Structural Fasteners – Solid Shank Rivets – Evaluating the Rivet

in Aircraft Metal Structural Repair

Evaluating the Rivet

To obtain high structural efficiency in the manufacture and repair of aircraft, an inspection must be made of all rivets before the part is put in service. This inspection consists of examining both the shop and manufactured heads and the surrounding skin and structural parts for deformities. A scale or rivet gauge can be used to check the condition of the upset rivet head to see that it conforms to the proper requirements. Deformities in the manufactured head can be detected by the trained eye alone. [Figure 4-97]

Figure 4-97. Rivet defects.

Figure 4-97. Rivet defects. [click image to enlarge]

Some common causes of unsatisfactory riveting are improper bucking, rivet set slipping off or being held at the wrong angle, and rivet holes or rivets of the wrong size. Additional causes for unsatisfactory riveting are countersunk rivets not flush with the well, work not properly fastened together during riveting, the presence of burrs, rivets too hard, too much or too little driving, and rivets out of line.

Occasionally, during an aircraft structural repair, it is wise to examine adjacent parts to determine the true condition of neighboring rivets. In doing so, it may be necessary to remove the paint. The presence of chipped or cracked paint around the heads may indicate shifted or loose rivets. Look for tipped or loose rivet heads. If the heads are tipped or if rivets are loose, they show up in groups of several consecutive rivets and probably tipped in the same direction. If heads that appear to be tipped are not in groups and are not tipped in the same direction, tipping may have occurred during some previous installation.

Inspect rivets known to have been critically loaded, but that show no visible distortion, by drilling off the head and carefully punching out the shank. If, upon examination, the shank appears joggled and the holes in the sheet misaligned, the rivet has failed in shear. In that case, try to determine what is causing the shearing stress and take the necessary corrective action. Flush rivets that show head slippage within the countersink or dimple, indicating either sheet bearing failure or rivet shear failure, must be removed for inspection and replacement.

Joggles in removed rivet shanks indicate partial shear failure. Replace these rivets with the next larger size. Also, if the rivet holes show elongation, replace the rivets with the next larger size. Sheet failures such as tear-outs, cracks between rivets, and the like usually indicate damaged rivets. The complete repair of the joint may require replacement of the rivets with the next larger size.

The general practice of replacing a rivet with the next larger size (1⁄32-inch greater diameter) is necessary to obtain the proper joint strength of rivet and sheet when the original rivet hole is enlarged. If the rivet in an elongated hole is replaced by a rivet of the same size, its ability to carry its share of the shear load is impaired and joint weakness results.