I know this debate has been going on forever, but im looking for some bolts to reattach my crossmember back to my frame on my 57 3100. Im having my frame powder coated and im going to reattach it after. Im looking for a bolt that will not rust (since it will be powerder coated already I didn't want to paint the bolts individually) and have the strength to hold everything in place. Let me know what you think.
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I wound up bolting in one of the front spring hangers because the rivets were loose (the other side had been bolted in many years ago) using grade 8 bolts tightened till my eyes bugged out. My plan is to paint the bolts and nuts along with the rest of the frame when I can get it sandblasted. I had a few other rivets that were loose and tightened them up by heating and peening (got a tool that goes in my air hammer). Worked pretty well. I also plan on riveting on the running board brackets that I had to replace.
Kevin First car '29 Ford Special Coupe #2 - '29 Ford pickup restored from the ground up. Newest Project - 51 Chevy 3100 work truck. Photos [flickr.com] Busting rust since the mid-60's
Anytime I replace rivets with bolts, I use Allen head shoulder bolts and ream the holes for an almost press fit. Drill bits simply don't make accurate enough holes to prevent shifting between the parts you're trying to hold together, no matter how tight you get the bolts. If bolting was "good enough", why would GM have gone to the trouble and expense to rivet crossmembers in the first place? Jerry
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One major advantage of rivets is that the peening operation will swell the body of the rivet to fill the holes. So that does greatly reduce the possibility of the parts shifting. The riveted joint is strong in shear but not in tension.
Riveting is a less expensive manufacturing process than a bolted joint. You only have one piece to insert and one tool to complete the operation. Think of a simple press type tool (hydraulic C-clamp) to assemble it. A rivet works better in thinner joints where you cannot get enough bolt stretch to maintain clamp force.
A properly designed and assembled bolted joint should not move. The friction between the parts that is created by the clamp force (bolt tension) prevents movement.