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Old 04-13-2014, 10:19 AM   #1
Rivet Master
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Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 1,222
Should have done “Rivet Maintenance”

Never too late to learn another Airstream lesson in upkeep and that is “Rivet Maintenance”.

If it has not happen to you yet with your old vintage Airstream, it’s not a question of “if” it will happen but “when” it will happen to you. And that is either part or all of the belly pan letting loose going down the road at 65mph. My lesson was learned last fall coming home from the WDCU Install rally on I-66 about 20 miles from the house with my 1974 Overlander that we had also just used on the Historic National Road Caravan last summer from Cumberland, MD to Vandalia, IL totaling about 1,500 miles without a hiccup. It was truly the shakedown trip and made me think all had been done that needed to be done to make the trailer ready for sale and was one of the reasons for using the trailer at the WDCU rally, you know, plug and play,enjoy it one last time.

So as we’re coming home, last event of the year in the bag and “Boom” all of a sudden you see the “pink cloud” appear behind you and hear the dragging of aluminum down the road. I was lucky, I had lots of room to quickly pull off to the side of the shoulder had a huge roll of Gorilla Tape(much better than Duck Tape) and it was not raining. Since in my case it was the front of the belly pan that came loose, it was a thing of bending it back forward because it had turned under due to the airflow, holding it up in place, putting a half of roll of tape on it to get the trailer home where it has sat waiting for that first warm Spring day for that last repair before putting it up for sale.

So, here we are today pulling off the tape from last year,drilling out the old rivets and replacing them with brand new belly pan rivets.At least it’s a pretty day, nice to be outside after a long winter and the next owner will be able to look under the trailer and see shiny rivets.

Since I’m one of those guys that has more than one, I know what I will be doing a bunch of this Spring and Summer a little at a time and that is “Rivet Maintenance” on the 1966 Overlander, 1970 Safari and 1966 Globetrotter. I bet if one just drills and re-rivets a few at a time the job will be a bunch more fun and easier than laying on the side of the road with cars zooming by, maybe in the rain, mud a wet trailer of which tape “will not” stick too with the flashers on wishing you had done that simple maintenance. Yes, maintenance on the aluminum rivet that’s going through the belly pan aluminum and into the steel frame slowly corroding away over the past 40-50 years until just at the right time it decides to give away and making you stand there and say, “Rivet Maintenance”, forgot the “Rivet Maintenance”



Paul Waddell
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Old 04-13-2014, 10:38 AM   #2
Rivet Master
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2007 30' Classic
Oswego , Illinois
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 8,193
Rivet maintenance is important regardless of vintage or not. Mine is 7 years old and I have replaced and plated several belly pan rivets. This spring is made up of systematically touching every shell rivet with Captain Tolleys, in an effort to find and stem rivet leaks. I have found quite a few leakers. Definitely worth the effort to keep rivet inspection on your routine list.


"If the women don't find you handsome, they should at least find you handy." - Red Green
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Old 04-13-2014, 11:42 AM   #3
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2006 19' Safari SE
Santee , California
Join Date: May 2013
Posts: 237
My sewer hose tube let loose Agee weeks ago going through Las Vegas.
Mj: "I'm on the road again"
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Old 04-13-2014, 12:01 PM   #4
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1960 33' Custom
Saskatoon , Saskatchewan
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 1,120
Images: 25
I was half way home from Arizona picking up the Sovereign and pulled over for a State Trooper. I thought it was kind of weird that I seemed to sit there for ages waiting for him to come to my truck window but it turns out that as I had pulled over the belly pan that he was going to alert me to had fallen off. It was really windy but he managed to jump onto it hand it over :-) Really cool guy and seemed to like the '60's Airstreams luckily. The beauty of a project trailer is I could just toss it inside and carry on.
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1960 Sovereign 33' Pacific Railroad Custom
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Old 04-13-2014, 12:02 PM   #5
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2006 19' Safari SE
Santee , California
Join Date: May 2013
Posts: 237
Oops, accidentally hit send while trying to fix an auto spell error.

Anyway my sewer hose tube let loose under my 06 Bambi driving through Las Vegas a few weeks ago. The screws that held it in place worked loose and who knows where the hose wound up? The tube was still dangling underneath and thankfully didn't completely break loose hitting someone behind me.

Upon inspection of the underbelly I noticed a few other loose screws that needed attention.

It's a good idea to periodically check the underbelly - screws, rivets and fittings... Better to be on the safe side!
Mj: "I'm on the road again"
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