Adjustable plank refurbishment

I have an adjustable aluminium plank (2.4-3.9m) which after years in the weather, has needed replacement of the plated steel 1/4″ pop rivets used in its construction.

These are strictly for DIY use as long plank spans have not been allowed on work sites for a very long time.

On assurances from the retailer I purchased for $99 a Kincrome CL960 Heavy Duty Hand Riveter Long Arm 525mm (21″) designed for 1/4″ stainless steel poprivets. It failed with less than a dozen rivets with what seems to be a serious design fault (rivet mandrels jam in the inner tube) so it was returned at my cost for a refund. Whilst I have bought lots of Kinchrome product over time, it is when there is a problem one learns a wider lesson.

On assurances from another seller, I then purchased a similar tool on eBay for $36, a tool claimed to work up to 5/16″ stainless steel rivets… so some reserve there?

It failed on the fifth rivet, one of the collets cracked in two and the inside of the chuck sleeve (top right) was grooved suggesting it was not hardened properly. Again, refunded but his time without paying return shipping.

Despairing of finding a tool that was up to the task, I purchased a pneumatic tool on eBay, again with assurances from the seller, for $99. This tool only does 3/16″-1/4″ and has a two piece collet set that seems optimised for these large rivets. Pleasingly, it was convincingly heavy. Initial inspection was good, everything was done up tight, there was even a hint that it had been oiled (quite unusual for cheap Chinese tools).

And, it worked, in fact it worked very well!

Above is one end of the plank. The rusted plated steel rivets were drilled and punched out, rust residue removed, and replacement 304 rivets fitted. The latch was stripped, wire brushed and painted with zinc rich primer then greased and reassembled

Rather than rivet the latch in place, the holes were drilled out and 304 M6 nutserts / rivnuts fitted so that the latch could be removed later for derusting / greasing etc.

I see these now cost $240, double what I paid for it a long time ago, so the cost of $50 for 100 rivets (only half used) and amortization of part of the $99 tool cost was worth while… though it took way to much effort in selecting, buying, and returning cheap Chinese junk.