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Old 01-18-2012, 01:41 PM   #1
2 Rivet Member
1974 27' Overlander
Twisp , Washington
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 73
Best rivet choice?

I asked this in another thread, but buried in the thread, so thought I'd ask again. Given a choice, am I better off using buck rivets or Olympic? I know I need access to the back side of the panel to use buck rivets, but assuming I have that, is there an advantage to using Olympic rivets anyway? Andy seems to think that Olympics are the way to go regardless, but I've seen other posts claiming that Olympics are leak prone. So what's the consensus? Later.

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Old 01-18-2012, 01:52 PM   #2
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1963 26' Overlander
Austin , Texas
Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 2,640
I refer to Olympic rivets as single-use clecoes. If you know what a cleco is, then you'll understand the joke.

If you can buck rivet, do it.

I've used Olympics in a handful of places on the trailer, but only because I haven't taken apart the front half yet. When I do, those will all come out, and despite the giant gobs of Vulkem I used during installation, I have no doubt I will see the tell-tale and completely predictable water stains leading down from each and every hole where I placed a single-use cleco. When it all goes back together, it will be bucked in with solid rivet replacements.

Just my opinion, but you asked for it.

Good luck,
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Old 01-18-2012, 02:08 PM   #3
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1959 17' Pacer
Long Beach , California
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 920
I'll second Marcus on bucking wherever possible, and my reasoning is two-fold:
1. I don't care what anyone says, Olympics have uneven points of force around the circumference of the seal, thus meaning that if the copious amount of Vulkem you have shoved in the hole and coated on the rivet ever fail, there are 3 uneven points which are more prone to formation of gaps due to minute oscillations/vibrations of the trailer and thus the aluminum skin on which the rivet head sits. Whether that is 1.00001 times or 100 times more likely to create a gap than a flush head rivet, it is still more likely to create a gap. Period.
2. Olympics in bulk cost me $0.230/rivet while the buck rivets I use cost me between $0.018/rivet and $0.030/rivet, or an average of $0.024/rivet. For all intensive purposes, 10% of the cost of Olympics. When replacing all the existing "exploding head rivets" on a PO repair, re-installing the skins to the door frame, constructing a new vent, and patch installations (all the cases where I had access to both sides), I probably used 250 rivets. I just saved ~$50. If I felt I had been jeopardizing the leak proofing of the trailer, that would not have been worth it. Instead, it was a bonus that paid for my freshwater pump.

Granted, I like Andy's disclaimer that he always states: This is all assuming correct installation of the Olympics, and or proper bucking technique. If either are installed poorly, they WILL leak.
- Peter (and Marie)

1959 Pacer 18' Renovation - Knight in Shining Armor

Our Adventure Blog - Documenting our backpacking, hiking, camping, and Airstreaming
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Old 01-18-2012, 02:54 PM   #4
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Corona , California
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Olympic rivets, indded, can leak.

To prevent that, they must be installed "CORRECTLY".

The correct way is to put a small amount of Vulkem on the back side of the rivet head, before the rivet is inserted into the hole.

Not doing that, is begging for a leak.

Again, "how" something is done is just as important as "what was done".

Andy Rogozinski
Inland RV Center
Corona, CA
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