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Hoffer

Boat Rivets - please help!!

33 posts in this topic

Hello all-

First of all - I apologize as I am pretty sure this topic has been discussed before!

With that said, can anyone please tell me if its possible to replace a boat rivet from underneath - rather than having to tear the floor off!

I was out tonight - and the boat had a huge leak. I out it away for the Winter and it was relatively dry.

When I trailered the boat - I saw an obvious stream coming from under the drivers seat area. I looked under and sure enough there was a rivet completely missing.

My next question is can one missing rivet cause a boat to take on that much water?? When I put it in the garage i couldnt see any other water drips - other than the one coming from the rivet - its just hard for me to believe that much water can come from 1 rivet.

So, I was hoping for an easy fix - replace one rivet! But does that mean I have to take the whole floor off!! arrrrrrgh.

If it helps the boat is a 1993 16 foot Lund Rebel.

Thanks for any and all help!!!!

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They make a waterproof aluminum pop rivet. It would be fine to use these if your just replacing one here and there.

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I'd do as Frank mentions above as well. It should do the trick.

The worst case scenario is that it doesn't and you have to pull the floor anyway, so why not give it a shot.

When you say "that much water" how much are we talking about here - over the floorboards in the boat, filled the bilge, etc?

I think a missing rivet hole would allow for a lot of water to be taken on, especially depending on how long you were in the water.

marine_man

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Agree with marine man and surface tension. Hallbergs sells what they term a leak proof pop rivet. I'm sure other shops have them to. Try and figure out what size hole it is and how deep of a rivet you'll need before you go with gas prices could save you two trips. Might want to buy a couple extra ones just in case and keep them in the boat. Had a rivet go out on a 6 year old lund and it was amazing how much it leaked. A salesman from Rapid told me about the leak proof pop rivets. Put some silicone up the hole then just popped the rivet in. She hasn't leaked a drop in a couple years.

Good luck with it.

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Yes to the above rivets!The body of the rivet is solid no holes but butyl rubber on the rivet before installing helps the seal.

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My next question is can one missing rivet cause a boat to take on that much water?? When I put it in the garage i couldnt see any other water drips - other than the one coming from the rivet - its just hard for me to believe that much water can come from 1 rivet.

Basically, the water will come in just as fast as it will drain out. So if you had your boat in the water for an hour and it leaked the whole time, it should take an hour for the water to drain out (assuming you didn't lose some water due to bilge pump or running on plane, etc).

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Hey guys thanks for all the great input.

I will check those pop rivets out. Can anyone tell me what these things are like?? Is this a difficult procedure to do?? Keep in mind I am not mechanically inclined at all!!

Do you need a special tool - I guess I would love to know just how they work?

The boat leaked pretty good - we did just put the bilge on and were able to keep fishing. i am thinking it must be this one rivet because the boat was running pretty dry when I put it away in the Fall.

Ona different note - someone told me Lund had a "lifetime" warranty on the hull...do you think that would include these rivets?? I called Rapid this morning - and they said if I had to take the floor off it would take about 10 hours of work! Thats crazy for one rivet!! Why in the heck would they make the boat this way - so hard to fix one simple rivet. makes me thing that next time around i will be going all welded hull.

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Liquid Solder will be a good temp fix. You can tap it out when you get the rivet.

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Menards sells a standard pop rivet gun for pretty cheap. All you do is put it on the rivet and squeeze it a couple times till the rivet pops. Should be some kind of instructions on the package.

As for pulling the floor for one rivet I've been told that also. I don't know anyone in his right mind who would go through ten hours of work or pay for 10 hours of work to fix one rivet unless it's a brand new boat under warranty. Wish more dealers would tell people about the leak proof rivets when they come in and say I have one leaky rivet but I'm sure it cuts into profits and there's a liability issue there some where. Would save the common guy a ton of frustration and time.

Think of all the boats out there and all the other guys who've had the same problem with the millions of rivets in the country holding boats together. I still like rivets better than welds but just an opinion. Welds are a bit harder to fix and more costly IMO when they break.

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Drill a hole in the bottom of a coffee can and hold it 6" in the water. See how fast the water comes in. Yes one missing rivet will let a lot of water in.

Use a drill bit as a gauge to size the hole. Look up rivets or fasteners in the yellow pages. Call and ask for water proof pop rivets in the correct size. You'll need a cheap $10 pop rivet tool from Menards.

Hopefully the rivet was just a fluke and the rivets next that one are OK.

