RV essential tools: Rivet guns



By Chris Dougherty

Chris Dougherty is a certified RV technician. Here is a piece he wrote while he was serving as RVtravel.com’s technical editor.

Jcmaco at the English language Wikipedia

Many RVs have riveted components including aluminum siding, moldings, hinges, latches, screen doors and more. Rivets are actually pretty easy to work with once you get used to them, and can be carefully removed using a power drill and the correct-size bit.

To replace the rivets, a rivet gun and a supply of  rivets are required. Rivets commonly come in steel and aluminum, and I keep a supply of each so I can replace the rivet with the same material as came out — in other words, use aluminum with aluminum and steel with steel.

Pop rivets have different sizes in diameter and length to hold various thicknesses and weights of material. This is why having a selection is such a good idea, so you can likely have the size you need on hand. Some RVs like some of the older Fleetwood motorhomes use special rivets and are best found through a specialty hardware supplier or RV dealer or service center.

Rivet guns come in a variety of sizes, up to large double-handled units for large steel rivets. I have two rivet guns: a small handheld Arrow unit with three interchangeable bits, and a pneumatic gun which I use for the big jobs when I have hundreds of rivets to replace.

Amazon has a selection of rivet guns and rivet kits, from small to large, all in one place. Most home centers will carry the smaller handheld guns, but are usually limited in selection.


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Almost nothing on my rig is attached with rivets. What I need is a small box of various size sheet metal screws. They’re used to attach everything but don’t stay put due to the weakness of the materials they were set into.

Tommy Molnar

Ahhh. Just what I need. More weight.