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Trailer refurb advice and riveters

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Trailer refurb advice and riveters

Postby Steve Maskery » 12 Oct 2021, 10:32

I'm doing a bit of a resto job on my trailer, which is in need of some TLC. All the electrics are shot so they have come off and the tyres (dated 2001) have long been illegal. So while all that is being sorted I thought I may as well go the whole hog and repaint the chassis and replace the panels.

The existing panels are 9mm ply, split and broken. I'm considering using OSB3 finished with masonry paint, 12mm for the base, 9mm for the sides. Yes, I know that Buffalo board would be better, but, well, you know.

The existing panels are riveted in place. My options are to use stainless screws or rivet them as before.

If I have 9mm ply and 2mm steel (I've not measured it, but it must be 2 or 3mm), how long should the rivets be in order to work properly? Do I need a washer between the OSB and the rivet? And what should I look for in a riveter? I've not done any riveting for years. Mine got nicked 10 years ago and this is the first time I've needed it.

I'm not agin using screws instead. Any advice welcome.
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Re: Trailer refurb advice and riveters

Postby NickM » 12 Oct 2021, 10:39

Steve

I’ve never riveted anything that thick so I’m not sure what sort of rivets you’d need. However, as far as a riveter is concerned, if you have a lot to do and you have a compressor, you could consider getting hold of an air riveter. I built a kit car a few years ago and had hundreds of rivets to do. The air riveter made it a breeze (pun most definitely intended).

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Re: Trailer refurb advice and riveters

Postby Pete Maddex » 12 Oct 2021, 12:33

May a sugest something like this https://www.screwfix.com/p/easydrive-se ... lsrc=aw.ds

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Re: Trailer refurb advice and riveters

Postby Steve Maskery » 12 Oct 2021, 14:06

Thank you both.
Pete- they look ideal, well, apart from the length. They shortest SF do is 13mm and I would need 10mm. Either that or make the sides from 12mm board as well.

I have taken some photos, I might turn this into a Project thread.

S
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Re: Trailer refurb advice and riveters

Postby Pete Maddex » 12 Oct 2021, 14:21

They are available in other sizes.



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Re: Trailer refurb advice and riveters

Postby Eric the Viking » 13 Oct 2021, 07:36

The one thing you can't do well with a riveter is set rivets in tight corners. To get a decent result you really have to be square-on to the hole, and you can't get away with squiffy, unlike several types of screw head.

I've owned several mechanical designs down the years, and the one that's consistently the best for actually setting rivets (and my go-to nowadays), is the 'lazy-tong' type, which Screwfix delightfully call the "lazy-tongue"!
Image
Obviously it is quite cumbersome in use, but it gives very consistent results (you can adjust it for best performance with a given size of rivet, and it doesn't need a lot of effort.

Way back in the 1970s I had a very cheap kit from somewhere like Halfords, which did have a very narrow head, only took two sizes of pin, and lost its grip at critical moments.

Subsequently, I bought a Stanley model, which supposedly covers a bigger range of sizes, but is complete pants:
Image
Avoid! The jaws on mine have gone blunt and it just slips. I note Stanley have changed their designs and the new ones are probably a lot better - one has to hope so.

If I had a compressor, I would very much like the idea of an air riveter.

The two big issues with all riveters in this context are getting into tight corners, and any burr inside the steel tube you are fixing onto. You need good-quality and properly sharp jobber drills, so that they leave the minimum of mess inside, otherwise aluminium rivets can have their ends severed during the swaging process (DAMHIKT!).

For those reasons, in this application I'd be keen to experiment with the self-tappers Pete suggested They probably need a pilot hole because of the tube wall thickness, but at least you can drive them with a long driver, if necessary. I have recently had good service from Westfield Fastners, who will also sell small quantities, although in this case you probably need quite a few!.
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Re: Trailer refurb advice and riveters

Postby Andyp » 13 Oct 2021, 07:48

Steve,
you are attaching wooden bards to a metal frame, yes? Far be it for me to go against the learned wisdom of the above. What is wrong with good ol' nuts and bolts. Dome headed (truss head?) bolts and shake proof nuts?
cheers

Andy

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Re: Trailer refurb advice and riveters

Postby Mike Jordan » 13 Oct 2021, 08:20

image.jpeg
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image.jpeg
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I'm with Andy in using 6 mm dome head bolts sold by the pack as gutter bolts.
My trailer has just had the refurb. I previously used an 18mm sheet of Chinese ply for the replacement bottom, it turned into " puff pastry" in about twelve months. The new base is 20mm Iroko t and g with small expansion gaps. I know that that will last thirty years but it's a bit costly. The 9mm birch ply side panels have been used again since they have weathered well. The bolts make the trailer into a solid strong box, it's drill, tighten, and grind off surplus length for a good job.
Edit - I don't recon to try sorting the faults in the electrics, but just buy. A new trailer lighting board complete with ready fitted cable and plug, It's much quicker and cheaper in the long run in my experience.
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Re: Trailer refurb advice and riveters

