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Old 05-03-2010, 05:23 PM   #1
slk
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Elk River , Minnesota
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Skin repair

I have all of the pannels to replace the skin on my 1996 Excella. I am looking at the pop rivit shaving tool and the rivits to do this job my self.

I need an honest opinion and possible so good insight on how to start this job. I am very mechanicaly inclined. How hard is this job. I have 2 panels in the front right corner (bottom and next one up from it). The rib next to the door seams to have been pushed over about 3/8". I am thinking i could pull the window next to it and put a 2x4 in and pull with a come-a-long a little at a time to get it alligned again.

I called airstream here and they want $800 a pannel to do the job, not counting trying to straighten the door.

I feel confident I can fix it I just need a little guidance.

What size rivites do I need also???

Thanks
Steve
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Old 05-03-2010, 05:47 PM   #2
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I'll be interested in the responses you get, since most of the panels on both end caps of my trailer were damaged by hail. I'm especially concerned about:

- Removing the old panels, since they are held on by rivits, sealant, and thermal-barrier tape... how do you get them off?
- What holes are present in the new panels? Will they match up with the old holes, or were the rivit holes drilled by hand?
- Some of my panels were replaced by the mothership earlier, and now get to be replaced again. Is there a special process to remove shaved rivits?

It would be great to have a detailed, photographed, step-by-step guide to panel replacement.
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Old 05-03-2010, 06:02 PM   #3
slk
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I agree. I wish there were some step-by-step ones out there.

Hey we are neighbors as the crow flys.

Steve
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Old 05-03-2010, 06:14 PM   #4
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We did skin repairs on three trailers and have pictures and basic "How To" steps in my "It's a girl!!!" thread starting about post #227. Different era trailer - but the steps are the same. If you are not removing the interior panels, you will use Olympic rivets - we did this on the two '64 GlobeTrotters and used buck rivets on our '56 Safari. The way we removed the panel is first drill out all the rivets and push the shanks in with a spring loaded center punch, then get an old cheap (Goodwill, ARC, Thrift Store) knife and slide it between the panels and cut the sealant all the way around the panel. It's not easy, but the panels will eventually loosen and come apart.

We were fortunate not to have to do the end caps, but the removal process would be the same.

My posts aren't "step-by"step" of the entire process, but it'll get you going - it's a very rewarding project - we had never done it or seen it done firsthand when we started, but it went very smoothly and is pretty intuitive once you get started. If we can do it > so can you!

If you have any specific questions after looking at my thread references, feel free to ask away - I'll do my best to answer them.

Shari
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Old 05-03-2010, 08:20 PM   #5
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I would add that the Olympic rivets are tough. You can do a few by hand.
For a whole panel, or whole trailer for that matter, invest in a good air riveting tool.
That, and 50 or so Clecos, will make a world of difference in the job.

Good Luck,
Tom.

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Old 05-03-2010, 08:34 PM   #6
slk
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I watched a video of the rivit process and it appears to leave the stem long and you cut it off with end nips. It says you can use a regular rivit gun. Well my rivit gun leaves nothing sticking out it pops them off. I have never used olympic rivits maby they are designed to leave the stem on them.

Any experiance with this???

Steve
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Old 05-03-2010, 08:47 PM   #7
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When an Olympic rivit "pops" it will leave a stem of about 3/8 to 1/2 inch behind. You can then cut them off as you discribed. A rivet shaver will make them look just like a bucked rivet.

I put 40+ in my window side awning. A pneumatic rivet gun was very helpful.
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Old 05-03-2010, 10:50 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slk View Post
I watched a video of the rivet process and it appears to leave the stem long and you cut it off with end nips. It says you can use a regular rivet gun. Well my rivet gun leaves nothing sticking out it pops them off. I have never used olympic rivets maby they are designed to leave the stem on them.

Any experience with this???

Steve
Yeah, Olympic rivets are different than "normal" pop-rivets - they do leave a stem. You can see the stems (& clecos) in this picture



Occasionally, an Olympic Rivet stem will break off below the head of the rivet - if it does, it means it is not installed properly and it must be drilled out and a new one installed in it's place. Out of the 450-500 Olympics we installed on the three trailers, maybe 8-10 (at most) had to be re-installed. They are usually the rivets up against a rib or window/door frame - you learn to turn them so the "legs" open properly. Olympics have three "legs" if they don't all fully compress, the stem breaks off - all correctly installed Olympics need to be "finished" somehow either with a rivet shaver (recommended) or a file or Dremel Tool for one or two at a time.

