Rivets, Acorn nuts, Rivnuts etc. - Page 2 - Fiberglass RV


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Old 05-07-2007, 05:43 PM   #15
Con
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Well folks, I see this subject has cropped up again.
Some points I would like to make.
(1) I used matching (10-24) SS acorn nuts with a SS flat washers over the Ensolite on the inside every where. I don't mind the appearance of a nice shiny acorn nut.
(2) I replaced every rivet that penetrated the outer shell. No screws, no rivets through the shell now.
(3) I used soft 3/8"dia. white plastic washers under every SS Truss Head bolt to seal between the head and the shell.
(4) I make thin rubber gaskets to go under every fitting on the outer shell.
(5) I have not had one leak since replacing all the the rivets.
(6) I have not had one nut come loose as yet.
(7) I was able to install almost every bolt and nut by myself simply by reaching through the open door or opening the sliding windows and screens. There where very few I had to get my wife to help me with.
(8) I got rid of as many fittings inside and outside that where plane metal as they rusted and caused stains in the gel coat and the Ensolite. I replaced with as many as I could with SS or alum.

If I bought another trailer I would do it exactly the same way.

A couple of notes of interest.
Our Boler used 3/16" alum. rivet which worked ideal for 10-24 bolts as they are 3/16"dia. A friend of mine has an earlier model Boler and it looks like they used 5/32" rivets so he is replacing his with 8-32 SS Truss Head bolts.

The original acorn nuts Boler used on the pop rivets where for appearance sake only.
Other than that they served no useful purpose. Also the would rust up and stain the Ensolite.

As far as the strength of pop rivets versus bolts cracking or tearing through the fiberglass I think is a non issue. They will both have the same effect as I have seen on snowmobiles, race cars etc.

Most of what I have done has not proved very expensive, just a little time consuming but the end result has been well worth the effort..

PS Donna, Could this thread not be combined with the other one???


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Old 05-07-2007, 07:22 PM   #16
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PS Donna, Could this thread not be combined with the other one???
<moderator hat on>
Con,

I split this group of posts off from the "Tool Kit" thread as it's own thread. I think the subject is unique enough that this one can stand alone. The first one quoted was actually about sealing putty and butyl tape. There's good information in both.

<moderator hat off>

Roger
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Old 05-08-2007, 08:41 PM   #17
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I like Kurt and Ann K's reply and thought there would have been more like it....... there needs to be a weak link because if the trailer flexes you want that rivet to pop.... if it doesn't then the hole where the rivet is MAY get bigger. This is just my educated opinion......
Sort of like a shear pin on a snow blower....put a case hardened bolt in there and you will break gears instead of the shear pin.
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Old 05-08-2007, 11:00 PM   #18
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Of all the wrecked snowmobiles I have rebuilt and sold over the years, and there have been many, plus a few I cracked up myself, plus quads, dirt bikes and fiberglass bodied race cars,
I have yet to see a pop rivet let go or shear off. The only cases were machines that had been wrapped around a tree at high speed or something similar.
If you are going to subject your FG travel trailer to that kind of stress, than it will be a write off. More often then not the rivet will tear through the FG or alum.
That is why I say it is a non issue and is based on years of experience.

A couple of other things I encountered re: pop rivets
The Boler we bought had been stored under cover by the 2 previous owners and we had it under cover also. We were on one trip and there was a fierce rainstorm and I noticed water running down the face of the cabinets. I found the rivets holding the cabinets to the roof were leaking. After we got home I replaced those rivets with SS bolts and thought I should remove the hood over the stove. it was soaking wet between the cabinet and hood. The next time we got caught in a cloud bust there were no leaks.
The other thing with the rivets was that most of them did not penetrate the Ensolite so that water would run through them an build up water blisters behind that Ensolite. Not good!
The reason none of these problems showed up was that that the previous owners had never had the Boler out in rain storm.
I can not stress strongly enough on getting rid of those leaky rivets.
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Old 05-09-2007, 01:16 PM   #19
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Here's a comment of mine from the earlier topic [b]"And a Rivet Runs Through It"
Quote:
I understand the idea of deliberate [b]weak links. My lawn mower uses a couple of plain rivets as shear pins connecting the blade to the motor shaft, so if I hit a hard object they shear and I only need to replace them (for a few cents) rather than having engine or major blade damage. What I don't understand is how cabinets fastened into a trailer should need a weak link. Does the interior of your car fall apart on rough roads?
There's more on this idea of "weak links" in that topic.
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Old 05-09-2007, 06:24 PM   #20
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I am so confused..... ..use aluminum rivets, stainless steel rivets, stainless screws with acorn nuts. the reason i said about the weak link in an earlier post is because i drove those large semi's with the big sleepers made out of all fiberglass...( we call them condo's) but they are somewhat like a fiberlass RV..... What i seen on these big semi's is they use alot of stainless rivets and a large truck really shakes when pulling and they literally shake themselves apart and i have seen these stainless rivets take the rivet hole and make it egg shape lookin ...... I know these fiberglass trailer don't shake nearly as bad but someone who is driving down a washboard road for 25 miles ( like the Apache Trail in Arizona at lake Roosevelt) may be sorry they did. I just wonder if the stainless steel screw with the acorn nut could absorb the shock better with a little rubber washer on the inside sandwiched between a stainless washer?? Anybody ever try this?
I have some loose rivets right now in a 94' Casita and will be watching this thread as i am flexible on my approach.
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Old 05-09-2007, 07:14 PM   #21
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--><div class='quotemain'>
the outside has a white rounded cap on it about the size of a dime. [/quote]

