HINTS FOR HOMEBUILDERS
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PULLED RIVETS ARE FOUND on many of today’s homebuilts. Designs such as
the Sonex, Sonerai, Zenith series, and others feature pulled rivets in their
construction. Pulled rivets are used because they offer simple, one-person
installation along with the low cost of required installation tools, saving both
time and money for the builder.
Sooner or later, the builder of a sheet metal aircraft using pulled rivets
will run into a situation where there just isn’t room to get the rivet installa-
tion tool into the area where the rivet needs to be installed. An easy fix for
this problem is to modify the tool.
Joe Norris, EAA 113615, is EAA’s Homebuilders Community Manager.
1/ In this picture we have an “out of the
box” rivet tool on the left and our modified
unit on the right. You can see how a grinder
has been used to remove some material
from the upper frame and the barrel of the
tool. Look closely at the tip (where the rivet
mandrel goes into the tool) and you’ll see
that it has been ground at a slight angle.
10 TO 20 DEGREES
2/ This picture illustrates the reason for
grinding the tip at an angle. You can see
that the tool can now be held at an angle
to the work, but the tip will be flush so that
the rivet will be set properly.
3/ For this process to work properly, bend
the rivet mandrel to match the angle the
tool is held at. One method is to use the
extra tips stored in the tool’s handle. Pick
the tip that will accept the body of your
rivet and then bend as shown. Or you can
drill a proper size hole in a piece of scrap
metal or wood to hold the rivet while you
bend the mandrel.
4/ The result is a properly set rivet, as
shown here. There is an alternate method
you can use. Rather than modifying your
rivet tool, you can make a small angle block
out of a scrap of aluminum or steel. Drill a
hole in the block that will fit over the rivet
mandrel and then grind an angle on one
side of the block. Bend your rivet mandrel as
described above, slip your angle block onto
the mandrel, and then set your rivet.