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Google Grainger Industrial Supply,under fasteners go to rivets,Lot easier than looking around here I've only found standard rivets if anyone even carries them.Bout 5-6 days from order you'll have em in any size made.there is also charts that show what legnth and how to figure it.

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yeah - when i called the boat places yesterday they all said they wouldnt fix it from the outside due to liability reasons. They al;l said they could sell me a rivet and I could do it myself. I did a lot of google searching last night ans actually found a site that had a movie showing how the pop rivet works - look svery easy and simple and i also googled the Northern supply place and they have the rivet guns and rivets for not that much - I think the gun and a pack of various sized rivets will only set me back about 30 bucks total. I am going to take your advice and keep this rivet gun in the boat with some extra rivets just in case. i am going to canada for 5 days in June and its a rough road those last few miles and i could just see another rivet popping. My only worry is that when I get to actually doing the rivet part is that the 2 pieces of metal that need to be riveted are close enough together so that the rivet catches them both...I guess if I just place the rivet through the first piece of metal and it doesnt catch the 2nd piece - it will still be OK if it pinches tight - basically it will just work like a "plug" at that point. I plan on doing this tomorrow and I am going to fill up the boat with the garden hose first in the morning to see if I have any other leaks or just the one area. Then I will fix the rivet and fill it up again to see if it is still leaking...

One last thing....should I put some kind of sealant on the rivet too?

I hope thats the only leak - when I looked under there the other night the other rivets looked tight - but its hard to tell until you do the water test. I will post tomorrow or Sunday the results - thanks again!!!!

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You shouldn't need any type of seal. You will see that the rivets come in different lengths. Do something to figure out how long of a rivet you need. If the pieces of metal are a bit seperated the rivet should pull them together. Just make sure you have one that's long enough and that you get it all the way in before you start to squeeze on the rivet gun. It's a one shot deal and so if you screw it up you'll have to drill it out and try again. Finally, try and use a rivet made out of the same material. If it is aluminum that you're working with be sure to use an aluminum rivet. Otherwise you'll get bi-metalic corrosion and it will fail - probably in about 15 years. If the kit doesn't have the right rivet go and buy some. They only cost a few bucks a box.

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Menards sells a back washer that helps. It wont help you if your floor is still on but if the floor is off you apply them to the non rivet gun side. That kit you found at northern can be purchased at Menards for 15 bucks but you will need probably the 1/2 inch rivet that does not come with the gun. The extra rivets are only about 2 bucks but they are not leak proof as mentioned in this thread.

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Just to make the things a little more difficult for you.

Boat rivets are aluminum with a stainless steel shank, so they will not corrode, otherwise your job will have to be done again few years later.

Ok, I can expect some foul language now or some nasty email, I will understand winkwink

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You shouldn't need any type of seal. You will see that the rivets come in different lengths. Do something to figure out how long of a rivet you need. If the pieces of metal are a bit seperated the rivet should pull them together. Just make sure you have one that's long enough and that you get it all the way in before you start to squeeze on the rivet gun. It's a one shot deal and so if you screw it up you'll have to drill it out and try again. Finally, try and use a rivet made out of the same material. If it is aluminum that you're working with be sure to use an aluminum rivet. Otherwise you'll get bi-metalic corrosion and it will fail - probably in about 15 years. If the kit doesn't have the right rivet go and buy some. They only cost a few bucks a box.

Well, I just thought about it and realize that I may have been suffering from anal cranial inversion. Of course there's a problem. There's still a hole where the shaft of the pop rivet was. I guess I don't know if that seals up water tight when you squeeze it down. This whole thing may not be the solution. Have to think this one over after some coffee, and maybe go down to the garage and check it out.

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Hey guys-

I did some research on the net and found this great video showing how the pop rivet works. For a boat, the key is to buy a "closed end pop rivet" the closed end will seal out any water going through or around.

Check out this video - I still havent bought my pop rivets and gun yet - so I dont know how this will work yet for sure.

I did check the rivet size with an allen wrench tool set. Apparently if you have a rivet hole larger than 3/16th of an inch it requires a more expensive - I think electric operated - rivet tool. So, my allen wrench that was marked 3/16th - would NOT fit in the hole - so I am thinking I must be safe and have rivet holes that are less than 3/16th of an inch. I am just going to buy the rivet gun, a bunch of different sizes of rivets and see which rivet matches up best and then try to install it. My key last question for you guys - is this: Is it accurate to measure the hole using an allen wrench? Like I said the 3/16th allen wrench wouldnt fit into the hole - so I am hoping the rivet size must be smaller than 3/16th - but I want to be sure that I am using an accurate way to actually Measure this. Below is a link to the video - I am a visual guy - and this helps me alot to see how in the heck this works!

http://www.helicoil.com/media/swf/rebite4.swf

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A drill bit would be better for measuring a hole. An allen wrench that says 3/16 is for a 3/16 screw. The head that the allen screw is much smaller then 3/16. I just did my boat and all the holes were just under 1/4 inch and the rivets were 3/16. I used 3/16 inch rivets that were 1/2 inch long and they were perfect to go through the two layers of Aluminum one of which was the reinforcement seal (dont know what the correct term is) I also used a below water sealer on all the rivets. I know this is not a long term fix but the motor is over 40 years old and the boat is almost that old. Only need a few more years out of it.

