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Old 10-26-2019, 11:18 AM   #1
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Buck rivets vs Olympic rivets

Is it "ok" to replace some buck rivets with olympic rivets where the skin is attached to the bottom channel? At this point, it is the only option that I can see other than removing the interior cupboards and skins to get to the buck rivets.
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Old 10-26-2019, 11:25 AM   #2
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I would.

The bigger question is why do the old rivets need replacing? Have they popped and are missing? That could indicate an underlying problem with the running gear.
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Old 10-26-2019, 11:56 AM   #3
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Belly pan replacement. Front and back have mouldings that I can pop rivet under. Middle of the trailer the pan is under the exterior skin. Still has the interior cabinets and skins in. 57 18 footer. It is about a 5 foot section on one side. The road side I could pull interior skin and buck.
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I would.

The bigger question is why do the old rivets need replacing? Have they popped and are missing? That could indicate an underlying problem with the running gear.
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Old 10-26-2019, 11:58 AM   #4
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Can kinda tell from these pics.
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I would.

The bigger question is why do the old rivets need replacing? Have they popped and are missing? That could indicate an underlying problem with the running gear.
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Old 10-26-2019, 12:34 PM   #5
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Here is an old post of mine that shows pictures of the different kind of rivets.

Rivet Types - Post #14

Basically there are three different kinds of rivets used on vintage Airstreams:

Bucked Rivets - Solid and strong - BUT, you must have access to both sides of the rivet in order to install them. Also, in most cases, a second person to help install them. These are the kind that were originally used on your Airstream exterior.

Olympic Rivets - three legged with heads that look like solid bucked rivets, if they are shaved properly - can be installed w/o removing interior panels. These are often used as replacements for bucked rivets when you don't want to or can't dismantled your entire interior to access the back side of the panels being riveted. Not as strong as bucked but strong enough for most small repair projects and/or non-structural uses.

Pop Rivets - the kind you can get at the hardware store, they have a stem & hole in the center - can also be installed w/o removing panels but were only used on the interiors of Airstreams. They aren't nearly as strong as the other two types.

There's actually one more that you see on Airstreams, they are actually an oversized flange pop rivet that are used on belly pans. The wider flange works really well against the forces of the road where there is more potential damage to the panel, they may need to be replaced periodically and you don't care what they look like. The oversized flange helps hold the panel in place when the holes in the panels get enlarged from lots of vibration. Belly pans are not usually bucked for attachment except for maybe joining panels together before the belly pan was attached.

All can be ordered from Vintage Trailer Supply as well as the various tools to set them.

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Old 10-27-2019, 12:00 AM   #6
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Isn't every rivet on the outside skins of an airstream basically a structural rivet? Except for window frames and such.
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Here is an old post of mine that shows pictures of the different kind of rivets.

Rivet Types - Post #14

Basically there are three different kinds of rivets used on vintage Airstreams:

Bucked Rivets - Solid and strong - BUT, you must have access to both sides of the rivet in order to install them. Also, in most cases, a second person to help install them. These are the kind that were originally used on your Airstream exterior.

Olympic Rivets - three legged with heads that look like solid bucked rivets, if they are shaved properly - can be installed w/o removing interior panels. These are often used as replacements for bucked rivets when you don't want to or can't dismantled your entire interior to access the back side of the panels being riveted. Not as strong as bucked but strong enough for most small repair projects and/or non-structural uses.

Pop Rivets - the kind you can get at the hardware store, they have a stem & hole in the center - can also be installed w/o removing panels but were only used on the interiors of Airstreams. They aren't nearly as strong as the other two types.

There's actually one more that you see on Airstreams, they are actually an oversized flange pop rivet that are used on belly pans. The wider flange works really well against the forces of the road where there is more potential damage to the panel, they may need to be replaced periodically and you don't care what they look like. The oversized flange helps hold the panel in place when the holes in the panels get enlarged from lots of vibration. Belly pans are not usually bucked for attachment except for maybe joining panels together before the belly pan was attached.

All can be ordered from Vintage Trailer Supply as well as the various tools to set them.

