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Old 06-16-2020, 05:20 PM   #1
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Interior rivet replacement question

So, I noticed that a rivet had popped out of the ceiling in our 2020 Globetrotter leaving a nice clean hole. I found a rivet repair kit on the Airstream store web site and no doubt overpaid for a rivet tool with a swiveling head, as well as a selection of replacement rivets and drill bits.

Using one of the 1/8" rivets with the correct 1/8" nose piece installed in the tool I followed the directions, keeping the rivet head firmly against the aluminum surface while working the tool handle. The instructions said to expect to work the handle 3-4 times and, sure enough, on the 3rd squeeze I heard a snap and the rivet was seated tightly in place. However, instead of a rivet with an empty hole as the instructions said to expect, there was a piece of the mandrel still stuck in the rivet. The remaining piece is pretty much flush with the rivet head and isn't real noticeable (if you don't look for it like I'm currently constantly doing) although I can feel a sharp burr with my finger.

Is this normal? I thought I was careful to keep the tool straight as I operated it but it's possible that I could have flexed it slightly so that the mandrel broke off instead of pulling completely out. I guess I could try using a punch to drive the remaining piece out or drill out the rivet completely and start over but both of those operations have their own risks and it may be best to leave well enough alone.

This was my first rivet replacement so I have no experience and am soliciting advice. Suggestions?
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Old 06-16-2020, 05:42 PM   #2
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Normally the mandrel breaks at its weakest point where it is notched down at the neck by the head that expands the rivet shell so most of the mandrel is removed. Yours broke near the rivet head possibly because the gun was not straight but it could have been a manufacturing error in the mandrel.

If you use a punch you will drive out the mandrel head and it will weaken the grip.

I don't think it is worth drilling out and doing it over.....
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Old 06-16-2020, 06:14 PM   #3
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Are the other rivets smooth or do they have the mandrel hole? You can get a rivet shaver, another pricy but satisfying tool, and clean up the mandrel that way. Vintage RV sells them- omg, I just saw the price! I've made great use of mine, but it was less than half the cost... https://vintagetrailersupply.com/sha...ivets-vts-177/
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Old 06-16-2020, 06:42 PM   #4
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It happens. Consider soothing the rough Ďstickí out with a dremel or something like it....carefully.
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Old 06-16-2020, 06:45 PM   #5
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This is one example of why JC uses an air gun rivet tool to ensure it has a proper hard pull and snap. They only have so many of those guns but the tech told me that they only use that for interior rivets to ensure the mandrel doesn't do exactly what your describing.

I two two popped rivets on my 2019 when we were in JC for repairs and I watched them do it directly so I could learn to do it myself.....only problem is....the gun they use is north of $800. I plan to get one, but @$400 a rivet for cleanliness, I'll let JC do with while it is under warranty.

We have another popped rivet which they will replace when we go in July.
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Old 06-16-2020, 07:03 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Globie64 View Post
Are the other rivets smooth or do they have the mandrel hole? You can get a rivet shaver, another pricy but satisfying tool, and clean up the mandrel that way. Vintage RV sells them- omg, I just saw the price! I've made great use of mine, but it was less than half the cost... https://vintagetrailersupply.com/sha...ivets-vts-177/
That rivet shaver is only for 5/32 Olympic rivets used on the outside, not 1/8 pop rivets. Just tap the broken mandrill lightly and it will move in and not affect the strength at all. They are meant to break off not pull right out.
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Old 06-16-2020, 08:21 PM   #7
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Thanks to all for the info and advice. I think I'll try Shacksman's suggestion to gently tap the mandrel remnant in and see if it works. I'm a bit hesitant about using anything powered as I might end up with a worse situation than I have currently!
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Old 06-16-2020, 08:30 PM   #8
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good luck, please let us know how it works out!
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Old 06-17-2020, 12:12 AM   #9
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good luck, please let us know how it works out!
Thanks. I did try tapping the mandrel remnant in with a hammer and small punch, but without success.

When the tool broke it off it appears the mandrel got "pinched" so that it's no longer perfectly round and maybe for that reason won't recede easily into the rivet head. Anyway, I didn't want to press my luck by rapping on it too forcefully so after a few tries I decided to let it be.

With hundreds of rivets in the ceiling I'll likely be the only one to ever notice that one looks a little different than the others. At least I've learned something from the experience.
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Old 06-17-2020, 08:47 AM   #10
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Other suggestions: get a small file and file the burr off the mandrel. Or, get a drill bit the size of the hole and drill out that rivet and put another one in.

Disclaimer that while I have put in and drilled out a good number of rivets in my time, I have not done so in the interior of my Airstream. I have about 3 or 4 I need to put in where the heads have popped off.
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Old 06-17-2020, 09:00 AM   #11
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You can also use a Dremel with a stone grinder with a fine point and GENTLY AND SLOWLY remove the burr that way.

