View Full Version : Setting fender rivets
02-22-2003, 10:03 PM
I'm trying to set original harley 3/16 steel fender rivets. I have tried setting several in a test piece using a cylindrical bucking bar, but the shafts just bend over at the junction with the head. I would like to have these set as they originally were at the factory, perhaps with a rivet press, but can't find anyone that has one. One shop indicated that they would tighten them using a bucking bar and then secure them with a weld. I'm not certain I want to have them done that way. Many shops I have contacted just don't want to deal with setting rivets. If anyone has dealt with this problem before I would sure like to hear of any solutions that you might have or know of anyone that has the tooling to do this kind of work.
02-23-2003, 01:38 PM
I have a couple of rivet presses that were in old time garages to put brakes an clutches together, they work real well an do a nice job. I don't know if they would be stout enough to do the larger rivets in fenders, the principal is the same, you have to have a radii on one side to hold the head, and a point to open the rivet on the other side, You work them with your foot an they have a lot of leverage, i don't know if this is any help but its how i would do it:
02-23-2003, 02:18 PM
I would be interested to find out how this can be accomplished. I tried this about 10 years ago and had a hard time accessing the rivet head inside the fender well. Do not tell anyone but I ended up using round headed bolts and threaded and loctited nuts on them. The bolt head looks perfect (exactly like a rivet head) and no one would ever be able to tell unless they removed the front tire. It has also held up well, I did it in '91 and there are no cracks or problems. I have put a lot of miles on the bike since then.
I was reminded of my non-authenic repair lately as I recently checked out my star hub and replaced the brakes. Hey it works!!!!! You cannot argue with success :D
02-23-2003, 03:51 PM
I think you may be right, Panman, even if they were strong enough, these little presses don't appear to have enough throut to get the fender sidewall in i would need a deeper press, you could put them in with a punch if you made an anvil with a radii in it for the head. Oh well it was a good thought on a snowy day.
I had replaced all the rivits on my sidecar fender for my 1930 VL. I didn't really think too hard on this, but when I needed to "peen" them over I took a steel block and drilled a hole that "matched" the rivit head, but not so the rivit head went all the way into the hole either. I made sure it was fastened together using screws and nuts. I did one rivit at a time. So, I layed the fender with the rivit on the block, making sure the head was recessed into the hole, but not so the fender touched the block. Then I just smacked the protruding pin with a hammer. DONE. ;) You may need to have someone help hold the fender. Oh, I painted my fender after I was done. I would have to be EXTREMLY careful of the fender if the paint is nice. "IF" the rivit gets a small nick from the hole in the block, I just sanded it down, and then the primer helped fill in any small imperfection. It looks like original now.
Carl N. Olsen
02-26-2003, 10:34 AM
I have a better idea for the fender rivets, when I restore a bike I remove all of the rivets and fit the fenders to the frame and fork centered with the tire and chassis components. Then I bolt the fenders together with 10-24 machine screws through the rivet holes and I go to the underside to weld the braces to the the sheet metal on the fender. Then I take the machine screws out so the body work can be done and not have to sand around the rivet heads and get the body panels smooth and straight. after finish priming and before the paint goes on I place the rivets in the hole and weld the end that gets peened over to the underside of the fender brace, I have also used body panel adhesive with good luck. Other advantages of this method are excellent rivet definition on the finished paint job and the welds are holding the fender together, not the rivets which tend to sometimes crack arond the heads and in a starburst pattern on the fender skin after some time and normal day to day vibrations.
