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Thread: Old-style rivets, info needed
03-12-2007, 01:51 AM #1
I am restoring an old 1914 Crossley stationary engine and have almost finished building the trolley on which the engine sits. I would like to make a cooling tank which looks like it came from this period. I have one photo from an old brochure showing a Crossley factory tank, it is rectangular and riveted.
The problem is, I have zero experience of this type of construction. I would like to use galv sheet (say 1.6mm or 16 gauge), I can fold this OK. Will be about 400mm (16") square base x 900mm (35") high.
It looks like there are rivets around the top (strengthening rib?) and bottom (attaching the bottom?), not sure if there is a longitudinal seam, but I guess there is, maybe two.
My question is about the rivets - any idea what I should be looking for (name, material, diameter etc) and more importantly how to fit them? I suspect it is harder than it sounds to do a job like this neatly, probably why most guys use 20 or 44 gallon oil drums or corrugated copper drums from water heaters etc. Maybe a galvanised oil drum wouldn't look too bad.. [img]smile.gif[/img]
Thanks for any advise, suggestions [img]smile.gif[/img]
03-12-2007, 03:07 AM #2
Look at aircraft construction for standard rivets. It really isn't that hard if you have the proper tools. You would need a rivet gun, a bucking bar, and the proper sized rivets. The rivets are aluminum...at least for aircraft manufacturing. The most popluar kit-built airplanes are from Vans Aircraft http://www.vansaircraft.com/. They are all aluminum, and put together with rivets. With a little practice, it really isn't hard to get a good looking product. You might be able to check with Vans and see if there is anyone who is building, or has completed one of their aircraft in your area. They would have the tools. You might have to find the particular rivets for your project.
03-12-2007, 03:55 AM #3
I know you are across the BIG pond, but you can try here, although how you get these people to talk to you, I don't know. I've been trying to buy from them, asked if I'd like a catalog, said yes, got a 4 page brochure, no sizes, no prices, nothing.
You'll get the idea of what's out there, though.
Is that tank lidded, can you tell, from the photo? They used closely spaced rivets, and multiple rows staggered to make a water or steam tight seal without welding. Heat the rivets red hot, beat 'em down, softer that way, then when they cool they shrink and tighten up the joint.
Still had to do some "boiler bashing" to close up leaks as best they could. From what I read, most if not all boilers from days gone by leaked some.
Those sites above have some pneumatic rivet tools, also.
If you get any of them to talk to you, let me know the secret.
03-12-2007, 05:48 AM #4
Thanks for the info, I see there is some Mil-Spec info on rivets on that website, but it naturally assumes the person reading it will have some clues about this. [img]redface.gif[/img]
Can you please describe a bucking bar? I am guessing you need to back up the rivet with something, maybe something with a former to give some shape to the rivet shank?
Is a riveter a pneumatic hammer? I have seen the pneumatic rivet guns used for heavy boiler work, not sure what you would require for those aluminium rivets though.
I am hoping to do this with out buying tools, (I can make simple stuff). I guess I was wondering if it was possible to fit (non-ferrous?) rivets by hand, without heat? using a hammer and any tooling, possibly with a helper.
Thanks for the rivet websites, those round head solid rivets look the part.
The tank will be open topped.
03-12-2007, 06:19 AM #5
If you are going to paint the tank, what I have done in a couple times in the past when I needed a riveted look from the outside is to use Phillips panhead screws with nuts on the inside. After assembly, I filled the screwdriver slots with JB Weld and sanded them round. A bit tedious but it beats crawling inside a drum and hammering on rivets.
As for a non-riveted tank for stationary engines, I have seen people use old galvanized well accumulator tanks (before they started using rubber bladders) -- they look a little more appropriate than an oil drum.
Can you post a picture of what you are thinking about for a tank. Is it screen-cooled?
03-12-2007, 07:08 AM #6
Tall order Peter.
I think you could spend you're whole life riveting and not know it all. Much of it becoming a dying art. My G'dad use to make toys out of scraps from work and little copper rivets.
Biggest job I've done was a repair to an Aluminum fishing boat that was holed by a log. Beat out the metal. Drill out the old rivets. Ream the holes. Weld up any holes that were still out of round and redrill. One guy on top with a big bucking bar. (Any bar with a little conical face for the rivet. Made our own.) One guy below with an air hammer. The little ones they use in autoshops work. The trick is to move the hammer around in a circle as you work the rivet head. You want the edge of the head to bite into the plate. We found that having the right length of rivet was critical in not splitting the head. Half way through we had to swap places cause our arms were numb. Can't imagine doing it all day with red hot rivets and a 70 lb gun while hanging 100 feet up on the side of a ship in a cold wind. Real men.
