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Old 03-03-2009, 01:18 AM   #1
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1957 22' Flying Cloud
Odessa , Washington
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Clecos - will I wish I had 'em?

Howdy Folks,
Can anyone out there enlighten me about clecos? As I learn about the restoration of these trailers I run accross their mention ocasionally and there's an article on a '56 Flying cloud restoration at www.vintageairstream.com where they are used extensively. I gather that they originate from the aircraft industy and are used to help align the sheet metal panels prior to riveting. A google search took me to an aircraft repair parts website that offered dozens of diferent types and sizes. Do you really need them? If so, what sizes/types and how many would you recommend? Why can't you just use rivets (un-pulled) to align the pieces?
I'm just about done with the rip-out phase (a term from my shipyard days) and I'm trying to be prepared without breaking the bank.
Thanks for any info you can provide.
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Old 03-03-2009, 02:13 AM   #2
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Will you wish you had them?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Old Nuke View Post
Howdy Folks,
Can anyone out there enlighten me about clecos? As I learn about the restoration of these trailers I run accross their mention ocasionally and there's an article on a '56 Flying cloud restoration at www.vintageairstream.com where they are used extensively. I gather that they originate from the aircraft industy and are used to help align the sheet metal panels prior to riveting. A google search took me to an aircraft repair parts website that offered dozens of diferent types and sizes. Do you really need them? If so, what sizes/types and how many would you recommend? Why can't you just use rivets (un-pulled) to align the pieces?
I'm just about done with the rip-out phase (a term from my shipyard days) and I'm trying to be prepared without breaking the bank.
Thanks for any info you can provide.
YES! Don't even 'think' of working on the aluminum panels without them.
Think of them as 'basting' stitches in tailoring... they hold the pieces (which are heavy) together and make the project manageable. Once you drill the holes it's a done deal as far as the aluminum goes... once a hole, always a hole! Then when you rivet, it's rather permanent....you really don't want to have to remove them so by holding the metal together... with 'clecos' first, on all sides of the panels you can see, just by the clecos holding the panels if there is a 'pucker' or a crease or a bulge against the frame...BEFORE you rivet. Then if there is an adjustment you can shift slightly to correct.
Aluminum is very heavy and hard to control... and 'razor' sharp! Don't ask me how I know! Just guessing that you'll need at least a hundred or so... for starters... and a maybe 50 or so 'larger' size for when you need to hold more than 2 sheets together at one seam. Yes... it's a BIG 'tailoring job' .... for the biggest suit a tailor could make! and one of the most expensive... don't scrimp on the tools.
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Old 03-03-2009, 06:22 AM   #3
Restorations done right
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1962 26' Overlander
1961 26' Overlander
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they are a tool that is hard to live without. I use them as another set of hands. I buy them from Airparts inc. The copper colored ones are 1/8" and the black ones are 5/32". I am always nervous, so I drill and cleco the copper ones first then once it all looks proper, I drill the holes larger and install the black ones. Then it is just a matter of removing them one by one and filling it with a solid rivet. I have a hundred of each, but often they are all in use. Airparts inc sells them for $.49 each and the tool to remove and install them. other vendors sell them too, but I like the excellent service Airparts offers.
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Old 03-03-2009, 07:32 AM   #4
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I bought my clecos off of e-bay. I have seen them on aircraft tool websites.

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Old 03-03-2009, 07:40 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Old Nuke View Post
Howdy Folks,
Can anyone out there enlighten me about clecos? As I learn about the restoration of these trailers I run accross their mention ocasionally and there's an article on a '56 Flying cloud restoration at www.vintageairstream.com where they are used extensively. I gather that they originate from the aircraft industy and are used to help align the sheet metal panels prior to riveting. A google search took me to an aircraft repair parts website that offered dozens of diferent types and sizes. Do you really need them? If so, what sizes/types and how many would you recommend? Why can't you just use rivets (un-pulled) to align the pieces?
I'm just about done with the rip-out phase (a term from my shipyard days) and I'm trying to be prepared without breaking the bank.
Thanks for any info you can provide.
They are a must for aluminum sheet metal work.
Aircraft tool supply will have all you need.
You cannot just use rivets because they can rack over or fall out. Yes you could tape them but clecos and the and cleco plyers are a must.
the size the cleco must match the size of the river you use.
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Old 03-03-2009, 07:43 AM   #6
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Putnam , Connecticut
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Old Nuke View Post
Howdy Folks,
Can anyone out there enlighten me about clecos? As I learn about the restoration of these trailers I run accross their mention ocasionally and there's an article on a '56 Flying cloud restoration at www.vintageairstream.com where they are used extensively. I gather that they originate from the aircraft industy and are used to help align the sheet metal panels prior to riveting. A google search took me to an aircraft repair parts website that offered dozens of diferent types and sizes. Do you really need them? If so, what sizes/types and how many would you recommend? Why can't you just use rivets (un-pulled) to align the pieces?
I'm just about done with the rip-out phase (a term from my shipyard days) and I'm trying to be prepared without breaking the bank.
Thanks for any info you can provide.

Yes.... pulls panels together
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Old 03-03-2009, 08:05 AM   #7
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The come in handy for putting in windows, and are just plain fun, best toy since legos.
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Old 03-03-2009, 09:18 AM   #8
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Anybody who has done any panel work will agree, they are indespencible. We found the copper ones for $.38 each. 100 cost $38.00, best 38-bucks we ever spent at twice the price! Not a place to scrimp, you will regret it.

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Old 03-03-2009, 11:04 AM   #9
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Brown Tools

At work our mechanics got their Cleco's and other sheet metal tools from Brown Aviation Tools (Home). They can be found cheaper, but if you need specific sizes they have everything. Another interesting tool they have is a spring loaded hole finder. Sounds strange, but if you are replacing a panel they make a very quick and easy job of locating existing rivet holes and drilling matching holes on a new panel.
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Old 03-03-2009, 01:50 PM   #10
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Another interesting tool they have is a spring loaded hole finder.
Do you have a picture of the tool? I can't quite get an image of how it works.
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Old 03-03-2009, 02:09 PM   #11
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We have a hole finder - don't know if it's the same one he's talking about, but ours is very simple. It's basically a pair of tongs or tweezers with a nub that fits in the back (hidden) hole and a corresponding hole in the front. You put the aluminum between the two and when the nub slips into the concealed hole, you drill through the hole on the front and they line up.

Here's one like ours...Hole Duplicator

Shari
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Old 03-03-2009, 03:46 PM   #12
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Clecos

Try ebay, they have a large selection and are a lot more reasonable than the suppliers mentioned here.
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Old 03-03-2009, 08:34 PM   #13
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I got a huge variety of used clecos and tools for cheap from... Welcome To The Yard
and was impressed by rapid shipping, almost as fast as vintage trailer supplies
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Old 03-03-2009, 10:53 PM   #14
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Clecos are my husband's best friend....especially when his "Bucker" (me) is not around to assist. Do not proceed without them!
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