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Old 05-28-2015, 10:09 AM   #1
The Sign Lady
 
1969 23' Safari
1974 Argosy 22
1964 24' Tradewind
Victoria , British Columbia
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TheSignLadys tips for finding and repairing leaky rivets + Fixing with Olympic Rivets

OK, I've been meaning to post this one for a while...

Here's a simple but amazing way to find and repair leaky rivets

First I had already visually gone over my trailer and replaced any obviously failing rivets. Then I went over every one of my rivets a few times with Captain Tolley's creeping crack cure, Captain Tolleys is nice because it wicks in under the rivet and seals it, but only if the gap is not too big.

Capt. Tolley's Creeping Crack Cure

Now for the cool part...

Everyone know the concept of how a suction cup works right, apply a suction cup to a smooth surface and it will seal, if you place it on incorrectly and air gets under, there is no seal...so based on that concept I went out to my trailer and went over each rivet one by one. If I tested a rivet with my suction cup and it didn't stay stuck on I knew that air was coming through from under the rivet itself and if air is getting through so can water.

Here is my video showing the process we used to find and repair leaky rivets

https://youtu.be/lYmQsn6DlE4

The suction cups can be found at pretty much any auto repair place

This is the Olympic rivet kit I bought from vintage trailer supply

Olympic Riveting Kit

The rivet remover tool I also bought from VTS
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Old 05-28-2015, 10:22 AM   #2
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Signlady, Nice job on the video.
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Old 05-28-2015, 10:51 AM   #3
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Good job.

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Old 05-28-2015, 11:59 AM   #4
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Nice,
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Old 05-28-2015, 07:42 PM   #5
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Great tip to find the leakers and repair them! Thanks for sharing!
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Old 05-28-2015, 09:39 PM   #6
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very clever!

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Old 05-28-2015, 11:10 PM   #7
cwf
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Nyce job! could really see how the aluminum was deflected inward after you installed the new rivet...

Thanks!
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Old 05-29-2015, 01:16 PM   #8
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I'm gobsmacked at the simplicity of using a suction cup to find leaky rivets! Never though of that one...

And the rest of the video is super useful for understanding how to fix it....

Many thanks for posting this!
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Old 05-29-2015, 10:40 PM   #9
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Brilliant!

Brilliant idea to use a suction cup! I happened to have one of these so just for giggles I checked out some of my rivets. I found several that don't let the suction cup stick, but I don't see any evidence of a leak. So, am I suffering from wishful thinking, or could they be OK? My AS is practically brand new, so I can't imagine that several could already be leaking. And I only checked the reachable ones on one side - heaven knows how many I'd find if I checked all of them.

Thanks,
SallyE
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Old 05-29-2015, 11:40 PM   #10
The Sign Lady
 
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I used the Captain Tolley's creeping crack cure before the suction cup test as I figure it will help seal the really minor air gaps that may be too small to be letting water in. It may not be foolproof test but as I have all the tools to do the repairs quick and easy and it helped me nail down my mystery leaks
:-)
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Old 05-30-2015, 05:40 AM   #11
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Thesignlady - I was wondering about something - did you find any places on your Airstream where the curve of the shell or the indent of the rivet would have prevented a good seal on the suction cup even if the rivet itself would have been fine?

We had ours pressure tested at the factory last year and they found no leaks but I think your process once or twice a season is very good preventative maintenance!
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Old 05-30-2015, 07:16 AM   #12
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Great info and video. Thank you.
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Old 05-30-2015, 09:49 AM   #13
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Great Job!

So glad you are willing to share this with the Airstream Community here! I cannot believe that none of us here have ever thought of this! We are in your debt on this one. It works for all leaky rivets on any age riveted travel trailer not just Airstream! As to the question of if it indicates leaks on new trailers my answer would be that yes it is very likely showing air leakage around even newer rivets. Every time you move the trailer it will flex the panels and therefore loosen the rivets. Perhaps only a minor amount of gap occurs but worth a treatment with Capt. Tolleys. This is a great preventative method of stopping leaks before they happen. Again, thanks so much. Ed
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Old 05-30-2015, 09:58 AM   #14
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clever!!
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Old 05-30-2015, 10:02 AM   #15
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Hi SteveSueMac, yes definitely I had areas where getting the suction cup to play was an obvious issue. Here's where I noticed issues, in some areas I had minor tree branch scratches that affected the seal, some it was mottled clearcoat, and then some areas of the big compound curves in the end caps pretty much matched the profile of the suction cup so it was easy to pull it off as not enough suction was gained. But the most problematic area was the rivets along the overlap seams, It was hard to get the cup placed in between the boundaries of the neighbouring rivets and the cut aluminium edge..the style of suction cup I show in the video is flat in its dormant state and kind of wide for that area. I found it tedious and sometimes impossible to get the cup to work along these edges so I am keeping my eye out for a dent puller my mom had when I was a kid for these areas. Moms kind of looked like a little bathroom plunger with a 2 foot long wood handle and a deep welled suction cup that was only one inch wide, no fancy release lever on that baby, just a good old fasioned suction cup on a stick :-) I'll let you know if I ever find one like it.
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Old 05-30-2015, 12:27 PM   #16
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Great idea!
Thank you!
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Old 09-04-2016, 01:08 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thesignlady View Post
OK, I've been meaning to post this one for a while...

Here's a simple but amazing way to find and repair leaky rivets

First I had already visually gone over my trailer and replaced any obviously failing rivets. Then I went over every one of my rivets a few times with Captain Tolley's creeping crack cure, Captain Tolleys is nice because it wicks in under the rivet and seals it, but only if the gap is not too big.

Capt. Tolley's Creeping Crack Cure

Now for the cool part...

Everyone know the concept of how a suction cup works right, apply a suction cup to a smooth surface and it will seal, if you place it on incorrectly and air gets under, there is no seal...so based on that concept I went out to my trailer and went over each rivet one by one. If I tested a rivet with my suction cup and it didn't stay stuck on I knew that air was coming through from under the rivet itself and if air is getting through so can water.

Here is my video showing the process we used to find and repair leaky rivets

https://youtu.be/lYmQsn6DlE4

The suction cups can be found at pretty much any auto repair place

This is the Olympic rivet kit I bought from vintage trailer supply

Olympic Riveting Kit

The rivet remover tool I also bought from VTS
This video should be utilized in some sort of vintage airstream owners manual! Well done!!!
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Old 10-17-2017, 07:32 PM   #18
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Following your advice, I went over all the rivets that are not on a seam with a small suction cup. To my surprise, I found one that was leaking. Right on the front, below the window. I applied Capt. Tolley's for two days and then checked the rivet again. The suction cup held!

Thanks for the tip.
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