Shari
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Old 10-27-2019, 06:12 PM   #7
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A few years ago our local Airstream dealer replaced a side of our trailer and used Olympic rivets. In our ignorance we thought Olympic mean meant great. Little did we know. The repair to the floor from the leaking rivets is approaching 5 digits. Repair is NOT being done by our local dealer. Lesson learned.
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Old 10-27-2019, 09:02 PM   #8
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Olympic rivets often get a bad rep on these forums. You will have the opinion that bucked rivets should never be replaced with an Olympic, and similarly, the assertion that Olympics are as strong as a bucked rivet, or at least strong enough not to compromise the assembly.

When I was rebuilding my trailer, I found that a front lower corner segment, a rear lower corner segment, and both wing windows of my trailer had been replaced at least once, and used Olympics. They did not result in any compromise to the mechanical integrity of the trailer, and it is impossible to tell if they resulted in leaks, as the entire perimeter of the floor of the trailer had rotten spots in it, so maybe rivets, maybe window seals, maybe something else.

I would challenge you on this though: Do you really HAVE to remove those sections of belly pan that are buck riveted under the exterior shell? Would it be possible to cut out the bad section of belly skin, and put in a big patch, instead of replacing it clear to the edges? Maybe not the "cleanest" way to address the situation, but it may be better than replacing bucked rivets with Olympics.

Someone will probably want to offer that the belly pan is a structural element of the assembly as well (and therefore shouldn't be patched together), but I would argue that it is pop riveted onto the frame every 5 or 6 inches, as opposed to the bucked rivet that you find in the exterior shell every 3/4" or so. If it is sturcutural, it offers very little contribution.

good luck!
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Old 10-27-2019, 09:17 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Belegedhel View Post
Olympic rivets often get a bad rep on these forums. You will have the opinion that bucked rivets should never be replaced with an Olympic, and similarly, the assertion that Olympics are as strong as a bucked rivet, or at least strong enough not to compromise the assembly.

When I was rebuilding my trailer, I found that a front lower corner segment, a rear lower corner segment, and both wing windows of my trailer had been replaced at least once, and used Olympics. They did not result in any compromise to the mechanical integrity of the trailer, and it is impossible to tell if they resulted in leaks, as the entire perimeter of the floor of the trailer had rotten spots in it, so maybe rivets, maybe window seals, maybe something else.

I would challenge you on this though: Do you really HAVE to remove those sections of belly pan that are buck riveted under the exterior shell? Would it be possible to cut out the bad section of belly skin, and put in a big patch, instead of replacing it clear to the edges? Maybe not the "cleanest" way to address the situation, but it may be better than replacing bucked rivets with Olympics.

Someone will probably want to offer that the belly pan is a structural element of the assembly as well (and therefore shouldn't be patched together), but I would argue that it is pop riveted onto the frame every 5 or 6 inches, as opposed to the bucked rivet that you find in the exterior shell every 3/4" or so. If it is sturcutural, it offers very little contribution.

good luck!
So the side that is problematic is pretty well screwed. Neither side is in great condition, but it has worn through the skin at numerous spots.

Thoughts? I am all for patching up to a point then using the original metal rolling under the trailer. The small area behind the wheel well on the door side I am not too worried about. Curb is an issue though. Click image for larger version