Postby Andyp » 13 Oct 2021, 09:57

I mentioned shake proof nuts in my posts, what I meant was lock nuts. The ones with a, usually, blue plastic ring on the inside.
cheers

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Re: Trailer refurb advice and riveters

Postby Steve Maskery » 13 Oct 2021, 10:16

Thanks guys.
That looks like a Proper Job, Mike.
I'm trying to avoid N&Bs only because they stick out and stuff gets snagged on them. I've ordered some self tappers, we'll see how they go.
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Re: Trailer refurb advice and riveters

Postby MattS » 13 Oct 2021, 10:48

Which way are you fixing? Couldn't you fix through the metal to the plywood? You could reuse the rivet holes, widen if needed and use stainless steel screws. Wouldn't need special self drilling screws then
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Re: Trailer refurb advice and riveters

Postby Mike Jordan » 13 Oct 2021, 11:07

My thinking is that the bolt tightens the square nut into the ply a little as its screwed up and the act of grinding off the surplus piece of bolt inside the trailer flush with the inside face of the nut tends to burr the end and prevents any vibration from unscrewing the nuts. It works for me. I used one of the 1mm thick cutting discs last time, it was very quick.
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Re: Trailer refurb advice and riveters

Postby Steve Maskery » 13 Oct 2021, 19:40

EDIT: I've just realised I haven't posted Before pics. I'll put that right now.
I was given this a few years ago. It had sat in a garage for 10 years untouched. I don't use it often, but when I do it is useful.

original trailer.jpg
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original Y.jpg
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A couple of weeks ago I got stopped by a friendly driver who told me my lights weren't woking. This might have something to do with it.

duff electrics.jpg
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So that, coupled with the reminder that the whole thing is something of an eyesore on the patio, has prompted me to fix it up. A bit of a can of worms, methinks.

Here are a few pics of where I've got to.

First I turned it upside down and separated the chassis from the box. I nearly crippled myself getting the chassis assembly onto my trestles, and I think that this is probably close to their maximum load, too.

separated.jpg
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Then I removed the towing arms so that I could get the box out and depanel it.

depanelled.jpg
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I'd already taken the wheels to my local garage, but when I went to collect them, they told me they were too small for their machine, but a mobile tyre man was coming tomorrow (yesterday) and he would get him to remove them. So I picked them up today and have spent bloomin' ages derusting, cleaning and painting with Hammerite Primer. It's taken pretty much all day.

chassis and wheels prined.jpg
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box and mudguard primed.jpg
(549.72 KiB)


The trouble is, I'm now wondering if I should replace the shocks and wheel bearings while I'm at it...
Last edited by Steve Maskery on 13 Oct 2021, 21:30, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Trailer refurb advice and riveters

Postby MattS » 13 Oct 2021, 20:44

How often do you use it? Trailer shocks do very little so I'd probably leave it alone may cause you more issues!
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Re: Trailer refurb advice and riveters

Postby Steve Maskery » 13 Oct 2021, 21:07

MattS wrote:How often do you use it? Trailer shocks do very little so I'd probably leave it alone may cause you more issues!


Not often, Matt, every couple of months or so, I guess, just to take stuff to the tip, less than a mile away.
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Re: Trailer refurb advice and riveters

Postby Cabinetman » 13 Oct 2021, 21:22

You look to be doing a thorough job there Steve, I got very fed up of the ply base on mine having to be replaced every 2years so I bought phenolic ply, it only lasted a little bit longer— definitely a case of buying the proper stuff and don’t scrimp.
When that failed I used scaffolding planks, should last me out I hope. Ian
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Re: Trailer refurb advice and riveters

Postby Malc2098 » 13 Oct 2021, 21:24

How many times do you see a trailer/caravan with a dead wheel at the roadside?

Renew the bearings.
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Re: Trailer refurb advice and riveters

Postby 9fingers » 13 Oct 2021, 22:18

Malc2098 wrote:How many times do you see a trailer/caravan with a dead wheel at the roadside?

Renew the bearings.


+1
The bearings are almost certainly standard parts and dirt cheap from ebay or similar. Buying as spare parts from "Trailers R Us" or similar are bound to be dearer.

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Re: Trailer refurb advice and riveters

Postby Malc2098 » 14 Oct 2021, 10:18

9fingers wrote:
Malc2098 wrote:How many times do you see a trailer/caravan with a dead wheel at the roadside?

