This small Chicago Pneumatic hand tool played a major role on countless projects during the steel boom in the early 1900s. Rivet busters were originally intended to cut and form metal rivets for a myriad of applications, including building construction and dismantling, and industrial applications. They were even used to support the United States war effort in World War I and World War II.

Rivet busters were quickly recognized as both a powerful and portable tool, and are still considered an essential piece of equipment for many contractors. Today, rivet busters have evolved and are primarily used for concrete demolition and dismantling steel girders on bridge projects. Our solution for the marketplace is what has become affectionately referred to as the “Hell Dog,” and it offers one of the best power-to-weight ratios on the market.

From top to the bottom, features include:

  • Teasing throttle for precise control
  • Powerful three-piece, metal Boyer valve that delivers the power to handle the toughest jobs
  • Reflective tape work for roadwork safety
  • Retained piston
  • Controlled Power System (CPS), which alerts the user when the bumper is 75 percent worn.

These versatile and portable tools can provide a lot of utility over the course of many years if maintained properly. Let’s take a look at a few key tips contractors can follow to keep a rivet buster in optimum working order.

Maintenance Checklist

You want the best from your equipment to do your job efficiently and effectively. Here is a checklist on how to keep your Hell Dog performing at its peak.

  • Use a compressor of the right capacity (CFM)
  • Blow the air-line down
  • Properly lubricate the tool
  • Only use clean, sharp chisels and points

Maintenance points to check every shift:

  • Check that the compressed air hose and couplings are not damaged
  • Check that the tool is properly lubricated
  • Check the sleeves, bumpers and springs for wear
  • Check the wear on tool steel shank

Understanding PSI

90 pounds per square inch (PSI) is optimal for most handheld pneumatic tools. If the pressure fails to reach more than 70 PSI, important production capacity is lost. Low pressure can be caused by a few different factors, and could be a symptom of a larger issue with the compressor, hoses or the rivet buster itself. It’s likely that low pressure is due to one of the three following factors:

  • The compressor is unable to deliver the required air volume at the right pressure
  • Hoses and couplings choke the flow so much that it becomes insufficient
  • The systems have bad leakages




Conversely, and equally detrimental to a piece of equipment, too much pressure (over 100 PSI) will quickly deteriorate bushings and other important components at a rapid rate. Over-pressurized pistons can also be damaged.

One final practice to avoid that can help increase the longevity of the rivet buster is dry firing. It is crucial not to mitigate dry firing as it can put a lot of unnecessary stress on the retainers and sleeves. Proper lubrication and going over the key maintenance points before every use will alleviate this issue.

Simply put, rivet busters are designed to work in challenging environments, but just like any other machine, they require a solid preventative maintenance plan. By treating the tool with care, and avoiding simple operational errors, a rivet buster may prove to be one of the most reliable and versatile tools in a contractor’s toolbox.

The Controlled Power System

The Controlled Power System on CP rivet busters controls blank firing when a unit’s bumpers have worn out to help prevent excessive wear and premature structural breakage. A wear indicator groove on the lower sleeve shows when it is time to replace the bumper. The machine also loses power when it is time to replace the bumper to prevent damage to the machine. The system is designed to extend equipment life, enhance long-term performance and avoid unexpected downtime.

CP Bumper

Extend the life of your rivet buster with proper maintenance, including replacing the bumper when alerted by the wear indicator. See your CP partner for replacement bumpers, lower sleeves and retainers.