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Old 07-07-2020, 06:23 PM   #1
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1985 31' Sovereign
Lovettsville , Virginia
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Rivet Mystery

Hello all! Iíd like to thank the many members who have provided their knowledge and experiences that I have been enjoying for several years now, and ask for a little more of it for my specific rivet mystery.

I have an Ď85 Sovereign, 31í with twin rear beds. It has been in my family since 1986 or 87 when my grandfather bought it used. It is the subject of a future Full Monty which I am probably 2 years from beginning. Iíve been focusing on learning about rivets lately and while I was taking a closer look at some future work on the airstream today I began questioning what I thought I knew.

I welcome any corrections where I am mistaken. So, I thought that the exterior skins and windows etc. all had bucked rivets and that pop rivets were used on the inside, underbelly, and belt trim at the bottom of the shell where it obviously isnít possible to have a bucking bar on the back side. I question this now because I have found what I believe to be Olympic rivets on the street side. As best I can tell, there are bucked rivets on the curb side as they appear to have slightly lower profile and larger diameter heads. On the front, and wrapping around to the street side rear, I found mostly these. Click image for larger version

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Is this a shaved Olympic rivet that was done poorly? Even at the rear storage hatch, the hatch appears to have bucked rivets on the skin of the hatch door, but the frame appears to have Olympic rivets; am I right?
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Did Airstream use Olympic rivets at some point? Or am I completely mistaken? The other possibility that comes to mind is that this trailer had some significant repairs done at some point, but it would have been before my grandfather purchased it in 1986. If I recall correctly, he bought it directly from the previous owner, so whatís the likelihood that it had the entire street side replaced when it was less than or only a year old?

Any other ideas, or am I completely off base?
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Old 07-07-2020, 06:25 PM   #2
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I believe the Olympic rivets indicate a previous repair. I have never seen them on an unrepaired original trailer.
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Old 07-07-2020, 06:31 PM   #3
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1985 31' Sovereign
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Originally Posted by 66Overlander View Post
I believe the Olympic rivets indicate a previous repair. I have never seen them on an unrepaired original trailer.


Thank you for that exceptionally fast response! So I was correct in my identification of the rivet types?
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Old 07-07-2020, 06:40 PM   #4
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Yes. You can see the end of the center mandrel on the Olympics even after they have been shaved. The bucked rivets have solid caps, so no mandrel.
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Old 07-07-2020, 07:02 PM   #5
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1985 31' Sovereign
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Well, thatís reassuring. Thanks! On one hand, Iím glad I identified them correctly. On the other hand, I now question what happened that needed such extensive repairs and whether my grandfather knew about the repairs when he bought the trailer. He maintained it meticulously until he passed, and I know it had to have been done before he acquired it.

This may just wind up being another one of lifeís great mysteries...
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Old 07-08-2020, 12:56 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 85 Sovereign View Post
Is this a shaved Olympic rivet that was done poorly? Even at the rear storage hatch, the hatch appears to have bucked rivets on the skin of the hatch door, but the frame appears to have Olympic rivets; am I right?
P.S. If you want, you can go back and shave the rivets properly to make them look more like bucked rivets.

Shari
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Old 07-11-2020, 07:31 AM   #7
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1985 31' Sovereign
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P.S. If you want, you can go back and shave the rivets properly to make them look more like bucked rivets.

Shari
Thanks for that idea. Since I'll be removing the interior skins in order to lift the shell (whenever I can finally get this project started) I'll have access to the back side of the rivets. I was thinking, although it would likely be another large undertaking, I'll replace all of them with bucked rivets. My thought is that the bucked rivets would not only look better, but hopefully perform much better as well; I suspect the Olympic rivets on the front left may be the cause of some leaks that necessitate the subflooring replacement. If it turns out that the rivets aren't a failure point, I may not go through all the effort to replace them, but that seems like it would be cutting a big corner compared to all of the other detailed work I am planning on anyway. My thoughts regarding work like this is to always do it right or even better/stronger, even if it takes more time or costs a little more; it usually pays for itself in the long run.
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