Rivets or screws?

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Jul 1, 2013
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Ithaca, NY
Hi all,
I purchased a bunch of pad eyes from Amazon to rig my Discovery 158 fore and aft with float bags. The set came with rivets, so I would need to go out and buy a riveter, which is not an issue. My question is what do you guys and gals recommend, rivets or screws?
 
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Minden, NV
Boat manufacturers love rivets. I much prefer screws or bolts and nuts with lock washers.
When I built sail boats, up in Arlington, WA the deck and the hull were held together with cheap rivets and covered with a rub rail. I could never understand that decision.
 
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Jun 13, 2014
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I use rivets for almost everything. I've never seen one cause a problem and it's what all the manufacturers seem to use. They present a smooth and tapered surface on the outside of the hull that should do a good job at resisting getting hung up, they're lightweight, quick, and cheap. Never seen one break or come loose. If it's something that I think might take more than normal strain I'll use a washer on the inside to distribute the force a little better. I almost always use a large headed rivet for the outside of the hull though I don't know if it's really necessary.

Alan
 
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Pad eyes work fine with rivets. 3/16” (or 5mm), and whatever length grip works best through the hole. If you are working in an area where you can back up the pop rivet with a small washer on the grip end do so.

I use pad eyes and pop rivets to hold back bands in place, and have not had a failure on dozens of boats.



There are some applications where I prefer stainless steel machine screws, washers and nuts. I’ve installed SS pad eyes are fairleads for sail lines (sheets), and in those cases used machine screws and larger washers/fender washers. But I also beef up under the decks with extra glass cloth where the machine screws are installed.

If you have never used a rivet gun before, a few hints:
Keep the rivet gun pressed against the hull/whatever while squeezing. If you are using a washer hold it tightly against the hull with your other hand (in some awkward places it pays to have assistance or a four foot wingspan). Try to keep the rivet gun seated at 90 degrees to the hull while installing the rivet. If you eff up a rivet or ever need to remove one just drill out on the rivet head side (I use an 11/64ths) until the head spins off on the drill and then pull or push the remaining rivet through.
 
Joined
Nov 29, 2012
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southwest Indiana
Either will work, obviously, but I prefer stainless steel sheet metal screws. If you have the black plastic inchworm type pad eyes as in Mike's picture, the screw/rivet holes are countersunk so the proper sized flat or oval head sheet metal screws will not stick out. I prefer stainless screws in case I decide to remove or reposition the pad eyes. Furthermore, rivets won't work for securing them to wood gunwales.

If you have hollow synthetic or aluminum gunwales that you are securing the pad eyes to with rivets, yes you can remove them by drilling off the rivet heads as Mike says. But then you wind up with a whole bunch of rivet stems inside your gunwales which rattle around if you don't get them out. This can sometimes be done by putting the boat up on end and getting them to fall out the open end of the gunwale under the deck plate, but it is a bit of a pain.
 
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If you have the black plastic inchworm type pad eyes as in Mike's picture, the screw/rivet holes are countersunk so the proper sized flat or oval head sheet metal screws will not stick out

Pete, 3/16” pop rivets will install seamlessly flush on the face of those nylon pad eyes.

If you have hollow synthetic or aluminum gunwales that you are securing the pad eyes to with rivets, yes you can remove them by drilling off the rivet heads as Mike says. But then you wind up with a whole bunch of rivet stems inside your gunwales which rattle around if you don't get them out. This can sometimes be done by putting the boat up on end and getting them to fall out the open end of the gunwale under the deck plate, but it is a bit of a pain.

Yup, a bunch of rivet stems inside a hollow gunwale will make for a very annoying rainstick. And standing the canoe on end and thumping it with your hand is kind of a a PITA, but it beats going clang-tinkle-clang all the way down the river (or having rivet stems fall out on their own under dry bags or flotation).

I’ll offer one more hint for installing pad eyes. Put the pad eye in place and mark through one hole for drilling location, then drill the hole and install the pop rivet or SS machine screw/washer/nut. Then drill through the remaining hole on the pad eye (remember, always 90 degrees). If you try to drill both holes first you may wander off a bit on one or the other, and your rivet or screw either won’t fit or will be at some less-than-flush angle.

And one more hint – If you don’t like the shiny aluminum on black pad eye just dab a bit of vinegar on the pop rivet head. It will lightly etch the aluminum and you can later dab a bit of black paint atop the head.
 
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Ithaca, NY
Thanks for the info gents, I think I will go with the rivets since they are coming with the pad eyes for now. It's a set of 24 so I will do the aft first with 2 rows of 5. I will get some SS washers for the back side to keep it more secure. Mike McCrea, good idea on doing one hole at a time, I will do that. Thanks again all.
 
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....And one more hint – If you don’t like the shiny aluminum on black pad eye just dab a bit of vinegar on the pop rivet head. It will lightly etch the aluminum and you can later dab a bit of black paint atop the head.

Nice tip there - thank you.

One thing I've done when using backup washers in places where its hard to hold the washer and run the gun is dab a bit of contact cement on one side of the washer. Insert the rivet to use as a positioning guide for the washer, hold the washer in place for a few moments with pressure and you can then go back to your rivet gun with two hands.
 
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One thing I've done when using backup washers in places where its hard to hold the washer and run the gun is dab a bit of contact cement on one side of the washer. Insert the rivet to use as a positioning guide for the washer, hold the washer in place for a few moments with pressure and you can then go back to your rivet gun with two hands.

Why did I never think of that? I have been stuck installing pop rivets under the deck of a kayak or decked canoe until I could find a helper to hold the washer in place, and using a little dab of glue never occurred to me.

Not that smart but still learning. Thanks.
 
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Thanks for the info gents, I think I will go with the rivets since they are coming with the pad eyes for now. It's a set of 24 so I will do the aft first with 2 rows of 5. I will get some SS washers for the back side to keep it more secure.

Jish, where/through what on the canoe do you plan to install the pop riveted pad eyes?
 
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Jish, where/through what on the canoe do you plan to install the pop riveted pad eyes?

On the vinyl gunwales, probably not midships though. Going to get some Harmony glue-on D-rings for gear storage.

EDIT: After just installing a new Old Town Web seat this morning I see that there is no way to use a washer when I put the pad eyes on so I will just rivet without the washers.
My only concern is that I bought the $10 Stanley Medium Duty Riveter from Home Depot. I was hoping they had the Arrow Brand one, but they didn't. Reviews seem to be decent on it so I will give it a try...
 
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Joined
Jul 1, 2013
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Ithaca, NY
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I did the aft pad eyes this afternoon, and they all came out great, I put the new seat on yesterday and it feels much better than the old molded one. I have another coupon from Austin Kayak so I will most likely order the forward seat and some d-rings soon...
 

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Joined
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southwest Indiana
Austin Canoe and Kayak will send you a "15% off one item" coupon code every time you place an order, as will Harmony Gear. Now that I said that both will no doubt stop sending me discount coupon codes.
 
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