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Old 06-01-2002, 06:56 PM   #1
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Question Alum. Skin Repair

Is there an easy way to make presentable repairs of the aluminium skin where old rivets were once placed?

Other than installing another rivet, can this 1/8" hole be welded and ground smooth? Is there a filler to use? A previous owner took off the old window shades and installed ZipDee awnings on four sides of the trailer leaving the awning holes some with rivets.

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Old 06-01-2002, 09:08 PM   #2
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I think you answered the question yourself. Olympic rivets would be your best repair. They can be had in lots of 100 for about $15.00 US. Just apply a little dab of Vulcem in the hole or on the rivet, pop the rivet and grind the head with a file or dremel. It will look like a Pro did it.

Fillers will shrink and crack pretty quick.

Welding would costs you a bunch of bucks plus you would have distortion and you would never get the patina of the aluminum to match. Notice any other welding on your Airsteams skin? There is none.

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Old 10-03-2009, 08:06 PM   #3
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Put a flush rivit in the hole. It take some special equipment but the rivit head will be flat with the surface.

If ya polish it you almost can't see the rivit.
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Old 10-03-2009, 08:52 PM   #4
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Flush rivets would do the trick, but they must be bucked so if you can't get to the back side you will have to go with Olympic rivets. Take time with a dremel, no need to spend a bunch of money on a rivet shaver for only a few, and from 3 feet away 99% of the people would not tell is wasn't a factory rivet. But honestly, what' a few more rivets on the side of an Airstream?
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Old 10-03-2009, 09:05 PM   #5
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when does a thread die?

there is around 7 years passage of time between response #1 and response #3, 4. Answering the question now should be moot, shouldn't it? If it ain't been repaired in 7 years, it didn't need fixin'! Now I am not slamming anyone, cuz the info is good, but shouldn't there be some kind of expiriation date on these things? Al Gore would be honked off if he knew we AS'rs were clogging up his internet with such stuff...
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Old 10-03-2009, 09:41 PM   #6
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Oh Oh. Pet Peeve.
Moderators take note. When should a thread be closed?
wmarsha makes a valid point concerning the timeliness of some of these threads.
Dated threads can present dead links, obsolete/discontinued products, with outdated advice and repair methods.
Personally I think if there hasnít been any reply in say, 18 months or so, the thread should be locked and sent to the archives.
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Old 10-30-2009, 12:20 AM   #7
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This may sound kooku, but I didn't have a close flush rivit source and was afraid driving rain would leak in so I clipped off the ends of nails, pushed them in with a little aluminum glue, hit them with some polish and they look great.
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Old 10-30-2009, 06:37 AM   #8
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Interesting Repair - Is it temporary?

Originally Posted by Sovereign42 View Post
This may sound kooku, but I didn't have a close flush rivit source and was afraid driving rain would leak in so I clipped off the ends of nails, pushed them in with a little aluminum glue, hit them with some polish and they look great.

Was the nail repair temporary? Or did you simply leave it this way? If so, how long has it been in place and what brand of aluminum glue did you use?

I used clear RTV for what I thought was going to be a temporary repair to plug some holes. After a month or so I decided I didn't mind the small inconsistency between the RTV and the aluminum so I just left it in place. I'm not recommending this but it worked for me.

Now on to the subject of old threads...

I found this thread interesting for several reasons and it prompted me to do some searching on the subject of riveting. I think old threads should not die.

This is not a flame - just an opinion - and everyone has one, including me.

Why does a thread have to die? Why does anything need to be locked and sent to archive?

Yes, there may be dead links. Yes, the information may be obsolete. But there can also be very useful information.

What's next? Old library books should be trashed because they may refer to phone numbers such as "alpa-1234".... Hmm.... that phone number is obviously obsolete - guess I should trash the entire book. That author is dead, out goes the book.

The information is there. The individual can choose to read it or not.

