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Old 04-09-2016, 02:31 PM   #1
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Rivet Popper's Club- Interior Pop Rivets

I have a 2014 25 foot International Airstream. About one and a half years old from date of purchase. Goodyear Marathon factory wheels and tires ST225/75R15 load range D, rated up to 65psi. I try to maintain 60psi or just below.

This Rivet Popping count is using the original wheels and 15" Marathon tires. Tire pressure is at 58.6 psi currently.

THREE popped rivets and ONE I can get my fingernail under.

Two are on the right side, along the curved section, of the vertical pop rivets to the right of the door. The popped and the soon(?) to be popped are below one another. Count as ONE.

Two are on the Right Side where the right side of the shower wall begins in the bedroom. The flat wall section with TWO Popped Rivets on the vertical pop rivets, next to one another low below the window level. Count as TWO.

A total of THREE totally popped and one next to the door as a future fourth.
I purchased a set of four 16" Michelin Tires LT225/75R16 LTX M/S2 Load Range E to replace the 15" Marathons. I have not towed the trailer since the new wheels and tires had been installed. My first trip with the 16 inch tires will begin May 7th, 2016. The tires were inflated to 74psi using Nitrogen and I will check the actual pressure before we depart.

You must be able to visually SEE the missing pop rivet head. It is a black hole where the head is missing. A loose head on the floor after traveling does not count. You must see from WHERE the rivet... popped. Location is important.

Will my 16" stiffer tires cause additional pop rivets to FAIL? That is the purpose of this thread. If I find additional popped rivets missing... I will describe where they are missing.

What has your experience been with popped rivets?
- High inflation of tires?
- Tires too stiff sidewalls?
- Maintained highway travel or Base Camper in the National Forests?
- Gone from 14" to 15" single axle?
- Gone from 15" to 16" double axle?
- Any possible explanation WHY you have popped rivets?

Most would say your tires and tow vehicle's tires are to blame for popped rivets. Or... is it stresses upon the rivets from the manufacturing process? Or... both? Try to describe WHERE as well as possible. That is very important. There are obvious stress areas built into each length of Airstream trailer. There could be a possible common cause and it is not because of your driving.

Well... this is an opportunity to explain to others why YOU think you have popped rivets. Up to this time, my 25 footer has had a very comfortable life on maintained highways and flat gravel. Nothing I would call out of the ordinary. My test will be this year for Base Camping and Dispersed National Forest and BLM camp sites.

I am Pop Rivet Member #1: 3 count since August 2014 as new

Human Bean
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Old 04-09-2016, 03:10 PM   #2
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New Lucy is a 2015 Flying Cloud 25FB. She has now been towed about 21,000 miles since new on October 2, 2014. She has had 16" Michelin LT's since new. I run the LT's at 72 psi

In this last year and a half, I have replaced three interior pop rivets. One was over the main door. One was in front of the cabinet over the sink, and the third was inside of the cabinet over the sink.

I guess that makes me Pop Rivet Member #2.


SuEllyn & Brian McCabe
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2015 FC 25' FB (Lucy) with HAHA
2005 Suburban 2500 Quadrasteer (Olivia) & 2011 Silverado 3500 (Fred) with Outfitter Truck Camper (Ethel)
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Old 04-09-2016, 07:40 PM   #3

2003 25' Classic
Zanadude Nebula , WNY
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Thumbs up Popped rivets...

Popped Rivets....most common cause.
Running gear out of balance...Centramatic remedy.

Overly stiff TV suspension combined with overrated WD bars.
Use the lowest rated bars that will transfer the needed weight.

Disclaimer I know nothing....