Afterwards we hit the hull with the pressure washer to test for leaks. Any rivets that leaked got a couple of more taps. If that didn't work they got the drill, weld, ream, and new rivet treadment.
That's the general pattern. Align the plates. Drill, ream, drive. Simple.
The rivets have to be dead soft. Steel ones are driven hot. Copper, after driven hard, is remarkably tough. Soft iron wire can be used as rivets. You might be able to get away with driving those cold. Experiment.
Avoid aerospace surplus aluminum rivets. Aluminum rivets preciptaion harded with age. Some of the aircraft ones were shipped in dry ice to maintain their softness. You wont be able to drive them without splitting.
You'll need something to keep the holes aligned while driving rivets. There is a thing called a Cleco. Snaps in the hole till you get to that spot then you can remove it.
The old boilermakers and shipfitters would come along afterward with a chisel and swage the sheet ends into the plate underneath for a watertight seal.
You can also use a rivet squeezer. Kind of like a beefy C-clamp with matching spherical depressions. Of course only good near plate edges.
Oh, and reamers. You'll find a machine reamer to be useless when the holes aren't aligned perfect. Thats why there are things called bridge reamers with a tapered toe. For small things I've used a tapered pin reamer.
Normaly the tank would be galvanized only after riveting. Otherwise you would have a zinc on zinc seal instead of a iron on iron one. And remember the zinc in sacrificing itself to protect the iron.
There is much more but, unfortunately, I don't have access to my old books.
03-12-2007, 07:47 AM #7
Hay mower teeth are rivited on with soft steel rivits. There is three or four sizes. They are put on cold. Stop by a tractor store and talk to the parts man about mower rivits. Riviting is something that we had to learn in junor high shop class. I bet that I am one of the few from that class that still use rivites now and then.
03-12-2007, 08:38 AM #8
If there is a general aviation airport near you, drop by with a photo of the tank and I'm sure you will be able to find an aircraft engineer who for a slab or two would rivet it up and put some pro-seal in the joint to stop any leaks. Failing that try the a tech college where they have an aviation engineers course. A lousy rivet job detracts for an overall project, to get it looking good takes a lot of practice and the right tools.
03-12-2007, 09:23 AM #9
I can't post a photo at present, I won't be near a scanner for a week probably. It is not screen cooled, just a straight forward thermo siphon type.
I'll keep the screw idea in the back of my mind... I am not against a bit of fraud either [img]smile.gif[/img] I have used re-profiled coach bolts on the trolley to try and give a riveted look. I only used channel and plate on the trolley, I really don't like RHS on something like this as it looks out of place.
lots of good stuff there, thanks.
Do you think using galved sheet with galv against galv is a mistake? I am wary of getting large sheetmetal and plate surfaces hot-dipped, I have seen the warpage that can occur. Possibly it is more a problem with welded structures and some stress relief taking place. Not sure I want to experiment though!
I think we used to have a box of those sickle bar mower blade rivets back on the farm, I wonder if they are still there...
03-12-2007, 12:37 PM #10
semitubular rivets may be easier to work with. they turn very easily with a punch type tool. also there is a rivet that works a bit like a pop rivet in reverse, it you pull it on the inside so the head is solid. I messed with them 25 30 years ago, but never really used them.
03-12-2007, 01:48 PM #11
The book "Marine Coppersmithing" copyright 1944 will give you some good information on this type of rivetting, with some nice images too that should get you going along with the good information above.
Hasluck's "METALWORKING - A Book of Tools, Materials & Processes for the Handyman" copyright 1907 is also an excellent resource for rivetting applications and procedures in general, & as they relate to steam engine work. There's a great 8 pg. section devoted just to rivetting, and the entire book is a goldmine of metalworking information and old world techniques and ideas that are still totally applicable today.
I would use a brazier head rivet for this type of job (which is a slightly lower profile of a round head rivet), maybe a 3/16" shank about 3/8" to 7/16" long. You can sweat the rivets with solder if you need a watertight job. We do lots and lots of hand riveting here all the time...and use a pneumatic gun sometimes too. 1/8" thru 3/8" shanks, copper, steel, brass, etc.
Good Luck with the project.
