at some point going out to my trailer and looking. As near as I could tell there were no popped rivets inside or out. And this was a trailer than had already made a trip from Indiana to Arizona and one trip from Phoenix to Mexico. And the trailer was kind of beat up. The axle were on there last legs, there had been patch panels installed that looked so good I had thought they were factory until I started to polish them. I could go on ....

Bottom line, I never found a popped rivet in 12+ years of the use and abuse I gave that trailer. Not sure if it was an exception or if I was lucky. There were certainly other things that broke. Rivets were just not one of those things.

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Old 03-11-2016, 11:39 AM   #7
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If the tires, shocks etc were really an issue don't you think that you would see broken rivets on the exterior? My personal theory. The interior rivets, being aluminum pop rivets are much weaker than the bucked exterior rivets. And they likely are not 'aircraft' grade rivets. So are the ones that fail due to twisting? Or simply a bad rivet head that failed.

Frankly no big deal to me unless a whole bunch start falling out.
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Old 03-11-2016, 12:34 PM   #8
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After a trip on I-95 through N/S Carolina where 95 seems like a washboard, I counted over 15 randomly distributed pops in my Sport, only on the inside. I attributed the popped rivets to the road vibration/shaking on I-95. Tires always inflated to 65 psi before every trip. It did not occur before (4 years), or after (2 years) that one trip of (full-timing) travel. Now I slow down to 55-60 on ‘rough’ roads. No pops. Combination of speed and road conditions?
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Old 03-11-2016, 12:44 PM   #9
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Rich Post #2... I suspect this is the exact situation my rivet popping occurred. That break in period will discover the misaligned or areas that tension is relieved by popping a rivet here and there. It would be interesting to hear from anyone that replace a rivet, only to have it pop again.

Rich's Post #3... the trailer "shocks". When we took our 2006 Safari 23 footer to Jackson Center, OH with our warranty list, I mentioned the leaky shock between the two axles. Their comment was... "they really do not do much". Not an issue. They did not replace the shock.

I have yet to have an exterior rivet pop. Like KJ in post #4, our Safari had a fabric glued to the aluminum interior... so possibly what I did not see, I did not notice. Although no exterior rivets loose or popped and no interior leaks.

IF I were the Airstream Warranty provider... Popped rivets are YOUR fault... not theirs.

Think about it. Until now, I have not...but to replace rivets are not likely to match, nor if some areas are more prone to "pop a rivet", it could be a costly admission of responsibility of Airstream.

Do any of the vintage Airstream owners find MORE or FEWER rivet popping issues? Over a decade of use, the aluminum skin finds an equilibrium and its rivet popping days are over....?
Our "family heirloom" '67 Overlander has not had an external rivet "pop" since I acquired it over 25 years ago except for the panels that curve under from the side to the belly pan behind the wheel wells. I don't know if my uncle had the same experience or not but he never mentioned it. He bought it nearly new after only one trip by the PO.

He did have,as have I, frequent popped heads on the interior 1/8 inch "pop" rivets that attach the inner skin overhead, mostly along the curved main body rib to which the front end cap is attached and only a few in other overhead places mostly in front of the wheel wells. I suspect that is because the heavier weight items are forward of the wheels ie, fresh water tank, couch, refrigerator, oven, stove, kitchen cabinets, sink etc. and since this trailer only has a 4 inch main frame, there is probably more flexing in the front area as the trailer moves over driveways and such. Neither he nor I have driven much over unpaved or very rough roads.

Hope this answers your question.
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Old 03-11-2016, 12:57 PM   #10
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I too have no interior exposed/visible rivets because of mouse fur and headliner.

I have never lost an exterior rivet, but always wondered if my structure could be weakened by lots of severed interior rivets, that I would not know about. Has anyone ever reported lots of interior rivet failures, with no exterior failures? Could the covered interior be hiding a structural problem?
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Old 03-11-2016, 01:05 PM   #11
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Jacob D Post #9.

-My popped rivet is on the curve.

-A second rivet is coming out and just below the popped rivet. I can get my finger nail under it, so will watch it closely.

Both are on the same line of rivets between the hinge side of the door and sink/cabinets on the curve.

Siegmann #10.

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.
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Old 03-11-2016, 01:11 PM   #12
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Do any of the vintage Airstream owners find MORE or FEWER rivet popping issues? Over a decade of use, the aluminum skin finds an equilibrium and its rivet popping days are over....?
My three 70's and 80's narrow body trailers had sheared interior rivets occasionally. One or two a year was not uncommon. I assumed that was because the frames of those 70's and 80's trailers seemed to have more flex than the newer trailers. My wide body trailers might have had sheared rivets, but I can't see beneath the wall/ceilings coverings.

As far as exterior rivets, I've only had one body skin rivet shear off. That was on my 99 Excella.
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Old 03-11-2016, 01:50 PM   #13
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If the tires, shocks etc were really an issue don't you think that you would see broken rivets on the exterior? My personal theory. The interior rivets, being aluminum pop rivets are much weaker than the bucked exterior rivets. And they likely are not 'aircraft' grade rivets. So are the ones that fail due to twisting? Or simply a bad rivet head that failed.

Frankly no big deal to me unless a whole bunch start falling out.
I think you're exactly correct on the interior vs. exterior strength. I might add, that, since I too have vinyl and mouse fur, that I have no clue if any in the ceiling have popped (I doubt it), but the ones under the mouse fur are usually indicated by gray aluminum dust staining coming through the fabric. The ones I have actually seen were around the battery box cutouts, right north of the A-frame, where the fabric is cut away for the doors and wiring pass through. That's a high stress area. I think I had one behind the kitchen lower cabinetry. There's no mouse fur on that wall section at all.
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Old 03-11-2016, 01:55 PM   #14
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OK - slightly different issue. We find the flat washer shaped aluminum material that looks like a rivet head. Maybe 8-10 since we purchased the trailer. Had assumed they were trash that was not cleaned up in the manufacturing process that worked it's way out into view. Now, I wonder if they are rivet heads that have popped in locations that are not visible. Rivet head search added to the next trip prep list. Thanks. Pat
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