Rivetting, as a method of connecting two pieces of metal, was once the method of choice in all forms of steel engineering. Older buildings, ships, boilers, trains, bridges, were all built by use of rivets.
Rivetting is becoming a lost art. Since the 1920s, it has been replaced by welded seams in most cases. Welding creates a superior connection for several reasons. While rivets hold the seams together, welding actually connects the two pieces of metal, with a continuous seam, which results in superior strength, and less corrosion.
For the tender cistern on the Sierra #3, the decision was made to combine these two methods. The visible areas(on the tops and sides) will utilize rivetted seams. The hidden seams on the bottom will be welded.
Our machinist, Bob West, has machined new rivet snaps (the cups used to form the closing rivet heads), using original artifacts as a model. We’ll be using these daily as we install over 3,100 rivets over the next month or so.