Bolting vs Riveting body panels
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Author:  banzairx7 [ April 11, 2019, 10:05 am ]
Post subject:  Bolting vs Riveting body panels

I'm to the point that I'm starting to add the floor, firewall & trans tunnel panels. I'm wondering if there is a good reason to rivet the panels on verses bolting them on. All the build books I have talk about riveting these panels on with no mention of bolts. I'd really like to be able to remove the panels easily for service. Also seems like a good idea to not drill a million little holes in my frame. Welding on some tabs with nuts in them leaves the frame tubing intact. I think this is how the exocet and At-om handle the panels on their cars but I could be wrong.

Author:  mgkluft [ April 11, 2019, 10:13 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Bolting vs Riveting body panels

That's what I did. Check my build log.
What I really liked, is the accessibility after the build. Wouldn't do it any other way.

Author:  rx7locost [ April 11, 2019, 10:44 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Bolting vs Riveting body panels

Are you talking about aluminum panels or fiberglass?

Flat aluminum panels don't do well without a flange on the edge. The fix for that it many rivets placed close together. A Dutch Bend may help a bit if you can't to a perpendicular flange.

The thickness of the tube comes into play. Thin 16ga steel with 10/24 screws give less than 2 threads, possibly only one thread after deburring. And you should deburr every hole in the tube. if you don't, any imperfection or burr will telegraph thru the aluminum and you will see it on the outside. If you use sheet metal screws, they will eventually vibrate loose.

The floor and firewall and rear transverse panel act as structural sheer panels and should be attached along the edges at close intervals to prevent buckling and loss of function. The trans tunnel, no so much. I riveted the trans tunnel sides but the top was a screwed.down piece of wood for easy access. I think 3 pcs, each held down with 2 screws on the end and a tabs underneath that slipped under the adjacent piece.

IF you go with rivets, get the 3/16" HF Air Hydraulic riveter. It is good quality, works great and makes a quick, clean draw.

Screws into tabs with weld nuts work well for securing the rear fenders and other strong parts bolted to the frame. I used 4 on each rear fender.

Author:  banzairx7 [ April 11, 2019, 11:12 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Bolting vs Riveting body panels

Aluminum panels. I already did the top of the trans tunnel with the bolted arrangement since I for sure will need access. These are the tabs I made and welded onto the tunnel framing-


Author:  ZiG [ April 11, 2019, 10:39 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Bolting vs Riveting body panels

I'm using rivnuts on some of the panels I can see myself wanting to remove for service - mainly along the transmission tunnel.

IMG_20190317_175620.jpg [ 263.91 KiB | Viewed 2566 times ]

Author:  nick47 [ April 14, 2019, 1:19 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Bolting vs Riveting body panels

After 5 yrs/50K miles and a lot of repairs and upgrades. I haven't had a need to remove a body panel.

Author:  zetec7 [ April 14, 2019, 2:43 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Bolting vs Riveting body panels

I decided to go a different route, for part of the bodywork anyway. The side panels (the main ones on either side of the engine compartment, from the lower firewall to the front suspension) are going to be removable panels, secured with Dzus fasteners.

The reason for that is because these cars are small, engine compartments are tight, and some of the fairly common maintenance items may be hard to do without removable panels. In my example, there is simply no access to the oil filter unless you either have a hoist or a removable right side panel. Access to the battery, starter, etc. are similarly restricted, so the removable panels will be a boon. Once those panels & the hood are off, it's all wide open....all in about a minute or two.

My lower firewall panels are 20 gauge steel, welded to the frame. The upper horizontal & vertical panels (1/8" aluminum) are bolted to the scuttle via tabs welded to the scuttle frame. This allows removal for access to the back of the gauges, pedals, steering column, etc.

You see, "Murphy" is, and has always been, my co-pilot. The instant that I permanently attach something is the time that I discover I need to take it off again, usually even before the welds cool. As a result, my "mantra" throughout my build has been "ACCESS!!!". It's been a lot more work to do it this way, but allowing access to virtually everything reduces the likelihood and/or frequency of access required (sort of the corollary of the "Murphy" factor - like taking rain gear and umbrellas to the beach on a sunny day).\

I will be attaching my aluminum rear & cockpit side panels with rivets, because I don't really see a viable alternative. I know, they can be also attached with structural adhesive, but if I do that, they can NEVER be removed, for any reason. My buddy has attached his panels with bolts, rivets, AND structural adhesive (and the cost of doing so was enormous). Of course, he has the "luck of the Irish" and, chances are, the need to remove anything will never occur. Not so, me, of course. I am the person the statement "If it weren't for bad luck, he'd have no luck at all!" was created.

Wherever possible, I've used welded-on tabs with captured nuts, and bolts for attaching stuff. I don't like the idea of drilling hundreds of holes in my otherwise airtight/watertight frame.

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