02-27-2003, 12:16 PM
The replacing of rivets with like round head screws, tack welding of the braces and backside of rivets would seem like the natural 'In the Field' repair. But we both know that this is not a correct 'Restoration' proceedure to bring it to 'As Factory/Dealer' correct. Even if "No one would ever know". Carl/Panman, would points be deducted when showing if the screws/welds were 'discovered'?? It does help keep the rivets from moving/vibrating which causes the paint to hairline fracture around the rivet heads. I've done quite a few rivets over the years and they can be a 'Bear' to do. In the absence of Large factory 'C' type pnuematic rivet machines, years ago when I had my Bike Shop, like Jim below, I took a piece of thick steel Bar stock and made a 'Bucking Bar' and took a similiar size drill bit that I reshaped on my grinder (After making the first initial shallow 'pilot' hole with the new bit.) After reshaping the bit, I drilled the rivet hole to match the shape of the Rivet, slightly more shallow. I did several hole of each size rivet in the bar to match the Early Pan/knuckle fender rivet size and the Modern Sportster/Superglide fender rivets. Make sure you round off all the edges of the 'bar' so they have at least the rounded edges of a piece of bar soap, (prevents those little creases in the sheetmetal when you slip). I then took a couple of different length, Large/thick steel Craftmens punches and ground them down so that some of the points were rounded and a bit wider then the rivets shank hole and ground a couple till I had a flat, slightly over size for the flat bottom shank type rivets. I placed the bar in the vise (You need a 'BIG' vise bolted to a heavy work table.) Of course an extra pair of hands really helps at this point. You can temporarily assemble with screws per Carl/Panman or you can use a couple pair of 'large Vise-Grip C-lamps to hold the fender and bracket steady. Whatever works. Another 'Body-Work' trick to keep your fender steady is pick up a couple bags of playsand and fill a couple of small 'sandbags' or pillow covers (don't let the wife catch you!) and place them around the vise high enough to support your work. Gives good support for the fender. Also, while your at it, unbolt that 'Big' vise from the edge of the Bench (where everyone puts them) and lay it about a foot in from the edge in the center of the bench, mark holes and drill. Bolt the 'Big' vise here when you need it for body work. It works better and allows you to put the sand bags all around the vise. When your done, just unbolt and put it back on the edge. Makes your vise and bench more utilitarian for all kinds of sheetmetal work and you will use the punches and sandbags for various sheetmetal repairs! I would just throw all this stuff under my workbench when I was done and it would be ready to go for the next time (I painted a lot of H-D fenders and I would always 'Tighten' up rivets before doing a paint job.) Like Carl I would also prime all the surfaces prior to assembly and the rivet step, but I can't say it is correct for all manufacturers. Pop in your rivet and turn the fender on end with the rivet head sitting in the hollow hole of the bucking bar. Here's where I differ with some of the other guys...After placing the punches into the hollow hole of the rivet shank or on the flat of the rivet shank, I would make succesful medium hard smacks with a 3lb mallet. Checking the rivet for snugness until it stopped moving, at which point I stopped and moved onto the next. At first it looks like nothing is happening to the rivet, but with each addtional strike the rivet will mushroom to its correct shape. Sometimes when you have the clearance you can just use a 3# ball peen hammer, but make sure you hit the rivet only! The punches really come into their own when you need to peen rivets like a Sportster/FX front fender! Their also good for peening brake shoes and Rear wheel sprocket rivets! If you want a good book on 'Sheetmetal/Bodywork procedure, go to the Aeronautics sites on the web and look for their books on this subject. You will learn a '****load' of useable information about metal working/metallurgy/welding procedures. I still have my Books from Aeronautics School and they never fail to answer my questions.....:) ...Hrdly-Dangrs
02-27-2003, 10:21 PM
That was a long one, my head is spinning. We started out with motorcycles went out to the workshop and ended up on an airplane!
I am reasonably sure if those sneaky judges saw my little 10/24 nuts behind the ridge of my fender they would deduct points!. Hey what the hey:D To me points are the little contact breakers connected to the capacitors. And as long as those little things are sparking I'm happy. :) Not much of a philosophy but it is all mine.
Keep em sparkin,
02-27-2003, 10:36 PM
Hey Doug, that's the length of one question on an FAA Test for your Airframe/Powerplant Licenses! ...Ha! Any Guys out there with Aeronautics Schooling knows how close to the truth that is....Phew!!....:) ....Used to like airplanes till I realized you could fly 24" off the ground for a lot less money!.....Sometimes!......Hrdly-Dangrs
04-24-2003, 10:54 AM
Could you go over a couple of things for me Hrdly? Near the bottom of your post you mention using a punch inside of the rivet (I'm assuming the Knuckle/Glide fender rivets are hollow?) So, as I understand it, you make a (rounded-edge) shallow, starter hole, less than the dia. of the rivet head and shallower than the rivet head (so you don't scrape the fender surface), then you place the rivet head in the depression you made in the steel bar (along with the supported fender) and with the hollow rivet shank face-up, you insert a (tip-flattened) punch INSIDE the rivet shank and hammer the end of the punch, thusly creating a buldging distortion of the rivet shank. If so, do you leave the buldged barrel of the rivet shank in this position or do you flatten the shank into the fender?
04-24-2003, 11:36 AM
I was confused by that also. Those rivets are not hollow and the factory "set" leaves the tail of the rivet crushed like a beer can against the forehead. Without the wrinkles on the can.
I believe a specific rivet set machine is needed to set the rivets as they were set by the factory and to try to replicate the factory system using hand tools is durn near impossible.
Except I was thinking if you heated the rivet to the point where a hammer blow would crush it it probably would work. It still might not set tight enough to prevent any movement when installed. That is why Carl's idea of welding the bracket to the fender is excellent.
04-24-2003, 03:34 PM
I have this other thing I found out when looking for rear sprocket replacement tools. The end result was that the peened-end of the rivet stacks like a smooth barrel. I'll tell you how USATCO did it and what tool they used (bucking bar), but I can't explain how the solid rivet (like the fender rivet is) squashed without distortion of any kind, evenly. I can continue later.
