Always Another Tool

The Flyleds lights finished and hooked up to the bench power supply for testing.
See the narrow space to set that rivet? A standard die won’t fit in there without crushing the nut of the plate.

One of the things I brought back from AirVenture last week was a kit from Flyleds to build two LED landing lights that we’re going to use simply as Wig-Wags on the eXenos to make it more visible. One of the things that make FLyleds fit into the budget for homebuilders is that they aren’t finished lights—they are kits. In the case of these lights, you ned to attach nut plates to the main board, fit the heat sink and lens mount to the same board and then install the lens and wires. It really only took about an hour to do the whole thing, and that included reading the instructions twice before I started, just to make sure I didn’t build myself into a corner.

It doesn’t include the extra half hour I spent machining a special die for my rivet squeezer, however. The lights use two single-leg nut plates, fastened with AD3 dome-head rivets, and anyone who has used one-leg plates knows that the rivet hole closest to the screw hole is hard to set because it is so close to the “nut.” FLyleds addresses this in their instructions, basically saying that only one rivet (the outer one) is required. But heck, there’s a rivet hole and I wanted it filled!

I could probably polish the setting end a little more, but the rivet I was setting wasn’t structural.

So out came a piece of 4130 rod, which got chucked up in the lathe. I cut down the stem (I make squeezer dies often enough I free-hand them, except for measuring the tail diameter), then I cut it off to the right length, turned it around so that the lathe chuck was gripping the tail, and (after flattening the end) cutting a steep taper so that it would fit in the narrow space. I made the flat setting face just a bit bigger in diameter than the shop head it would create, and it worked great to set that one rivet! I added the little friction clip, and added it to my collection of special squeezer dies. I bet this one sees service again in the future.

Previous articleHomebuilt Accidents: Reassurance
Next articleRAFE’s Lady Vi VariViggen Update
Paul Dye
Paul Dye, KITPLANES® Editor at Large, retired as a Lead Flight Director for NASA’s Human Space Flight program, with 40 years of aerospace experience on everything from Cubs to the Space Shuttle. An avid homebuilder, he began flying and working on airplanes as a teen and has experience with a wide range of construction techniques and materials. He flies an RV-8 and SubSonex jet that he built, an RV-3 that he built with his pilot wife, as well as a Dream Tundra and an electric Xenos motorglider they completed. Currently, they are building an F1 Rocket. A commercially licensed pilot, he has logged over 6000 hours in many different types of aircraft and is an A&P, FAA DAR, EAA Tech Counselor and Flight Advisor; he was formerly a member of the Homebuilder’s Council. He consults and collaborates in aerospace operations and flight-testing projects across the country.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.