To rivet or not to rivet? - Page 2 - Fiberglass RV


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Old 05-03-2015, 04:12 PM   #15
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The backing washers should match the rivet used both in material and size. If you are wanting to use something like leather or rubber it will just squeeze out as the rivet pops or, certainly, not to much later. The plastic "Cups" used on the outside for holding caps in place, usually hold up, but have been known to split and certainly would if used with anything like a stainless steel pop-rivet as it will exert a lot higher pressure on it before popping.
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Old 05-03-2015, 04:31 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by CBinID View Post
Is there a more durable option for washers when using aluminum rivets? Like thin rubber or leather or??? I"ll be reinstalling the cupboards and seats in my Scamp and this very topic has been on my mind.


Cathy
Early Scamps were built with conventional pop-rivets without caps, illustrating the fact that tight conventional pop-rivets do not leak.

About 35 years ago cosmetic caps and washers were added.
The way to preserve the washers and keep the rivets tight, is to replace the caps before the washers are exposed to the sun. The caps get grainy with sun exposure and turn gray before they start to crumble, so there is plenty of notice and all the caps can be replaced in about 30 minutes for about 20 dollars.

While an occasional rivet may break from stress or exposure to extremely rough terrain, preserving the washers by prudent and timely cap replacement will prevent 90 percent of rivet looseness or failure.
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Old 05-05-2015, 08:32 AM   #17
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If you own a new trailer with rivets you're a potential victim to leaks. Just buy plenty of snap caps, rivets and silicone. You'll have them when you need them. I think Scamp sells the "kits" now....

Ironically, if I buy another fiberglass trailer, I'm going with the Escape to escape ALL the rivets. Scamp even uses them to install CURTAIN RODS. In my opinion, that is ludicrous and so unnecessary!!

You need to have all the opinions and not just the ones that havent had any trouble. Mine was bought new at the factory 2010 Standard model. And I lost what I consider 2 MAJOR rivets at my closet that seeped water in during a trip home. This was when it was 3 yo. I have photo proof at the bottom of this post. I replaced them with #10 bolts and nyloc nuts. I just had ANOTHER rivet loosen on my top galley cabinet and was leaking! My Scamp is used apx 3-4 times a year. The rest of the time it's stored under a carport out of the sun. We just had ANOTHER large discussion of these rivets on another topic. One of the problems of loosening is, they "sandwich" the insulation and ratfur in between the two pieces of fiberglass- cabinet/shell. You may not have a rivet to "fail" and break, but it can loosen. You'll hear "User induced". That's hogwash. No one will try and take better care of their trailer than I will. They're still fiberglass with rivets.

Keep in mind Floyd's trailer is the "Deluxe" with the wooden interior. The wooden interior cabinets are held in place by screws, not rivets. So he couldnt have a rivet failure on the cabinet mounts. Just saying... Aint bashing Floyd's trailer... I've seen it and we've argued "Ford/Chevy". He's a "master" of knowledge on the Scamp but we DO disagree on the rivets and will. Anyway, the wooden interior is also beautiful...but my wife didnt care for it...too dark she says.

Here's my closet issue:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/503516...7633366995497/
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Old 05-05-2015, 09:43 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by Darral T. View Post
If you own a new trailer with rivets you're a potential victim to leaks. Just buy plenty of snap caps, rivets and silicone. You'll have them when you need them. I think Scamp sells the "kits" now....

Ironically, if I buy another fiberglass trailer, I'm going with the Escape to escape ALL the rivets. Scamp even uses them to install CURTAIN RODS. In my opinion, that is ludicrous and so unnecessary!!

You need to have all the opinions and not just the ones that havent had any trouble. Mine was bought new at the factory 2010 Standard model. And I lost what I consider 2 MAJOR rivets at my closet that seeped water in during a trip home. This was when it was 3 yo. I have photo proof at the bottom of this post. I replaced them with #10 bolts and nyloc nuts. I just had ANOTHER rivet loosen on my top galley cabinet and was leaking! My Scamp is used apx 3-4 times a year. The rest of the time it's stored under a carport out of the sun. We just had ANOTHER large discussion of these rivets on another topic. One of the problems of loosening is, they "sandwich" the insulation and ratfur in between the two pieces of fiberglass- cabinet/shell. You may not have a rivet to "fail" and break, but it can loosen. You'll hear "User induced". That's hogwash. No one will try and take better care of their trailer than I will. They're still fiberglass with rivets.