AF #1

"Sticks & stones can break your bones...and hail will dent your Airstream"

So when is this..."old enough to know better" supposed to kick in?
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Old 04-09-2016, 07:52 PM   #4
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I wish AS would at least fund a MS level student at one of its nearby universities to create a finite element model of its trailers. For this small amount of money the answers to these issues would "pop-out".
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Old 04-10-2016, 09:47 AM   #5
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Engineering an Airstream? Maybe the Sales Department

Originally Posted by TheCabin View Post
I wish AS would at least fund a MS level student at one of its nearby universities to create a finite element model of its trailers. For this small amount of money the answers to these issues would "pop-out".
You asked the question that Airstream 'Engineers' do not want to hear... repeated too often. It is not the cost... it is WHO is to blame that is being avoided for failures of the product's quality.

They, the Airstream Engineering department, push the responsibility onto Dexter, onto the towing system hustling departments, tire manufacturers and everyone but... Airstream. It is almost like playing Major League Baseball and no catcher.

It is always... 'someone else's fault'. I call it... 'It is not my fault, it's Asphalt'. That was an inside OSHA comment we young'uns would use when someone wanted us to write up ungrounded light bulbs and protecting florescent light bulbs that were forty feet mounted on a ceiling in an automobile shop.

I am not THE mechanical engineer to operate and purchase what is needed to tow our Airstream safely... I thought Airstream hired them, de facto as the RV representatives, to solve and be responsible for these issues. Apparently, not. I believe the Sales Department runs the operation and whatever fits onto a good enough, if it continues to sell, keep doing whatever you are doing.

Are 'popped rivets' a warranty issue? Or is it the GYM tire merry go round... 'Sorry, you overloaded your trailer' and popped a few rivets in the process. You must have hit debris from outer space that caused the rivets to pop. Etc., etc. and forever etc.

The 14" wheels on the 23 foot Airstream. Why? Because the Airstream Engineers say that is... adequate. I am not paying for adequate. I am not paying for adequate pop rivets that everyone seems to find... popping without notice and in similar places. Same tires, same suspension, same tow vehicles... so... Why?

Maybe I will find an appropriate philips head screw that works and Screw my Interior together, one popped rivet at a time.

At first this Thread was more of a reminder that our Airstreams do come apart on their own. Like tire wear, but the motion of movement tears the trailer apart. Great for resales. But now theCabin does bring up a valid question. I am thankful that private small aircraft are not Airstream Engineered.

Who is designing the Airstream? Have tires and tow systems degenerated since 1931? What has changed? Apparently, nothing. Everything seems to be improved... but the pop rivets of the interior are reminders that somethings are bound never to change... until it costs money for warranty repairs.

Its not my fault... it's Asphalt. The 'Engineer's Lament'.

I guess as long as people purchase a 'flawed product' no change will occur. It makes me the fool. Maybe fooling me twice is enough. I will take my screwdriver and tool box and upgrade the weaknesses built into my trailer. Maybe then, I will have learned my lesson. Let someone else FIX a new Airstream to the standards only some can dream. Then purchase it from those people.

As Airstream owners, we deserve better quality for the price we pay. The Titanic was designed to survive anything... maybe that should be the name of the new, mini Airstream. The Titanic Ministream. Just sinks slower than the the rest.
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Old 04-10-2016, 10:11 AM   #6
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Anybody ever try slowing down? It would be easier on the trailer!
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Old 04-10-2016, 10:34 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by tjdonahoe View Post
Anybody ever try slowing down? It would be easier on the trailer!

I remember when Montana had... NO daylight speed limit. Then a group of new Mercedes raced across the State and people complained, lowering the speed limit. Is there still the lower speed limit after... sunset in Montana? County 7 Montana plates were exempt. We did know any better. When my Dad was able to coax this 1940's car in the 1950's to... ONE MILE a MINUTE... the family was in a state of terror!

Harmonic Vibrations due to traveling highway speeds are not responsible for popped rivets. Speed does not disassemble a trailer on a highway. Designing a trailer to ride low, have a lower profile and shaped for speed and lower wind resistance make the trailer incapable of traveling at current speed limits?

From what I have read, Airstreams were designed from the Engineering of Airplanes, not from the blue prints of Union Pacific's Big Boy in Cheyenne, Wyoming steam engine's pulling wooden cars down two rails.

