Rusted rivets stuck in fiberglass - Fiberglass RV
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Old 10-29-2017, 02:07 PM   #1
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Name: Jessica
Trailer: Boler
Ontario
Posts: 7
Rusted rivets stuck in fiberglass

Hello all,

Hopefully you can help. We’ve been having a really frustrating time trying to uninstall, reseal (window seals and butyl tape) and reinstall our first side window of our Boler. The rivets are completely rusted and look to be the wrong size. After drilling them out the shaft is still stuck in the hole. No amount of elbow grease is getting them out. Might have to throw in the towel and call a shop tomorrow...any suggestions/advice? 🙁
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Old 10-29-2017, 02:37 PM   #2
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Name: Kelly
Trailer: Trails West
Oregon
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You can use a combination approach to get the rivets out. Take a drill bit very slightly larger in diameter than the rivet and try to drill the tube of the rivet flush to the fiberglass surface. Next use a "drive pin punch" that is the same diameter as the rivet to knock it on through to the interior of the trailer. You can buy individual sizes of drive pin punches at you local hardware store or at automotive parts stores. They have a flat surface at the tip and that means they won't enlarge the diameter of the rivet while trying to drive it out versus using something such as a nail set which has a tapered tip which can slip into the tube and spread it further open making it difficult to push it through the hole in the fiberglass without causing damage to the fiberglass.


If trying to drill the rivet flush gets you nowhere because the rivet spins as you drill then you can grind it flush to the surface before punching the rivet through. I typically use a Dremel motor tool for such small detailed work. But you can chuck one of the small Dremel bits into a drill motor as you don't need high speed for this grinding task.
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Old 10-29-2017, 02:43 PM   #3
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Trailer: Black Series HQ19
Smith Valley, Nevada
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When you were drilling them out, did you drill too small and leave the rivet in place, or did you just drill the head off with a large drill to let the window come off? Looks like you need to drill the stuck rivets out with a drill the size of the rivet itself, or punch them out after you've drilled off any remaining rivet head that is too large to go through the hole. You can also grind them off flush. Then drive them out.

You might have a friend hold a socket and extension, or piece of pipe against the inside over the rivet. This would have a hole just larger than the rivet OD. Then punch them out with a drift punch and small hammer from the other side.
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Old 10-29-2017, 02:59 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Raspy View Post
When you were drilling them out, did you drill too small and leave the rivet in place, or did you just drill the head off with a large drill to let the window come off? Looks like you need to drill the stuck rivets out with a drill the size of the rivet itself, or punch them out after you've drilled off any remaining rivet head that is too large to go through the hole. You can also grind them off flush. Then drive them out.

You might have a friend hold a socket and extension, or piece of pipe against the inside over the rivet. This would have a hole just larger than the rivet OD. Then punch them out with a drift punch and small hammer from the other side.
This is a perfectly normal result and they actually did the job correctly by only removing the head from the rivet rather than drilling deeper which might have enlarged the hole going through the window frame. Because of the thickness of the window frame you will have the situation that happened for this member of having an extra length of the rivet shank protruding though the shell. That length of the rivet tube protruding from the shell is equal to the thickness of the aluminum window frame. It was a surprise to them since it was their first experience with rivet removal.
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Old 10-29-2017, 04:09 PM   #5
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Name: Jessica
Trailer: Boler
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Thanks all, the issue is with the second step, using a punch to removing the remaining part of the rivet. We’ll try a flat headed punch and maybe even heat the aluminum to help.
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Old 10-29-2017, 04:09 PM   #6
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Also thinking of making a wooden frame for inside and reattaching the window with screws to avoid rivet issues in the future.
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Old 10-29-2017, 06:33 PM   #7
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Name: Greg
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That probably wouldn't work very well due to the fact that the inner and outer aluminum window frames are dimensionally designed to be secured "outer frame to inner frame" In order to get them to properly seal to the trailer shell. I think you would be inviting all sorts of additional problems to the equation by trying to introduce a piece of wood into the mix here.
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Old 10-29-2017, 06:35 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Casita Greg View Post
That probably wouldn't work very well due to the fact that the inner and outer aluminum window frames are dimensionally designed to be secured "outer frame to inner frame" In order to get them to properly seal to the trailer shell. I think you would be inviting all sorts of additional problems to the equation by trying to introduce a piece of wood into the mix here.