O.K., with an air rivet gun the process is sort of reversed. The air gun has changable rivet head pounder tips. The tips are dished shallower than the rivet head like you guyz say, but for solid rivets, you hold the bucking bar up against the shank. You would still need to have the fender brace held tight to the fender (with bolts), I would think, but you pound the rivet head with the air hammer and holding the bucking bar to the shank will flatten the shank. On rear wheel sprocket rivets and dowel pins ('36-59), (you have a separate tip on the air hammer for either rivet or pin), this action of pounding the rivet head with the bucking bar held against the shank will make the rivet shank squash evenly without distortion. Makes it into a little solid barrel. I sent USATCO a rear sprocket, brake drum, dowel pins and rivets and they did a few, and sent it back to me. Wow. Perfect stacking on that rivet end. It takes a little practice to get it like they did, but I can tell it can be done. Doing the same with a dust ring would require that you Vise-Grip® the sprocket, drum and dust ring assembly to hold it in place. And, you have to hold the gun parallel to the surface on a fender to keep the rivet gun tip from making indentations on the fender surface. Yeh right, like I'm going to be able to hold a rivet gun in one place and not make dents in the fender, with the tool making a jillion hits a second.
04-25-2003, 09:29 PM
Sorry fellas! I may have misled you. I didn't mean to infer that the resulting mushroom of the shank of any given rivet would be the same as that of a 'Factory' stamped one. I'll just say that I made many purpose specific tools over the years when I worked on Motorcycles and British cars as well as my Hot Rods. But I do remember they were made to do many different size and type rivets. Everything from the Sportster hollow rivets for the front fender brackets, solid rivets for early Harley fenders and brake lining rivets, etc. Kirk, on the hollow shaft type rivets, depending on the size of the hole in the shaft, I would use a punch that I had rounded the end on. It would be larger then the rivet shank inside diameter, but because it was rounded, it would push out the sides of the very tip of the hollow rivet and start mushrooming and flattening it at the same time. Now, since I'm not a 'Restorationist', (is that a word?), per say, the results I obtained were good enough to set the rivets so that they held fast. As good as a Factory pnuematic rivet machine?.....No. As for solid rivets....when you strike the shank of a solid rivet...with a flat edge of a hammer or flat edged punch, you are creating heat and pressure. With each strike, the metal will soften, (similiar to a torch albiet on a much, much smaller scale)...and the shank will begin to expand or mushroom until the rivet expands just slightly larger then the hole. Your done. I have a friend who feels this can be accomplished in one great blow of his mighty mallet!...('course I never let him near any of my own stuff!) I have to say though, he did give me a lot of body work over the years..Ha! Anyway, I believe that the tips of the Factory punches were shaped in such a way as to work a given length of the shank portion of solid and hollow rivets in two directions at once, mushrooming and flattening the rivet. It does seem that the rivets available are designed for this type of installation. Probably the rivet shanks should be shortened a bit since we're not likely to mushroom/flatten the rivet as much as originally intended. Kind of like choosing the correct length Rivet' when working with sheetmetal. Too long a Pop Rivet and you end up with an excessive shank hanging off the back end of your project and a weak rivet joint to boot! Does that comparison make any sense? ....Doug/Carl, when referring to your way of fender/bracket mounting, I wasn't critisizing them, I was just wondering if in leu of access to a Factory punch, the hand setting of a rivet would probably be the only 'correct' way without point reduction.....Re-reading stronm's original post...I see that he was asking how to do it exactly as the Factory....In the future, I will try to remember that when we talk about such things in the AMCA, it is more 'RESTORATION' and not just repair!....Later...:cool:...Hrdly-Dangrs....PS...Takes a lot longer to try and explain it rather then just do it.....Guess that's why my 'Mom' would just reach over and give me a quick 'whack' whenever I 'cut-up' in public! Come to think of it...so did my 'Dad' and the Marine Drill Instructors!....OW!!---WHAT'D YOU HIT ME FOR GRANDMA!!??
04-26-2003, 11:26 AM
I should say also that 99% of all the body work and painting I did over the years was done alone in my shop. More because I liked it that way and still do today. Because of this 'Loner' mentality, I often had to build and invent or should I say 're-invent' different tools, vises and support stands to hold the various pieces I would work on. While a second pair of hands are sometimes necassary, I mostly tend to do things 'MY' way and not necassarily the 'BEST' or 'CORRECT' way. But on the whole I've managed to get things done....sometimes as I planned and sometimes by shear accident.....Later...:cool: ...Hrdly-Dangrs
Powered by vBulletin® Version 4.2.0 Copyright © 2013 vBulletin Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved.