Removing a Rivet
By: Bud Connolly

Trust me when I say you are going to be doing some rivet removal and replacement during the construction and maintenance of your Challenger. This may be necessary because improper pressure on the gun caused a rivet not to seat properly, or heaven forbid, you put the rivet in the wrong place, the wrong piece, or in the right place but with the piece backwards . . . things happen. Here's a brief description of the procedure for removing a rivet.

First, get a drill bit that is the proper size for the rivet. Very likely this will be a 1/8" bit, but it may be 3/16" in some cases. If the rivet to be removed is stainless steel, the drill bit must be very sharp if it is made of regular high-speed steel. A better choice is to get a carbide-tipped bit. It will outlast the regular ones many times over.

Apply the drill bit to the head of the rivet and proceed cautiously. Use a moderate to low RPM with the application of modest pressure. Be careful not to let the drill and bit get away from you and go scurrying away, out of control. If the rivet turns or spins in it's hole and the drill bit does not start cutting into it, try taking a thin stainless steel knife blade and work it under the rivet head. By lifting or twisting the blade, pressure can be applied to the rivet and in most cases hold it firm enough to successfully dill it out.

You don't need to drill the rivet out completely. Just drill it enough so that the wide head part comes off. Then use a flat-end punch or nail to force the remaining shaft into the hole so that it pops through. If you use a nail, make sure the end is ground off flat, otherwise you might actually spread the hollow rivet shaft wider rather than just pushing it through the hole. This could expand the hole the rivet fits into.

After the rivet is removed and as you prepare to insert a new one, check to see that the holes in the two pieces line up properly. If they are off center a bit, then enlarge the hole in the piece that will be "on top," in contact with the rivet head. Enlarge it just enough to provide a straight line for the rivet to pass through the two pieces.

Do not enlarge the hole in the piece that the end of the new rivet will expand against because that is where the bottom of the rivet has to be tight. A 1/8" rivet needs a 1/8" hole where it expands at the bottom, for example. When everything is set, pop in a new rivet, and the process will be complete.

If you are new to the riveting process, it will be a great confidence builder to pop a rivet or two into a piece of scrap metal or tubing and then see if you can remove them. Knowing you can remove a rivet if it becomes necessary to do so relieves some of the pressure and anxiety that you will feel when you first begin. Good luck!

Bud Connolly