Ok, good to note!
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Old 10-29-2017, 06:36 PM   #9
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Name: bob
Trailer: Was A-Liner now 13f Scamp
Missouri
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fixing your winders

I have just poked them out from the outside with someone inside. I would go with s/s screws small washer and nuts. just my onion works for me as for getting the rivits out use a bit smaller than the heads of the rivits turn the drill on and you will see the heads twist off!

good luck

bob
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Old 10-30-2017, 10:20 AM   #10
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If whats left of the rivets look like they are bulged a little larger than the hole in the fiber glass you can take a pair of pliers and squeeze the shoulder several times alternating the pliers about 90 degrees. Then take your pin punch also known as a drift punch of the proper size probably about an 1/8 inch and tap it with a small hammer. If you have someone to help you you can use a small socket just a little bigger than the rivet on the inside of the window for backup that way when you tap the punch with the hammer it will put the force on pushing out the rivet instead of flexing the window frame.
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Old 10-31-2017, 05:12 PM   #11
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Name: Kelly
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jessica OC View Post
Also thinking of making a wooden frame for inside and reattaching the window with screws to avoid rivet issues in the future.
Using screws versus rivets does not mean you won't have leaks in the future. What you need to do when using rivets is make sure the seal is compressed firmly between the window and the shell to close up all voids before you install rivets. So this is not all about the type of fastener, it is about you as the installer taking the necessary steps needed when using different types of fasteners. Work with a partner or two. A three person team is optimal but it can be done with two. Good project for families or a weekend work session with friends. One person inside holding the trim ring and applying pressure on it close to where the rivet is being installed another person on the outside applying pressure on the window frame near where the rivet is and the third person using the puller to put the rivets in. Two person team is one person inside and one outside. Working solo is much more difficult and less reliable so get a helper.

If you can't get a helper for the rivet work invest in a few "draw cleco clamps" that match the hole size. You put those in the holes and tighten them. It will align the holes in the frame, the shell and the clamp ring and hold them in that perfect alignment as well put compression pressure on the butyl rubber tape. You should get a half dozen of them. One in each corner to align the inner and outer frames and a couple to put in the holes closest to where you are working. But first do put one in the hole you plan to fill and get it compressed in that location then remove it and then put the rivet in. This is a photo of a draw cleco, insert it in the hole and then spin the nut to tighten. They do have another style with a hex nut that you can use a deep socket on to tighten it up instead of a wing nut. But don't bend the aluminum window frames by over tightening the cleco clamps. All you is need to do is put enough pressure on the Buty rubber tape so that it sticks firmly to the window and the shell. Not a cold weather project unless you warm things up so the butyl is soft enough to compress. You can get these draw clecos from Amazon or Ebay sellers. You know what size to get by the diameter size of holes you already have.
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Old 11-02-2017, 07:08 PM   #12
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Name: Jessica
Trailer: Boler
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Captleemo View Post
If whats left of the rivets look like they are bulged a little larger than the hole in the fiber glass you can take a pair of pliers and squeeze the shoulder several times alternating the pliers about 90 degrees. Then take your pin punch also known as a drift punch of the proper size probably about an 1/8 inch and tap it with a small hammer. If you have someone to help you you can use a small socket just a little bigger than the rivet on the inside of the window for backup that way when you tap the punch with the hammer it will put the force on pushing out the rivet instead of flexing the window frame.


Thank you - this sounds great! We’ll try it this weekend.
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Old 11-02-2017, 07:09 PM   #13
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Name: Jessica
Trailer: Boler
Ontario
Posts: 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by k corbin View Post
Using screws versus rivets does not mean you won't have leaks in the future. What you need to do when using rivets is make sure the seal is compressed firmly between the window and the shell to close up all voids before you install rivets. So this is not all about the type of fastener, it is about you as the installer taking the necessary steps needed when using different types of fasteners. Work with a partner or two. A three person team is optimal but it can be done with two. Good project for families or a weekend work session with friends. One person inside holding the trim ring and applying pressure on it close to where the rivet is being installed another person on the outside applying pressure on the window frame near where the rivet is and the third person using the puller to put the rivets in. Two person team is one person inside and one outside. Working solo is much more difficult and less reliable so get a helper.

If you can't get a helper for the rivet work invest in a few "draw cleco clamps" that match the hole size. You put those in the holes and tighten them. It will align the holes in the frame, the shell and the clamp ring and hold them in that perfect alignment as well put compression pressure on the butyl rubber tape. You should get a half dozen of them. One in each corner to align the inner and outer frames and a couple to put in the holes closest to where you are working. But first do put one in the hole you plan to fill and get it compressed in that location then remove it and then put the rivet in. This is a photo of a draw cleco, insert it in the hole and then spin the nut to tighten. They do have another style with a hex nut that you can use a deep socket on to tighten it up instead of a wing nut. But don't bend the aluminum window frames by over tightening the cleco clamps. All you is need to do is put enough pressure on the Buty rubber tape so that it sticks firmly to the window and the shell. Not a cold weather project unless you warm things up so the butyl is soft enough to compress. You can get these draw clecos from Amazon or Ebay sellers. You know what size to get by the diameter size of holes you already have.


Sounds good. We’re a two person team so we’ll
Focus on making sure the seal is as tight as possible.
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