Replacing Rivets with Fibreglass?? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 12-29-2002, 11:23 PM   #1
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Replacing Rivets with Fibreglass??

Posted by GregnMel, Member, Langley, British Columbia

Greg and I are just starting a reno with some modifications of a handy-man-special 1974 13' boler. Many of the rivets that hold the interior structures (counter, cabinets, closet, bench) are rusted through

We are experienced with fibreglass repair and were wondering if anyone had ever tried replacing some of the riveting by fibreglassing the units to the exterior shell.

I'm wondering about strength specifically. The repair work I've done in the past was either automotive or marine. This will be our first adventure in glass egg repair.

So, if you have any insite or comments please share. :helpme
Thanks!
~ Mel

-----------------------------
1974 13ft Boler, 1977 Chevy C10, Three Dogs and Us!
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Old 12-29-2002, 11:37 PM   #2
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Posted by Chester Taje, Moderator, Hosmer, B.C., Canada

Hi
I never thought of that. It sounds like it could work. I like idea. Maybe if you tried one small area on something light and see how it works. :r

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Ches & Marie
17Ft Boler Canadian In Use
13Ft Boler Canadian under Rebuild
Glass IS Class
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Old 12-30-2002, 03:33 AM   #3
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Rivets

Posted by Morgan, Member, SW USA

Mel,
Pop rivets are used not only for strength of attachment, but for strain relief as well.

Probably the original rivets were aluminum and a previous owner replaced them with steel. With steel rivets or with anything rigid you risk damage to the fiberglass (fibreglass) structure.

I'd recommend replacing the steel rivets with aluminum. For the through hull rivets, Casita uses an acorn nut on the inside to hide the end of the rivet. If yours are like that, it could be that the nut has rusted.

Replacing one of the through hull rivets is a two person job. One person on the inside holds the acorn nut firmly with a nut driver while the riveter inserts and pops the rivet from the outside.

Be sure to use plenty of clear silicone in the hole to prevent leaks. Put the snap cap ring on before inserting the rivet. After the rivet is set, apply more silicone to the ring then snap the cap on. You may have to find a source on the internet for the correct size rivets. The kits at Canadian Tire probably don't contain the right lengths.

Good luck on your reno.
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Old 12-30-2002, 07:50 AM   #4
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I agree with Morgan

Posted by Charles Watts, Member, Illinois

I agree with Morgan

Mel, any RV has a lot of flex as it bounces down the road ... including our little fiberglass wonders.

As Morgan says, the rivets provide strength ... but also provide stress relief ... even to the point of popping before causing damage.

I would think that if you fiberglassed the cabinets and benches into a rig, it might work in the short run ... but in the long run, something would probably crack.

Also, if you ever have to remove a cabinet or bench, it would be a lot easier to remove if you used rivets instead of fiberglass. (to put in a new waterpump, etc.)

Pop rivets are actually quite easy ... even fun to work with. Old Airstreamers go so far as to even get fake "vintage" rivets from various manufacturers to restore their rigs to factory fresh.

Don't think you need to take it that far ... but get some aluminum rivets ... drill out the old ones and do it right.

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Last edited by: Charles Watts on 12-30-02 07:52:24
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Old 01-04-2003, 03:22 PM   #5
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Rusty Acorn Nuts

Posted by GregnMel, Member, Langley, British Columbia

Rusty Acorn Nuts

Morgan,

You're right about the rusty acorn nuts. The ones that are rusty are leaking as if they weren't there and some have even fallen out (providing a lovely miniature window to the outside. Those, of course, are not water-tight either.

I'll have to replace all of them. I don't trust a single one of the little drippers. I think a trip to the fastener isle at Home Depot is in order.

~ Mel

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1974 13ft Boler, 1977 Chevy C10, Three Dogs and Us!
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Old 01-04-2003, 04:12 PM   #6
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Posted by Morgan, Member, SW USA

Quote:
Orginally posted by GregnMel

Morgan,

You're right about the rusty acorn nuts. The ones that are rusty are leaking as if they weren't there and some have even fallen out (providing a lovely miniature window to the outside. Those, of course, are not water-tight either.

I'll have to replace all of them. I don't trust a single one of the little drippers. I think a trip to the fastener isle at Home Depot is in order.

~ Mel
Mel,

Home Despot is not likely to have the right size rivets. I had to buy directly from Casita to get the right ones. I could have ordered on-line, but in large quantities.

They need to be long enough to go through and grab the nut, but not long enought to push on the cap of the nut. Maybe you can measure the length with a nail. Push until it just contacts the cap of the nut, then get rivets a hair shorter.

Maybe one of your Boler Mates can tell you the exact size. Anyone?

Good luck.

Last edited by: Morgan Bulger on 01-04-03 17:20:51
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Old 01-04-2003, 05:40 PM   #7
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Replacing Rivets

Posted by Suz, Moderator, North Texas

Replacing Rivets

Regardless of where you get them, remember that they must be aluminum.

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Suz
1989 Casita
16 ft Spirit Deluxe
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Old 01-04-2003, 06:16 PM   #8
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Posted by Pete Dumbleton, Member, On the Road, from FL

You can get stainless steel acorn nuts at marine supply places. Pop rivets also come in stainless steel, but I would use them sparingly as you really want the aluminum rivet to fail before the fiberglass does as it is easier to fix...

Pete and Rats
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Old 01-05-2003, 10:12 AM   #9
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Replacing Rivets

Posted by Rick F.D., Member, Hudson, MA - USA

Replacing Rivets

Hello,
I have asked myself most of these same questions and have seen most of the problems described here. Most bolers that I have worked on had aluminum rivets with a steel mandrel(stem). Most of the steel stems are rusted because the caulking is long gone from the stem hole and water had worked it's way down the hole. On the inside, they used die cast acorn nuts. The stem rust also eats away at the acorn nut. The acorn nuts were probably an attempt to improve the appearance of the rivet on the inside. As old as these trailers are almost every rivet leaks, I end up drilling every one of them out. I replace them with aluminum (with steel mandrel) rivets that have a large diameter head. This large head distributes the load over a larger area and also increases the sealing area. I use 3M 5200 adhesive under the heads and in the hole, (I also chamfer the hole a little to allow room for the adhesive) before sqeezing the rivet. When done I fill the exterior stem holes with the 5200 and thread some acorn nuts onto the inside of the rivet. The 5200 take a long time to cure but it is the best that I have found for this application. You must fill the stem hole or water will work it's way to the interior. Filling the hole with a two part epoxy paint would also work well.
Bye

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Rick D.
'78 Boler 1300
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Old 01-05-2003, 10:38 AM   #10
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Thanks

Posted by Suz, Moderator, North Texas

Thanks

Really appreciate the input, Rick F.D. Especially from someone who has done it. Drilling out and replacing rivet is not near as hard as we feel it is going to be.

As you said, filling the rivet hole is very important. On some of the fiberglass units, they put in a plastic snap washer with the rivet and use the method you are talking about. Once the rivet and washer is in place, then the washer is filled with silicone and the cap snaps over it. This really seems to help keep the rivet dry. Have you ever used this method?

Thanks again. Sounds like you have a lot of experience with Bolers. We hope to hear from you often. ;)

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Suz
1989 Casita
16 ft Spirit Deluxe
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