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Old 04-07-2013, 05:22 PM   #1
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Default Attaching aluminum skins to trailer

My enclosed race trailer has a steel skeleton, 16" on center, with an aluminum skin that was attached by self-tapping sheet metal screws. The screws use a square (Robertson) bit (four points) and have an eight point "female" on the oval head of the screw.

I've looked and looked and cannot find screws like this.

My problem is that it appears these are galvanized ... but some (not all) the heads rust. I'd like to replace the rusted heads with fresh identical screws. Ideally I'd like to replace them with stainless steel screws with the same head design.

Up to now I've been using stainless steel Phillips head sheet metal screws, which appear to get the job done, but don't match very well. And of course there is the issue of the Phillips bit wanting to cam out of the screw head and stripping it. My preference is a square Robertson head (four points), or the eight point into which the Robertson goes fine, or a hex, or a Torx.

Anyone know of a source for that? Especially in stainless steel.

Every once in a while I toy with replacing all the screws with pop rivets. The trailer is red, and I should be able to find pop rivets the racers use with a red aluminum head. But are those strong enough? I think they are aluminum. I'm a little concerned that if the hole is now bigger than the rivet shank, then moisture (rain/snow) might get by the head and into the steel skeleton and start to corrode it from the inside out.

Has anyone has experience with this? Has anyone riveted the sides of their T/C's using rivets like this?

Thanks for the help.

Dick
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Started looking for 379 Peterbilt TC, 24' to 30' box, bumper pull--but ended up w/1999 Liberty Coach conversion of 45' Prevost XLV bus. 1,000sf heated/AC'd race shop w/dump station, 50amp shore pwr where bus parks, 3 NASCAR/ARCA race cars & 26' Bravo trailer.
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Old 04-07-2013, 09:58 PM   #2
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Bontrager's Surplus in White Pigeon, MI has the screws and they sell them by the pound.

My buddy here in town specializes in rivets for race cars and has the color matched rivets in stock. They are plenty strong for the application, but when I discussed this with him for my toter project (I had the same idea) he steered me away from them due to the hole in the center of the rivet you end up with. He suggested a different sealed rivet style that has no hole in the center. Still installs like a pop rivet, here is a link: Cizmar Racing Supply / Closed End Rivets He has to order those for you as they don't usually use those on race cars. Also pick up an air rivet gun from him, they are cheap but priceless in saving hand cramps when you have a bunch to install. Greg at Cizmar Racing 330-539-3278

One bonus of using the rivets if you are less than coordinated like me is that there is no chance of the screwdriver bit skipping across your aluminum when it slips off the screw.
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Old 04-07-2013, 10:32 PM   #3
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Thanks! That is what I was looking for.
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Started looking for 379 Peterbilt TC, 24' to 30' box, bumper pull--but ended up w/1999 Liberty Coach conversion of 45' Prevost XLV bus. 1,000sf heated/AC'd race shop w/dump station, 50amp shore pwr where bus parks, 3 NASCAR/ARCA race cars & 26' Bravo trailer.
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Old 04-08-2013, 08:03 AM   #4
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I used 3/16 shaveable pop rivets with o-rings on my toter. They look like a solid rivet once shaved.The only drawback is the shaving tool is a little pricey.About $200. I plan on replacing the screws on my trailer to match the toter at some point. I think there are some photos on my thread "installing the box". Just another option.
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Old 04-08-2013, 08:17 AM   #5
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Default Shaveable rivets

Here is a picture of the rivets and shaving tool.
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Shaveable rivets and tool 004.jpg   Shaveable rivets and tool 005.jpg  
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Old 04-08-2013, 06:44 PM   #6
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Where do you get rivets like that, the O-rings, and the tool?

Doesn't the action of drawing the rivet tight completely crush the o-ring? or is that the intention?
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Started looking for 379 Peterbilt TC, 24' to 30' box, bumper pull--but ended up w/1999 Liberty Coach conversion of 45' Prevost XLV bus. 1,000sf heated/AC'd race shop w/dump station, 50amp shore pwr where bus parks, 3 NASCAR/ARCA race cars & 26' Bravo trailer.
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Old 04-09-2013, 09:16 AM   #7
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Yes, the intent of the o-ring is to seal the rivet hole preventing water from entering. You can buy them in various sizes with or without o-rings.
After searching the net I found the best price on the rivets and shaving tool on Amazon. Can't remember the name of the company. I just do a search on Amazon for shaveable rivets, should pull them up.
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