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Alright - I found out that the closed end rivets are hard to come by. It looks like Granger may have them - but Northern tool, Home depot, menards and lowes did not have them.

Eurolarva - did you use closed end rivets or just the regular pop rivets??

One other thing I was thinking tonight as I was trying to figure all this out....since its just one rivet hole - why couldnt I find a small threaded screw that would screw on tight through the hole? I could put that liquid metal stuff around the screw before I screwed it on. Wouldnt that hold - and create a waterproof tight seal? Maybe through time it would work away and crack the aluminum bottom?? It just seems like an easy fix?

Any thoughts?? Thanks!!

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I used regular pop rivets. I looked in granger and could not find the correct ones there. I talked to a boat repair place and they said the rivets they use require special tools and most places do not carry rivets. They also told me to use rivets instead of screws because screws do not have the shear strength that a rivet has. Two years ago I sheared off two rivets trailering my boat and was amazed how much water got in in such a short time. I bought some epoxy stuff from fleet farm in their boat stuff area. You break a piece off and work it with your fingers then cram it in the hole and rub it smooth. In seven minutes the stuff is as hard as a rock. It hasnt leaked since. T You might want to consider this for the quick fix till you can do the perm thing. My boat is a junk and not worth anything so I dont want to spend money on it. My last repair was the knee was busted so the lower part of my boat and the transom was not connected. I used 12 rivets below the water line with the sealent I also bought from Fleet Farm. Did not leak today however I am sure this is only a temp thing.

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one other option is aircraft rivets, refered to as "cherry" rivets. these are "pop" style. aircraft talk is "blind fasteners" available in diameters by the 1/32 and length by the 1/16, countersunk or protruding heads. Aircraft Spruce and specialty is a common supplier. also a good location to purchase the solids if you decide to pull the floor. while it is true that a special gun is used, a regular variable nose manual gun will pull them (aluminum)through 3/16. just need the proper nose piece to accomadate the rivet stem like the kind with the 1/8, 5/32, 3/16 screwed into the handle for storage. also there are three common types of aluminum (aircraft) 2024,7075,6061, if you are going to replace with solids or cherry, use the correct material and install wet with sealant.

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boe 757 - thanks - I will check out the place you menetioned. i did measure tonight with a drill bit - the hole is definetely 3/16 inch - but I have no idea how long of one I should get. To make matters worse - the rivet that is missing is on one of the "runners" on the bottom of the boat - so I imagine it is going to require a longer rivet than if it was just a rivet missing from the flat bottom of the boat. I was thinking I could bend a paperclip in a 90 degree angle and then insert the bent end, then pull down and mark how fardown the paperclip goes - and then buy a rivet thatlong?? does that make sense?

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use the paper clip method, post the measurement, and I can send you the grip length

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I used the wrong Company! Euro stated he could'nt find Closed End Blind rivets in Graingers catalog! I get my rivet supplies from 3 different Co. The right co. is Hanson Rivet & supply Co. Page c23.Aluminum rivet with Stainless steel mandrel,Closed end self sealing.

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Well I tried to measure with a 90 degree paper clip - and the best I can tell was that it is 1/2 inch - which to me seems alot thicker than I had anticipated. The other weird thing is that when I rotated the paperclip around and tried to go 360 degrees with it - it would hit a little "wall" - I am wondering if this rivet is right where there is a little ledge or divider in the boat. So when they put the rivet in there it couldnt seal all the way down - and then slowly worked lose. ia m almost positive this is the same area where my boat had a leak before - i actually had the whole bottomr unner replaced ultimately - but I remmember it leaking in this place before - because I actully tried some epoxy around that area and the white residue is still there from before. I am almost tempoted to just try that putty stuff and shive that in the hole and if it hardens then maybe that would work - as I am now afraid that this rivet will just come lose again - but I think the best thing would be some sealant on a clsoed end pop rivet - I gues I will just have to guess on the right size and give it a try?

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