Follow us on Twitter Follow us on FaceBook Kitplanes Videos Get RSS Feed

Shop Talk

April 2018 Issue

Plane and Simple

A second life for Cleco pliers.

Cleco pliers holding the cable, thimble, and sleeve in position. This frees up both of your hands to operate the swaging tool.

Many of us work on our aircraft projects by ourselves. Generally, most building tasks require only one set of hands. There are, however, a few operations that certainly do require temporary assistance. An example is bucking rivets in locations that no human can reach solo. There are a variety of other building procedures that also need a minimum of three hands. You can see a builder get really creative when a multi-handed task is at hand and no helper person is available. Clamps, duct tape, and even glue come to mind as means that allow us to improvise for creating that extra hand to finish a critical step that cannot wait!

A task that fits this scenario is swaging the ends of control cables. This critical operation usually requires one person to operate the large swaging tool and another set of hands to carefully position the cable, thimble, and sleeve before the squeezing can proceed. And, if your helper is not familiar with this procedure, it can take a bit of time to explain, train, and practice with him or her before starting.

One handle of the Cleco pliers is clamped in the vise, while the other handle is restrained with a rubber band, providing tension on the cable and thimble.

Some builders are already familiar with the challenge of swaging cables with only two hands. One trick is to use a vise to hold one handle of the swaging tool while your hands operate the other handle and hold the thimble and related components.

Recently, a builder shared another technique for creating a helping hand for swaging operations. It involves common Cleco pliers, along with a table vise and rubber band. An understanding of how this combination operates requires a picture or two in order to eliminate a thousand words of explanation!

Note that only one handle of the Cleco pliers is locked into the vise jaws, while the other handle is restrained with a rubber band to allow adjustment of tension as desired. The rubber band provides a clamping force to the cable and thimble, so you can easily place the cable, thimble, and sleeve into their desired positions. As soon as you are ready, your two hands are free to operate the swaging tool. No second person is involved who may tire or disturb the components while you take your time to make a perfect, swaged connection.

Of course, there is only one person to blame now if the results are not up to your standards! It won’t take long for you to decide whether this new function for your Cleco pliers makes sense the next time you need a helping hand for swaging the ends of cables.

As the founder of, Jon Croke has produced instructional videos for Experimental aircraft builders for over 10 years. He has built (and helped others build) over a dozen kit aircraft of all makes and models. Jon is a private pilot and currently owns and flies a Zenith Cruzer.

Download File

Untitled Document Homebuilder's Portal by KITPLANES
Photo by Richard VanderMeulen
Alan Arthur, Doug Harrington and Avon Furphy of Perth, Australia with their Bearhawk Patrol.Scott French of Iowa and an Australian threesome comprising Alan Arthur, Doug Harrington and Avon Furphy have completed, certified and flown their Bearhawk Patrols in September 2018. A Bearhawk Patrol, VH-TUC, made its first flight in Perth Australia. This aircraft joins two other Patrols currently flying in Australia. "Another in Perth was built from a …
Port RV-8Here is my RV8 that I completed in June 2017. I didn't have enough time to fly off my phase one in time for Oshkosh but I did get there for 2018. I started with a quick build kit (if you call four and a half years quick build) and then added the Show Planes …
Clarke-Schmitz SeareyThis Searey amphibian was built over a three year period by owners Bob Schmitz and Glen Clarke in Nelson, British Columbia, Canada. Initial flights in September 2018 were trouble-free with the normal adjustments. Aircraft details :Searey LSX s/n  1LK597C, fiberglas hull, Friese ailerons, manual flaps, empty weight 994 lb, gross weight 1500lb. It is powered …

lycoming-thunderbolt-o-360-redAt Sun 'n Fun 2018 we interviewed Jeff Schans, Lycoming's Sales manager and we asked about the popular Thunderbolt Engines. Watch the short Product Minute video as Jeff describes the benefits of the Thunderbolt product line and what it means for the aircraft homebuilder.
Dynon Avionics' latest-generation SkyView integrated avionics called the SkyView HDX has a newly designed bezel and user controls for easier use while flying in turbulence, plus brighter displays and a reworked touch interface. Larry Anglisano takes a product tour of the HDX with Dynon's Michael Schoefield in this video.
At Sun 'n Fun 2016, Dynon continued to push into the world of non-certified avionics with its SkyView SE, a less expensive version of its popular SkyView EFIS system. Paul Bertorelli prepared this video report.
The G5 is a self-contained electronic flight instrument, which can be interfaced with Garmin's G3X/Touch avionics and autopilot for backup and flight instrument redundancy. The GMA245 and remote GMA245R Bluetooth audio panels have advanced entertainment input functions and onscreen programming.
At Sun 'n Fun 2016, Just Aircraft is showing off its new Titan-powered SuperSTOL XL. Harrison Smith took Paul Bertorelli for a half-day demo flight in the new airplane, and here's his video report.
Kit manufacturer Zenith Aircraft Company has released a new 360-degree VR short video to showcase its kit aircraft and to promote the rewarding hobby of kit aircraft building and flying light-sport aircraft.
Video Archive


All mailed correspondence, including subscription invoices, renewals, and gift notices, will bear our address:
PO BOX 8535
Big Sandy, TX 75755

Third parties claiming to be selling KITPLANES subscriptions are not legitimate.