Replacing rivets? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 02-08-2012, 06:42 PM   #1
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Name: Dave and Shelly
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Replacing rivets?

How do i know if i need to replace my rivets? Alot of my caps are gone and the clear ring around the outside edge is pretty brittle. I e mailed Larry at little house customs and he said the only proper way to get the snaps on is to replace the rivets. Do we just drill out the old ones and replace with new ones from little house customs? Does the clear snap thingy go on after the rivet is thru? Then the cap? Is it hard to do? Have you ever had it split the fiberglass? I am so confused!
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Old 02-09-2012, 06:41 PM   #2
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On my Scamp the clear plastic 'cup' goes on the rivet before it is installed. I suspect it provides some 'cushioning effect and aid in water repellency as well as a seat for the plastic caps. When re-doing the rivets on my Scamp I drilled out the old rivet heads & pulled the rivet bodies from inside the trailer. I seated the clear plastic 'cups' on the rivet (not an easy job as the holes in the cups are undersized when mated with the correct size rivet) with the cup against the rivet head, dabbed a little acrylic sealer around the rivet tube, inserted & set the rivet (I added a little redundancy here; my wife held an appropriate sized washer on the rivet from inside while I 'set' the rivet), then added a little more sealer to the rivet head & installed the cap. So far thru some 'high pressure' water hose tests & a couple of severe T'storms none have leaked
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Old 02-09-2012, 07:51 PM   #3
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Thanks harvey!

It really scares me to replace rivets on a camper that isn;t currently leaking. DH is feeling the same way. Does anyone just ad some of the fiberglass caulking that everyone talks about and put a cap over it? I would guess it would be safe to do it on the ones that already have decent snap left. Or would everyone say that it is better to redo everything at once?
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Old 02-09-2012, 09:18 PM   #4
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It really scares me to replace rivets on a camper that isn;t currently leaking. DH is feeling the same way. Does anyone just ad some of the fiberglass caulking that everyone talks about and put a cap over it? I would guess it would be safe to do it on the ones that already have decent snap left. Or would everyone say that it is better to redo everything at once?
Being relatively new to fiberglass RV's I'm hesitant to make a recommendation. Were it me however, if I didn't have ANY leaks at all, I'd use the Lexel sealer around the rivet heads & to help hold new caps in place. If you should develop a leak it'd be a fairly easy job to replace that rivet. Dunno how other trailers are built rivet wise but in my scamp it was relatively easy to see when water was coming in around the rivet. The 'acorn nut' (or just the expanded end of the rivet) would begin to discolor even before starting to rust. I just replaced the rivet where I saw any evidence of water/discoloration. In my case quite a lot of the caps were missing & in some cases the 'cup' was also broken so I just replaced those rivets also even when they didn't appear to be leaking.
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Old 02-09-2012, 09:40 PM   #5
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It really scares me to replace rivets on a camper that isn;t currently leaking. DH is feeling the same way. Does anyone just ad some of the fiberglass caulking that everyone talks about and put a cap over it? I would guess it would be safe to do it on the ones that already have decent snap left. Or would everyone say that it is better to redo everything at once?
The first one is the nerve racking one! After that it will seem pretty simple. Buy a good rivet gun. Its a two man job. Use a smaller drill bit than the hole that is there and have someone hold the inside part with a pair of pliers to keep the rivet from spinning. The person on the inside also gets to hold what ever you are shooting the new rivet into - in the case of my Scamp its a acorn nut.
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Old 02-09-2012, 11:49 PM   #6
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I've re furbished 6 or 7 FB trailers since I retired.
If there is any clear ring left and the rivet is not loose or leaking I simply fill a Rivet Cap with a FG compatible caulking and put it back over the rivet.
I use Dicor lap sealant for almost everything on my trailers.
Dicor is available at most RV stores.
John
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Old 02-10-2012, 08:01 AM   #7
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Thank you everyone. Maybe i will get more brave once spring gets here. I need to order a kit and caps anyway just in case of a leak. And like Carol says once we do the first one and see that everything is ok maybe it will be a breeze after that! Thanks again!
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Old 02-10-2012, 02:19 PM   #8
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The idea of removing and redoing rivets really scares me. That was one reason I sold my last 2 campers. I saw what Shelly is seeing and I got rid of the trailer before I had any problems. Also another reason for my looking at stickys as well as Casita's. I am not a repair person. Wonder if camping world or other RV places fix rivet problems? Shelly, good luck and let me know if rivet fixing is easy or not. :-)
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Old 02-10-2012, 02:56 PM   #9
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Depending on where in the country (UVs) maintenance is about every five years to replace the caps. It's best to do it before needed, not after they've disintergrated. If done before damage to the underlying clear "gasket" happens, you don't need to use any caulk. There's a reason the white buttons (caps) are called snap caps.