Keep in mind Floyd's trailer is the "Deluxe" with the wooden interior. The wooden interior cabinets are held in place by screws, not rivets. So he couldnt have a rivet failure on the cabinet mounts. Just saying... Aint bashing Floyd's trailer... I've seen it and we've argued "Ford/Chevy". He's a "master" of knowledge on the Scamp but we DO disagree on the rivets and will. Anyway, the wooden interior is also beautiful...but my wife didnt care for it...too dark she says.

Here's my closet issue:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/503516...7633366995497/

As a fleet mechanic, I learned that absolutely everything breaks sooner or later.
Your trailer is beautiful and well made and I understand that you had a couple of rivet breaks on your bulkhead wall due to stress and did good repairs.
I fail to see how that experience could result in an indictment of a system which has 45 years of proven success.
True...My camper is a Deluxe, but I have also owned dozens of Fiberglass trailers of most types and seen every form of failure on them as well as on many many owned by others.
My conclusion remains the the same... This is a non-issue.

I look forward to your purchase of an Escape. I am sure you will provide the same objective critique for prospective Escape buyers as you now provide for Scamp owners.
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Old 05-05-2015, 11:47 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by Darral T. View Post

Ironically, if I buy another fiberglass trailer, I'm going with the Escape to escape ALL the rivets.

]
Hummm you will soon discover once you taking possession of your new Escape the above is not true!

Like every other fiberglass trailer made the Escape does indeed use rivets. No not as many as a Scamp does but it does have rivets and you will also need to keep a supply of rivets of various lengths on hand and learn to use a rivet gun if you wish to maintain your future Escape or do any modification/upgrades to outside fixtures just as a Scamp owner will need to.

Don't get me wrong I think the Escape is indeed a very nice trailer but my top ten list of reasons for wanting one does not actually include the fact it has fewer rivets as my experience in owning an older Scamp for a number of years now suggest the extra rivets used in the build of them is not the big issue that some make them out to be.

As far as folks wanting a more robust rivet or replacing the rivet with some other mechanism for securing I would suggest that there is no need to reinvent the trailer! Years and years of use of the trailers have proven that aluminum rivets are the best product to use for the application. Anything stronger and you run a risk in cracking or breaking the fiberglass. Far better that a cheap rivet breaks & takes five minutes to replace than have the trailer do a big flex (and it will - even when just driving down the road) than have the fiberglass it is holding together crack or break due to the use of some stronger fasteners than aluminum.

If you want to test out just how much a fiberglass trailer will flex try parking it on a real uneven surface with trailer on a big side slant one wheel up much higher than the other and see how well the door opens or closes.
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Old 05-05-2015, 11:57 AM   #20
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Have you tested or have proof that more secure fasteners will "crack or break" the fiberglass??? If you do, I want to see it.

[QUOTE=Carol H;520156]

As far as folks wanting a more robust rivet or replacing the rivet with some other mechanism for securing I would suggest that there is no need to reinvent the trailer! Years and years of use of the trailers have proven that aluminum rivets are the best product to use for the application. Anything stronger and you run a risk in cracking or breaking the fiberglass. Far better that a cheap rivet breaks & takes five minutes to replace than have the trailer do a big flex (and it will - even when just driving down the road) than have the fiberglass it is holding together crack or break due to the use of some stronger fasteners than aluminum.
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Old 05-05-2015, 12:27 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by floyd View Post
Early Scamps were built with conventional pop-rivets without caps, illustrating the fact that tight conventional pop-rivets do not leak. About 35 years ago cosmetic caps and washers were added. The way to preserve the washers and keep the rivets tight, is to replace the caps before the washers are exposed to the sun…
Now that's interesting, Floyd. The caps do not last long in my area (high altitude combined with lots of sun). I have also found them a nuisance when I am waxing the trailer.

What would you (and others) think about skipping the washers and caps when I replace a couple of rivets this year?
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Old 05-05-2015, 01:08 PM   #22
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Truthfully, I stuck to "rivets" on the Escape vs Scamp because of the ongoing "riveting" conversation we're having. And you're right...I shouldnt have used "all".

