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Old 03-29-2009, 06:37 PM   #1
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1973 31' Sovereign
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Leaks through Rivet?

I've been chasing down leaks in a '73 Sovereign, prior to laying a new floor inside and reinstalling the interior. I found them in all the usual places: vent cap gaskets, awning rail, antenna rail, stove and refrigerator vent cowling, etc. Unfortunately while I was making progress, I could not seem to finally get it dry inside.

Well, today I finally took the plunge and went the rest of the way. I took down the center and complete curbside interior ceiling and wall panels. What I found I did NOT expect - along the entire length of the trailer, virtually every rivet connecting the top center roof panel to the next section on the curb side showed signs of leaking. As fate had it, it started to rain here today, and I can confirm that more rivets than not were weeping, including some of the same rivet styles on the windows. We're talking 200+ rivets here, most of them leaking!!

It was not a good moment.

Has anyone run into this before? Any practical suggestions on dealing with this? I was thinking of using some automotove grade brushable seam sealer on the underside of the ceiling, and maybe on the window frame interiors, but what about on the rivet heads outside the skin?
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Old 03-29-2009, 07:27 PM   #2
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Are these bucked rivets or Olympics? Bucked rivets will look mushroomed on the inside while Olympics will have 3 bent over legs.

On the outside the recommended sealer is Acryl-R which you can get from the Airstream store. It is a seam sealer and will wick into the leak and seal it.

I don't understand why rivets would leak like that, unless they were Olympics and were installed incorrectly during a repair. If that is the case, I would replace them.
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Old 03-29-2009, 07:33 PM   #3
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That's surprising. I have two end cap panels, one on the front, one on the rear, that had been replaced some time in my A/S's life and they were installed with Olympics. I had expected to see some leaks around those, but none at all.

Definitely use Richards advise, though. I've read good things about the Acryl-R. I'll likely get some to reseal around the Olympics in mine just to be safe.
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Old 03-29-2009, 11:14 PM   #4
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I found about seven rivets in the roof panels of my safari that were loose and leaking. These were not replaced rivets, they were original bucked rivets from the factory. Looking at them from below, I could tell that they were not well set at the time of installation. I haven't fixed them yet, as I have no tools to do it, or floor to worry about ruining. If yours are bucked, I would look further for damage caused by bad runninggear or possibly your AS was abused with a heavy-duty tow vehicle at some time?

I would not just re-seal these ones. After all, look at what it takes to get to them if you have a problem in the future. I think I will be replacing the loose ones on my rig with new bucked rivets. I figure if they are leaking, they are loose, and that will allow the sheets to move everytime I hit a bump. Not a good thing to have in the back of your mind as you are putting the finishing touches on your beauty.

Good luck, Rich
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Old 03-30-2009, 12:37 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by expat5 View Post
I've been chasing down leaks in a '73 Sovereign, prior to laying a new floor inside and reinstalling the interior. I found them in all the usual places: vent cap gaskets, awning rail, antenna rail, stove and refrigerator vent cowling, etc. Unfortunately while I was making progress, I could not seem to finally get it dry inside.

Well, today I finally took the plunge and went the rest of the way. I took down the center and complete curbside interior ceiling and wall panels. What I found I did NOT expect - along the entire length of the trailer, virtually every rivet connecting the top center roof panel to the next section on the curb side showed signs of leaking. As fate had it, it started to rain here today, and I can confirm that more rivets than not were weeping, including some of the same rivet styles on the windows. We're talking 200+ rivets here, most of them leaking!!

It was not a good moment.

Has anyone run into this before? Any practical suggestions on dealing with this? I was thinking of using some automotove grade brushable seam sealer on the underside of the ceiling, and maybe on the window frame interiors, but what about on the rivet heads outside the skin?
Perhaps the roof panel was replaced, improperly.

Replacing all the roof rivets with Olympics and using Vulkem sealer in the rivet holes and on the backside of the rivet heads, will solve the problem.

Andy
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Old 03-30-2009, 07:51 PM   #6
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Thanks - more details

All of the culprits are Olympics...every last one of them. In fact, in looking very closely at the now completely bare curbside of the trailer, the only buck rivets are those connecting the front and end caps to the straight sections. Every other rivet - all the body panels, all the windows, all those around the door - are Olympics. Every single one. Am I missing something, or aren't these originally buck rivets from the factory? If so, somebody did one heck of repair. This is strange - I sure felt like I was taking out original rivets when removing the ceiling fasteners.