Karalyn, you do know you are only trading rivets for seams... right.... in looking at stick built trailers? There isn't a trailer made that doesn't require maintenance. At least with molded you know they hold their value.
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Old 02-10-2012, 04:37 PM   #10
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True Donna, they do hold their value. Seams do not need replacing like rivets though, and I just do not know how to do rivets. I suppose someone at a fiberglass meet somewhere could show me. I bet Floyd knows how to replace them. :-) Are you saying that if replacing the caps every 5 yrs or so, the rivets may never have to be replaced????
Yep, all campers have issues. I have been online looking all day at options. I went to the camping show in Minnepolis yesterday and the stickys are so much roomier. I only really need a place for about 3 people to sleep and still think I may get better gas mileage with the Casita. I have asked a couple of other questions today on the board re Casita tongue wt etc. My heart is still with the Casita as it is easier to haul (I think)
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Old 02-10-2012, 06:45 PM   #11
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True Donna, they do hold their value. Seams do not need replacing like rivets though, and I just do not know how to do rivets. I suppose someone at a fiberglass meet somewhere could show me. I bet Floyd knows how to replace them. :-) Are you saying that if replacing the caps every 5 yrs or so, the rivets may never have to be replaced????
Yep, all campers have issues. I have been online looking all day at options. I went to the camping show in Minnepolis yesterday and the stickys are so much roomier. I only really need a place for about 3 people to sleep and still think I may get better gas mileage with the Casita. I have asked a couple of other questions today on the board re Casita tongue wt etc. My heart is still with the Casita as it is easier to haul (I think)
True - your don't replace the seams. When the seams leak - after about 4 or 5 years - you replace the whole trailer! (That's why I'm into glass now after having a sticky as my first one!)
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Old 02-10-2012, 06:56 PM   #12
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My brother bought a brand new monster fifth wheel. Two years later, the entire roof had to be removed and two walls in the nose section pulled out. Water had leaked from the roof seams into the insulation (batting?) He didn't know it was leaking until the fiberglass side started to bulge at the bottom. Fortunately it was 100% covered under warranty. But, he's never felt the same about the trailer and wonders what is going to let go next.

Karayln, buy a good rivet gun and a box of aluminum rivets. Go to the dollar store and buy a flexible cutting board or some other thing of thin plastic. Punch a couple of holes and practice. It's NOT hard..... OR, replace all the rivets you want... when you need to with stainless steel screws and acorn nuts, a number of people have done that. There ARE options and you CAN do it!
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Old 02-10-2012, 07:54 PM   #13
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Yikes Donna, your brother was lucky his rig was under warantee. I guess I will keep looking for my Casita. I am beginning to think I should have kept my Scamp even though I needed a stool to reach the toilet.
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Old 02-10-2012, 08:20 PM   #14
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Karalyn, whatever brand of molded towable you get... you will be ahead of a lot of other people. AND, you have the support of all the active members of this forum in your corner when you have questions.
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