Riveting Tool

This is a drawing and instructions along with a photo of my rivet tool used in the construction of the brass tender of my locomotive. I found by making and using this tool, there were no bashed fingers or dented tank sheets.

Full size scan of the tool

Instructions for the use of this tool:-

  1. Use a little grease on the rivet head anvil. This will prevent galling of the head when squeezing.
  2. Do not try to form a complete head on the shank end of the rivet. This tool will expand the end enough to give good holding power.
  3. Do not over tighten or the head anvil will cut into the sheet causing an unsightly mark on the finished tank.
  4. When making the head anvil, (anvil made with the screw) the cup depth should be slightly less than the overall height of the rivet head. This should prevent the anvil from cutting into the tank sheet.
  5. Make a test piece using the materials and rivet you intend to use. This will give you a feel for the tool and help you decide what rivet length to use before making your finished tank.
  6. As you are riveting, you may need to trim areas of the body of the tool to provide clearance for the tight spots such as in corners. You will notice in the photo, I had to do this on my tool.

For reference, I used a 3/32" diameter brass rivet with a 3/16" diameter head. The shank was 1/4" long and most of the riveting was done through .040" brass and 1/8" thick angle totalling .165". I drilled the holes with a 3/32" drill which produced a .094"-.095" diameter hole. When squeezed, the rivets expanded to completely fill the hole and provide a "semi" head on the expanded end. The user should compensate for different material thicknesses.

Basic riveting procedure that I used with good results.
Drill all of the holes in the tank sheets before bending to shape. Mount all of the bottom angle stock to the tender floor with brass screws. After forming the corners, clamp the sheets to the angles using small "C" clamps. Using the holes in the sheet for a guide, drill every fourth hole. Then use #3-48 screws and nuts through these holes to hold the tank sheets in position. Start at one end of a row of holes and put the screws in as you go along. Now go back and drill and rivet every other hole. Then drill and rivet the holes in between. Finally, remove the screws and rivet these remaining holes. This will prevent the sheets from warping as you expand the rivets. Repeat this procedure for all vertical rows of rivets. Mount top angle pieces and repeat procedure once again. After riveting, all seams should be soft soldered to prevent leaks.


Enlarged sample end view of formed rivet

The finished tender tank


This article first appeared on the web site www.geocities.com/trainhead391/rivet-tool.html (now defunct)