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Old 04-05-2012, 10:14 AM   #1
Uncle Ben
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Default Rivets keep breaking off

I am new to rivet guns, so maybe this is user error, but they seem simple enough. The gun I bought is the one pictured below. It worked fine for my first rivet, but the 2nd one will not finish compressing without the shaft of the rivet breaking off about half way down, and then the gun is no longer able to grasp the shaft to finish the setting the rivet. The rivets I'm using are fairly long due to the depth that I'm going into, so it takes 3 "compressions" to finish it. The rivets came with a truck bed cover install kit, 3/16" diameter. I had to buy a box since my 2nd rivet (of two) broke off, but each one just breaks off every time on the 3rd compression. Could it be that the hole is drilled too big? That's the only thing I can think of, but that would mean I need to go buy a gun that will do a 1/4" rivet or larger.

At first I thought the gun had broken in some way after the first successful rivet, but after exchanging it for another it still did the same exact thing.

What could be causing this issue?

Thanks for your input!

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Old 04-05-2012, 10:43 AM   #2
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Default Re: Rivets keep breaking off

Defective rivet gun, or poor quality rivets. It should grip and pull the rivet nail, not cut it off...
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Old 04-05-2012, 11:00 AM   #3
Uncle Ben
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Default Re: Rivets keep breaking off

The rivets are from Lowes, "Arrow" brand (same brand as the staple guns & staples). Are those decent?

The rivet type is a "blind" rivet like pictured below, so I guess it is supposed to pull the shaft until it breaks off just below the surface of the rivet, but it only did that for my first rivet...

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Old 04-05-2012, 11:09 AM   #4
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Default Re: Rivets keep breaking off

I think the rivit gun failed..... buy a quality one..
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Old 04-05-2012, 11:15 AM   #5
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Default Re: Rivets keep breaking off

Nothing wrong with Arrow, Must be the gun.

Take some rivets with you and test the gun if you can before buying it
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Old 04-05-2012, 11:28 AM   #6
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Default Re: Rivets keep breaking off

Uncle Ben ,
I live near you and have used Arrow rivets . They are O.K. but perhaps they changed chinese vendors? I buy my rivets by the 10,000 rivet case and have almost every style of riveter from aircraft Huck types to Harbor Freight. btw the HF ones work great and they are our preferred gun when working high up on roofs.
I suggest you buy a few Bostitich /Pop rivets from someone like me who uses thousands.It will soon tell you if it is the gun,the rivets or you that is the problem! PM me if you wish.
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Old 04-05-2012, 11:34 AM   #7
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Default Re: Rivets keep breaking off

Try this............after the first pull on the rivit gun, push it down for the second pull so that its all the way down, do that for the third or even fourth if needed. Somtimes they dont want to walk down the rivit shaft. Also be sure you have the right size shaft fitting on the gun. Mine has several shaft size fitting that you can change out.
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Old 04-05-2012, 11:39 AM   #8
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Default Re: Rivets keep breaking off

http://www.blindrivetsupply.com/Larg...drel_c_60.html

Above is a sample page from a rivet supplier. Notice that they have a specific drill bit size for the hole, and that each rivet has a grip range. Take one of those rivets apart and see that you have two parts the rivet and the pull nail. The nail is designed to break the head off after setting the diameter of the rivet head. If your pulling the set nail through then your hole is to big. Are you breaking the nail at a different point other than the reduced area? If so then make sure the hole in the material is correct and that you are holding the crimper tool so that it is pulling straight on the nail and not off as some angle. I would suspect that the quality of the rivet in that kit is not the best. Here my NAPA store carries a wide variety of rivets in various materials. If your in the weather then use a nonsteel rivet.

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Old 04-05-2012, 01:05 PM   #9
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Default Re: Rivets keep breaking off

Thanks everyone for all the great replies. I didn't even think to test it outside of the hole to see what happens. I'll try that and if it still breaks off in the middle of the rivet's shaft then I'll assume it is the gun grabbing it incorrectly or on one side like mentioned and get a better gun, or maybe try a better brand of rivet.

To answer one of your questions (FrankLee), when I look into the front of the gun it appears that it does grab the rivet shaft (mandrel?) on both sides. I might try your idea of filing it thinner (I'll have to take it apart to see if I understand you correctly :-)

Racer Bob: I tried that that it still broke off, but thanks for the suggestion

Tony: I'll try Bostich out. Are "pop" rivets the same as a "blind" rivet, just a different name?

By the way, the item that I'm riveting to the truck tail gate is basically like a little handle that the truck bed (tonneau) cover uses to latch on to for locking it. I tried one of my smaller rivets through the handle only (without it on the truck) just to see what it would do and it worked perfectly. The rivet seated all the way down and snapped off inside the rivet like it should. Unfortunately that smaller rivet size is too small for the hole I have drilled (3/16"), so I can't actually use that size. Not sure what that means exactly, but I'll try some of your ideas and go from there.
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Old 04-05-2012, 01:11 PM   #10
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Default Re: Rivets keep breaking off

The hole size should not be the issue, as he said he was snapping them in mid post, and leaving it sticking out.

The test I was taught by my sheet metal "family" was if the gun would not pop a rivet by itself in three pulls or less, it was worn out. I've seen new riveters that would not do this.

If it is snapping the rivet shank where it is gripping, then the grip teeth (maybe just one) is biting too deep and fracturing the shank
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Old 04-05-2012, 02:25 PM   #11
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Default Re: Rivets keep breaking off

BLIND RIVET is the general style of rivet (can be set 'blind,' or without access to the opposite side of the material).

There are other types of rivets, most of which need access to the reverse side of the object to set. There are rivets which are set with hammers, pneumatic rivet guns, hand or pneumatic squeezers, and even some large enough to need a hydraulic squeezer. They hold together everything from leather crafts to airplanes to the largest bridges and skyscrapers in the country.

As FrankLee said, 'POP' RIVET is a brand name of blind rivet--like the word 'escalator.' It has been used so much that is it nearly synonymous with the generic term, 'blind rivet.' ('Escalator' was originally a name brand for moving stairways).

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Old 04-09-2012, 05:06 PM   #12
Uncle Ben
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Default Re: Rivets keep breaking off

Thanks again everyone for your advice.

FrankLee: I tried your suggestion and it fixed the problem for me to be able to finish my install. I experimented a little with how much to file it since my first try it snapped off too easily, so I filed a little less (only two strokes on each side) and then it worked just as it should.

Still not entirely sure if the gun is at fault or the rivets (or a little of both), but at least I was able to finish the job.

Thanks again!
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