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Old 10-30-2009, 08:58 AM   #9
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Old posts?
The Forums are a knowledge base....not a newspaper.
I use the search function and get many bits of great info from old posts and threads. It is strange to see years old postings brought up and queried as a current subject. Still it shows a current interest in the area.
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Old 10-30-2009, 02:59 PM   #10
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I can tell you this as a former MOD of this site...just about anytime a thread is moved/closed/locked or archived it gets some folks' shorts in a wad, people get their feelings hurt that "their threads" got closed and accusations of "censorship" are thrown about. This forum is a "Knowledge Sharing" forum - not a definitive "How to" site. Who knows what tidbit of info will be "just the thing somebody was looking for" in an older thread? I certainly don't think it's fair to have a person or two deciding what's worth saving and what's about labor intensive! The MODS & ADMINS are after all volunteers - not full-time editors.

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Old 10-30-2009, 04:55 PM   #11
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Okay, back to the original intent of this thread: has anyone ever tried to use a solder patch in aluminum? The color would be a very close match and it can be polished, won't shrink. I just have never heard of anyone trying it.
I also have aluminum colored caulking for metal, which will not polish but looks pretty good anyway. Drawbacks: it does shrink a little and may not seal a rivet hole without something to back-up the hole with.

When I first found this site I went back through many pages of posts and found something relevant to what I was into at the time. It was a very old thread and had not been posted to for years, but I was very new and didn't know where to look for that info. So I posted and got a reply like "why are you posting to such an old thread"? Now, obviously, I was not going to help out the original poster with their problem, but someone else chimed in with the answer to my problem. So the old thread did provide help to me and possibly others who saw it revived.
It does strike me as a bit funny when someone tries to answer a question that was posted 5 to 7 years ago, like it was just posted today, but it does no damage. I say let them live on in the ether forever!

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Old 10-30-2009, 05:10 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by VIKING View Post
. . . I say let them live on in the ether forever!

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Hurrah for the ether, the archive of the ethernet.
Without the ether, we could not have radio or television.
Thank goodness for the ether.
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Old 10-31-2009, 02:30 AM   #13
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The job was supposed to be temporary, but nothing went wrong and it is still there. I don't remember the glue. It was something Ipicked up at a local hardware. sorry I can't be more specific.
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Old 07-16-2018, 07:47 PM   #14
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Aluminum Weld


First, I like these time tested posts. I can see the development of the idea, and as I look for answers, it is nice to see some of these ideas and efforts, and comments on how well they worked.

Second--I have a 78 Soverign that went through a storm and had pretty severe dents on the front end. Some of them actually resulted in holes and tears in aluminium. I found a product at Fleet Farm in the welding isle.....with the arc welding sticks. It is an Aluminum Welding Stick. You use a blow torch to heat up the aluminum, then lay the stick on the hot metal and it melts and bonds to the aluminum. A friend that works on aircraft showed me this product.
Problem, you need to be able to get behind the hole to make sure there is nothing there that will burn. I was able to do that because I had taken the inner skin off to be able to push and pound out the dents.
I've not yet buffed it out, but it is the same colour as the original skin. Just another possibility.
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Old 07-17-2018, 11:44 AM   #15
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Dr. Jimmy, post a pic. I'd like to see the end result. Thanks, Matt
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Old 07-18-2018, 08:39 AM   #16
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Pic of Weld

I will try to get one. I want to buff it out a bit first, but I will see if I can get a pic up soon. I am sorry though, I do not have a "before" pic.
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Old 07-20-2018, 02:55 PM   #17
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Matt; I've got two pictures is a wider shot to let you see where the hole was, and how damaged the front cap was, and the other shot is a close-up of the weld. I could not get it completely smooth because of the wrinkles in the skin, but it does seal the hole.
Again, with this product, you heat up the area with a torch, then lay the stick on it and it melds and bonds with the aluminum. So you have to have the skin clear of anything that was on the back. Since I was redoing the front cap, I was able to pull all the wiring and insulation clear of that area.
It is not the prettiest fix, but it is the first time I've tried it, and it is functional.
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