Long Spar – Meet Big Squeezer!



One good reason to make lots of friends when you get in to homebuilding–sooner or later you’re going to need a special tool, and the more people you know, the more likely it is that someone will have that special tool that will make your life easier!

The spars on our Xenos Motor glider are about 24 feet long, and the spar caps attach to the web using mostly -5 rivets. Lot and lots of -5 rivets. While they can be shot with a rivet gun or indeed, pounded out with an anvil, bolt and hammer, it sure looks nice when every rivet looks exactly like every other rivet, and that is where a squeezer comes in. Set it up right and make every rivet identical. But hey, who’s going to use a hand squeezer on those -5s? And even the average pneumatic is going to have a tough time when it comes to the long ones near the root (the web stack up at the fuselage is nearly an inch thick).  Not to mention that a yoke big enough to get around the spar caps and remain rigid would weigh far more than you’d want to lift.

Enter the Super Squeezer! Hand made by a craftsman we know (if you like his tools, you should see his airplanes…), the yoke weighs in at about 65 pounds. Add the pneumatic squeezer and the entire tool comes in at well over 75.  But boy – does it squeeze rivets. We did a few tests, and it handled the big stuff like it wasn’t even there. We’ll have to work up a table (or rollers) to support the spar and move it around, since the squeezer isn’t going to be going anywhere, but that is part of the fun in figuring out how to build these things. Remember – education and recreation.

We got the recreation (exercise) just lifting this thing out of the airplane we went to get it in. And boy, this is sure educational.

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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.


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