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Old 08-13-2021, 09:50 AM   #1
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Lewes , Delaware
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Exterior Rivets

I recently noted that a rivet head was missing from the exterior skin to the right of the access door and up a bit. When I looked at the hole to see about inserting a new Olympic rivet, I see that there is no opening behind the skin. I assume that the missing rivet went through a rib and the skin and/or the rib have shifted a bit so the hole that the missing rivet occupied is no longer visible. I have placed a small piece of Gorilla Tape over the hole to weather proof the skin at the hole. Other than waiting for my next trip to the dealer for needed service, what is your experience with this circumstance? I am most reluctant to drill into what appears to be the rib in order to insert a new rivet.
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Old 09-01-2021, 06:26 PM   #2
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Get a small box of Lathe Screws at Lowes or Home Depot. They come in 8x1: 1/2, 3/4 and 1 inch. They have aggressive threads and use a Philip Head. They appear like fancy buck rivets to everyone else...

The 1/2 inch work on the interior popped rivets. Hidden areas if you want perfection. The 3/4 inch for where the gap between the skin and frame is off and you need a longer screw.

I have never had 1 inch Lathe Screws. They are useful for lots of hardware screw replacement in hinges and plastic locking mechanisms in your Airstream.

If you run out of uses, as there may be a 100 screws in a carton... make up things to do with them.

Anyone standing outside your Airstream will not notice them. No one inside will notice them. They call it a Self Drilling Screw. If the Lathe Screw cannot fully tighten flat into the spot you want to hold together... you may have to experiment.

My philosophy: If the rivet popped, why do it again. Put the screw to it. It works. I ask more for my used Airstream when I sell them as they are the... Improved Edition.

I hand them out to Airstream Owners complaining about popped rivets. When they see these, they either quit complaining... or may actually use the two I gave to them.

(Buck Rivets are a different issue. Although... I would still try the Lathe Screw. Watching them install those rivets at Jackson Center took more skill that I have.)
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Old 09-26-2021, 11:11 AM   #3
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no no no…if lathe screws were so wonderful then Airstream would have used them at the factory.
As an aircraft mechanic/ owner/ pilot who owns two vintage Airstreams, I would strongly suggest that another rivet be use to replace a missing one…just as is done on an airplane.
It makes no more sense to use a lathe screw on an Airstream than on an airplane.
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Old 09-26-2021, 07:19 PM   #4
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2021 27' Globetrotter
Daytona Beach , Florida
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Originally Posted by rkgnaz View Post
I would strongly suggest that another rivet be use to replace a missing one
.
I'm not looking for a confrontation here but, what's wrong with using screws? I also use them on everything.
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Old 09-26-2021, 07:28 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bella_intl View Post
I recently noted that a rivet head was missing from the exterior skin to the right of the access door and up a bit. When I looked at the hole to see about inserting a new Olympic rivet, I see that there is no opening behind the skin. I assume that the missing rivet went through a rib and the skin and/or the rib have shifted a bit so the hole that the missing rivet occupied is no longer visible. I have placed a small piece of Gorilla Tape over the hole to weather proof the skin at the hole. Other than waiting for my next trip to the dealer for needed service, what is your experience with this circumstance? I am most reluctant to drill into what appears to be the rib in order to insert a new rivet.
Is there any buckling /wrinkles in the skin near the lower corners of the storage compartment or gaps between trim strip and skin? Many are having issues with front end separation.
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Old 09-27-2021, 07:01 AM   #6
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You Pop... You get Screwed

I also remove poor hinges within the trailer with better options. I use Zip Ties to secure those hinges I have not had as many issues with them coming loose, while traveling. They never come loose in a parking lot or sitting in the RV Garage. If it moves... I screw it, if it pops.

(Often just the head of interior pop rivets. Sometimes the head and shaft, or half of the shaft attached.)

I also secure walls with hardware to reduce their movement. Lathe screws are my first choice. Some of the walls and cabinets are not really... wood, but thin paneling. There it takes some ideas that are not in a tool box.

I secured the post on the rear table to the floor to protect the thin aluminum where the table latches into it and prevent the bolts from pulling out of the wall.

This is a project on wheels. If a pop rivet pops, it obviously is having difficulty at that location. Usually a curve. A Lathe Screw... looks just perfect and takes care of that rivet. If they hold... I call it a success. If not... buck rivet?

If this trailer was in a Museum... yes, by all means use a pop rivet. I use ours. If one pops... it puts more stress on the others. Takes me less than 60 seconds at they have worked out for.. me.
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Old 09-27-2021, 10:30 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nitzo View Post
I'm not looking for a confrontation here but, what's wrong with using screws? I also use them on everything.


Screws could be used…keep in mind that they do loosen over time.
The softer pop rivets are not very strong, for low stress areas they’re fine. Better to use higher grade rivets for areas subjected to more stress…that’s what the factory does.
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Old 09-27-2021, 10:41 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Ray Eklund View Post
I also remove poor hinges within the trailer with better options. I use Zip Ties to secure those hinges I have not had as many issues with them coming loose, while traveling. They never come loose in a parking lot or sitting in the RV Garage. If it moves... I screw it, if it pops.

(Often just the head of interior pop rivets. Sometimes the head and shaft, or half of the shaft attached.)

I also secure walls with hardware to reduce their movement. Lathe screws are my first choice. Some of the walls and cabinets are not really... wood, but thin paneling. There it takes some ideas that are not in a tool box.

I secured the post on the rear table to the floor to protect the thin aluminum where the table latches into it and prevent the bolts from pulling out of the wall.

This is a project on wheels. If a pop rivet pops, it obviously is having difficulty at that location. Usually a curve. A Lathe Screw... looks just perfect and takes care of that rivet. If they hold... I call it a success. If not... buck rivet?

If this trailer was in a Museum... yes, by all means use a pop rivet. I use ours. If one pops... it puts more stress on the others. Takes me less than 60 seconds at they have worked out for.. me.


Using screws for interior seems fine…except they do loosen over time.
Rivets for exterior would be my choice. I have no interest in a museum piece, just want the structure to hold up for many years
With minimal maintenance.
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Old 09-29-2021, 09:40 AM   #9
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I bought a carton of 1/2 and 3/4 inch Lathe Screws. One hundred per carton.

When I run out of Lathe Screws, which may take ten years, more or less... I will see if Rivets are still popular. I can also go the the ONE INCH... if I get real serious.

The Lathe screws have a very nice head and actually enhance the interior and exterior appearances. If they get loose... its takes five seconds. So far... none on the floor in the trailer. Pop rivets... as of now... either.

Good luck to the Pop Riveters and Lathe Screwers... just different ways of securing our trailers, one screw at a time.
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Old 09-29-2021, 12:20 PM   #10
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Metal-speak?

I can't escape the similarities between an AS and a Cessna - one of the endearing features for me, and without the FAA.

The missing rivet or "smoking" rivet is a metal communication method. We used to say "something is unhappy there, we should listen to what it is saying."

You are wise to think about the root cause as you repair. Might be poor installation, or might be stress making itself known.
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