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Old 10-02-2021, 12:58 PM   #1
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Steps- rivet replacement

I have the three step, Lippert electric steps on my RV.

I stepped on it today and they were much more "springy" than before...

I looked at them closely and found one of the rivets lying on the ground. The hole it came from was unaffected, but the rivet looks like it had been working its way loose for awhile. The "flares" that trap it in place are worn/bent, allowing it to fall/pop out.

I managed to get it back in place, and it actually works for now.... while I work on a permanent fix.

Here are a couple pics of the rivets:






A search suggests that there are no replacement rivets available from Lippert, as they are special "air pressed rivets" (which per their marketing are more reliable than bolts). I did find a shouldered bolt kit with bushing, claiming it's for Lippert electrical stairs. However, all the reviews say the bolt, "is just like the original".

My search leads me to conclude there are stairs with bolts and stairs with rivets.

My question is, can the bolt replace a bad rivet....???

Anyone have experience with this type of repair....???
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Old 10-02-2021, 04:58 PM   #2
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I re-peened mine using a couple hammers. One to back the rivet and the other to peen the top.
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Old 10-02-2021, 05:05 PM   #3
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You could got to a hardware store and buy an "elevator bolt".
Put the nut on the inside.
Check the other rivets for a washer between the step and lever. I think you need one there.

Mike in colorado
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Old 10-02-2021, 05:17 PM   #4
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Thanks for the suggestions... I have actually considered both of those options

Re-peening would be difficult.. really no way to get to the outer portion of the rivet, there is fiberglass body in the way... If I cannot find another alternative, I may do that, but will have to drop the entire steps to get at the problem rivet for a proper peen...

I had to look up an elevator bolt, never heard that before. I actually have a 3/8" button head bolt (very similar). I was going to use it as a temp fix... but the rivet shoulder is 1/2" diameter and steps down to about 3/8"... so a straight bolt will leave slop to the system.

I am going to pop the rivet out again tomorrow to measure the diameters involved and maybe replace with a properly sized shoulder bolt. But the "kit" I found comes with the bolt, washer, nut, and bushing...

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

I'm hoping someone will chime in and say, "Yeah, I used one of those bolt kits and the bolt was an exact match for the rivet..."

I can only hope....
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Old 10-02-2021, 05:17 PM   #5
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Rivets expedite the manufacturing process. Put in the replacement bolt and be done with it.
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Old 10-03-2021, 05:49 AM   #6
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An elevator bolt has a square shank, not a good match for a round hole.

I used a bridge clamp to squeeze some rivets in my steps. If yours is in a confined space squeezing might not be a solution. It's amazing Kwikee is so proud of their rivets, those steps were brand new but sounded and felt like they were worn out.

It's hard to believe if the rivet came out the hole hasn't been wallowed out making a bushing useless.

Drill the hole for the next larger bolt diameter, get a shoulder bolt and lock nut, use flat washers under the bolt head and nut.
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Old 10-03-2021, 07:09 AM   #7
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Bolt and a nylock nut. Or look up Chicago screw or binder screws ,they also have other names , those will have to be ordered proper length just tight enough to let joint turn but not be sloppy.
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Old 10-03-2021, 11:07 AM   #8
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Good suggestions all around, my thanks to all...


I ordered the bolt kit, and it gets here tomorrow....

I will then remove bad rivet and will measure the shoulder width, length, and diameter of the step down to the threads, with my calipers...

If the bolt kit matches those dimensions...

If not, I will order the proper size shoulder bolt from McMaster Carr and secure it with a nylock nut.

As for the bushing... it appeared that the outer stair arm (steel) is what the rivet was rubbing against that caused it to loose it's peen, and eventually pop out of both stair arms... I will check the bushing when I measure the rivet shoulder/step down. Luckily the bolt kit I ordered comes with a new bushing if needed...

I'll report back the final resolution for future reference for anyone else who has this problem...


NOTE:
Sadly, during my search I found a poster (think it may have been this forum) who had the same problem and contacted Lippert. Lippert told them that the rivets aren't available to purchase due to their need to be "air pressed" for proper peening (yeah, I doubt that info too). But they said the only fix was to buy a new stair, minus the motor, etc, and swap the old motor and associated parts to the new stairs. That was a $700 solution at the time of that thread. Lippert offered to sell the poster the stair at a discount...
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Old 10-04-2021, 05:09 AM   #9
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Yes shoulder-bolts work if you can locate the correct length and diameter.
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Old 10-04-2021, 06:35 PM   #10
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Bucking a steel rivet just isn't that hard. It's easier if you take the stairs off, of course. A BFH (er, "large hammer"), something heavy and made of metal to use as an anvil, and the right rivet set are all you really need.

All that said...I'd use a shoulder bolt. Faster, easier, much easier to replace. A hardened one (Grade 5 or 8) will last a lot longer.
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Old 10-04-2021, 06:52 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hattitude View Post
I'm hoping someone will chime in and say, "Yeah, I used one of those bolt kits and the bolt was an exact match for the rivet..."

I can only hope....
That shoulder bolt is for the arm that pulls the step in, not the pivots. I'm glad you found them, I need a couple of them for my step.

-B
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Old 10-04-2021, 08:09 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hattitude View Post
Good suggestions all around, my thanks to all...


I ordered the bolt kit, and it gets here tomorrow....
Just watch to make sure the head of the bolt is not going to catch when the steps go in. If it is close, disconnect the arm that pulls them in and slide them in by hand. You might consider using a second nut to lock the first one in place.
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Old 10-04-2021, 08:58 PM   #13
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Well, that bolt kit worked.... kind of..

The shoulder on the bolt is too small, but with the bushing on it, it fit in with no slop at all... The smaller section is a loose fit in the outer arm. With the nut on the bolt, it does not interfere with any of the movement on my step.

I tightened the bolt until it made contact with the washer. I pre-lubed the bolt/bushing with a silicone lube.

The step is now sturdy (well as sturdy as those steps have ever been) and functions well..

I measured the rivet with my caliper, and it's a 1/2" shoulder, 3/8" wide (long?), and steps down to 3/8" for the outer arm.

I am going to order few shoulder bolts from McMaster Carr (I believe I can get that exact size) to have on hand....
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Old 10-05-2021, 09:43 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by n2zon View Post
Bucking a steel rivet just isn't that hard. It's easier if you take the stairs off, of course. A BFH (er, "large hammer"), something heavy and made of metal to use as an anvil, and the right rivet set are all you really need.

All that said...I'd use a shoulder bolt. Faster, easier, much easier to replace. A hardened one (Grade 5 or 8) will last a lot longer.

I never use a hard bolt in things like my steps. I want the cheapest and easiest to replace part to wear out first.
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