Nuts n' bolts instead of rivets? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 05-29-2012, 06:38 PM   #1
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Nuts n' bolts instead of rivets?

In general I've wondered if there's a method to use nuts, washers and bolts instead of rivets? And specifically for trim and interior hardware, using a bolt allows you to then screw things onto them, attachment posts of sorts.

Thinking, putting hooks on the walls for storage, replacing the riveted cheapo curtain rod holders with some more aesthetic and more sturdy ones, putting mounting points for a 32" flatscreen, etc. Attaching things to the rivet ends seems less than ideal.

Are there problems using a bolt, washers on either side and a nut on the inside? Then screwing on "accessories" onto those bolts? Sometime then holding heavy things with those accessories?
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Old 05-29-2012, 07:08 PM   #2
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Neither my Fiber Stream nor my Compact Jr. used rivets; they both used screws into a wood backer or frame. The only concern I would have is I don't know a pounds per square inch rating of the fiberglass. Having said that my front upper bunk is attached with 7 thru-hull screws: 3 (doubled up) across the front evenly spaced above the front window, and 2 on each side about 6" apart near the corner of the bunk, with nothing in the curve of the trailer. They claimed an 80 pound capacity for the bunk, and I have hung a 30 pound TV set from the bottom of it. It's ridden there for close to 8 years without any signs of stress.
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Above front window:
3 groups of 2 screws (6 total) attaching the upper bunk



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Upper left corner of forward window:
2 screws to right of orange reflector attach upper bunk



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Upper bunk with TV hanging from the bottom of it
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Old 05-29-2012, 07:21 PM   #3
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OK, good to know there's no magic of fiberglass and rivets.

Anyone have tips for sealing/caulking bolts rather than rivets?
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Old 05-29-2012, 07:22 PM   #4
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PS, I love your fiberstream. I'd love to check one out in person someday.
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Old 05-29-2012, 07:26 PM   #5
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There's only one problem with using the bolts. In a cold climate the interior end of the bolt would be very cold and condensation would drip from it.

Having said that, I'm no fan of the rivets and would consider replacing them with 6-32 bolts if I wanted to use them to attach objects to them. A 6-32 bolt is only .007" larger then the existing rivet so it probably wouldn't even require making the hole larger.

If I was using bolts, on the exterior side, I would use a flat washer over a EPDM or rubber washer to seal the hole rather than use some sort of sealant.

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Old 05-29-2012, 07:30 PM   #6
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About a year or so ago, I was reading a fairly lengthy thread on here about it being a recommended practice to drill out all the "through hull" rivets and replace them with marine-grade stainless nuts'n'bolts, using butyl rubber under the bolt heads. Snap-caps can then also be added if desired.
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Old 05-29-2012, 07:38 PM   #7
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I recall a thread about rivets vs bolts and it was suggested that the aluminum rivets might provide better stress relief over bolts. The general consensus seems to be that rivets are used because they are less labor intensive to install. Lots of interesting reading on this both here and over on the Casita forum.
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Old 05-29-2012, 07:56 PM   #8
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The idea of using bolts sounds good in theory but the bolt is stronger then the rivet it replaces .

The rivet acts as a fuse, if you will , when a lot of stress is applied to it.
It will break before it pulls through the fiberglass and making a larger hole.

The best way to seal is to put a dab of marine silicone (available at Ace Hardware) on the hole then the cap retainer and rivet, another dab of silicone on the rivet head, then the snap cap.
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Old 05-29-2012, 09:14 PM   #9
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When I bought my Boler almost all of the rivets had been removed so I decided to use stainless bolts and screws everywhere. After much searching I found a source for neoprene washers in the correct sizes for the exterior. I used nylock nuts for all of the bolts. I think there are about a dozen rivets remaining on the door side of the closet which had not been driiled out. I thought it would be wise to leave that alone since I saw no reason to remove the closet. So far no problems at all. One thing I did notice, especially when putting the belly band back on, is that bolts in the small diameters required are not nearly as strong as one might think, I broke many along the way.
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Old 05-29-2012, 09:34 PM   #10
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A few questions.

Randy, with the neoprene "washers" was any other sealing needed? Has this been test in considerable rain? I may be using this trailer around Vancouver. A little leak is no trouble here in New Mexico, not so in mold land.

And did you use metal washers or anything else to soften the load on the fiberglass from the bolt head and nuts? Put the neoprene washer under a metal one?


Glen, do you think those caps for the rivets and silicon would work for correctly sized bolts? I'm going to want some sort of nice looking, white cover. But the rivet covers won't cover a washer anyway.

And I'd love to see links and/or specs for the stainless/marine hardware if anyone has those bookmarked somewhere.
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Old 05-29-2012, 09:44 PM   #11
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I am using SS bolts through a SS washer and neoprene washer and SS cap nuts inside. I had done sikaflex under the neoprene washers previously, but am using just neoprene washers and didn't have any leak after a .75 inch rainfall. I was going to install screw caps like these Amazon.com: Chrome Screw Covers: Home Improvement , but the SS heads look okay.
Although, I just did a nice paint job, and now I wish that I had spent the time to tab all my shelves, benches and cabinets so I didn't have little dots all over the sides. Oh well!
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Old 05-29-2012, 09:56 PM   #12
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More great info, thanks!

Has anyone put load on a single bolt? As opposed to multiple bolts holding a cabnet in place? I'm worried a single bolt with a good load could crack the fiberglass. I probably won't leave the TV mounted while towing, but I am curious how much one rivet or bolt could hold before the hull fails.
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Old 05-29-2012, 10:03 PM   #13
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The idea of a flat stainless washer over the neoprene didn't occur to me, it probably would have helped in the few situations where the washer compressed a liitle too much. I did butyl everything that I attached on the outside, rain guard, windows etc. but for the cabinets I relied on just the washers. I am in Calgary and we did have a number of good hard thunder storms last summer and periods of steady rain. Not as much as Vancouver but certainly enough to find any potential leaks and I saw no sign of any.
Of course this thread was about the idea of putting a load on the bolts other than for holding a cupboard in place. I didn't experiment with that at all.
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Old 05-29-2012, 10:05 PM   #14
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The Scamp Deluxe is assembled with screws instead of rivets.
Rivets are production labor savers.
Nuts and bolts would be just fine (use nylocks)
Condensation would be no greater problem since the rivets are set in acorn nuts.
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