Renew the bearings.


+1
The bearings are almost certainly standard parts and dirt cheap from ebay or similar. Buying as spare parts from "Trailers R Us" or similar are bound to be dearer.

Bob


I seem to remember that trailer stub axles including rubber suspension were not that expensive.
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Re: Trailer refurb advice and riveters

Postby 9fingers » 14 Oct 2021, 10:28

When I built my trailer in the early 80s, the usual way was to decide on a donor car model for wheels, hubs and brakes if required, then get the rubber suspension/stub axles to suit from firms like Indespension. The job would be completed with hubs, wheels and brakes from a breakers yard and new bearings.
Mini rear wheels were a favourite for small unbraked trailers.
I think the market may well have changed this century as car hubs etc have become more complex design and fewer people are building anything much for themselves.
Apart from us that is!

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Re: Trailer refurb advice and riveters

Postby kirkpoore1 » 14 Oct 2021, 19:57

As far as the electrical stuff is concerned:

1. Go with LEDs for lights.
2. Don't use the frame for grounding--use a ground wire at each light. (I don't know if you folks do that over there or not on trailers, but using the frame as the return electrical path is just asking for mysterious problems.)
3. Use good connectors, preferably waterproof.

I've had far too many problems with trailer electrics. Frankly, I'd solder the connections, but my understanding is that solder isn't always that great in areas of vibration.

Looks great so far...

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Re: Trailer refurb advice and riveters

Postby Steve Maskery » 14 Oct 2021, 20:21

Well this morning I got one hub off quite easily - I do have a bearing puller, had it for years, this is the first time I've used it. I can drift out the outer bearing. But...
...the inner bearing is a different matter. My bearing puller is too chunky to get behind it and levering had no effect whatsoever.
So I mounted the chassis onto my sack truck and wheeled it a few hundred yards to my local garage. They couldn't pull it off either, which did make me feel a bit better. They are going to remove them all, tell me what I need to buy, then I shall go over to Cassal's in Mansfield and pick them up (or I may order online - I'm busy this weekend, first dinner party in years, cocktails, blini with a selection of toppings, classic lasagna with salad, luscious lemon pudding, homemade liqueurs - Pop in if you are passing, but bring your own chair...)

Kirk - Yes, I have a proper return connection and I've ordered a pair of quick connectors for the job - terminate the cable in one half, connect up the cluster to the other half, push them together. I got the clusters a couple of weeks ago. I didn't appreciate just how big they are, so I was quite pleased when I opened one to find it broken. Seller offered a replacement, I asked for a refund and a returns label. I got the refund and no return necessary. I have tried to mend the body of the cluster, but I'm not convinced. We'll see. I might end up throwing them and buying smaller ones. I also didn't realise that a 7-pin trailer connector soed not have a reversing light connection (not that I shall be doing much reversing - people who can reverse trailers have only managed it by selling their soul to the Devil, if you ask me). My point is they there will be some redundant wiring.

I've given the wheels a coat of black hammerite on the inside face this evening (and the frame will be black, too). The outside faces and the wheel arches are going to be British Racing Green (or, at least, Hammerite's version of that).

But I can't see me getting much more done now before next week, hosting a dinner party is a 3-day event.
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Re: Trailer refurb advice and riveters

Postby Lons » 15 Oct 2021, 09:05

That's a nice little project Steve, you'll get a lot of satisfaction from the finished trailer.

I've made and modified a number over the years including one from scratch which tested poor my welding skills. Yours looks about 6x4 or 5x3 size? What I did with my current Ifor Williams was get hold of a sheet of aluminium tread plate and glued screwed and sealed it to the ply base, it's been on for at least 12 years and I can jet wash it and drag stuff on without fear of damaging the base. I'm not so sure about masonary paint for the wood though as I would have thought that's not too durable but as always I'm sure you've done your homework and I'm wrong, my missus says that quite regularly. :o

If you're using a 7 pin plug I guess that's how your car is wired but suggest it's worth buying a 7 to 13 pin adapter so it can be towed with other cars if necessary as all your mates will want to borrow your spanking new trailer, I'm sure my adapter was less than a fiver on ebay.
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Re: Trailer refurb advice and riveters

Postby Malc2098 » 15 Oct 2021, 10:15

I've got a removable tow bar and the adapter, but no trailer. I have access to two trailers and so the adapter manages both of them. Good idea.
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Re: Trailer refurb advice and riveters

Postby Mike Jordan » 15 Oct 2021, 13:39

It recently occurred to me that dropping the back seat and opening the car tail gate gives a perfect view of the trailer and makes reversing much easier!
It's only taken thirty odd years for that stroke of common sense to come to me.
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