Pop rivet question - Fiberglass RV


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Old 12-08-2012, 02:10 PM   #1
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I'm a first time pop riveter. I'm installing a shelf above the front window in my '82 Burro. It is all built and ready for installation. The burro book shows what to do and it includes "L" brackets installed on the left and right sides in from the front edge a few inches and the back glassed in for support. The brackets are suppose to be held in place with 3/16" rivets through the inside glass wall. (the burro is a double glass wall beast). Testing out the rivets and gun on a piece of wood, I have a problem.

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I can't get the rivet to snap off as the instructions demonstrate. In fact, to get this far - the rivets feel solid - I finally had the gun on the floor bouncing on it for more pressure. Obviously I can't do that on the fiberglass wall. Should it be this difficult?
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Old 12-08-2012, 02:16 PM   #2
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You need to release the rivet gun, slide it down on the rivet a little and resqueeze until the rivet pops
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Old 12-08-2012, 02:22 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas G. View Post
You need to release the rivet gun, slide it down on the rivet a little and resqueeze until the rivet pops


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I've done that - at least 40 times....I am feeling like such a wimp. I really do not want to do screws. Do you think if I bought pipes to extend the handles it would help? It just seems I must be doing something wrong at the basic level.
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Old 12-08-2012, 02:24 PM   #4
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What is the rivet length? Incorrect sizing can yield the result you're experiencing.

Also: you don't mention material of the rivet, but I've found that steel is a real beast to use in a hand riveter.

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Old 12-08-2012, 02:25 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Francesca Knowles View Post
If Thomas's doesn't prove to be the solution:

What is the rivet length? Incorrect sizing can yield the result you're experiencing.

Also: you don't mention material of the rivet, but I've found that steel is a real beast to use in a hand riveter.

Francesca
Ah. I'll bet that's it. I figured I needed stainless steel. Maybe I'll switch out for aluminium.
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Old 12-08-2012, 02:30 PM   #6
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You should use aluminum rivets whenever working on Fiberglass RVs.
I have pretty much that same gun, and find that steel and stainless steel rivets require much more strength to pop, and exert too much pressure on the fiberglass, sometimes crushing it.
It won't hurt the gun or the rivet application if you make a couple of handle extentions using thinwall electrical conduit.
Cut the pieces about 7 or 8" long, oval the ends to fit snuggly over the handles leaving 5 or 6" of handle extention along with the resultant additional leverage.
Also they do make a drill powered riveter.

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Old 12-08-2012, 02:39 PM   #7
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I understand that you're practicing on a piece of wood, but:

What's the total thickness of the wall plus the connecting shelf/hardware? That's your "grip length", and 3/16ths sounds short unless as I mentioned before that's the rivet "size", not length.

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Old 12-08-2012, 02:42 PM   #8
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Francesca has it, go with aluminum rivets and it will be much easier. I'm lazy so I have an air powered rivet gun. There are also ones available with longer handles. Pipe on the handle may work, or it may break your rivet gun. I'm wondering though about using pop rivets in fiberglass, will they crack it. And with the inner and outer shell you can't get to the back side of the rivet to use a washer. Also, be careful with your drill bit and don't go too far and hit the outer shell. Use a piece of tubing or something on the bit as a stop. Only other way you could attach the brackets would be with the plastic inserts and screws. Another caution though, a previous owner of our trailer used too long a screw on the inside and it went right through the outer shell. Darn those previous owners. But they're good to blame for screw ups.
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Old 12-08-2012, 05:40 PM   #9
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Thank you everyone! It is great to have a bunch of go-to people.

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It is in. Yay!! It is not going to hold much, but we don't take a lot and since this was a success, I'll do the other end after our per-Christmas camping trip. The lip is only about half an inch. We'll see if that is enough.
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Old 12-08-2012, 06:10 PM   #10
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Good for you SUE! A shelf holds a bunch of lightweight stuff... it's the travfling-down-the-road with it there that can be problematic. Easily solved by not,leaving it there under tow... but, when you get set Cool!!!!
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Old 12-08-2012, 08:32 PM   #11
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Shelf looks good! I have a Uhaul, so I have pop-riveted. I had already been advised to use aluminum and they were a breeze. This just confirms that I'd have never been able to snap off the stainless steel ones! What's the shelf made from?
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Old 12-08-2012, 08:44 PM   #12
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Beee-you-tee-ful!

I think the best thing about shelves in that position is that you've got someplace to put all the crapola that's on the table/benches when you go to fold it down into a bed.

Here's a lesson that I learned the hard way, though:

Do NOT, under any circumstance, put a "really pretty rock you simply must take home" up there for any length of time. You won't be able to see it when you check the shelf,
and will in fact completely forget about it until you get home from your trip and discover that a window was broken from the inside by the "pretty rock" that jumped off the shelf!

Francesca
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Old 12-08-2012, 11:00 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pam Garlow View Post
Shelf looks good! I have a Uhaul, so I have pop-riveted. I had already been advised to use aluminum and they were a breeze. This just confirms that I'd have never been able to snap off the stainless steel ones! What's the shelf made from?
Pam, I used was 3/8" plywood with "U" shaped aluminum capping the front. I filled it with wood strips to strengthen the length. I used the same "U" metal to form the front to back braces - those are also wood filled. All screwed on place. On the back curved edge I split a PVC pipe and ground out enough along the line to cap the back curved edge then epoxied the pipe in place. Finally I bent "L" brackets to match the burro's curve before pop riveting them in place. :-) so glad it worked!! My previous two attempts to make the shelf fiberglass failed miserably!
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Old 12-09-2012, 08:58 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Sue and Henry View Post
Pam, I used was 3/8" plywood with "U" shaped aluminum capping the front. I filled it with wood strips to strengthen the length. I used the same "U" metal to form the front to back braces - those are also wood filled. All screwed on place. On the back curved edge I split a PVC pipe and ground out enough along the line to cap the back curved edge then epoxied the pipe in place. Finally I bent "L" brackets to match the burro's curve before pop riveting them in place. :-) so glad it worked!! My previous two attempts to make the shelf fiberglass failed miserably!
Looks great - big improvement over the first fiberglassed 14 pounder. Keep an eye on this rivet. If it seems to be tearing out, you can drill a larger hole and use a plastic insert similar to what UHaul uses. (Photo is one for a square hole, but they make them for a round hole as well, sold at auto parts stores).

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