To add to the fun: the longitudinal spars - running between ribs, parrallel with long axis of the trailer look like they were misdrilled at the factory. More holes than not barely caught the spars, and in some case the spar has dropped out of the rivet entirely. Again, so many of the spars are missed that it is just odd. I suppose they could be replacements...but ALL of them? Short of near total destruction on one side of the trailer, I can't imagine why anyone would do this much "repair" work.

Anyway, now that I have had a day to reflect, I agree with both Rich and Andy: I will replacing them all with bucked rivets, and will be using Vulkem underneath! Not what I wanted to be doing, but it will be a pemanent repair and I will never, ever think about them again. I figure the only thing using Olympics would save me at this point is the need for another person's help while doing the job.
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Old 03-30-2009, 08:40 PM   #7
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I started my resto the same way, just by doing little fixes. I thought that the olympic were the standard until I got more info and then had to chase leaks inside the walls. I have a tremendous amount of olympic rivets as well, but all around the front end. It's obvious now that I have gotten further and further into it that the olympics mean there were repairs done. You never know who, how much, or how many times it may have been repaired. I wish there were VIN numbers on these things that would record repairs... Then you could look them up in CarFax reports and learn just what the hell happened to them... That and the coupling of the sloppy quality control by the AS factory has made my restoration a real trial in patience, and acceptance of the present condition.
I've found that the olympic rivets in my AS's old repairs are in really good condition. I always wondered why everyone was so up in arms about Olympics being no where near as strong... You may be seeing some of the effects of age on olympic rivets...
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Old 03-30-2009, 09:43 PM   #8
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Andy does suggest using olympics again, along with a sealer. I would like to know why he suggests this. I have read that olympics are not as strong in shear as bucked rivets, and I've read that they are more likely to leak later.I'm certain they are suitable for some types of repairs.
Personally, I would like my shell to be at least as strong as when it left the factory, if possible.

Andy, are you listening? I'm seeking enlightenment from a pro!

Rich
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Old 03-30-2009, 10:11 PM   #9
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The problem may have been the way the rivets were installed and not the rivets. Some Olympics come with a rubber seal that breaks down over the years and then they leak. The seal should not be installed and some sealer should be used around each rivet.
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Old 03-30-2009, 10:18 PM   #10
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Thanks azflycaster, I didn't know about the seals. That makes perfect sense.

I guess what I'm after is why would you use olympics to replace bucked, when you have access to both sides anyway?

Rich
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Old 03-31-2009, 12:33 PM   #11
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Andy does suggest using olympics again, along with a sealer. I would like to know why he suggests this. I have read that olympics are not as strong in shear as bucked rivets, and I've read that they are more likely to leak later.I'm certain they are suitable for some types of repairs.
Personally, I would like my shell to be at least as strong as when it left the factory, if possible.

Andy, are you listening? I'm seeking enlightenment from a pro!

Rich
If the shell is gutted, of course use buck rivets.

It may be difficult to find 5/32 buck rivets that have the same size brazier head as the originals.

Blaming a product for failures, when the installion is at fault, is rather unfair.

Using Olympics with washers, is an absolute NO NO.

Yet I understand, ready for this, that the factory uses them sometimes, as per Dave Schumann.

When using Olympics, Vulkem sealer must be used properly with them. When doing so, correctly, failures just don't happen.

Andy
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Old 03-31-2009, 12:55 PM   #12
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To add to the fun: the longitudinal spars - running between ribs, parrallel with long axis of the trailer look like they were misdrilled at the factory. More holes than not barely caught the spars, and in some case the spar has dropped out of the rivet entirely. Again, so many of the spars are missed that it is just odd. I suppose they could be replacements...but ALL of them?
I ran across the same thing when I started my GT. I have since removed most of them and replaced with new that I bent up. I still have a few yet to replace. Many of the stringers were up to 4 inches short so some of the rivets attached nothing. The craftsman ship of whoever the installer was was poor, I'm not sure what he used to cut them to lenght but it had to be either a meat clever or a hand axe.

Kip
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Old 03-31-2009, 01:17 PM   #13
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I ran across the same thing when I started my GT. I have since removed most of them and replaced with new that I bent up. I still have a few yet to replace. Many of the stringers were up to 4 inches short so some of the rivets attached nothing. The craftsman ship of whoever the installer was was poor, I'm not sure what he used to cut them to lenght but it had to be either a meat clever or a hand axe.

Kip
Poor workmanship, is never excuseable, no matter who does it.

The end user usually pays for it, one way or another.

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Old 03-31-2009, 05:28 PM   #14
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amen.
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