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Aluminum boat rivet replacement and repair

Question:
It seems I might have the opportunity to aquire a 85 to 89 Fisher. It includes the 115 Merc, trolling motor with auto lift system, and all the electronics. It is my old partners boat. The price would be right. Now, in the past, I helped him replace a set of rivets on this boat with bolts. It is one set about, if memory serves me(ha), 3/4 feet from the stern. He could barely reach them from the back with the batterys removed. BTW, this boat looks like a fiberglass bass boat but is alum. At the time we replaced them I told him to check around at different shops that did aluminum work, like trailer repair shops for advice on different types of rivets that could be used effectivly. Now the big question. How about some advice from the group on what to do with this set of bolts. I have seen repair shops use some awfully large pop type rivets and then round the head, which I was told also seals it, but have no other experience and that shop is gone. Can any one help me out??


Answer:
- If you have to tear apart part of the boat to get at these rivets to buck them, so be it- you need to be assured that the buck tails (the upset end) of the rivets are done right. Remove and replace bad rivets one at a time, so that your layers of sheet metal don't separate on you. As you remove each rivet check to see if the new rivet fits the hole snugly. If not, you'll need either an oversize rivet of that type, or the next sized rivet. If these are round head rivets, you either need a rivet set to fit the head that goes into a rivet gun (an air hammer will do in a pinch, but be sure to put a throttle valve on it so you dial the pressure down to a managable level, or you'll smear the rivet.) or a relieved bucking bar that goes on the head of the rivet while you drive the bucktail end with the gun. Go slow, and make sure your partner bucking the rivets is holding the bar tight to the rivet. If you drive the bucktail, use a flat rivet set in the gun. You will have to cut the rivets to length before installing them- about 3/16" beyond the skin so that when it's bucked properly you have about a 1/8" thick bucktail on the rivet. Be sure to cut the rivet off square or you'll have the devil to pay to drive them straight.

Remember that each time you drive the rivet you will workharden it. So try to drive your rivet all in one stroke.

If these are counter-sunk rivets, ensure the new rivet heads fit into the countersink correctly- not sticking out beyond the edge, nor sunk down into the countersink below the surface. You will have to take steps to correct either of these conditions- either cutting more of the countersink (a little at a time) or drilling an over size hole and countersinking for the new sized rivet. And if the skin is too thin, it can't be countersunk-it must be dimpled.

-this year we're moving close to Lake Erie so next year I'm planning on buying a Fisher, probably a 17' Sport Avenger with the walk through (has to double duty as a fishing boat for me and a cruiser for the better half.)


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