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Old 10-27-2019, 10:40 PM   #10
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If you have rivets, bucked or Olympic, that pulled vertically down through the Aluminum skin where attached to the "C channel, you are probably dealing with "rear or front end sag." Either rivet type can stand the vertical load that causes this condition. It is the aluminum skin that fails in the downward vertical motion of the frame sagging. I have experienced this two times and even though Airstream says no loading limits are being exceeded it still happens. Either there is floor rot or the weight on the frame is more than the design can handle. If you have a under floor cargo drawer or a bicycle rack you may be overloading the frame, floor, "C" Chanel, skin rivet integrity.
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Old 10-27-2019, 11:26 PM   #11
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There doesn't seem to be anything structurally wrong with it. The reason for the belly pan replacement is the overall condition of it, and the addition of a greywater tank.
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If you have rivets, bucked or Olympic, that pulled vertically down through the Aluminum skin where attached to the "C channel, you are probably dealing with "rear or front end sag." Either rivet type can stand the vertical load that causes this condition. It is the aluminum skin that fails in the downward vertical motion of the frame sagging. I have experienced this two times and even though Airstream says no loading limits are being exceeded it still happens. Either there is floor rot or the weight on the frame is more than the design can handle. If you have a under floor cargo drawer or a bicycle rack you may be overloading the frame, floor, "C" Chanel, skin rivet integrity.
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Old 11-10-2019, 02:30 PM   #12
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Is it "ok" to replace some buck rivets with olympic rivets where the skin is attached to the bottom channel? At this point, it is the only option that I can see other than removing the interior cupboards and skins to get to the buck rivets.
I used Olympic rivets on a small Airstream in similar circumstances and have not had a problem. If you use Olympic rivets I do not recommend the ones with the little black seal on them. Instead put a small dab of Vulkem or other high quality caulk on the stem before you insert it. It should leave a small rim of caulk around the rivet. If you use a small blade you can trim that quite easily after the caulk has cured to the touch. Do not mess with it when it is wet, it is very easy to trim by cutting with very little pressure around the rivet head after it has dried.
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Old 11-10-2019, 07:48 PM   #13
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so the rivets that hold the hinge to the top of the operable side windows are Buck Rivets? Several of mine popped out when i took the windows out to clean. '72 sovereign
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Old 11-11-2019, 07:56 AM   #14
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Maybe somebody else knows more about these than I do. But couldn't cherry rivets be used as an alternative to Olympic rivets in situations where structural rivets are preferred. For those who don't know what a cherry rivet is. They're a structural version on an Olympic rivet used in the aero space industry.
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Old 11-11-2019, 04:15 PM   #15
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If you speak with the Airstream Service Department, they will tell you they use Olympic rivets on repairs when the outer skin needs a replacement, such as hail damage. They told me that most of their repair jobs use Olympic rivets unless the inner skin needs to be removed as well. They said structurally, you should not notice a difference.
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Old 11-12-2019, 12:23 PM   #16
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Maybe somebody else knows more about these than I do. But couldn't cherry rivets be used as an alternative to Olympic rivets in situations where structural rivets are preferred. For those who don't know what a cherry rivet is. They're a structural version on an Olympic rivet used in the aero space industry.

I think the shavable part would be the only downfall. I am considering putting 1/4" Olympics in since they have the same head size as the 3/16", but are structurally superior to a 5/32" buck rivet.
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Old 11-12-2019, 02:04 PM   #17
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I'd say yes, and did use a few on my 1st trailer. Especially so if you use the all aluminum variants and can swallow the cost IIRC about $5 a rivet for all aluminum. Regular cherry has the disadvantages of having non aluminum parts like the lock ring (corrosion if not painted) and being somewhat harder to drill out when it comes around. Nearly forgot to mention that the all aluminum would like much closer to a regular buck rivet when given a quick buff with a wheel.

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Maybe somebody else knows more about these than I do. But couldn't cherry rivets be used as an alternative to Olympic rivets in situations where structural rivets are preferred. For those who don't know what a cherry rivet is. They're a structural version on an Olympic rivet used in the aero space industry.
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Old 11-12-2019, 02:37 PM   #18
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I think the shavable part would be the only downfall. I am considering putting 1/4" Olympics in since they have the same head size as the 3/16", but are structurally superior to a 5/32" buck rivet.
When I was at the beginning of my restoration, I headed in to see the folks at airparts as they're only a few miles from my house. The firm answer from them was to never use an Olympic rivet anywhere I could use a buck rivet as eventually it will possibly fail. Seeing as they supply the majority of the country with Olympic rivets. I took their word for it.
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Old 11-13-2019, 12:07 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by Shermy1987 View Post
When I was at the beginning of my restoration, I headed in to see the folks at airparts as they're only a few miles from my house. The firm answer from them was to never use an Olympic rivet anywhere I could use a buck rivet as eventually it will possibly fail. Seeing as they supply the majority of the country with Olympic rivets. I took their word for it.
Which I would agree with, but I have no option. Or at least it is not a viable option.
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Old 11-13-2019, 01:23 PM   #20
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Just for clarity a cherry max rivet can be utilized for structural use whereas I don't think anyone would suggest using an Olympic rivet in that manner. Cherry max can be found in structural areas of aircraft including their wings.
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