Friday, March 12, 2010

Task tie ups and tool talk

I am always amazed at how many tools it takes to do even the most minor of tasks. Very quickly the tools are scattered about the area in which I am working. All the best attempts to keep them in order usually fall short of my intended goal. I will tell you kneeling down on a bucking bar will get your attention real quickly. A stray rivet will get your attention even quicker.

Speaking of rivets.... There are a lot of different types not to even mention sizes. None of the rivets in the picture above are available at your run of the mill box store. They all need to be purchased at a store specializing in rivets. At the bottom you have the solid rivets that are used as often as I can. Once set, they are a permanent connection and look exactly like the original ones used. Unfortunately, getting a bucking bar behind the rivet is not always possible. That gold color is a coating applied to keep the rivet from oxidizing, they are aluminum under it. The three rivets to the upper right are kind of special. When the tool pulls them, the center pulls in and there is no hole in the center. This keeps water from getting in through the center. The four serious looking rivets in the center are called structural rivets. They are extremely stout rivets. Like the closed end rivets, they do not allow water in and the mandrel in the center breaks off to leave the rivet filled in the center. I love rivets. I find them very interesting things. My wife however, is tired of finding then in the washing machine.

I might love rivets, but they are worthless without a good tool to pull them. This is where the "tool talk" comes into play. (just a warning, I am about to step onto my soap box... you may want to tune out or look away....) Now there are many tool options. You can go to the blue or orange box and buy something that will last a few jobs, maybe even a bunch of jobs if you get lucky. Another option is to go to Harbor Freight. I can clearly picture the factory workers in China laughing as they box up the worthless things they call Harbor Freight tools. I needed to pull some 1/4" rivets. These are some honking rivets requiring a tool with a fairly large nose piece. I thought why not buy the cheap tool, how often would I actually be pulling 1/4" rivets, it is only about 30 I need to pull. Well, on the second rivet the tool broke. For $20 what was I expecting right? Well, I was expecting to finish the job and not having to go buy a real rivet gun. The upper one from Fastenal cost as much as eight Harbor Freight riveters. I have made the claim before that I would not waste my money at Harbor Freight and I once again broke my pact. This time I intend to keep my word. Even the acid brushes I bought fell apart right away. Nothing like throwing away money in order to save a few dollars.

Now back to trailer talk

Originally I had intended to use all the gas lines over. When taking all the lines off I numbered everything so that I knew how it all went back together. I had put tape over the ends of all the sections so no spiders would crawl in and cause an issue. I kept them all safe and sound on a shelf in the shop. Unfortunately when I started to put them all back together I got this stuff coming out of the pipes. Lu Lu now has all new lines and fittings. The black goo combined with a cracked fitting found earlier just had me wanting to take no chances at all. Better to be sure about the system than have issues later. This is another clear example of how these restorations ALWAY escalate.

An aspect of the job that really took a lot of time was wrapping the wheel wells in new edging. I ruined many sections trying to get this right. I had just about given up when I called my buddy Uwe at Area 63. Uwe has talked me off the ledge a few times now. Maybe it is because he is from Germany and my Mother is German and he understands my mentality. Maybe it is because he is very sharp and just knows the right thing to say, not sure. What I am sure of is EVERY time he says the same thing to me... (paraphrased for the sake of kids ears) "stop being such a little girl about it, and get it done" Those are not really the words he uses, but you get the jest of it.

With his advice, I grew a set and made it happen. Not only made it happen, but it happened well. Thank you Uwe. I owe you a whole keg of Heife Weissen now...

When Lu Lu came to me she was all torn up around that wheel well. Having a rim fail caused a lot of serious damage to the surrounding area.

Now she is looking very sweet. I like the extra row of rivets. She looks like a jewel studded lady now. I will be giving her a bath and then tow her to a nice location for photos of her. Hope you all enjoyed the preview.


  1. Looks great! Rivets are fun, I enjoyed your post about them. I'm glad (for LuLu's owner, you, and selfishly) that progress has been made on LuLu. Can't wait to see her pictures after her bath!

  2. I hear you about tool quality, but the rivet tail diaper the Harbor Freight riveter has is nice. How come you do not have a pneumatic riveter?

  3. Good question Tom.... The pneumatic ones just go zap. The hand pullers allow me to feel how it is setting. I will often set the rivet half way and then begin the next one. Pneumatic does not allow for that kind of control

  4. There is a beautiful symmetry and balance to your riveting.


  5. Frank, I'm still laughing about the German speech.. (my wife's half German). I love your rivet tutorial... care to share what the special rivets are called? Is one of those an Olympic rivet, or something else? I thought Olympics were the only ones that shaved smooth, but I learn something every day! Thanks again Frank!
    Marc (3ms75argosy)

  6. Nice work Frank, I like your comments on the tool organization when doing a project, I always try so hard to keep everything together but I always end up searching for the tool I just put down.
    A comment on the gas lines, I have been in the heating business for a long time and we run about 2-3,000' of copper gas line a month, it is pretty common to have some moisture in the gas lines and also common to see a gray material buildup inside the lines, it depends on the make up off the gas. As far as the cracked flair nut, for gas use we always use a heavy flair nut, it is about twice as thick and we have never had one break,local codes here require this.
    Thanks for the rivet info.

  7. Love the post Frank. As a mechanic i love all types of tools and really love ones I can use on my Airstream Trailers. As for the Rivets It is truly amazing how many types there are. One rivet tool You need is called the Big Daddy Rivet gun I use one at work for differnet things Pulls evan the bigest rivets with ease.
    Later Dave Stowell