This is the 'Space Age'. Not chariots being pulled by one to six horses.

Maybe UHaul trailers have the 55mph limit... but maybe that is more for those towing the trailer, not the inherent dangers of the UHaul trailer full of couches and bean bags coming apart because 56mph is not part of the design.

Has Airstream put a 'speed limit' upon these wingless bombers of the 21st century? I am curious. Other Brands seem to fly past me on the highway.

Maybe building the improved Airstream should be 44 feet long, thin aluminum skin and hauling cargo before furniture is installed within. Call it the MacStream.

Again... It is not my fault, it's asphalt. Speed is the culprit. I will add that to my list of things not to do when traveling the Interstate.

(Using some Kalispell, Montana sarcasm here, folks...)
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Old 04-10-2016, 10:39 AM   #8
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I also demand... slower Internet Service. That way we are all equal in the eyes of the supplier of slower products.
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Old 04-10-2016, 10:57 AM   #9
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My experience with rivets began in the aviation world. If you look at a seam on an aircraft, the rivet count per lineal inch far exceeds anything I see on my Airstream. For obvious reasons, popping rivets on an aircraft is more alarming than popping rivets on an Airstream. I'm on my second, late model, Airstream. I found that I was popping a few rivets in places that seemed to be where stress of weight bearing could be an issue. These rivets, when replaced, would usually pop again. So, I just increased the rivets per lineal inch in the area of concern. It is an unnoticeable addition as long as the spacing is uniform. I'm not interested in changing my tow vehicle, tires, hitch or driving habits to reduce rivet popping. By adding the extra rivets in the places where they popped more than once, I have eliminated the problem entirely.

By the way, if you replace rivets, there is a good chance that the holes in the materials being held together have been slightly enlarged. Thus reducing the effectiveness of the rivet to some degree. By adding the additional rivets as described above, you are actually reducing the stress on each individual rivet. One more thought, notice the rivet count per lineal inch on the exterior of your Airstream, compared to the count on the interior. I've not had any popped rivets on the exterior. I think you will find most of your repeat offenders (popped rivets) are on curved sections of your interior, and likely in the vicinity of some load bearing duties.
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Old 04-10-2016, 11:49 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by tjdonahoe View Post
Anybody ever try slowing down? It would be easier on the trailer!
But rough roads at 20mph are ok?
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Old 04-10-2016, 12:13 PM   #11
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I've lost four next to the door, two in the overhead, one between overhead and door twice.
Also most in the bumper box lid, but I drag a motorcycle thru the hatch.
I'm thinking more body to frame flex due to the door for the interior popped rivets, not so much rough ride. I run the centramatics and I have magnetic stuff on the range hood that doesn't move, before or after the install.
"Chip Tank" is in Vacaville Ca..
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Old 04-10-2016, 05:39 PM   #12
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I haven't popped a rivet in 6 years on our '10 FB. I tow with an Equal-I-zer hitch with 600 lb bars (lighter than recommended) and keep the speed below 65 mph. I feel the TV is pretty easy on the trailer.
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Old 04-10-2016, 11:10 PM   #13
2006 34' Classic
Fort Worth , Texas
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Andy is right about vibrations being responsible for rivet popping. Be sure and use Centramatic balancers on all wheels. I have travel many miles with objects on the dinette table to find them still there when I stop.
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Old 04-10-2016, 11:52 PM   #14
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Tell me more about Centramatic balancers. I have had some rivets pop over the door on the curved front to back rivet seam. I have a 19' 07 Bambi. Tow with a 2016 Tundra and equalizer hitch. I am planning on upgrading to 16" wheels and LTX M/S 2's. What kind of Centramatics? Where do you purchase them from? Are they felt to be helpful and necessary? The new tire set up is getting EXPENSiVE! Oh Well, you need a lot of extras to tow a quality AS rivet popper.

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