(as an after thought, one little trick is to lay out and drill your holes, line up and assemble your work to be rivetted, and insert a similar sized nut and bolt in every other hole, or every hole if you like. Then as you rivet, remove each nut and bolt and replace with rivets. This will help to keep your work true as you rivet up and scrub each finished rivet)
03-12-2007, 03:50 PM #12
It's been alot of years since I had to "Shake the rivits from my hair, shake em loose and let em fall.........." (ducking)
If you want to use AL rivits, I look for MILSPEC MS20470B's. - they are the softest I ever worked with, they (B's) have a little cross on teh factory head which goes away pretty much when they are shot. The AD's are a little harder, and have a dimple which does not go away.
CO89 is a little harder still, does not have a mark in teh head though, they are purple anodized. MS204's are gold anodize color.
Shank should protrude 1 1/2 diameters through the sheets before forming, this gives a head 1 1/2 diameters and not below required shop head thickness. Put all your rivs in at once and tape in place, unless you need clecos or some such to hold sheets together.
Bucker pushes riv out towards shooter w/ bucking bar, shooter pushes back in and gives 'er a burst, bucker taps once for hit 'er again, twice for "that's good", three times for "we screwed that one up, mark for removal".
Of course for work like this, I wouldn't be able to resist firing up the forge and having a go with some orange hot steel rivs..
Oops - "fitting" as you Brits say.. I never spoke metric, but in imperial, use the number drill just up in size from nom. dia. tht divides by 10 - i.e., 1/8 riv, #30 drill, 3/16 - #20, 1/4", no. 10.
Oh yeah, if Al riv's, I would put a bead of sealant in the joint before putting the sheets together, and install the rivs with wet sealant.
And as "some" of us say over here, "It ain't rocket surgery". Good luck.
03-12-2007, 06:38 PM #13
In the USA we have a couple of firms still producing steel rivets. These ar euse din steam locomotive boiler restoration and repairs or various odd repairs such as on older Great Lakes vessels. I believe the outfit you might want to contact is Jay-Cee Rivet and Sales, at 800-521-6777. No address given. The firm I have dealt with is Champion Rivet, 4010 E 116th St,Cleveland, OH 44005, firstname.lastname@example.org
Jay-Cee claims to have a wide variety of rivets in all sorts of materials and sizes. I am guessing you want a rivet for use in sheetmetal.
For galvanized sheet steel, a "panhead" or round-head rivet would be used. The oldtime tinsmiths used to rivet things like sheetmetal tanks "cold". They had a variety of simple hand-tools for the job if they were in a small shop. If it were a production job, I am sure they had some form of power rivetter ("C" frame press type rivetter) or used a small air hammer and bukcing bar.
Since your application will be handling water (or engine coolant), I would advise you stick with rivets made of steel for use in steel sheets. The temptation to use copper or aluminum rivets is they are softer and will dirve and "head up" more easily. The downside is galvanic action.
A modern compromise method is to use "dummy" rivets. Basically, you can assemble the tank and drill it for rivetted seams. Let the rivet shanks stick thru into the inside of tank and trim them off a little beyond flush. Pull the seams together using a few temporary bolts and nuts in a few of the rivet holes. You then silver solder, braze or weld the rivet shanks to the sheets of the tank from the inside. remove the bolts from the remaining holes and catch them with dummy rivets and seal-welding or seal brazing.
Similarly, you seal the seams of the tank with soldering, brazing or welding from the inside. If the design of the tank works out right, you wind up with an exposed seam on the inside lip of the bottom of the tank. Hopefully, this is a hidden seam since the tank will sit on the engine skid or trolley.
This method of hidden seal welds and dummy rivets was used to build the re-creation of a 50 foot tall "rivetted" sheet steel smokestack at Hanford Mills. The material was 10 gauge Cor-Ten (:weathering alloy") steel and I believe either 3/16" or 1/4" rivets were used. The stack was made in sections. Each section was big enough in diameter and just short enough that a boilermaker could slide in headfirst with a MIG (GMAW) welding gun and seal weld things. From the outside, as far as the world sees it, it's a rivetted sheet iron smokestack. IMO, this method should work for your reproduction of the cooling tank for your Crossley engine. With seal welding or seal brazing, you will have a good, tight tank.
03-12-2007, 06:50 PM #14
03-12-2007, 07:34 PM #15
From memory there are three tools you need for rivetting, a "dolly", a "snap" and a "set", a hammer is also useful as are "skin pegs".