But, in reality, on the Scampers Yahoo group, I sent out a list of problems/issues I had to deal with on my new Scamp that would be a deal-breaker on the next purchase vs the Escape. Wont go into the list other than give a couple of examples: One was the door seal...which I think they're NOW putting the new "lip" seal on. Second was the wiring/breaker they used on my Coleman A/C w/heat strip. The Coleman manual calls for 20A wire/breaker. I called Kent Eveland's hand and told him they're using 15A and asked why. He said they'd never read that and he didnt know it. What??????

In all fairness, I realize NO manufacturer or RV is perfect. I'd ACTUALLY prefer an "Oliver" (30 miles from me) but they're WAYYY out of my league in pricing!
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Old 05-05-2015, 01:36 PM   #23
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McMaster again (my favorite toy store).

These are closed end rivets (water can't seep in around the mandrel) and sealant under the outside domed flange.
McMaster-Carr
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Old 05-05-2015, 02:13 PM   #24
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I really don't get the issue. Screws strip or rust solid, bolts seize or work loose, rivets can pull out or work loose. Any of these are an annoying part of all things mechanical.

ANY opening can and probably has leaked at some point in time for someone if not for you. I would suggest just getting a tarp and avoid all things mechanical but the grommets rip out on those and don't get me started on pole and stake epic failures. Sigh, guess we pays our money and takes our chances.

BTW - Steve thanks for that suggestion and source
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Old 05-05-2015, 02:39 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by Darral T. View Post
Have you tested or have proof that more secure fasteners will "crack or break" the fiberglass??? If you do, I want to see it.
Here's the thing Darral - I don't need to prove it! Over many years the builders & their research and development teams have done it for me. Having spent my life around fiberglass boats as well as the last 25 years around fiberglass campers and another 9 with fiberglass trailers, I have seen many an example of what happens when someone takes a flexible object such as 1/8" to 1/4" thick fiberglass such as what most of the walls of our trailers are and affixes it to a less flexible object restricting movement.

As far as cracking on trailers go - YUP I have seen it on a couple of trailers at various trailer meets I attend each year were someone decided to reinvent the trailer and use SS bolts and nuts rather than rivets. Sorry I did not take pictures of it and sadly like many other such incidents when someone does something that others had advised the party was a bad idea they all to often fail to report back here as to how it worked out. Will leave it to you to decide why that may be.

More importantly even if I did take a photo of it I would not embarrassing the party further by publicly shaming them here by posting photos of the mistake made on their trailer without their blessing to do so.

But as you are wanting pictures here are a few links to information that is already out in the the public domain that you may find of interest. It shows what can happen on fiberglass when affixed to something that does not flex.

CBOC Marine - Fiberglass Repair Part 2

For those who can't be bothered to do much reading on the topic the following is short explanation as to why cracks can and will happen in fiberglass taken from the above link of CBOC Marine - Fiberglass Repair Part 2 :

"Stress cracks are those nasty spider web looking cracks that occur a point of impact or where there is movement in the fiberglass deck or hull. Movement means an area were a stiff or built up area of lamination meets an area of less lamination. When the material tries to flex stress cracks appear along this line. These types of cracks often occur in a tight radius, under cleats, or at the back edge of your swim platform. What are they? This is were the base fiberglass material under the gel coat has fractured, when a really bad stress crack occurs the gel coat will start to flake away exposing the pink material under the gel coat layer. When you stress or impact the surface of the boat stress cracks will show up, either in the weakest locations or the locations that are overbuilt. Boat fiberglass lamination construction is a fine art between to thin and too thick. If the material is too thick it will shatter like window glass, it has no give or flexibility. If the material is to thin it will crack from lack of lamination or voids in the lamination process create a reduction of material strength and bond."


While minor surface stress cracks in gelcoat itself is not a big deal if they become anymore than that they can create a MUCH bigger problem. So you really do not want to do anything that may help create even minor cracks in the first place. As clearly explained on the webpage passagemaker.com. A short bit from that website explains why: " When gelcoat becomes damaged, however, either in the form of stress cracks or due to impact or other stress, its aesthetic appeal is obviously diminished. However, does this also diminish its ability to resist water absorption? In fact, this is, or should be, of less concern; for the most part gelcoat is cosmetic, and it has no structural properties what so ever. If, on the other hand, the damage is more than skin deep, if the cracks penetrate the laminate, then it’s another matter entirely. Water may enter the fiberglass laminate as well as core material beneath."

