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Old 04-21-2008, 06:37 AM   #1
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1963 26' Overlander
Indiana , Indiana
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How do I remove rivets?

I want to remove the brown plastic molding in my 63 trailer. Is there an easy way to remove a rivet? A tool I can buy?

Excuse me if this is a stupid question... I just bought my Overlander (my first Airstream) and I am going to re-do the trailer myself. Please bare with I will be reading and posting as the need arises. My trailer is a oldy moldy at this writing, I am removing all the innards...Fun!

I am in central Indiana. Would love to meet others that have or in process of renovating their Airstream. Tks, Z

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Old 04-21-2008, 07:05 AM   #2
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1967 26' Overlander
1968 30' Sovereign
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If the rivets are small, you can use a 1/8" drill bit. If you need to ,use a center punch in the rivet ro make a guide for the drill bit. Only remove the head of the rivet. Be careful not to let the drill bit slip and scratch the aluminum. Use care also not to "wallow" the hole out. You'll want to use this hole again for the new rivet when reattaching moldings.

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Old 04-21-2008, 07:23 AM   #3
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I tried a "rivet removal tool" because I thought it would be faster and better which it was not. I have not found a better alternative to the dimple and drill method above. When replacing the rivets you have 3 choices: 1. regular blind "pop" rivets if they won't show 2. Olympic blind rivets if they will show, or, 3. bucked rivets if you can get behind the rivet and want maximum strength.

I have only used the first 2 methods. It sounds like the last is something of an aluminum art form.
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Old 04-21-2008, 07:31 AM   #4
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Your basically trying to get the head of the rivet off the shaft in order to remove it. Once the head's off, you can usually push the shaft into the hole and you're done. Drilling is one method, as Silverhobby mentions. If you can get under the rivet head, you can dislodge the head (think hitting it from the side with a scrapper blade wacked with a hammer).

There is a tool (isn't there always ) and since you mentioned it, I'll tell you about it. I found about this from another poster here on the AirForums...source of all aluminum knowhow! It's available from Aircraft Spruce, who you'll find is an invaluable source of supplies and tools for dealing with rivets and aluminum! Here's the link.

AND, I'm in Central Indiana, and would be thrilled to meetup with other Airstream buffs! So let's do it!!
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Old 04-21-2008, 08:41 AM   #5
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1975 31' Sovereign
Houston , Texas
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That tool ($60 dollars) from the Aircraft Spruce supply.
Is that the one you have used Lumatic.?
If so what exactly was the problem with it? If another tool could you please be more specific?

It is my advice NEVER to try to drill a rivet that has a closed head (like an Olympic)(or the bucked round heads on our Airstreams) without FIRST dimpling the head. But "head-dimpling" is not always as easy as it may seem.
I try to use a spring loaded Punch that I got at a Harbor Freight store for about $3 dollars. But I also sometimes use a good scratch awl ($4-7 dollars at any good hardware) and have used an ice pick as well. But the awl and the pick are prone to slipping off the rivet head and this can do damage to surrounding aluminum. Plus ice picks are not made to do this and often the pick slips back up into the handle and become dangerous and/or useless for this exercise.
You might also grind an old screwdriver into a point.
A couple of other tips are to chuck the drill bit as far into your drill as possible, giving you the shortest amount of bit exposed possible. I have even considerd shortening the bit (from the non drilling end) but have not yet done so. Remember you are not going to have to drill but a small fraction of an inch.
Also remember that you should keep a little oil handy to wet your bit often if you have many to drill out, and that there is better cutting of metal by a drill bit at lower speeds (rpm) in most all cases. i.e. you don't have to and probably shouldn't run your drill at or even near max speed.
And of course wear eye protection, those aluminum slivers are hard to find and expensive to remove from the eyeball, and they hurt like hell too.

I wonder if the tool linked to above by Doctor Dallas actually a "dimpling jig"?

Oh and here is a great rivet thread & tutorial. DON"T Miss viewing this.

(http://www. /forums/f381/olympic-rivet-removal-installation-23.html)
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Old 04-21-2008, 08:46 AM   #6
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Conifer/Evergreen , Colorado
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Bucked or Olympic Rivets - Center punch, hand twist the drill bit to set the position, then drill off top, push shaft in
Pop Rivets (mostly on interior) - Drill top off, push shaft in

We've done 500+ of these so far to remove our inner skins, replace the floor, remove the back window & frame, remove the entry & access doors. Have another 500+ or so to go to replace the exterior skin on the street's a 12' x 39" sheet. Then we get to replace them all ~

Putting in new bucked rivets is a pain ~ literally, in my elbows! Although we are doing it, so far I have been on the backside of the rivets...I think I will try out the front, it may be easier on the elbows...but it's the side you see! No smilies allowed ~

I much prefer the interior pop-rivets and Olympics even with the extra step of having to shave them. The air gun pop-rivet thingie is very cool and I LOVE the rivet new best friend! I think I shaved about 75 rivets this weekend ~ drip caps & compartment doors.

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Old 04-21-2008, 09:26 AM   #7
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1972 29' Ambassador
Centerville , Indiana
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I also am from central Indiana and just stared to renovate my latest purchase of 72 Ambassador. I am sure your questions are ones I will have as well. The punch and drill worked best for me.

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