How to Use a Huck Rivet Gun for Restoring an Old Peterbilt: The Ultimate Workshop
Restoring a classic Peterbilt truck is a dream project for many mechanics and truck enthusiasts. While new parts can be purchased, original body panels often need extensive repairs. This makes a Huck rivet gun an essential tool for properly restoring the aluminum bodywork on vintage Peterbilts.   

In this blog post, we'll walk through a complete guide on using a Huck brand rivet gun to repair and rebuild Peterbilt truck body panels. We'll cover:
  • What is a Huck Rivet Gun?
  • Why Use It on a Peterbilt Restoration?
  • Step-by-Step Process
  • Tips and Best Practices
  • Huck Rivet Gun Product Recommendations 

Whether you're restoring a rare 1960s 359 or a classic 1980s 379, this workshop tutorial will equip you to properly use a Huck rivet gun for high-quality aluminum repair work. Let's get started!

What is a Huck Rivet Gun? 

A Huck rivet gun is a specialty hydraulic lock bolt tool that installs lockbolts (also called Huck bolts) to join and repair metal components. Huck International first developed this technology in the 1950s for the aviation industry before expanding into automotive and trucking applications.

The Huck rivet gun uses hydraulically powered pressure to pull a collar that is swung onto the lockbolt. This creates a robust and permanent metal joint without drilling or welding. The collars grip the lockbolt exceedingly tight, preventing any loosening.

Huck Rivet Gun

High-vibration applications like trucking found Huck lockbolts performed far better than traditional rivets or welding. By the 1970s, most heavy truck OEMs like Peterbilt were using Huck lockbolts extensively on aluminum cab assemblies.

Today, Huck rivet guns remain the gold standard for professional repair work on aluminum semi-truck body panels. The tight grip and vibration resistance are critical for quality repairs that will endure years of rough service.

Why Use a Huck Rivet Gun for Peterbilt Restoration?

There are several key reasons why a Huck rivet gun is the best choice for properly restoring a vintage Peterbilt:
  • Correct Appearance: Huck lockbolts maintain the original appearance and construction methods. This preserves the truck's vintage character and collector value.
  • Strong Repairs: The tight grip of the swaged collar creates joints stronger than rivets to handle truck vibration.
  • Aluminum-Friendly: Huck fasteners properly join aluminum body panels without cracking or weakening the metal.
  • Lasting Durability: Proper installation results in permanent repairs that won't come loose over years of hard use.
  • Ease of Use: A Huck tool makes quick work of fastener installation compared to traditional riveting.

Simply put, Huck rivets installed with a Huck gun are the only option that meets factory standards for aluminum repair work on Peterbilts. Using inferior fasteners or welding risks permanent damage or unsafe repairs.

Step-by-Step Guide to Using a Huck Rivet Gun

While Huck rivet guns simplify installation, proper procedure is still essential for high-quality repairs. Follow these steps when using a Huck tool for Peterbilt restoration work:

1. Inspect and Prepare the Materials

  • Examine the Huck lockbolts for any defects or damage. Use only quality fasteners that meet OEM standards.
  • Check that the collar fits smoothly on the lockbolt without binding.
  • Clean mating surfaces with a solvent so joints form tightly.
  • Clamp panels together tightly. Proper alignment is critical.

2. Install the Correct Nose Assembly

  • Huck guns require different nose assemblies to install various lockbolt sizes. Always use the proper nose for the fasteners. Common sizes are 1/4 ", 5/16", and 3/8".
  • Ensure the nose assembly is firmly tightened in place. Consult the user manual.

3. Connect Air Supply Lines

  • Hook air supply hoses to the input fittings on the Huck tool. The required pressure is 70-100 PSI.
  • Use compressed air that is clean and dry to prevent contamination and issues.

4. Test Cycle the Tool

  • Cycle the tool several times without a fastener to ensure smooth operation.
  • Adjust air pressure if needed to achieve full power.

5. Insert Collar-Stem Fastener

  • Place the lockbolt stem through holes in the panels from one side.
  • Slip the collar over the stem. Ensure collar orientation is correct.
  • Insert the nose end of the Huck gun into the collar.

6. Activate the Tool

  • Hold the gun squarely on the collar and pull the trigger.
  • The tool will first push the stem through the holes before pulling the collar onto the stem in a swaging action.
  • Release the trigger after the collar is fully swaged onto the stem.

7. Check the Completed Fastener

  • Tug firmly on the installed fastener to verify a tight collar grip. If loose, cycle again or replace.
  • Ensure the collar is evenly swaged and tight against panel surfaces.
  • Visually examine the joint and rework if necessary to meet standards.

Peterbilt repair work using a Huck rivet tool will become quick and easy with practice. Consistently monitor joint quality and refer to the product manuals as needed.

Tips and Best Practices

Follow these additional tips and best practices when using a Huck rivet gun for quality results:

  • Maintain cleanliness - debris causes pitting or incomplete swaging.
  • Frequently lubricate the tool per its manual.
  • Only use approved hydraulic fluid to prevent damage.
  • Ensure adequate airflow and ventilation.
  • Firmly brace materials to prevent shifting during installation.
  • Avoid excessive angles between the gun and the work surface.
  • Install in locations allowing full trigger depression.
  • Apply consistent pressure when activating the tool.
  • Allow the tool to fully complete each cycle before releasing.
  • Rework any joints that fail pull-out testing.

With proper gun use, your Peterbilt restoration will have repairs strong enough to endure a million more miles of dependable service.

Recommended & Best Huck Gun for Peterbilt

Gun for Peterbilt

We recommend the following excellent Huck lockbolt rivet gun options for Peterbilt restorations:

1. Huck 226/246 Rivet Gun

  • Installs up to 3/8" lockbolts
  • Durable aluminum/steel construction
  • Ideal for heavy truck/trailer use
  • Refurbished models available

2. Gage Bilt 756 Rivet Gun

  • Up to 3/8" lockbolt capacity
  • Made in the USA
  • Industrially rugged for high-duty cycle
  • Top choice for collectors

Reliable Air Tools carries a full range of Huck guns for sale for truck restoration projects. Our experts can advise you on selecting the right tool and nose assemblies to suit your Peterbilt repair needs.

We hope this guide gives you confidence in tackling your Peterbilt restoration work using a Huck rivet gun for high-quality, factory-correct results. Let us know if you have any other questions!