Rivets, Acorn nuts, Rivnuts etc. - Fiberglass RV


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Old 05-02-2007, 09:03 AM   #1
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We've got the Merlot and Scotch in our kit like Garo, so I think we're over halfway there. That way if something breaks we won't care....

I did remove all rivets and replace with stainless steel bolts and nuts per Con's thread, so a Phillips head and 3/8" wrench will take care of 90% of what we'd run into now. Stocking the rest of the kit with wire ties, lubes, caulk(non-silicone), electrical items and the tire changing necessities. If it's anything major beyond that then the Merlot and Scotch come into play...
I am curious about replacing the rivets with stainless steel bolts. This really should not be too difficult. are they hard to find or commonly avainable. I guess I am more comfortable with that then those pop rivets.
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Old 05-02-2007, 11:49 AM   #2
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I am curious about replacing the rivets with stainless steel bolts. This really should not be too difficult. are they hard to find or commonly avainable. I guess I am more comfortable with that then those pop rivets.
[/quote]

Home Depot, Lowes, and other well-stocked hardware stores usually have a small selection of stainless steel hardware for sale.

Stainless steel is one option, but blind rivets have advantages, too. While you can re-tighten a loose screw, rivets don't have nuts that can loosen and fall off, and with blind rivets you don't need somone inside to stabilize the nut and washer while tightening the screw from the outside. They're also quick and easy to set and tighten.

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Old 05-02-2007, 04:05 PM   #3
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Hey Dan,

If you read through this entire thread
http://www.fiberglassrv.com/board/in...howtopic=18751

It covers how Con recommended replacing all the pop rivets with SS nuts and bolts. He gives a recommended supplier which I ordered through as well. Home Depot is a little weak on their SS supplies, but Lowe's isn't too bad and I've filled in somewhat there. I mostly use the SS locking nuts instead of the acorns as they won't loosen. The rivets are prone to leaking down the center hole which is how this thread got going. There is great info in there about Butyl tape as well.

Alf followed Con's information and replaced the rivets as well, so he may weigh in with his thoughts as well. Alf, you around?
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Old 05-02-2007, 04:44 PM   #4
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If you read through this entire thread
http://www.fiberglassrv.com/board/in...howtopic=18751

It covers how Con recommended replacing all the pop rivets with SS nuts and bolts. He gives a recommended supplier which I ordered through as well. Home Depot is a little weak on their SS supplies, but Lowe's isn't too bad and I've filled in somewhat there. I mostly use the SS locking nuts instead of the acorns as they won't loosen. The rivets are prone to leaking down the center hole which is how this thread got going. There is great info in there about Butyl tape as well.

Alf followed Con's information and replaced the rivets as well, so he may weigh in with his thoughts as well. Alf, you around?
Interesting thread and I largely agree with all of it. There's a lot of good wisdom there in my opinion which, I'm happy to see, mirrors my own...

I'm not entirely sure I agree with the notion of replacing all of your rivets with stainless steel. Thinking about all the rivets on my 17 (which I'm deeply acquainted with at this point, see my other thread on my Boler 17 refresh), all the rivets I can think of on the outside of the trailer come through the wall where there is insulation. In order to tighten a stainless steel nylok nut, you have to break through the insulation. This is great when, in my current state, I have removed all of the insulation anyway, but once I put the new insulation on, I have no intention of ever taking it back off so I can get to the other side of some fasteners... Also, I'd need to convince my wife to go in and hold the wrench for me on the inside while I turn the bolt on the outside.

On my previous Boler 1300, there were a bunch of rivets holding the cabinets to the trailer. I did recognize that as most un-enlightened and replaced those with stainless fasteners.

As to water leaking through the center of the rivet, this is a well understood problem. You can either just dab some paintable sealant on top of the rivet when you're done (which is a little cheesy, admittedly) or you can go to a reputable fastener store and get a closed-end pop rivet. I've seen them at Home Depot but haven't looked recently. Here's a page that has closed end blind rivets about 2/3 down.
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Old 05-02-2007, 05:03 PM   #5
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Herb, I see your point about fastener access. It appears in my B1700 that some external stuff was riveted on before the interior lining was installed, so the inside end of the fastener is not accessible: that's the rain deflector over the door, the awning rail, etc. Other rivets were installed after the lining, such as the ones securing the upper cabinet brackets; those are clearly visible now and would be quite accessible. Some fittings are in locations which are within cabinetry and with no lining (such as the service inlets), so they are at least somewhat accessible. Depending on the re-assembly order, the situation may change in the renovation.

The most highly stressed rivets (for the cabinets) seem to be the most accessible and thus the best candidates for replacement with bolts, which is either good planning (yeah, likely...) or just lucky.

