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Home > Know How > Fix a Pneumatic Riveter That is Seized Up

How to Fix a Buck Rivet Gun That is Seized Up


By Steve Hingtgen, President
Vintage Trailer Supply, Inc.

This article applies to the care of our Pneumatic Rivet Gun VTS-630.

Pneumatic rivet guns need to be kept clean, dry and oiled. If a gun starts shooting blanks (air but no rivet action), the reason is almost always because it has seized up due to aluminum shavings, oxidation, or dust getting into the movement.

The rule of thumb is to oil all air tools daily when in use but if being used heavily, they should be oiled a couple times a day. Oiling an air tool means to put a couple drops of special tool oil like the outstanding Marvel Mystery Oil VTS-853 in the air inlet. By oiling while in use the tool keeps functioning for years or decades.

Many people don't know that tools need oiling even when they are not being used. That's because the metal parts can oxidize and prevent smooth movement of the piston. Humid environments make this more likely. We recommend always keeping air tools in temperature and humidity regulated environments when not in use and oiling every few months even when not active. Keeping tools clean will also help, as we've often seen tools stored in workshops where sawdust, metal shavings and general shop dust and dirt are all around the tool storage area. Don't let that happen because contaminants can easily cause your air riveter to seize up.

If your tool operates but doesn't have any force, it is because you have a problem with the piston not moving. To test, put a set in your tool (remember to place behind the beehive spring) and find a scrap piece of 2x4 or other soft wood. Hammer the wood. If you aren't making a dent, you don't have force. If this is the case, remove the tool from the air line and--while squeezing the trigger--squeeze a liberal amount of air tool oil into the tool. Soak it. Let it sit for 10 minutes or more. Now turn it upside down and hit the back of the hammer hard on a piece of scrap wood. The jolt should loosen the piston.

Now replace the set and spring and crank your air pressure to 90 psi and try to hammer the wood again...run for about 15 seconds this time....a good long time. You'll be wise to wrap a rag around the vents at this point so that the extra oil and goo don't splatter all over. You should see some improvement. If not, you probably need to clean or oil more. You can try again with tool oil or switch to paint thinner and try again. You may have to do these steps a few times if really dirty or corroded.

If this doesn't work, the barrel assembly likely needs to be disassembled. You can do it yourself but you will need a way to remove the C-ring at the base of the barrel. Then soak everything in solvent and oil. Reassembly is easy except that damn C-ring. You can buy C-ring pliers at tool stores or online.
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