Keep in mind that that boats historically are made with a much thicker fiberglass than what most of our trailers regardless of brand. Thus the fiberglass on our trailers is going to flex more when under way than what one would expect to see on a boat.

While fully appreciate that you have had an issue with two rivets in a high stress area on your 4 year old trailer leaking. I also agree its not fun to have to deal with something like that but not so sure I would be so fast as to want to reinvent the trailer by using a product that the manufacture does not use.

If it was mine I would be trying to determine all the possible reason why it has happened and talk to the trailer manufacture to find out what they suggest be used/done to possible correct the problem if you have not already done so. It could be the original rivet used in that area was to small of diameter in relationship to the size of the hole that was drilled - that is a very common reason for a rivet to leak - it allows to much movement and the rivet rubs to much against the fiberglass creating an even larger hole. Or perhaps the holes that were drilled for the two parts that are being affixed together where not perfectly aligned putting more pressure on the rivet in a high stress area, than would be if they were perfectly aligned or it prevented the rivet from going on perfectly straight which prevented the cap from sitting perfectly flat on the trailer.

Not wishing to argue the point with you simple sharing with you why I would not assume the cause of the problem was simple due to the manufactures choose of product used to attach the two parts. Historically there is nothing to support that theory, as one only has to look at how many 20 and 30 year old trailers made by the same manufacturer that are still on the road today that have the original attachment still on them and have never have had a leak or break in that same location.

As with all things in life its entirely up to you to come to your own opinion as to the how comes and why and with all things in life YMMV.
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Old 05-05-2015, 03:04 PM   #26
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Obviously from the reading, just because you use a bolt rather than a rivet doesnt mean total catastrophe NOR cause! I've seen the hairline cracks in my Scamp LONG before rivet failures and even the Scamp manual tells you to expect some. But where I repaired my closet, we'll see. It's bolted. Dont forget, Scamp attaches their awning with bolts. To secure my awning, they used FOUR 1/4-20 bolts with locknuts! (That's also in the Flickr photos)

Hmmm...do you wonder why they didnt use rivets??? They've never came or worked loose. And that awning is HEAVY. THAT is why I chose bolts on the closet. Maybe I'm wrong but only time will tell. (I DID use Stainless Steel bolts washers- no rust)

Here's the clincher folks... sit tight... in a few years, we'll be 3D "PRINTING" out our own trailers with the cabinets pre-installed...no seams, no rivets, no bolts... Sounds far-fetched?? Maybe. But it will happen!
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Old 05-05-2015, 03:15 PM   #27
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I plan to do away with the plastic caps and since I am installing wood cabinets I will be using stainless screws like these

With stainless washers like this:

These will be almost flush and I will counted sink the fiberglass for the washers and screws to fit flush and fill the void with butyl rubber putty before installing the screws.
These are used on aircraft and hold up very well in a very harsh environment.
For those pesky places where one might need a rivit then I plan to use stainless countersunk machine screws with the same washers and sealant with elastic stop nuts on the inside with washers to spread the load.
I have spent the last weeks finding all of the holes in my Scamp and now to fiberglass/bondo over all of the holes I won't be using.
I have cleaned, primed and painted the inside and replaced the floor woth 3/4" plywood fiberglassed top, bottom and sides and screwed and bonded to the repaired frame.
If I had not fiberglassed the floor completely then it would have already been ruined from the leaks I had not yet found.
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Old 05-05-2015, 07:45 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by Darral T. View Post

Hmmm...do you wonder why they didnt use rivets??? They've never came or worked loose. And that awning is HEAVY. THAT is why I chose bolts on the closet. Maybe I'm wrong but only time will tell. (I DID use Stainless Steel bolts washers- no rust)
LOL actually on mine the bolts for the awning are the only fasteners I have ever had to replace located on the roof or upper body of the trailer due to leaking


Why might they use bolts on the awning?

Having had to remove the awning to fix the leaks - the answer is as you point out the awning is heavy and as such to heavy to secure with rivets.

Note the points that the awning is secured with bolts are at far upper corners of the trailer where there is least amount of shell twisting and bending when traveling.

Not to mention as most owners who have scamp awnings and who left them up in windy conditions have found the aluminium awning is more likely to break/fall apart & blow 3 states away before the bolts holding it in place rip out of fiberglass.
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