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About Rivets and Riveting
ir: As a dinosaur who commenced but could find no mention of such a effective, this required a left- and a right-
his shipbuilding apprenticeship in restriction. Can any other elderly, former handed riveter on the closing side of the
the late 1940s in what was then an Lloyd’s Surveyors comment? rivet if it was not to chill before full closure.
almost wholly riveting yard, I thoroughly The ‘Iron Man’ referred to was a The pneumatic hammer did away with
enjoyed James Wells’ article All You Ever hydraulic riveter which was invented by the need for the alternate right- and left-
Wished To Know About Rivets And Riveting Sir William Arroll for use on his Forth hand hammer blows and freed up one
(Jan/Feb RINA Affairs), but I would like to Railway Bridge Contract. In shipyards, member of the squad to form the principal
offer a few additional thoughts that may be these machines were used predominantly member of an additional squad. I am open
of interest to readers. on large ships on the building berth and to correction on this, but I believe grant
Many ship-owners in the 1950s were very on structure where the restricted jaws of assistance was given to shipyards during
conservative and whilst they were happy to the riveter allowed access to the rivets. World War I to install air compressors,
allow the gradual introduction of welding, They were, however, used on the ground piping and pneumatic hammers in a bid to
many retained riveted seams and riveted in riveting sub-assemblies such as floor increase productivity in the replacement of
frames and deck beams from choice. I well plates, girders, deep beams and reverse war losses.
remember when our shipyard introduced bars. My last experience of their use was The rivet squad comprised the riveter,
the first steel deck with all-welded seams on skids on the ground for riveting beam the holder-on (known in Clyde yards as
and butts, but the deck beams were still knees and tank side brackets to beams and the “hoader-oan”), the catcher and the rivet
riveted! It was only with the introduction side frames with the rivets being heated in boy or heater. The boy was often an infirm
of fabricated structural units that riveting an oil-fired furnace. riveter of very advanced years!
finally disappeared and there were many As Mr Wells says, caulking was the final As they were pieceworkers, I am
steelwork managers whose careers process after riveting a seam or butt but I sure that they must have grabbed the
bridged the riveting and welding eras who would say it was largely a precaution as in pneumatic hammer with gusto. With the
maintained that a riveted ship could be most cases the joint would be tight if the ever increasing change-over to welding,
built up to launch far quicker than a welded plate edges were fair and properly screwed I presume most of the riveters were dead
one – probably because the riveters were up prior to riveting and, importantly, with before the percussive disease known as
always pieceworkers unlike most welders. no unfair holes that had not been reamed. ‘white finger’ had been recognised.
With regard to up to 10% of side frames Even when water testing a tank with a Indeed, until the advent of ultra-sonic
being riveted below the waterline, I have head of water, it was not unusual for any thickness measuring instruments, the
to say that I never met this restriction for slight leaks that had manifested themselves method of checking for wastage in a plate
classification purposes when I was working earlier to have largely dried up by morning was to have drill tests in selected areas and
in the Ship Plans Approval Department if the tank was kept pressed up overnight I still have my thickness gauge which is
of Lloyd’s Register of Shipping in the – probably due to the onset of rusting in somewhat like a crotchet hook but slim
late 1950s. Indeed, I had a look at both those days before shot blasting and priming enough for entry into an average sized
my personal copy of “Lloyd’s Rules” for of steel prior to it being worked. rivet hole.
1959, and the voluminous, unpublished, In my experience, only the most basic
applicable notes that supported the Rules, yards relied on hand riveting as, to be Ian Ramsay FRINA
BV Classification Rules 1909
ir: I am a trustee of the Nomadic intention of the Trust to replicate, as far as this project. Both the Trust’s Project Manager
Charitable Trust responsible for the possible, the structure as built; unfortunately and myself found the recent conference on
restoration and preservation of SS none of the original “steel” drawings remain. Historic Ships most useful.
Nomadic. As the only member of the Trust The vessel as built to Bureau Veritas
with a background in Naval Architecture it Classification and examination of these David Livingstone
normally falls to me to advise on technical “rules” would assist with this work. Is it
issues. possible that you have a copy of the BV 1909 [
The restoration will include replacement “rules” in the library? I have also written to
of a number of the main bulkheads that Bureau Veritas. The Institution does not hold this
were removed when the vessel was used as a The Trust would be most grateful for any information in the Library. Can any
floating restaurant moored in Paris. It is the technical assistance the Institution can give to member help?
8 Rina affairs March 2010
RA March 10.indd 8 10/03/2010 16:12:41
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