Like mentioned earlier, while they can be installed with a hand rivet squeezer - a pneumatic rivet gun will make life MUCH easier!

Shari
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Old 05-04-2010, 07:34 AM   #9
slk
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Just looking at the picture here it looks as if you put that sheet on top of the other. Is it wrong to put them under the previous top sheet like if you were doing shingles so the water has no chance of running in.

Also do you leave the rubber gasket on the rivit???

Steve
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Old 05-04-2010, 07:59 AM   #10
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The panel shown above was installed exactly as it was originally from the factory. Due to the style of the window, it overlaps the window frame, but where there was no window, the higher panel overlapped the lower as you suggest "like shingles". It actually depended on the individual trailers - that picture is of the OH built GT, below is our CA built GT - the window frames are different between the two (CA laps under the window frame).

Also attached below is an example of a poorly installed Olympic rivet which was later drilled out and replaced. This one was near a compartment door - the leg hit the frame and failed to allow it to spread out the way it's supposed to, thus the shank broke off too low.

Shari
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Old 05-04-2010, 08:32 AM   #11
slk
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Did you leave the rubber gaskets on the rivits. I see some places where you order them they can come with the rubber gaskets or without. I have heard on this site where some people remove the rubber gasket. Just wondering what workes the best????

Steve
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Old 05-04-2010, 08:38 AM   #12
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We removed them (or bought them without). The reason being that over time, they will dry out, crack and deteriorate ultimately failing to serve their purpose. Instead, we dip each rivet in Vulkem as it was installed, then wipe off the excess before shaving. The Vulkem seals against the skin and as you can see, oozes around the hole - both inside & out much better than the flimsy little "gaskets" do.

Shari
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Old 05-04-2010, 09:39 AM   #13
slk
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Do you use the 1/8" clecos or 5/32 ones. Also are the 5/32" rivits the ones to use on the skin??
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Old 05-04-2010, 09:47 AM   #14
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The Olympic rivets are 5/32"...the clecos are as well. We used the 1/8" rivets & clecos when dealing with bucked rivets on our '56 Safari - but we gutted the entire trailer to do so, it was a MUCH more extensive restoration.

Shari
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Old 05-04-2010, 09:57 AM   #15
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How are the clecos used. Do you put them in as you are drilling the holes so that you can remove the pannel after drilling and clean the burrs. Or do you have to remove the pannel once drilled.
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Old 05-04-2010, 10:11 AM   #16
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Quote:
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How are the clecos used. Do you put them in as you are drilling the holes so that you can remove the pannel after drilling and clean the burrs. Or do you have to remove the pannel once drilled.
Yes, all of the above~

Clecos are used several different ways - they basically are temporary fasteners. We use them to:

1) hold the old panel to the new panel on the plywood table while drilling out the new panel's holes



2) temporarily hold an old panel in place after all the rivets have been drilled out



3) test-fit the new panel before putting sealer between them



4) hold the new panel in place while installing new rivets



5) hold things in place while you remove bits to work on them



6) hold the trim pieces in place while they are being re-installed



7) etc, etc, etc...

They are installed/removed with a pair of special "cleco pliers"...basically, clecos are are invaluable! You will always need about 20 more than you have on hand!

Shari
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Old 05-04-2010, 12:58 PM   #17
slk
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Thank you so much for posting all of your help and pictures. You have been great. You guys look like pro's. I just ordered all of the stuff today to get started. I will keep you posted on my progress. I feel confident, but patience is the best virtue in this project. One thing you made me feel good about is that you are doing all of the work outside. I was concerned. I have a friend with a warehouse and he offered it to me to work on the trailer but all of my tools are here at my house. No mater how much you take with you you will always forget something and have to run back and forth. My shop here at the house is pretty complete. Just don't have the height clearance to move the trailer inside.

Thanks again

Steve
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Old 10-14-2011, 09:27 AM   #18
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Hey Steve,

How did this project turn out?
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