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Old 12-26-2020, 07:10 PM
Roy25101 Roy25101 is offline
Join Date: Mar 2014
Location: Jekyll Island, GA
Posts: 65
Default Looking for advice on riveting...

just recently ordered an RV-14 empennage kit and am trying to come up with ways to make this an easier build than previous kits (none of which have I finished). One of my biggest problems previously was riveting. If I can pop it, squeeze it or back rivet it then it comes out quite well. But, if it has to be pounded, in can be an issue. My question to you is do you have any recommendations for any tools that may be helpful in the process. I see some folks using swivel mushroom sets, sets with rubber skirts, long sets that look like foot long rods, etc. What I have used in the past is a small tungsten bucking bar as well some other various shaped steel bars. Although I have had decent success with these the main issue is consistency. I’d love to hear any techniques, videos, tools, etc. that might help. As always, thanks so much for your time and input….
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Old 12-26-2020, 07:26 PM
David Paule David Paule is offline
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Boulder, CO
Posts: 4,732

What worked for me was simple: I made a practice assembly from a channel and two strips of metal, one on each flange. I spaced the rivets relatively close to get lots of them on and just started practicing. When I had something that worked, I'd attempt to repeat it. Eventually I got the hang of it.

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Old 12-26-2020, 07:39 PM
wirejock's Avatar
wirejock wirejock is offline
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Estes Park, CO
Posts: 4,320
Default Practice

Originally Posted by David Paule View Post
What worked for me was simple: I made a practice assembly from a channel and two strips of metal, one on each flange. I spaced the rivets relatively close to get lots of them on and just started practicing. When I had something that worked, I'd attempt to repeat it. Eventually I got the hang of it.

What he ^ said. Dave is my Mentor and friend. Find one and learn their tricks.
I would add, drill it apart and do it again and again. Reason is there are lots of places where nothing else fits except gun and bar. It's a valuable skill. I actually prefer gun/bar.
A few tips
1. Pressure. Consistent pressure is important. I prefer a RTI mini regulator feeding a pigtail to the gun. Pressure doesn't change at all.
2. Tungsten bars rule but they also take practice.
3. Learn with various sets. A flat one for flush work, standard 1/8" 470 and the dreaded double offset. When you can set rivets consistently with a 12" double offset, the rest is easy peasey. I prefer the swivel mushroom set for flush work.
Larry Larson
Estes Park, CO
wirejock at yahoo dot com
Donated 01/01/2021, plus a little extra.
RV-7A #73391, N511RV reserved (2,000+ hours)
HS SB, empennage, tanks, wings, fuse, working finishing kit
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 12-26-2020, 07:45 PM
Kyle Boatright Kyle Boatright is online now
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Atlanta, GA
Posts: 4,438

The most important thing for me was practice and learning (first) how to rivet when I was able to brace my arm(s) against structure for support, then to learn to rivet in space. It took a lot of rivets before I was comfortable with riveting in space (without the bar or the gun having something to brace against other than the rivet being driven.

To the OP. Take 30 minutes a day for a week and just drive rivets. All sizes and shapes. Drive them upside down and right side up. Switch positions. Bar in the right hand, gun in the left, then reverse it. Even better, start with a partner and if you're running the gun, you can focus on it. If you're running the bar, you can focus on that part. But drive rivets 30 minutes a day for a week or two. You'll get a lot better.
Kyle Boatright
Marietta, GA
2001 RV-6 N46KB
2019(?) RV-10
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Old 12-26-2020, 09:12 PM
Anon455 Anon455 is offline
Join Date: Dec 2020
Posts: 51

Roy - my advice is to buy a Desoutter 3X rivet gun, a Sioux-Per Swivel, and use a high flow air system. I've got a bunch of rivet stuff from a corner gun (1X) to a 7X that I use for flow forming. The worst gun I have is the BATCO 1X and that's the one I lend out with the caveat of "be careful". It destroys more than any other gun I've got. Next worst guns I've got are the new Sioux guns (The old guns with the metal triggers are ok) the trigger systems are horrible and are throw away components. The 2 Desoutters I've got have triggers with a real long pull. I can easily tease those triggers - those Sioux's and that corner gun are either 0 or 100% - no in between. (Don't buy used air tools unless you can't afford new - then the used manufacturing tools can be sent in for refurb if needed, but it cost a lot)

I'll also use the lightest bucking bar I can get away with. I don't need a 2 lb tungsten bar with a #3 rivet - Even though it's light, I still use some kind of padding in case I drop it.

