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Old 05-07-2007, 01:24 AM   #1
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What's a cleco?

I tried the search function, but I'm still not exactly sure what they are and what they're used for. Is it a tool or a fastener, or both? When does one need a cleco? Do I need one to install inner skins or belly pan? Pictures would be helpful.

Thanks.
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Old 05-07-2007, 01:29 AM   #2
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You weren't the only one unfamiliar with them...
I don't need them but was also wondering how they work.
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Old 05-07-2007, 06:36 AM   #3
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Simple and ingenious

A cleco is like a minature toggle bolt. They are used to hold aluminum parts together before permanent rivets are put in.

Most clecoes used here are spring loaded and require special pliers to insert and remove. The pliers hold the body of the cleco and push in on the spring loaded stem in the rear. This causes the latching pins in the front to extend.

When extended, the pins are smaller in diameter than the hole. As they retract, a wedge piece spreads out the pins so they are larger than the hole.

Here are pictures showing a cleco in use, then with the pins extended and retracted.

They cost about 35 cents each, the pliers are less than $10. I found them extremely useful for holding sheets together. Especially on the interior skins, you can put the skins on and take them off a dozen times until everything is perfect.

Get at least 2 dozen for a small project, a hundred or more for a skin replacement. They come in 1/8" (copper) and 5/16"(black) depending on the rivet size you are using.
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Old 05-07-2007, 08:44 AM   #4
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Nice response & pics, Don.

Ingrid, it looks like everybody is competing to get a virtual swig of your French champagne ...

From the rubrail trim (at knee level) and upward on the exterior, bucked rivets were used in manufacture and Olympics without rubber gasket rings (5/32") are the repair choice. Put a little dab of Sikaflex 221 to seal when you insert them. 1/8" pop rivets were used elsewhere; be sure to use all-aluminum only (not steel pull shafts). I don't have a source off the top of my head but the belly pan goes back on with 1/8" pop rivets with wider heads. Anybody? I just made my own little washers by drilling 1/8" holes in aluminum sheet stock, cutting it into little squares and put belly wrap on with that.

Here's a response I wrote up for another member once -- look like Don gets that virtual champagne:
You will want to get a 12" clearance strap duplicator. This will let you accurately drill a rivet hole in new belly skin or banana wrap, so that the hole is located over the underlying hole in frame or skin that you want to rivet together. Go to Aircraft Tool Supply - eCatalog and see .... darn, there's no page number. It's an Adobe Acrobat document. Click the binocular 'search' icon and enter: 62-12 -- You do want the strap duplicator for #30 twist drills since this is what you'll use most often (just ream out afterward with a #21 drill if setting a 5/32" rivet). This is the handiest tool ever and you can thank Forums member markdoane from Minnetonka for the idea.

Snipping metal shears: You won't want scissor type metal shears from the hardware store! In the Aircraft Tool Supply - eCatalog catalog again, search on: Jilson Supersnip -- I haven't needed a 2nd blade by any means -- the original is enough. I also don't know enough to recommend the cheaper one on the same page. These shears are time consuming but reasonable unless you have air tools already or the project isn't a large one. I would use a hand tool like this for such a small job (ie, a single trailer). You won't be asking "why not" on tin snips after you see the undistorted smooth edge these produce! Good tools make good trailers/aircraft!!

In transferring a template or removed piece of belly wrap to aluminum sheet stock, do not attempt to locate or pre-drill rivet holes. That just does not seem to work. That's what your strap duplicator is for. Trust me -- you want one of those! Ask if you need further pointers once you have it.
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Old 05-07-2007, 09:21 AM   #5
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I got belly pan rivets from VTS- they're awsome- huge heads- large diameter.
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Old 05-07-2007, 11:03 AM   #6
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Burrrrrr

The major justification for using 'cleco' fasteners is that when you drill through sheet materials, the burrs formed by the drill are trapped in between the sheets. If you just drill and rivet, the cuttings from the drill prevent a good tight and close fit. Clecos allow youy to get the holes drilled and then to take it apart to remove the burrs. It's an extra step, but you gotta do it.
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Old 05-07-2007, 11:42 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Excella CM
The major justification for using 'cleco' fasteners is that when you drill through sheet materials, the burrs formed by the drill are trapped in between the sheets. If you just drill and rivet, the cuttings from the drill prevent a good tight and close fit. Clecos allow youy to get the holes drilled and then to take it apart to remove the burrs. It's an extra step, but you gotta do it.
Aluminum drilling tip.

Use a high speed drill motor such as 25,000 rpm. Yes, twenty five thousand.

DO NOT use anything except minimal pressure when drilling.

If you follow the above, burrs are very rare.

Using slow speed drill motors and a lot of pressure, because your in a hurry, will generate many burrs all the time, GUARANTEED.

Andy
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Old 05-07-2007, 12:01 PM   #8
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And be careful using the clecos. It's hard to do, but you CAN pinch your fingers with them if you're not careful. And, no, there were no adult beverages involved in that....manuever.

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Old 05-07-2007, 12:13 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by markdoane
. . . They come in 1/8" (copper) and 5/16"(black) depending on the rivet size you are using.
I want to thank everyone who were too polite to point out that the correct diameter of the black clecoes is 5/32", not 5/16".
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Old 05-07-2007, 12:18 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by markdoane
I want to thank everyone who were too polite to point out that the correct diameter of the black clecoes is 5/32", not 5/16".
Clecos are available in several diameters.

We use both 1/8 and 5/32 inch sizes.

The 5/32 clecos are black colored.

The 1/8 inch clecos are gold colored.

When using "the recommended "olymic" rivet, which is 5/32 inches in diameter, the black clecos are used.

Andy
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Old 05-07-2007, 12:35 PM   #11
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Ha

Thank you so much for all the input! I will need one for my interior skins, it looks like. Yay, I get to buy another tool.
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Old 05-07-2007, 12:45 PM   #12
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Ingrid- I have a couple hundred cleco's 1/8"size ( inside panels) and a few tools, I'ld be happy to loan them to you, seein as you're close!! I could have brought them to Casini! Not to many 5/32" tho and maybe 50 of the 3/16". In the airplane building world we be burr everything. DG
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Old 05-07-2007, 01:00 PM   #13
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Hey DG! Thanks! When the time comes, I'll get in touch. I'm about to post an update on my thread...
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Old 05-07-2007, 01:05 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by doorgunner
Ingrid- I have a couple hundred cleco's 1/8"size ( inside panels) and a few tools, I'ld be happy to loan them to you, seein as you're close!! I could have brought them to Casini! Not to many 5/32" tho and maybe 50 of the 3/16". In the airplane building world we be burr everything. DG
Lynn and I will be in Oakland and Berkeley this weekend. Ingrid, we could save you and Tim a trip and pick the tools and etc. and tell you where we will be. But then again a trip to a vinyard would be difficult to pass up. PM me if you want to do this.

Neil and Lynn
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