Skin pegs are a little tool, that goes through the rivet hole, and as its thumbscrew is tightened, a shaft is drawn outwards with a small hook on it to pull the sheets together. The rivet is put in the hole, the dolly is used to push the head against one skin( it has a suitable dimple in it), the set is put over the rivets shaft and whacked to punch the two skins together. The snap then replaces the set and when whacked, it forms the shaft of the rivet into a dome.
For youur application, real galvanising would look "right" but I can't see how this can be applied to the rivet heads, what is available (in the UK) are 6mm galvanised coach bolts, very flat domed head,no slot. these would need square holes and a spacer inside but would look better then mild steel or ali rivets. Another alternative is a round headed SS screw with the slot linished of and matted down with fine wet and dry paper.
03-12-2007, 07:44 PM #16Another alternative is a round headed SS screw with the slot linished of and matted down with fine wet and dry paper.
I do a bit of hot rivetting from time to time, up to 3/4" dia., the setting up can take a lot longer than the actual rivetting which can be surprisingly quick once you're organised, but I might be tempted to cheat on this job if it were mine.
03-12-2007, 08:02 PM #17
I do know of one thing today that is very commonly riveted, and that is brake and clutch linings. IF there is an older auto repair place near you they may still have the small machine used for this, and they may have some rivets that would look nice for your application. These small press type riveters have went "no bid" at a couple auctions I'v been at.
Some of the false rivet ideas sound neat, but they sound harder than just trying to rivet the dang thing .
I had an air tank at one time that was 24" dia, 4' high, and rivteted seam, very old, we pumped it up to 125 psi once (with a LONG hose)just to see if it would hold air, It did but that FELT like one of the most dangerous things I'v done along those lines hehe....I'm sure it was very strong when it was new, but ad age and corrosion and it looked like a bomb to me
03-12-2007, 10:11 PM #18
Chucki's description of a skin peg sounds like what in the aircraft/missile assembly we would call a "Cleco"(or Kleco) to hold skin assemblies together for riveting. The common sizes are:#50, #40,#30,#21,#10,1/4",7/32",#16,and #27. These are spring loaded to the close position and require special pliers to operate.
For really tight assemblies the special draw "Clecos" are the type that has either a wing nut to pull it close or a captive hex nut to operate.
A grip pressure of more than 300 pounds can be generated using this type of temporary fastener.
Many grip length's are available for specialized applications.
03-13-2007, 01:10 AM #19
Many thanks for all the extra info - I am getting confused by all the terminology though, might have some more dumb questions....
Clecos I have seen, but I can use same size screw and nut to hold parts together, tight budget. (I have done lots of pop riveting work and know about aligning holes, though I guess the alignment problem is more critical with solid rivets and water tight problems).
When I look at the bucking bars (thanks Mike for those websites) I see lots of different shaped steel blocks, similar to what I would call a dolly as used by panelbeaters here on car repair work. Are these bucking bars just for riveting, or is this a term used for any sort of "backing" tool? I guess what confuses me is I was expecting to see some sort of recess on the bucking bar suitable for forming the rivet stem into a shape. Maybe there are such recesses, I just can't see them?
"Rivet Sets" is another term I see on the websites, these look like they attach to the pneumatic rivet gun, and have a recess to suit the rivet head. ?
I would be worried about trying to silver solder or similar a flat-sided tank like this, I am limited to 16 gauge by the folder, don't like waving a flame or too much heat around this stuff. If I had a wheeling machine I could put a bit of "pudding" into the panels, but I don't.
03-13-2007, 02:06 AM #20
Installing a solid aircraft rivet either countersunk (flat head) or button head requires the use of the proper size rivet gun (2x,3x,or 4x) and the correct bucking bars to be able to deform the tail of the rivet (I.E. swell the rivet to fit the drilled or punched hole).
The gun must have the correct rivet "set" to fit the rivet and must guns have a .401 diameter opening for the shaft of the "set".
The flat head rivets can use a "mushroom" set for the skin or panels while the button head requires a "set" to match the shape of the rivet end where the vibration will be directed against.
The bucking bars come in many different weight and sizes to allow instalation of the rivets.
The action of istalling rivets is hard on the hands and forearms as it is an intense vibration and can lead to nerve damage along with hearing loss if precautions are not taken(anti-vibration gloves and ear plugs).
Rivet gauges are available to be able to measure the installed rivet as to size and length of the swelled tail after the bucking bar is used.
The typical aircraft rivet and bucking bar has no holes for the rivet to fit into. The action of the rivet gun with the proper set will swell and deform the end so it is vibration proof and water tight.