Whatever set you use, get the highest quality you can. Look for "surplus" sets on E-Bay from areas where big manufacturers are located San Antonio, Seattle, St Louis, Dallas for some reason those manufacturers use good quality tools.

I'm not saying cheap tools aren't any good, I'm just saying I don't have a good enough skill set to use cheap tools.

Last edited by Anon455 : 12-26-2020 at 09:21 PM.
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Old 12-26-2020, 09:42 PM
terrye terrye is offline
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada
Posts: 929
Default Looking for advice on riveting...

I decided early on not to buy cheap tools (of any kind) and then blame them for my lack of skill. It's easier to develop good skill with a good tool than with a poor tool. Based on that premise, I decided on Atlas Copco pneumatic tools, and started with their 2x rivet gun. Even an expensive tool doesn't work well if it's underpowered, and for me, using this gun I was consistently having problems driving 1/8" rivets on the empennage in spite of the catalog rating of the gun. I ended up demoing and then buying an Atlas Copco 3X rivet gun and this is what I used for all the rest of my riveting. This gun has good shock absorbing and an excellent teasing trigger which also rotates to control air flow. Nice feature. So my number one recommendation is demo a number of good quality 3x rivet guns and buy the one you like best. My number two recommendation is buy a good tungsten bucking bar (3/4" x 1" x 5"). I cut some pieces of bicycle tube and inserted the tungsten bar inside the tube to make it easier to hold. I made some steel bucking bars for special situations, but this bar bucked the majority of rivets on my plane. The old style cast iron bucking bars I initially bought are getting rusty from lack of use. For me they are not heavy enough for solo riveting. Not worth the price.

As an aside, as I was learning flush riveting, I made a guide from plywood with a hole just big enough for the flush set and with an extension somewhat like a wooden spoon that had holes/slots which I would cleco to the part. Especially for solo riveting, this helped keep the set from walking over the part and damaging it. I used this quite extensively until I developed the right feel for the gun, bar and rivet.

I'd recommend a pneumatic rivet squeezer which is my favorite tool and use it wherever I can, but if the situation demands a rivet gun and bucking bar, I have no hesitation using it.
Terry Edwards
RV-9A (Fuselage)
2020/2021 VAF Contribution Sent
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Old 12-26-2020, 10:13 PM
AlpineYoda AlpineYoda is offline
Join Date: Nov 2019
Location: Boulder, CO
Posts: 264

This video was made in the 1950s, I think, but it is incredibly helpful.

10 minutes will teach you more about riveting and dimpling than any textbook.
RV-10 build blog --
Started 12/19/2019
Engine hung 1/9/2021
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Old 12-27-2020, 01:03 AM
mturnerb mturnerb is offline
Join Date: Apr 2015
Location: Ponte Vedra, FL
Posts: 1,546

Hi - I sent you a PM
Turner Billingsley

RV-14A built/sold N14VB
RV-12iS in progress as of October 2020
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Old 12-27-2020, 01:46 AM
leok leok is offline
Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: Clarkston, MI
Posts: 406

IMHO this is the most important set, well at least on the same level as the mushroom set for good riveting. Use the bucking bar on the manufactured side and this on the shop side. I used this set every time I could. It is the closest thing to back riveting on the table you can get without being on the table.

This tool set can also be invaluable. You can put dimple dies into the tools to get those really difficult dimples.

Lastly make sure you have the line pressure set properly. Too low and you will need to trigger the gun way to long. Too high and the gun will be hard to control and bounce all over and/or drive a dent into the material. If your gun trigger cannot be controlled from barley tapping to a full burst, then you need a better gun. One last trick, place a finger behind the gun trigger such that you are squeezing your finger when you pull the trigger will give added control.
Building started Oct 5th 2014, Flying since 1/16/2020
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Old 12-27-2020, 02:57 AM
rmartingt's Avatar
rmartingt rmartingt is offline
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Savannah, GA
Posts: 1,092

Two fingers on the trigger, and try to use the middle part of your fingers (not the tips).

Don't try to start with solo riveting; find a partner and do one side or the other. Only once you're competent at both ends should you try solo.
RV-7ER - finishing kit and systems installation
There are two kinds of fool in the world. The first says "this is old, and therefore good"; the second says "this is new, and therefore better".
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