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Old 05-25-2022, 04:28 PM
Mikeyb Mikeyb is offline
Join Date: Nov 2018
Location: Pasadena ca
Posts: 130

#40 drill
Drilled at low speed monitoring that the drill is centered. Slight wrist motion as the drill is at the intersection of the rivet head and body. They pop right off. Use flush cutting wire cutter to remove shop end.
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SN 83764
Hartzell Composite CS
Flying Phase 1
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Old 05-25-2022, 07:02 PM
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tyconnell tyconnell is offline
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Keller, TX
Posts: 281

Originally Posted by rvbuilder2002 View Post
My 2 cents....

Riveted airplane structures with damage are repaired all the time.

The key is in how (at what skill level) the repair is done.

The phrase "drill out rivets" should not be done literally when parts are intended to be reused. Section 5 of the manual gives details on removing rivets in a way that will not risk enlarging the holes with drill bit. Using that procedure would be the first step in a quality repair.
Seconded. I would add to that:
  • If you are "twisting" a rivet out, I have found it is sometimes necessary to relieve the tension / friction on the shank of the rivet by drilling a hole all the way through. A #51 drill has worked well both as a "1 rivet size down" drill bit for AD3 rivets, and as a "reasonably safe" drill size for drilling through. Reasonably safe in that as long as you stay centered on the rivet shank, you should not gouge the edge of the hole.
  • If you are punching a rivet out, you want to back the hole with something that will support the sheet around it - like a bucking bar with a hole / depression drilled into it. Also "punch" is likely too strong a verb here. You want to tap on it just hard enough to remove it.
Ty Connell
Donated 2021

Last edited by tyconnell : 05-25-2022 at 07:04 PM.
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Old 05-25-2022, 08:19 PM
sblack sblack is offline
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Montreal
Posts: 1,565

Nothing stops you from spending an hour drilling out rivets to see how you do, then making the decision based on an inspection of the parts.
Scott Black
Old school simple VFR RV 4, O-320, wood prop, MGL iEfis Lite
VAF dues 2021
Instagram @sblack2154
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Old 05-26-2022, 05:30 AM
Rallylancer122 Rallylancer122 is offline
Join Date: Aug 2013
Location: Oconto, WI
Posts: 307

I had to replace the spar in the HS of my Dad's 8. (Long story.) I drilled out rivets and reused most of the existing structure. In my case with the strategic use of a 2 or 3 cherry max rivets I was able to avoid disassembling it completely which saved a lot of time. Point here is to think a little bit about your specific repair as sometimes there are shortcuts.

As others mentioned, center punch every rivet before drilling. Spend the money on new high quality drill bits. Practice on scrap first. Try to just go deep enough to pop the heads. Protect the part as this makes way more chips than drilling out prepunched holes during assembly.

You will get VERY good good at drilling out rivets and be able to do it quickly and accurately....which is not a bad skill to have. I'm repairing a Baron currently and saved myself nearly $1000 by drilling a part out of a salvage plane this weekend. I never would have attempted this previously.
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Old 05-26-2022, 09:26 AM
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Webb Webb is offline
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Jackson, MS
Posts: 1,296

Go slow and remove the skin(s). THEN evaluate any parts that might need to be replaced in the spars and ribs.

Chances are you may have a few misses and that's what oops rivets are for.

If you don't push too hard when drilling and don't drill all the way thru, you can use a similar diameter sized tool such as a old punch that has been ground down and with just a small wiggle, snap the head off the rivet.

Grind down a pair of wire cutters so one side is flat and you can grab the other side of the river and pull it right out.

Remember it's OK to make the skin hole bigger since you are replacing the skin. It the rib/spar underneath that you do not want to enlarge. Again, if you do, oops rivet it.

And the HS spars are quite a bit of work compared to a re-skin.

You-Tube has a video on removing rivets.
Webb Willmott
Jackson, MS
RV8 - Current Build
RV7A - N32WW

Last edited by Webb : 05-26-2022 at 12:16 PM.
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Old 05-26-2022, 10:50 AM
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wirejock wirejock is offline
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Estes Park, CO
Posts: 5,230
Default Drilling rivets

I drilled my HS apart. No oops rivets.
You've received tons of excellent advise.
Here's my method...
-Use an auto punch to center punch every rivet you plan to drill. Make the punch mark nice and clean
-Use a bit 10 units smaller, #50-51. Start slow and walk back to center as needed early. Drill the center almost all the way through.
-Use a drill stop with #41 to drill only as deep as the rivet head
-Pop the heads off.
Some rivets will drop out so be ready with clekos. You don't want more stuff damaged. A modified auto punch ground down to dimension will knock out quite a few shanks.
Use a bucking bar and punch to remove remaining stubborn rivet shanks. I have bars made for the job with a hole to fit over the shop head. Second person is needed. Resist the urge to punch without a support. It will bend things.
Larry Larson
Estes Park, CO
wirejock at yahoo dot com
Donated 12/01/2021, plus a little extra.
RV-7A #73391, N511RV reserved (3,000+ hours)
Empennage, wings, fuse, finishing kit done. Working FWF
I cannot be, nor will I be, held responsible if you try to do the same things I do and it does not work and/or causes you loss, injury, or even death in the process.
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Old 05-26-2022, 12:46 PM
Rick RV-4 Rick RV-4 is offline
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 332
Default Thanks guys!

I will certainly try the rivet removal and rebuild route, and if it just doesnít go well, Iíll salvage what I can or rebuild with all new. This is my second build so Iíve replace quite a few rivets. This should make me even mo better at it!
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