There may not be a single answer best for all applications, even within one trailer.
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Old 05-02-2007, 05:24 PM   #6
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Good points Herb and Brian.
The Scamp must be a bit different, because 90% of the rivets are accessible and make sense to replace with the SS. There are some that just don't make sense as both of you pointed out and you do have to use the ol judgement for each situation.
Some of the ones that weren't accessible behind the ensolite Con drilled through and put a SS washer over the ensolite on the inside, but you have to make sure it will be visually appealing. I did the same in some cases where it made sense, however, some rivets make sense to stay, although don't have many left and most of them are on the closet.
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Old 05-02-2007, 09:54 PM   #7
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Hi: A power outage in the middle of my browsing put me out of the picture...but I am bbbbbbbackkkk... Yes I am still doing the S/S shuffle...I had to go back and re tighten a few...curtain rod brackets...Try that with a pop rivet!!! The only place I may use Pop Rivets is for the awning rail as there are so many...so close. Now I am into installing a MaxxFan but first I have to go visit my friendly FACCA fasteners store to replace the hardware supplied with the fan...with S/S!!! I have cut two 3/4 plywood spacers to fit in the roof as per Brian BP's install and have some very sticky black Buytl tape to hold them in place while I install the fan collar with S/S screws. I hope to be able to gently peel back the Ensolite so the spacers fit under it and I can stretch it over to cover the plywood. Since going Digi. I am taking stepXstep pic's and will create a new Album when finished.
Alf S. North shore of Lake Erie
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Old 05-03-2007, 09:25 AM   #8
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Hey Dan,

If you read through this entire thread
http://www.fiberglassrv.com/board/in...howtopic=18751

It covers how Con recommended replacing all the pop rivets with SS nuts and bolts. He gives a recommended supplier which I ordered through as well. Home Depot is a little weak on their SS supplies, but Lowe's isn't too bad and I've filled in somewhat there. I mostly use the SS locking nuts instead of the acorns as they won't loosen. The rivets are prone to leaking down the center hole which is how this thread got going. There is great info in there about Butyl tape as well.

Alf followed Con's information and replaced the rivets as well, so he may weigh in with his thoughts as well. Alf, you around?
In looking at the interior of my Scamp it appears that the inside of my rivets is an acorn nut. I wonder if the company did not adapt to using some of them. the outside has a white rounded cap on it about the size of a dime.
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Old 05-03-2007, 01:33 PM   #9
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Some makers (including Boler, and apparently Scamp) use an acorn nut to to finish off the inside of the rivet. From the tool kit perspective, this means an appropriate wrench would be ideal, but for an on-the-road repair a failed rivet would just be drilled out and replaced (needing a rivet gun) like any other rivet, and if the nut is just for appearance it could be replaced later.
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Old 05-03-2007, 06:07 PM   #10
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Dan,

It was the same on mine. They had an acorn nut over the end of the rivet certain places. The white caps on the outside on mine were chock full of silicone and covered the rivets or screws. Of course, the silicone had failed and most had rusted through to the interior. A mess to clean up.
Now that I have them replaced it is just Stainless steel bolts showing and it looks better, shouldn't leak or rust like the old hardware.
As for my tool kit, I just need to carry a philips head and a 3/8" wrench. No rivet gun or rivets.
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Old 05-03-2007, 06:29 PM   #11
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Hi: The acorn nuts on the interior side of the pop rivets on our Boler were just for decoration and are not tightenable... and they rust where rivets leak leaving ugly stains/streaks on the Ensolite... Once replaced the interior will... I hope stay cleaner... My Wife likes that idea Alf S. North shore of Lake Erie
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Old 05-04-2007, 10:49 PM   #12
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In looking at the interior of my Scamp it appears that the inside of my rivets is an acorn nut. I wonder if the company did not adapt to using some of them. the outside has a white rounded cap on it about the size of a dime.
[/quote]

Dan I just replaced one of those on my Scamp and they a pretty easy to replace. I found somewhere on this site an actual drawing of how the whole thing fits togther.

Per Scamps parts department they are 1/4" acorns. The rivet goes directly into the acorn. The white caps on the outside pop off and are attached via a plastic washer/cap holder which goes under the head of the rivet - Scamp actually uses two different sizes of these caps and holders/washers. I found both sizes of the caps and washers at Home Depot. The not so easy part is finding the right length of rivets. I ended up having Scamp send me a number of them.

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Old 05-07-2007, 08:39 AM   #13
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if you are going without an acorn nut, i would suggest using a nylock nut. otherwise a little dab of blue lock-tite will keep that thing from rattling loose
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Old 05-07-2007, 04:29 PM   #14
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I've not seen anyone comment about the rivets designed to be the weak link. The rivet would break before the fiberglass sustained damage. IMHO, riivets are a lot easier to replace and caulk than having to make a repair to cracked fiberglass.

The concept of a "weak link" has many other applications. Automotive design protects the occupants be sacrificing parts of the vehicle.

Just food for thought!