Just enough to hit the mandrel and maybe the rivet edge...with then can be metal polished and no one will ever tell/see the difference.
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Old 06-17-2020, 11:02 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Al U. Minium View Post
Other suggestions: get a small file and file the burr off the mandrel. Or, get a drill bit the size of the hole and drill out that rivet and put another one in.

Disclaimer that while I have put in and drilled out a good number of rivets in my time, I have not done so in the interior of my Airstream. I have about 3 or 4 I need to put in where the heads have popped off.
I do appreciate the suggestions and I've considered drilling out and starting over. But after reading a couple of the replies here it sounds like unless I use the special $800 tool, I might go to all the trouble, risk making things worse, and end up with the same result.


Quote:
Originally Posted by kittmaster View Post
You can also use a Dremel with a stone grinder with a fine point and GENTLY AND SLOWLY remove the burr that way.

Just enough to hit the mandrel and maybe the rivet edge...with then can be metal polished and no one will ever tell/see the difference.
Although I can feel the burr with my finger it's not really noticeable. The issue (if you want to call it that) is that all of the other interior rivets have a hole in the center, while "my" rivet doesn't because the broken end of the mandrel is stuck in it. So, deburring and polishing won't really fix the visual "problem".

Maybe I can turn a lemon into lemonade and make a game of it; challenge visitors to see how long it takes them to find the interior rivet without the hole!
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Old 06-17-2020, 01:53 PM   #13
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Let it be. Have a cool one and move on.
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Old 06-17-2020, 03:31 PM   #14
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This is only likely to happen once for every 100 rivets you replace. You were very unlucky to have it happen 1st time. Drilling it out with a 1/8 bit is quite easy, just tap the mandrel back into the hole and carefully drill it out and start again. I use a cheap Harbor Freight rivet tool and this has happened to me only a handful of times. To be honest, I think it has more to do with the quality of the rivet than the tool.

FWIW, for those of you who are experiencing regularly popped rivets, the likely cause is a rough-riding trailer. I dropped my tire pressures from the max 80 psi to 65 psi and that pretty much stopped the breaking interior rivets.
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Old 06-17-2020, 05:04 PM   #15
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Life in the river lane

Expect interior rivets rivets to pop. Our 2013 will show me one or two loose or popped rivets from time time. Rough roads and time are likely to be behind it. A manual rivet tool is fine. Just take your time and be diligent to replace the rivets as soon as they are evident. The interior panels can move a bit when a rivet is missing. Itís just part of Airstreaming.
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Old 06-17-2020, 07:52 PM   #16
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This is only likely to happen once for every 100 rivets you replace. You were very unlucky to have it happen 1st time. Drilling it out with a 1/8 bit is quite easy, just tap the mandrel back into the hole and carefully drill it out and start again. I use a cheap Harbor Freight rivet tool and this has happened to me only a handful of times. To be honest, I think it has more to do with the quality of the rivet than the tool.
Well, that figures....

I've tried tapping the mandrel back into the hole but it won't budge. Since it's protruding very slightly from the rivet head I'm concerned that if I try to drill it out the drill bit might slip and I'll have a much worse problem than I do now.
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Old 06-17-2020, 09:23 PM   #17
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Well, that figures....

I've tried tapping the mandrel back into the hole but it won't budge. Since it's protruding very slightly from the rivet head I'm concerned that if I try to drill it out the drill bit might slip and I'll have a much worse problem than I do now.


Rather than drilling out the rivet head and risk panel damage, itís very easy and effective to just knock the head off with a sharp wood chisel. Then you can push the rivet body out of the hole (I use an ice pick).
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Old 06-18-2020, 02:11 AM   #18
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You have to take a 1/8th drill bit and drill out the remnants of the broken rivet first. Then apply the new rivet. I just replaced one over my dinette two weeks ago in my 2020 Classic.
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Old 06-18-2020, 05:55 AM   #19
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Other suggestions: get a small file and file the burr off the mandrel. Or, get a drill bit the size of the hole and drill out that rivet and put another one in.

Disclaimer that while I have put in and drilled out a good number of rivets in my time, I have not done so in the interior of my Airstream. I have about 3 or 4 I need to put in where the heads have popped off.
Careful here, you can make a "small" burr on the rivet with a drill or Dremel/ die grinder/3m pad, into a "large" drill skip skid mark.

Try the centre punch trick first.

Also put some masking tape around it as cheap insurance if you skip off to the side, it might buy you space.

Like the saying goes something like this:

" I only wanted to drain the swamp, I didn't want to be up to my a$$ in alligators"
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Old 06-18-2020, 01:53 PM   #20
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Is it possible you were not able to get the rivet in and through the frame thus the mandrel had less material to compress, thus stick out.. Dremel and small stone grinder, is a good idea. You don’t need a $800. Tool, practice on some scrap metal, its not that difficult.
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