Replacing pop rivets in a Scamp - Fiberglass RV


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Old 09-30-2006, 10:12 PM   #1
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Trailer: 1998 13 ft Scamp
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I have a few loose pop rivets - the ones that penetrate the shell, and mount the interior cabinets. They have plastic buttons over the formed head on the outside of the trailer, and the previous owner has applied silicone sealer to them, in an effort, I assume, to stop or prevent leaks. I was thinking of replacing them with stainless steel screws with sealing washers under the head on the outside of the shell, and nuts on the inside. Then I thought, I wonder if there is some reason that they used aluminum pop rivets in the first place - maybe so the fastener would break before structural damage would occur (in other words, maybe the screw would pull through the shell in some extreme circumstance). Guess a call to the Scamp factory may be in order here.

Has anyone out there done this before??
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Old 09-30-2006, 11:21 PM   #2
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I have a few loose pop rivets - the ones that penetrate the shell, and mount the interior cabinets. They have plastic buttons over the formed head on the outside of the trailer, and the previous owner has applied silicone sealer to them, in an effort, I assume, to stop or prevent leaks. I was thinking of replacing them with stainless steel screws with sealing washers under the head on the outside of the shell, and nuts on the inside. Then I thought, I wonder if there is some reason that they used aluminum pop rivets in the first place - maybe so the fastener would break before structural damage would occur (in other words, maybe the screw would pull through the shell in some extreme circumstance). Guess a call to the Scamp factory may be in order here.

Has anyone out there done this before??
Mine is old and I use caulk on the rivets to stop leaks. It happens over time and mine is a senior citizen Scamp. I will say this, stainless will indeed rust, probably far quicker than alum would ever wear out. Not sure I have ever seen aluminum rust??? Maybe they used pop rivets in the assembly since it would not take a second person inside to tighten each nut??? Otherwise, I am not sure. Inside, like on refrig, rivets seem to be the logical thing, for some really hard to reach areas too.
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Old 09-30-2006, 11:45 PM   #3
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There are 2 avenues of thought on this subject....aluminum Pop rivets vs SS machine screws.....My Boler had aluminum rivets and there is spider cracking, star style, out from the mounting holes.....I replaced the pop rivets with stainless steel screws, rubber washers, hex SS nuts on the inside, followed up with ss acorn nuts as jam nuts......this gives a somewhat larger contact area for the fastener and in the last 4 years the spider cracking hasn`t changed for the worse enough for me to notice.....I haven`t had any of these SS screws rust, or any others that I`ve used in other exterior applications.....rust could happen to cheap stainless that has a low nickel content, I believe....like some cheap off shore cutlery.....I`m of the opinion that the Pop rivets were used strictly because of labor and material costs during construction......it`s possible that aluminum rivets were used as a type of breakaway that wasn`t supposed to damage the fiberglass shell....if so, I shouldn`t have had the cracking at the aluminum Pop rivet mounting points........the choice is yours and hope that regardless of the method you use, that it`ll have a positive ending.....Benny
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Old 10-01-2006, 12:06 AM   #4
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Trailer: 1977 Boler 1300/2003 17' Bigfoot
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I think this thread is pretty self explanatory. This discussion has been going on forever!

http://www.fiberglassrv.com/board/index.ph...=18751&st=0
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Old 10-01-2006, 09:29 PM   #5
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Thanks Benny and Con for sharing your experiences. I think I'll work on replacing the loose rivets with stainless screws. And from reading Con's thread, I'll be getting some butyl tape for some other projects as well.
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Old 10-01-2006, 10:59 PM   #6
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I will say this, stainless will indeed rust, probably far quicker than alum would ever wear out.
I have witnessed rusting stainless steel, but I didn't think a fiberglass travel trailer was a [b]harsh enough environment.

Where I have seen stainless steel rust was on a hydraulic weigh scale that Sea World of San Diego weighs Shamu on.

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Even "Schedule 316" Stainless Steel will rust when submerged in 50 degree salt water.
I'm the guy who has to keep it working accurately.

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Old 10-02-2006, 01:46 AM   #7
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Trailer: 1977 Boler 1300/2003 17' Bigfoot
British Columbia
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Don't, I repeat don't use screws in the fiberglass unless there is wood or metal imbedded in it for the screws to grip. They tend to shatter the gel coat and damage the glass fibers and the next thing you know the pull out and you end up with a bigger hole.
Use either alum. pop rivets (Lord strike me down for saying that) or use SS bolts and nuts.
Do not use SS pop rivets as they are very hard to pull and create too much crush on the material.
Also they have a steel mandrel which will rust and then leave stains on you paint or gel coat thus defeating their purpose.
I have installed 1000's of SS, alum., steel and Avex, expanding, blind and air hammered rivets.
I can only pull no more than 2 dozen SS rivets with a hand rivet gun and I have to quit as my hand is so sore.
When ever possible when using rivets on FG use a alum. back-up washer. If there is a metal fitting then they are not required.
If you don't, the mandrel expands the rivet on the back of the FG and partly into the hole again causing damage to the glass fibers. Eventually they will fail because the fibers have been weakened.
Hope this gives you some guidance.
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Old 10-06-2006, 06:06 PM   #8
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Trailer: 1977 Boler 1300/2003 17' Bigfoot
British Columbia
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A quick search of the forums and I came up with this many threads on discussions of the pros and cons re: rivets and threaded fasteners.
As you can see this discussion has been going on for a long time!

http://www.fiberglassrv.com/board/index.ph...=21461&st=0
http://www.fiberglassrv.com/board/in...howtopic=21525
http://www.fiberglassrv.com/board/index.ph...2&hl=Rivets
http://www.fiberglassrv.com/board/index.ph...6&hl=Rivets
http://www.fiberglassrv.com/board/index.ph...1&hl=Rivets
http://www.fiberglassrv.com/board/index.ph...3&hl=Rivets
http://www.fiberglassrv.com/board/index.ph...7&hl=Rivets
http://www.fiberglassrv.com/board/index.ph...8&hl=Rivets
http://www.fiberglassrv.com/board/index.ph...3&hl=Rivets
http://www.fiberglassrv.com/board/index.ph...4&hl=Rivets
http://www.fiberglassrv.com/board/index.ph...c=19800&hl=
http://www.fiberglassrv.com/board/index.ph...c=19612&hl=
http://www.fiberglassrv.com/board/index.ph...c=19592&hl=
http://www.fiberglassrv.com/board/index.ph...c=19284&hl=
http://www.fiberglassrv.com/board/index.ph...c=17248&hl=
http://www.fiberglassrv.com/board/index.ph...c=17053&hl=

If you want to get an idea of how many different styles of rivets there are go to www.auveco.com and download their Autmotive parts catalog. It is 28 mbs. but is very (too big for a dial up modem) interesting for the hard to find items. Pop rivets are covered from pages 234 to 258.
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