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This article presents the work carried out to design and build an apparatus to enable the bearing versus by-pass failure envelope to be determined for a range of composites. The apparatus incorporates a removable rig (consisting of a loading frame, actuators and additional load cell) with a servo-hydraulic testing machine to enable the application of both by-pass and bearing load. The advantages of this system are that independence between the loads can be achieved with minimum cost while enabling the servo-hydraulic machine to be utilized for other test types. Additionally, a variety of specimen geometries, bolt sizes, clamp-up areas, clamp-up pressures, by-pass loads and bearing loads can be applied. Initial tests have shown that the apparatus performs well. © 2003 American Institute of Physics.