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Old 04-14-2016, 07:04 PM   #1
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1989 32' Excella
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Interior "popped" rivet replacement?

Greetings,

It appears that most new/old AS units flex and "pop" interior rivets from time to time for one reason or another. The question that I have, is what to replace them with? Is the interior rivets used designed to "pop", like a shear bolt? If so, then I would think that replacing them with another pop rivet would be the best course of action and replace them as they shear. However, if they are not designed to shear then maybe a metal screw would hold better. Thoughts on best rivet repairs greatly appreciated.

Regards,
JDB
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Old 04-15-2016, 07:45 AM   #2
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Following for answers.
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Old 04-15-2016, 08:16 AM   #3
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I would go back with rivets..I can say after the initial stresses are relieved in a particular point, I have not had a re-occurrence.

I did also take remedial action to ensure balanced running gear, tires (pressures), and proper hitching/loading practices.
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Old 04-15-2016, 08:31 AM   #4
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I think that I would I would tend to replace a failed rivet with another similar rivet. I would fear that replacing the rivet with a stainless steel sheet metal screw could cause damage to the aluminum sheet if it would suffer the same stress that caused the rivet to fail.

Brian
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Old 04-15-2016, 10:39 AM   #5
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Replace with Rivets

"The Complete Guide to Airstream Maintenance" says replace with 1/8" short rivets. I keep a rivet tool and a box of these in the trailer. I seem to pop ones near the door fairly regularly. If the head breaks off, drill out the old rivet with a 1/8" bit slowly until it drops inside the wall. Then only takes 30 seconds to put the new one in. Just squeeze the handle 2 or 3 times until it clicks. Very easy.
The 20v Black and Decker cordless drill has become one of the most used items I have bought. Drilling out rivets, putting in screws, raising and lowering the stabilizer bars, etc.
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Old 04-15-2016, 11:36 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MAJORJDB View Post
Greetings,

It appears that most new/old AS units flex and "pop" interior rivets from time to time for one reason or another. The question that I have, is what to replace them with? Is the interior rivets used designed to "pop", like a shear bolt? If so, then I would think that replacing them with another pop rivet would be the best course of action and replace them as they shear. However, if they are not designed to shear then maybe a metal screw would hold better. Thoughts on best rivet repairs greatly appreciated.

Regards,
JDB
My family heirloom AS is nearly 50 yrs old and never restored. We lose interior rivets occasionally along the rib to which the front end cap is attached. Being in front where there is the most weight, combined with a 4" frame, flexing causes rivet heads to "pop" off. The rivet body is usually left in place and sometimes the hole in the interior sheet metal is shifted slightly from the hole in the frame member. If a gentle probe with an awl doesn't realign the two holes and push the rivet body through, I use a 1/8th inch drill bit to drill the rivet body out and enlarge the hole in the interior skin taking care not to enlarge the hole in the frame member. I have also used the stabilizing legs to try and shift the metal by counter flexing, but that is not usually effective and the shearing force that caused the rivet failure will recur. Over the years, the number of rivets lost has decreased. It has been a year or two since the last one and we make frequent short trips. I won't say they have stopped breaking because as soon as I do, there will be another one.
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Old 04-15-2016, 12:40 PM   #7
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A variation--for the first time with a popped rivet, the holes in the two plates are so far misaligned (about 1/2 the diameter) that I couldn't force a 1/8" rivet partway in and then lever the plates into alignment before tightening. So temporarily, I've used a stainless #6 screw to do the job--it's the perfect size for the misaligned hole.

Hopefully, at some point we'll be parked somewhere wher the plates torque and realign so I can actually get a rivet in.

Anybody figured a better solution to get the plates to align?
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Old 04-15-2016, 11:31 PM   #8
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Vintage Trailer Supply sells the AS interior rivets, along with most others outside & they advertise on here.

They also have flat belly pan rivets &/or aluminum washers if the holes enlarged, & the acorm Olymipic rivets & rivet shaver that finish them to look like the OE buck rivets - if any of those have popped.

You'll also need a rivet gun from them or a local hardware or home improvement store.

Good Luck!
Tom
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Old 04-16-2016, 11:20 AM   #9
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I bought the rivet gun kit from Airstream. My only complaint is that it contains 6 different rivets as a starter supply but no guidance on which rivets to use in which areas.
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Old 04-16-2016, 11:38 AM   #10
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1989 32' Excella
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Thanks All, in fact I do have the book "Complete Guide to Airstream Maintenance" inbound and its good to know that it addresses such issues/questions as I'm sure I'll have many more. Fortunately, I only have one rivet missing near the front cap so far.
Regards,
JDB
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Old 04-16-2016, 12:31 PM   #11
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Call Airstream and they will be happy to let you know what size rivets and where they are used. Rivets and tool can be ordered from AS. Also I think the sizes are listed if you get the parts manual for your trailer online and look at the drawings and associated parts.
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Old 04-16-2016, 08:35 PM   #12
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Do you use aluminum or stainless steel rivets?
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