Aircraft Hardware – Rivets and Fasteners (Part Two)

in Aircraft Materials Processes and Hardware

Solid Shank Rivets

Solid shank rivets are generally used in repair work. They are identified by the kind of material of which they are made, their head type, size of shank, and their temper condition. The designation of the solid shank rivet head type, such as universal head, roundhead, flathead, countersunk head, and brazier head, depends on the cross-sectional shape of the head. [Figure 5-37] The temper designation and strength are indicated by special markings on the head of the rivet.


Figure 5-37. Rivet identification chart.

Figure 5-37. Rivet identification chart.

The material used for the majority of aircraft solid shank rivets is aluminum alloy. The strength and temper conditions of aluminum alloy rivets are identified by digits and letters similar to those adopted for the identification of strength and temper conditions of aluminum and aluminum alloy stock. The 1100, 2017‑T, 2024-T, 2117-T, and 5056 rivets are the five grades usually available.

The 1100 rivet, which is composed of 99.45 percent pure aluminum, is very soft. It is for riveting the softer aluminum alloys, such as 1100, 3003, and 5052, which are used for nonstructural parts (all parts where strength is not a factor). The riveting of map cases is a good example of where a rivet of 1100 aluminum alloy may be used.

The 2117-T rivet, known as the field rivet, is used more than any other for riveting aluminum alloy structures. The field rivet is in wide demand because it is ready for use as received and needs no further heat treating or annealing. It also has a high resistance to corrosion.

The 2017-T and 2024-T rivets are used in aluminum alloy structures where more strength is needed than is obtainable with the same size 2217-T rivet. These rivets are known as “ice box rivets,” are annealed, and must be kept refrigerated until they are to be driven. The 2017-T rivet should be driven within approximately 1 hour and the 2024-T rivet within 10 to 20 minutes after removal from refrigeration.

The 5056 rivet is used for riveting magnesium alloy structures because of its corrosion-resistant qualities in combination with magnesium.

Mild steel rivets are used for riveting steel parts. The corrosion-resistant steel rivets are for riveting corrosion- resistant steels in firewalls, exhaust stack brackets, and similar structures.

Monel rivets are used for riveting nickel-steel alloys. They can be substituted for those made of corrosion-resistant steel in some cases.

The use of copper rivets in aircraft repair is limited. Copper rivets can be used only on copper alloys or nonmetallic materials such as leather.

Metal temper is an important factor in the riveting process, especially with aluminum alloy rivets. Aluminum alloy rivets have the same heat-treating characteristics as aluminum alloy stock. They can be hardened and annealed in the same manner as aluminum. The rivet must be soft, or comparatively soft, before a good head can be formed. The 2017-T and 2024-T rivets are annealed before being driven. They harden with age.

The process of heat treating (annealing) rivets is much the same as that for stock. Either an electric air furnace, a salt bath, or a hot oil bath is needed. The heat-treating range, depending on the alloy, is 625°F to 950 °F. For convenient handling, rivets are heated in a tray or a wire basket. They are quenched in cold water (70 °F) immediately after heat treating.

The 2017-T and 2024-T rivets, which are heat-treatable rivets, begin to age harden within a few minutes after being exposed to room temperature. Therefore, they must be used immediately after quenching or else be placed in cold storage.

The most commonly used means for holding heat-treatable rivets at low temperature (below 32 °F) is to keep them in a refrigerator. They are referred to as “icebox” rivets. Under this storage condition, they will remain soft enough for driving for periods up to 2 weeks. Any rivets not used within that time should be removed for reheat treating.

Icebox rivets attain about one-half their maximum strength in approximately 1 hour after driving and full strength in about 4 days. When 2017-T rivets are exposed to room temperature for 1 hour or longer, they must be subject to reheat treatment. This also applies to 2024-T rivets exposed to room temperature for a period exceeding 10 minutes.

Once an icebox rivet has been taken from the refrigerator, it should not be mixed with the rivets still in cold storage. If more rivets are removed from the refrigerator than can be used in 15 minutes, they should be placed in a separate container and stored for reheat treatment. Heat treatment of rivets may be repeated a number of times if done properly. Proper heating times and temperatures are shown in Figure 5-35.

Figure 5-35. Rivet heating times and temperatures.

Figure 5-35. Rivet heating times and temperatures.

Most metals, and therefore aircraft rivet stock, are subject to corrosion. Corrosion may be the result of local climatic conditions or the fabrication process used. It is reduced to a minimum by using metals which are highly resistant to corrosion and possess the correct strength-to-weight ratio.

Ferrous metals placed in contact with moist salt air will rust if not properly protected. Nonferrous metals, those without an iron base, do not rust, but a similar process known as corrosion takes place. The salt in moist air (found in the coastal areas) attacks the aluminum alloys. It is a common experience to inspect the rivets of an aircraft which has been operated near salt water and find them badly corroded.

If a copper rivet is inserted into an aluminum alloy structure, two dissimilar metals are brought in contact with each other. Remember, all metals possess a small electrical potential. Dissimilar metals in contact with each other in the presence of moisture cause an electrical current to flow between them and chemical byproducts to be formed. Principally, this results in the deterioration of one of the metals.

Certain aluminum alloys react to each other and, therefore, must be thought of as dissimilar metals. The commonly used aluminum alloys may be divided into the two groups shown in Figure 5-36.

Figure 5-36. Aluminum groupings.

Figure 5-36. Aluminum groupings.

Members within either group A or group B can be considered as similar to each other and will not react to others within the same group. A corroding action will take place, however, if any metal of group A comes in contact with a metal in group B in the presence of moisture.

Avoid the use of dissimilar metals whenever possible. Their incompatibility is a factor which was considered when the AN Standards were adopted. To comply with AN Standards, the manufacturers must put a protective surface coating on the rivets. This may be zinc chromate, metal spray, or an anodized finish.

The protective coating on a rivet is identified by its color. A rivet coated with zinc chromate is yellow, an anodized surface is pearl gray, and the metal sprayed rivet is identified by a silvery gray color. If a situation arises in which a protective coating must be applied on the job, paint the rivet with zinc chromate before it is used and again after it is driven.