That sounds like a Snap-Cap, they make them for rivets, as well as nut and bolt installations. Gives it a more finished look. www.pro-dec.com sells them. Penny, TX
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Old 05-09-2007, 08:02 PM   #22
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Hi: I too have started changing the pop rivets to S/S bolts and acorn nuts... I have used nylon washers as a buffer against the fiberglass surface and so far have eliminated most of the water leaks...When removing the old pop rivets I noticed that many of them had indented the Fiberglass and probably aided the leaking by allowing the water to puddle around the rivet heads...Also many of the Mandrels had dropped out of the rivets so you could see blue sky through them...not good The cabinet over the dinette hasn't been done and during a recent downpour leaked like a sieve ... I had to extract the water from between the Ensolite and Fiberglass with a syringe ...3/4 of a cup full!!! I just finished installing a MaxxFan and I used S/S phillips screws supplied with the fan and added S/S weather seal washers @ $0.98 ea. for the 16 screws... and auto body seam sealer(black buytl tape) under the fan support ring!!!Waiting for rain to test my work.
Alf S. North shore of Lake Erie
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Old 05-09-2007, 08:46 PM   #23
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Way to go Alf. You won't regret it!
The one thing I haven't redone is the roof vent, it looks pretty sloppy but hasn't leaked as yet. Another thing for my to-do list. I am still working on my above window cabinet.
Ran out of resin.
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Old 05-09-2007, 09:06 PM   #24
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A little more on the "weak link" topic.
We own a 2000 17' Casita. In it's 3rd year, we had 3 aluminum rivets break. These were all upper cabinet support rivets. Above the kitchen vent, we keep coffee cups, coffee and an old stove top toaster. That accounted for one rivet. That same cupboard on the street side accounted for the other two. The contents there are toilet tissue and a few books. The rivet holes had not enlarged or become oval. I used DAP ALEX PLUS 35 yr. caulk on the rivet shaft and then head before installing the cap. No leaks yet in 4 years. No stress cracks in the fiberglass and no more rivet breakage either.
I'm a believer in the "if it ain't broken, don't fix it" school of thought. I've also had fix-it projects backfire when the fix proved too strong for the job and more expensive damage was the result. Figuring out that kind of thing, is why engineers make the big bucks. Parts cost analysis is not their only job. Repair cost analysis must also be figured into the equation.
Please ponder the whole picture when considering "improving" the original design.
That said, there have been improvements in caulking and adhesives since many of our "eggs" were hatched. Even there however, one should use caution so that a new caulking material or adhesive doesn't work too well and make repair a virtual impossibility.

Thanks for providing a topic revealing the different viewpoints. We all learn from such a discussion.

Kurt & Ann K.
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Old 05-09-2007, 09:34 PM   #25
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I`ve been experimenting with the SS machine screws....most have been on the trailer for 4 years and there is no difference in the stress cracks that were there from the POP rivets till now.....on some of the screws I used flat rubber tap washers as a seal under the screw head, and on others I punched washers out of bicycle tire tube.....neither leaks.....On the inside I used SS flat washers and SS hex nuts to initial tighten and then followed with SS acorn nuts as jam nuts and haven`t had any loosen off.....I don`t travel on back roads and stay away from washboard so the trailer is not really straining the screws.....I better not speak too soon, as I haven`t started preparing the 13' for camping yet and think that our first trip will be a long one.....( little too warm here in the cold white north...temp was 32 degrees).... may find a problem but don`t think so, at least hope not,LOL.....Benny
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Old 05-09-2007, 10:09 PM   #26
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Benny....
I think i like the idea of the bicycle tube as a gasket between the stainless steel screw.....and the tap washers...... the tap washers i take it are the flat washers you put inside a faucet to stop the dripping?
The rubber in between while it is great for leaks would also be good for a vibration dampener..........
And the backside SS washer,hex nut, acorn setup is good too.....................

Kurt and ann k......i also like the alex caulk idea too which would be alot easier
But Four years and no problems from both idea's is a pretty good test. thanks for the feedback.
Joe
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Old 05-12-2007, 10:10 PM   #27
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The "weak link" theory is not the real reason rivets are used -- They are used because they keep the cost of manufacture down. If SS hardware and rubber gaskets were used, with the need to adjust the threaded bolt tension and the need to find solutions for the blind applications, both the materials and labor costs would go up. Not sure how the washer and the cap base mate...

I was a proponent of "replace the rivets with rivets" school, but having read of some experience from some of the Scampers group on SS, I would try a few SS bolts.

I have had an original rivet pull through the fiberglass roof in one place (but it doesn't leak because the dab of silicone outside isn't flawed.

BTW, the good solution for an overhead cabinet breaking rivets is not to replace the rivets with stronger fasteners but to drill more holes and install more fasteners to spread the load across more of them and on the fiberglass (and to check the existing rivets to see if any are loose, letting the cabinet "work".
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Old 05-13-2007, 08:31 AM   #28
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Pete is correct in the reasons rivits are used has nothing to do with a weak link necessity. Having been involved in the marine industry in previoues years and familiar with fiberglas boat and yacht manfacturing I know rivits are used in the lower cost units to save labor and the expense of threaded stainless fastners. Fiberglas boats are subjected to much more stress than the average fiberglas egg and the better and high quality boats use stainless/threaded fasteners for their greater strength and durability especially where two surface are joined together such as the hull deck joint. A stainless bolt and retainer properly installed on a fiberglas trailer is almost always a better long-term soloution than an aluminum rivit. The rivits will suffice for most of us - it does not mean they are a superior fastner. Martin
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