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Old 05-07-2007, 04:43 PM   #15
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Well folks, I see this subject has cropped up again.
Some points I would like to make.
(1) I used matching (10-24) SS acorn nuts with a SS flat washers over the Ensolite on the inside every where. I don't mind the appearance of a nice shiny acorn nut.
(2) I replaced every rivet that penetrated the outer shell. No screws, no rivets through the shell now.
(3) I used soft 3/8"dia. white plastic washers under every SS Truss Head bolt to seal between the head and the shell.
(4) I make thin rubber gaskets to go under every fitting on the outer shell.
(5) I have not had one leak since replacing all the the rivets.
(6) I have not had one nut come loose as yet.
(7) I was able to install almost every bolt and nut by myself simply by reaching through the open door or opening the sliding windows and screens. There where very few I had to get my wife to help me with.
(8) I got rid of as many fittings inside and outside that where plane metal as they rusted and caused stains in the gel coat and the Ensolite. I replaced with as many as I could with SS or alum.

If I bought another trailer I would do it exactly the same way.

A couple of notes of interest.
Our Boler used 3/16" alum. rivet which worked ideal for 10-24 bolts as they are 3/16"dia. A friend of mine has an earlier model Boler and it looks like they used 5/32" rivets so he is replacing his with 8-32 SS Truss Head bolts.

The original acorn nuts Boler used on the pop rivets where for appearance sake only.
Other than that they served no useful purpose. Also the would rust up and stain the Ensolite.

As far as the strength of pop rivets versus bolts cracking or tearing through the fiberglass I think is a non issue. They will both have the same effect as I have seen on snowmobiles, race cars etc.

Most of what I have done has not proved very expensive, just a little time consuming but the end result has been well worth the effort..

PS Donna, Could this thread not be combined with the other one???


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Old 05-07-2007, 06:22 PM   #16
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PS Donna, Could this thread not be combined with the other one???
<moderator hat on>
Con,

I split this group of posts off from the "Tool Kit" thread as it's own thread. I think the subject is unique enough that this one can stand alone. The first one quoted was actually about sealing putty and butyl tape. There's good information in both.

<moderator hat off>

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Old 05-08-2007, 07:41 PM   #17
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I like Kurt and Ann K's reply and thought there would have been more like it....... there needs to be a weak link because if the trailer flexes you want that rivet to pop.... if it doesn't then the hole where the rivet is MAY get bigger. This is just my educated opinion......
Sort of like a shear pin on a snow blower....put a case hardened bolt in there and you will break gears instead of the shear pin.
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Old 05-08-2007, 10:00 PM   #18
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Of all the wrecked snowmobiles I have rebuilt and sold over the years, and there have been many, plus a few I cracked up myself, plus quads, dirt bikes and fiberglass bodied race cars,
I have yet to see a pop rivet let go or shear off. The only cases were machines that had been wrapped around a tree at high speed or something similar.
If you are going to subject your FG travel trailer to that kind of stress, than it will be a write off. More often then not the rivet will tear through the FG or alum.
That is why I say it is a non issue and is based on years of experience.

A couple of other things I encountered re: pop rivets
The Boler we bought had been stored under cover by the 2 previous owners and we had it under cover also. We were on one trip and there was a fierce rainstorm and I noticed water running down the face of the cabinets. I found the rivets holding the cabinets to the roof were leaking. After we got home I replaced those rivets with SS bolts and thought I should remove the hood over the stove. it was soaking wet between the cabinet and hood. The next time we got caught in a cloud bust there were no leaks.
The other thing with the rivets was that most of them did not penetrate the Ensolite so that water would run through them an build up water blisters behind that Ensolite. Not good!
The reason none of these problems showed up was that that the previous owners had never had the Boler out in rain storm.
I can not stress strongly enough on getting rid of those leaky rivets.
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Old 05-09-2007, 12:16 PM   #19
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Here's a comment of mine from the earlier topic [b]"And a Rivet Runs Through It"
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I understand the idea of deliberate [b]weak links. My lawn mower uses a couple of plain rivets as shear pins connecting the blade to the motor shaft, so if I hit a hard object they shear and I only need to replace them (for a few cents) rather than having engine or major blade damage. What I don't understand is how cabinets fastened into a trailer should need a weak link. Does the interior of your car fall apart on rough roads?
There's more on this idea of "weak links" in that topic.
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Old 05-09-2007, 05:24 PM   #20
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I am so confused..... ..use aluminum rivets, stainless steel rivets, stainless screws with acorn nuts. the reason i said about the weak link in an earlier post is because i drove those large semi's with the big sleepers made out of all fiberglass...( we call them condo's) but they are somewhat like a fiberlass RV..... What i seen on these big semi's is they use alot of stainless rivets and a large truck really shakes when pulling and they literally shake themselves apart and i have seen these stainless rivets take the rivet hole and make it egg shape lookin ...... I know these fiberglass trailer don't shake nearly as bad but someone who is driving down a washboard road for 25 miles ( like the Apache Trail in Arizona at lake Roosevelt) may be sorry they did. I just wonder if the stainless steel screw with the acorn nut could absorb the shock better with a little rubber washer on the inside sandwiched between a stainless washer?? Anybody ever try this?
I have some loose rivets right now in a 94' Casita and will be watching this thread as i am flexible on my approach.
Joe
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