Need help deciding what Rivet squeezer is right for you?
If you are considering or have committed to build an amateur built airplane (aka “homebuilt airplane”) of riveted aluminum construction, and are further considering purchasing a powered rivet squeezer, we encourage you to read on.
Q: For an aluminum kit-plane with solid rivets, what types of tools are needed for construction?
A: You will need a basic assortment of hand tools, such as files, wrenches, pliers and so forth. It is best to review the plans or plans pre-view pack of your chosen kit-plane. Kits such as Vans Aircraft are highly refined these days, and provide guidance on what tools are most useful. Since your goal is to finish the plane in your lifetime, and have fun while building too, you will also likely want some quality powered tools. A small drill press, bench ginder, air compressor, and air drill is a good start. A rivet gun and several bucking bars is an absolute must. There is no way to build a plane without these riveting tools. A powered rivet squeezer should also be considered. While the cost for any powered rivet squeezer is a consideration for any budget minded builder, also consider the fact that a typical Vans Aircraft type kit has over 14,000 rivets to be formed. For this type of kit, one thing is sure that you will likely be doing: Riveting!
Q: Is a powered rivet squeezer also required for solid riveting?
A: No. You can get by with only a rivet gun and bucking bars. In fact, in some areas of the construction these are the only tools you can use for forming the rivets, typically due to limited access room (inside the wing structure) or excessive edge distance of the rivet from the skin edge (too long of reach for a rivet squeezer). HOWEVER, once you have used a rivet squeezer, we can pretty much guarantee you will try to squeeze a rivet, rather than buck a rivet. Why? Squeezing a rivet is more controlled, and less fatiguing than bucking a rivet. Squeezing a rivet does not risk marring the skin due to slipping off the rivet during the percussive action. And squeezing a rivet is not so LOUD.
Q: Ok, so I get it with the point of a rivet squeezer. Why should I spend more on an expensive rivet squeezer, why not a cheaper hand-operated squeezer?
A: The old adage “you get what you pay for” applies to tools as well. With a hand-operated rivet squeezer, you are still doing the work, and if you have any physical issues such as carpal tunnel syndrome you might not be able to squeeze hundreds of rivets in a kit-plane. Further, to squeeze a rivet with a hand-operated squeezer requires both hands. You thus can not also hold onto the part, if it is a sub-assembly component. You can’t get the hand squeezer into some locations that a powered squeezer can access, which is another consideration.
Q: So why is a the Numatx HTS-C3K C-Squeezer System so special, what is different about it than a regular pneumatic squeezer?
A: If you want the long detailed answer, check out the Detailed Information page. The short answer is that unlike a pneumatic only squeezer, the Numatx C-Squeezer is hydraulic, for the portion that you hold in your hand. This results in ½ the weight, and ½ the size. Less weight reduces fatigue and smaller means it can access more confined areas. A less obvious advantage is the Numatx unit makes constant force over the entire stroke range. A pneumatic unit is able to squeeze a rivet over a very limited range of its stroke. This means you have to spend extra time adjusting the stroke end point for a pneumatic only unit. The advantage of the Numatx unit translate into a more pleasant and less fatiguing building experience. And if the build experience is not fun, the project may either languish or the quality may suffer.
Q: Which yokes do you recommend for the typical build?
A: While there is no “best” C-yoke, the yoke that may be most often used is a 3" reach yoke. The 3" reach yoke can reach many of the rivets you might like to squeeze, while not being as heavy as the 4" reach yoke. The 4" reach yoke may come in handy on occasion, but the length may also limit access to some rivets, such as around the perimeter of an access panel. The 1.5" reach yoke is the lightest and can handle many rivets at the edges of skins, such as those on the flap piano-hinge stack-up. A flange-nose yoke or "longeron yoke" is a must for rivets on the main spar of a Vans aircraft kit. By the way, a powered riveter is also great for dimpling skins, which are found in most of Vans kits.
Q: Do you also carry rivet dies?
A: Not yet, but we will in the future.
Q: What is included in the system, and what would I need to buy?
A: The HTS-C3K C-Squeezer System is complete, less Dexron III ATF (automatic transmission fluid) and riveter dies. It is a simple operation to assemble the system, requiring only a few basic hand tools. The syringe to fill the ATF fluid is included with the system. Review the operation manual for setting up the system.