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Old 06-25-2018, 09:36 PM
Torch76 Torch76 is offline
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: The Midwest
Posts: 42
Default Rivet Gun Slipped

This was my first time riveting close up against another piece of aluminum. The gun slipped, and these smileys occurred.
1. Is this a situation where I feather out the smileys with a Scotch Brite pad so they don't catch my nail, add some primer over the scuffed area, and move on?

2. Any tips for riveting with the gun in close proximity to another piece? It's hard to feel like I have solidly placed the gun and bucking bar.

RV-8 Emp
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Old 06-25-2018, 09:44 PM
Carl Froehlich's Avatar
Carl Froehlich Carl Froehlich is offline
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Dogwood Airpark (VA42)
Posts: 3,270

Three ways:
- Use a longer set. This allows for a decreased angle
- Use an offset set.
- Use at least three layers of masking tape on the set. This is the rule for all round heads to never have a smiley again.


Last edited by rv7boy : 06-26-2018 at 02:13 PM. Reason: Changed "offest" to "offset"
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Old 06-25-2018, 09:56 PM
DaveO DaveO is offline
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: Greenfield, IN
Posts: 370

It happens to the best of us. Build on

RV-7A N1243A Sold
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Old 06-25-2018, 10:52 PM
terrye terrye is offline
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada
Posts: 962
Default Rivet Gun Slipped

1. I always push hard on the rivet gun just before pulling the trigger. On my gun there's an internal spring I can feel when I push on the gun.
2. I use snap-soc rivet set caps, for me these work better than masking tape
3. Squeeze the trigger gently when first starting the gun, but the trigger should be fully open after the first couple of hits.
4. Use only enough air pressure to drive the rivet in about one second. More and it's hard to control the gun and easy for it to bounce off the rivet.
5. Use a tungsten bucking bar.
Terry Edwards
RV-9A (Fuselage)
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Old 06-25-2018, 11:45 PM
BobTurner BobTurner is offline
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Livermore, CA
Posts: 7,858

6. Make it a point to hold forward pressure on the gun for one full second after you release the trigger.
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Old 06-26-2018, 09:01 AM
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airguy airguy is offline
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Garden City, Tx
Posts: 5,594

7. Until you gain proficiency in riveting (and maybe even after), use the rivet gun in short bursts of 1/2 second or less and then evaluate the rivet and hit it again. I still use this technique with flush rivets to prevent the rivet gun "walking" and giving smileys.
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Garden City, TX VAF 2021 dues paid
N16GN flying 900 hrs and counting; IO360, SDS, WWRV200, Dynon HDX, IFD440, G5
Built an off-plan RV9A with too much fuel and too much HP. Should drop dead any minute now.
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Old 06-26-2018, 09:30 AM
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wirejock wirejock is offline
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Estes Park, CO
Posts: 4,773
Default Gorilla tape

All good advise. Smiles don't look too bad. Rub them with Scotch Brite to remove the stress riser.
I use Black Gorilla Tape on the rivet. A square is good for several rivets and if you slip it covers the adjacent area. Just make sure the set is squarely on the rivet. It will leave a smidge of adhesive behind. Scrape it off with a fingernail.
Larry Larson
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Donated 12/01/2021, plus a little extra.
RV-7A #73391, N511RV reserved (3,000+ hours)
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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 06-26-2018, 10:50 AM
David Paule David Paule is offline
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Boulder, CO
Posts: 5,070

Consider whether you should reduce the pressure for those rivets. Maybe, maybe not. Try it on a test sample and see.

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Old 06-26-2018, 01:49 PM
StressedOut StressedOut is offline
Join Date: Jun 2017
Location: Fullerton, CA
Posts: 161

You don't want to leave those marks because cracks will eventually form. They look deep enough that a ScotchBright pad probably won't be enough, unless you really need an arm and shoulder endurance workout. A blend out repair is usually done for this kind of damage. I use 220 grit to start, then either 400 or higher grit for a final sand. Take care not to remove too much thickness. Measure it after you finish. If you've removed 20% of the thickness you're getting into unknown territory.

When you do the repair you'll be removing the clad layer entirely. You need to touch up the bare aluminum with at the very least some Alodine (Bonderite) 1201. Just brush it on undiluted and rinse per the instructions. This stuff is itself corrosive to aluminum if not rinsed properly. You may want to drill out that rivet so the parts are separated if you use Alodine to insure you don't get it in the faying surface that can't be properly rinsed. As an alternative you can prime as you mentioned. Either way is acceptable.

You can safely ignore the smiley on the rivet head (assuming you don't drill it out for the Alodine). Section 5, page 5-05 says "Rivet OK but looks bad".

Good luck!
Art Jackson
RV-14A Kit#140433
Completed: Vertical Stab/Horizontal Stab
Scrapped: Rudder
Working on: Empennage (Elevator, Rudder #2, Aft Fuselage)
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Last edited by StressedOut : 06-26-2018 at 01:57 PM.
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Old 06-26-2018, 02:20 PM
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jcarne jcarne is offline
Join Date: Jul 2016
Location: Worland, Wyoming
Posts: 1,983

Originally Posted by airguy View Post
7. Until you gain proficiency in riveting (and maybe even after), use the rivet gun in short bursts of 1/2 second or less and then evaluate the rivet and hit it again. I still use this technique with flush rivets to prevent the rivet gun "walking" and giving smileys.
I almost always do this, it avoids a lot of mistakes. I also make sure to keep pressure until a second after letting go. The end of riveting is almost always where problems arise.

One thing no one has mentioned yet is my biggest personal rule, do everything possible to squeeze a rivet before shooting one, especially AN470 rivets. I keep a thin nose yolk, 1.5", 3", 4", and the all mighty longeron yolk for my two different squeezers. Many people will argue that if you develop good shooting skills you won't need to squeeze as often; to each their own but squeezing rivets almost never goes wrong.
Jereme Carne
RV-7A Flying as of 03/2021
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