Has anyone been able to do a nice job of setting 1/4" rivets cold? By nice I mean forming a round head and not just smashing it flat. I doubt if Henry heated any rivets he installed anywhere on the model T, I am guessing he would have used rivet squeezers. I know backup is everything when it comes to riveting, and I would think something easy to backup like running board brackets and some frame cross members could be set cold. Rivet sets are not easy to come by. About the only selection I can find are Sioux, and they are only with .401" shank. I have found sets for my .498" hammer in the past, but can't find any now. I don't see any sets with .580" or .680" shank either. What hammer to use is another question. Short stroke with many blows per second makes it easy to steer a rivet, but not much power. It looks like you need to get to about a 4" stroke to get enough power to set a cold 1/4" rivet, and all that jumping is hard to control. Some offer a "teasing" throttle. How is that different than a regular throttle?
Yes, you can absolutely set a 1/4" rivet cold. You need a rivet setter to both back-up the rivet and to form the head. I do it with a hammer, nothing so fancy as air tools are needed.
I heat them red hot before shooting them with a 5X rivet gun (NOT an air hammer). The best rivet guns are the older Ingersoll Rand, Cleco, and other aircraft specific types. U.S. Tool company or Aircraft Tool Supply (ATS) still sells them new, but for the limited use of a typical T restorer a used one for $50 - $75 is all you need. Click here to see a few on ebay:
I made a back up piece that was shaped like the head of a rivet and then made a piece for the air chisel that was cupped as well. I can steer and shape a rivet just the way I want
See McMaster Carr listing;
The handy air driven rivet gun is nice to have in the Model T garage. Lots of uses for that gun.
Here are some rivet pics:
Using a block of steel as the bucking bar, placed in frame channel, to hold the rivet tight, then wham it with rivet gun.
Heated rivet with oxy-act torch, then flatten with flat tool in rivet gun
'Cold' rivet using dimple tool to match contour of round head rivet on brake quadrant.
To rivet correctly, there is only one way. My old friend Marco, a master Model A restorer had this to say:
As with many tasks, More time is invested in setting up than performing the actual task.
The cross members were riveted with 1/4" rivets. You'll find that the the holes to be riveted measure almost 5/16" (and were intended to be). The shank of the rivet MUST swell to fill the hole to be effective over the long term. For this reason it is difficult if not impossible to tighten a loose rivet. You can tighten the "set", but not swell the center.
For bucking we start with a ready made 8" bucking bar with the proper recess for the rivet head. The bucking bar should be at least 3-4 lb.., but 5 lb.. is better.
For setting the rivet we use an air chisel or air hammer. I've been told they are commonly available in short stroke and long stroke versions and I use the long stroke or long barrel version. The setting tool for the air hammer is matched to the rivet size similar to the bucking bar.
The riveting requires two people in almost all cases. The first person holds the rivet by the head with pliers while the second person heats the rivet with a torch. The rivets are heated red from the middle first, then towards the outer end.
Next, while the first person slips the rivet into the hole and backs it with the bucking tool, the second person sets down the torch, picks up the air hammer and proceeds to rivet.
The result is a rivet that completely fills the hole as it should. The process requires approximate 30 seconds per rivet.
1. If you attempt to back the rivet with a stationary object it will actually manage to walk back some appearing loose on the head side.
2. Anything functional can be used a bucking bar, but the head of the rivet WILL take the shape of the tool.
3. As a general rule the un-set rivet should extend through the hole 1-1/2 times the diameter of the rivet, i.e., 3/8" for a 1/4" diameter rivet.
4. Mild steel round head rivets up to 1/4" are readily available at many hardware stores.
Since most people won't go through the riveting process more than once, it makes sense to acquire or make the tools as a group or club project."
What makes a rivet gun different from an air hammer? They both use the same .401" shank. I checked your ebay link and saw a 1X (good for 1/8" aluminum rivets) and a 4X (good for 3/16" steel rivets). Is a 1X a 1" stroke and a 5X a 5" stroke? I already have 3 CP air hammers, but if a rivet gun is the better tool for the job, I guess I will need to get one of them.
Hit the pawn shops,someone will sell one used. New,they are very expensive. I picked one up at an estate sale for $7.
One of the big differences between a rivet gun and an air hammer is supposed to be trigger action. Supposedly the rivet gun has more of a 'teasing' trigger, so you can adjust the air pressure to the gun easier. Personally, I have an old JC Penney air chisel that does a VERY good job of setting rivets.
As I have said before, there is an art to riveting. I got some replies, different to that. To those people, congratulations, you are of the few, that have had no difficulty in learning. No sarcasm is implied here.
Certain rivets, take certain procedures. I HAVE used, a "one shot" rivet gun. I have also used a 4x, 5x, and even a 6x. I've shot titanium rivets, with a 4x, I've even "backshot" rivets. I, for one, can do what you need. As can, some others here.
Ward Sherwoods reply, says it all , in the second sentence: "As with many tasks, More time is invested in setting up than performing the actual task."
Ask yourself, if its worth the effort to learn, or if you're better off having somebody else do it for you. I've seem MANY people, in training, do EXTREME damage, in trying to learn, how to shoot rivets. I'm not doubting your ability Randy, But it takes some practice. And Yes, it can be done.
When my son Stathi and I had to put a new front crossmember on our frame, we decided we did not want to use bolts, but to do the job with hot rivets like they were originally. We got the right tools for the job, heated the rivets with an acetylene torch to red hot (without burning them) and did each one that way. It worked well, and it was our first time.
Since then, we used the same technique to do rivets on some other things and it is really not difficult at all.
Air hammers use a shorter stroke. A rivet gun's rating is what it is, not necessarily tied to any stroke measurement. A 1X is the smallest rating, practically useless for anything except 3/32" diameter soft aluminum rivets. On the other hand you would not want to use a 5X on a 1/8" aluminum rivets because it would likely smash them too flat on the first hit.
The idea is to purchase a rivet gun that is appropriately sized for the job. If you plan to shoot lots of 1/8" aluminum rivets a 2X is convenient and easy to control. If you want to shoot lots of cherry red hot Model T frame rivets a 4X or 5X is what you want.
It's darned simple, anybody can do it. Practice on a piece of angle iron for 3 or 4 rivets and you will be an expert, capable of wowing crowds and causing young women to swoon.
Yes, I do believe I will become famous if I can just perfect the knack of forming a nice round head on those hard to get at cross member rivets. I am no stranger to riveting, or deriveting for that matter. Anybody that has worked on truck frames and pounded out hundreds of those 5/8" rivets through 3/4" of frame stock will know what I am talking about. Makes those 1/4" rivets look pretty wimpy. Cutting the rivet to the correct length is half the battle. The practice piece must be the exact thickness with the same size hole. If you do not get the length just right, a little long is better than too short.
Royce, what size rivet gun would you recommend for body rivets?
Get a few extras, and I highly reccomend their hand rivet sets/bucking bars. Always have had good luck. Especially good for beginners.