Unlocking North Vancouver History

A Riveted Community: North Vancouver’s Wartime Shipbuilding

Riveter’s Tool Kit

A riveting team consisted of five people: the heater “cooked” the rivets in a small fire; the passer threw the red-hot rivets to the catcher, who placed them into the hole; the riveter drove the rivet into the hole; and the holder-on held the rivet from the other side and flattened it as it cooled. In A Vancouver Boyhood, Robin Williams recalls working as a rivet-passer in 1941: “Jim held up a cone-shaped metal scoop the size of a rugby ball with a handle halfway down. ‘This is your bucket. When I toss a rivet, you catch it in this bucket, grab it with these short tongs, run over as fast as you can and stick it into the hole next to the one Hank just pounded in. I’ll toss a few slow ’til you get used to it, but then we’ve gotta speed up or we’ll never make our quota. And for Chris’sake, try not to miss ’em … a guy down below ain’t too tame if he gets a white hot rivet down his neck.”

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WHAT
Here is an air-pressure rivet gun alongside a riveting crew’s other primary tools: a bucket, a set of tongs and rivets.

WHERE
Riveting was the primary construction process used throughout the 10,000-ton cargo ships. Keel plates, main deck plates, strong beams, large bulkheads and complete sections were joined by riveting.

WHEN
Riveting was a time-honoured construction process with a variety of applications, including ships, bridges, aircraft and large buildings.

WHO
Burrard Rivet and Forging supplied the rivets. Other tools were made on-site, including the catcher’s bucket (in the sheet-metal shop) and tongs (by blacksmiths). The drill was imported from the United States.

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