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RV Journal Product Review
TATCO Hand Squeezer
What is it?: TATCO Hand Rivet Squeezer
Cheers: Very nice fit and finish; Smooth operation; Reasonable price; Interchangeable yokes.
Jeers: Roll pins that attach yoke are somewhat of a hassle to remove and insert.
One of the first tools the beginning RV builder is going to add to the toolbox is a hand squeezer. This will be one of your most often used handtools from day one until the day your new RV rolls onto the airport ramp. There are at least three different types of squeezers that I have seen, and the TATCO is one of the highest quality versions available (and made in the USA!). Brown Aviation Tool Supply Company, a comprehensive aircraft tool supplier, has very competitive pricing on this fine tool along with first-rate service.
A hand squeezer is used not only for setting rivets, but when outfitted with dimple dies, for dimpling components in preparation for riveting. The standard .187" dimple and rivet sets are accommodated, and full adjustability is available for all commonly performed tasks. The piston has just enough drag in its adjustment to prevent it from "creeping" during the course of a work session, and the setting action is silky smooth as you pull the handles together.
I am really impressed with the high quality of the finish on the stainless steel yokes and handles; This is great-looking stuff! I admit to being a tool-junkie, and beautifully finished tools add a lot of enjoyment to their use. I have a simpler squeezer that came as part of an "RV Tool Kit", and while it works quite well, not only does it not have interchangeable yokes, the appearance just isn't in the same league as the Tatco.
The ability to change yokes avoids the necessity of having to purchase two complete squeezers. However, if the budget allows, having two squeezers is a nice luxury. One set can remain loaded with dimple dies while the other carries a rivet set. Also, after you swap out the yokes on the TATCO a few times, you may start lusting after another handle set for the extra yoke. The yoke is attached with roll pins which do an admirable job of keeping the yoke secured, so much so that they can be reluctant to turn loose when you want them out for a yoke change. There may be a trick for easily removing and reinserting the pins, but I haven't discovered it yet. Besides, as often as you will use the squeezers on your project, the additional expense of the second squeezer may be justified unless your tool budget is flying at sea-level only.
Also included on the TATCO is a nifty locking lever that holds the handles together when the tool in at rest. A squeezer can take up quite a bit a real estate if stored with its handles sprawled.
I like this tool! The 3" jaws will reach about any job that is practical for a hand squeezer, and the quality of the workmanship leads me to believe that it will last through the second and third RV (and if I want Joyce to know this....let ME tell her....). Michael Brown and the folks at Brown Aviation Tool have been in the tool business long enough to have established a solid track record, and will be happy to get one of these reasonably priced beauties on the way to you. Check out their great web site and/or get them to send you a catalog.
After the above review was published, Jeff Hawkins, RV8 builder in Suwanee, Georgia, responded with the following post: