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Thread: What's your favourite docking style for your floatplane?

  1. #1
    irishfield's Avatar
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    What's your favourite docking style for your floatplane?

    Just bought a place on a Lake this fall. Currently has two pier docks that I have temporarily vertically strapped in a couple spots to get the plane against and to keep the float from getting under the span of the dock. Come spring I will be towing a 6' x 20' Dow Billet floater dock out to the Island to attach to one pier with a short ramp. I will also have an airlift pegged to the shore before the summer is over but wondering in the mean time (and for all my visitors dropping in)....What is your favourite dock bumper (tires, horizontal strips/??) along the side of a floater. Any other tips for tieing off to arrest float damage (heavy boat traffic area). How many prefer a ramp, to a dock, for tieing up...as I have a rock shoreline and a ramp wouldn't be too hard in one spot either.

    THANKS,
    Wayne

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    SJ's Avatar
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    Wayne,

    Although I am a relatively inexperienced float plane pilot, the thing that occurs to me is that the ramp is more wind worthy than the dock, as you can actully tie down to the ramp in some fashion. You seem, when docked, to be at the mercy of the wind where ramping is more like beaching and I would think the preferred method of keeping bad things from happening in the wind.

    Just a personal observation, no doubt to be blown apart by somebody who knows better...

    sj

  3. #3
    mvivion's Avatar
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    Wayne,

    Go with a ramp, you'll not regret it in an area with a lot of wind or a lot of boat traffic (ie: waves).

    I used ramps a lot for years in Kodiak, and they are wonderful for getting the airplane "stuck" on shore, as well as for getting underway once you are ready to go again.

    I hate docks, cause they can be a real challenge to your skills (and to the sides of your floats) in any kind of wind. Docks are for things that have reverse gear.

    Ramps are wonderful.

    MTV

  4. #4
    Cajun Joe's Avatar
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    "What's your favorite docking style for your floatplane?"

    My favorite?
    Backed up on the beach at the Abaco Inn, Elbow Cay, Bahamas .....
    (but I digress)
    Joe

  5. #5
    SJ's Avatar
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    Joe it must be tough to beach the plane while being distracted by bikini clad women

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    I didn't think they wore bikinis in the Bahamas.

    Or anything else...

    John Scott

  7. #7

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    The docks I found to be most float friendly were floating docks. Having part of the dock submerged is a big plus because where the floats rub first is a foot under water. The height of the dock stays close to the tops of the floats at all times, and you don't need poles sticking up to eat your horizontal stabilizer. A couple of large cleats mounted to the surface makes for easy tying off.

    Tires and horizontal bumpers work but they can catch the front of the float and bring you to an abrupt stop. This is no fun when the wind is trying to weather vane you away from the dock. The easiest docks I've landed at have a rubber strip running the whole length. The rubber doesn't really have to be all that thick. A quarter inch thick strip is more than sufficient. As long as it runs below the surface you'll have nothing to catch on and the float can move up and down with the waves.

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    irishfield's Avatar
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    THANKS! to everyone so far! Please keep the ideas and prefered methods coming as I have all winter to get the best system(s) together for my hide away. I will have a lift up there when I figure how to get it out to the island. I bought the lift shown in the picture off one of my customers that owns the plane shown. He rode the plane off and is done flying, so I have bought his lift. The spot I have planned for the floater dock would be pretty much pointed right into the boat traffic waves so may not be too bad but I fear those larger waves coming in on an angle since the boat channel is very close to shore here. Ramps would be pretty easy to put along the one shore. Anyone have dimensions that a ramp works the best at and is there a secret angle that it should project out of the water at???

    THANKS again, Wayne


  9. #9
    Cajun Joe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by steve
    Joe it must be tough to beach the plane while being distracted by bikini clad women
    Gee Steve, you know I'm practicing safe docking. I always let them out before docking!
    (I do like that floating ramp though Wayne. Is that one where you blow air in the drums and push out the water???)

  10. #10
    Crash's Avatar
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    ]"What's your favorite docking style for your floatplane?"[/b]

    Sometimes I hit the dock so hard, one float will go up on top of the dock, makes for an easy, dry exit. I tell onlookers that the float on the dock has a major leak and I had to "dry dock" it.

    Sometimes I hit the dock, bounce off it, then try to jump from the plane to the dock and fall in the water.

    Sometimes I just drift the full lenght of the dock, too far to jump (I learned from last time), and end up in the brush and trees on the shore.

    Floats and a little wind can make you look like a real dumb ass at times. Each time you dock it's different. I have no "farorite" one of the above. Crash

  11. #11
    irishfield's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cajun Joe
    (I do like that floating ramp though Wayne. Is that one where you blow air in the drums and push out the water???)
    Yes...two stainless steel tanks with a large hole in the bottom. Fill full of air..pushing the water out. Will stay as shown in the picture for months. When you want to go flying there is a dump valve. Just untie the airplane, kick the gate valve handle with your foot to let air out and water in thru that big hole in the tanks..all while you're climbing into the plane. The unit then sinks and the plane floats off backwards. Done right the plane goes back enough to fire up and turn around without hitting the lift or shore.

    Crash... sounds like the way I do it and why I am looking for better alternatives than the dock. I am buying a new billet floater anyhow, because water level flucuations play havock with even boats on a pier dock, but figure if I extend the sides down into the water on the floater it will be very good for visitors dropping by... to keep the floats out from under the dock.

    Cheers,
    Wayne

  12. #12
    mvivion's Avatar
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    And, Crash just elucidated quite nicely why I prefer ramps to docks. You can build a U shaped dock if you like, then mount a ramp inside it, so that you have the benefits of both. This is what I used for years in Kodiak, which can be pretty breezy at times.

    With a ramp, you simply power the plane onto the ramp, or cut the power with a pretty good way still on (cool nautical terms) and stick the plane on the ramp, which prevents you from demonstrating Crash's technique noted above.

    When you're ready to go, you slide the plane off the ramp, turn it around, and stick it on the ramp, tail to shore, get in, leisurely fire it up, and taxi off the ramp.

    Why make life more complex with a dock?

    I put the top of the ramp at water level or close, hinged to the U-shaped dock, and let the rest of the ramp hinge downward. Hang enough concrete blocks or concrete filled pipe, or???? under the outboard edge of the ramp to cause it to sink a foot or so. This works in deep water. If the ramp rests on the bottom, that's no problem either, just fasten the ramp to the bottom, and slide the plane up onto the ramp in the same manner.

    The only down side is that the ramp in the water gets slicker than deer guts on a doorknob after a while, so watch your step, but this lets the airplane slide around nicely, so there's two sides to it.

    Try a ramp and you'll never like docks again.

    MTV

  13. #13
    irishfield's Avatar
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    THANKS MTV! Looks like a ramp it will be for a quick stay for myself (instead of bothering with the lift) and for visitors dropping by. The lift will be nice for my amphibs to keep the wheels out of the water when I'm up for a period of time and fishing vs flying. With the floater dock with sides extended below the water line, a ramp and a lift I should be set for anyone dropping by...BUT keep the ideas coming guys..don't think we've extinguished all the tips that are likely available from the extensive knowledge on this forum!

    CHEERS!
    Wayne

  14. #14
    AlaskaAV's Avatar
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    As an outsider, I can offer what we did with our amphib Porter in the Katmai area of Alaska. We tried to never use a dock of any kind where we flew into on water. Our guys would just swing it around and back it in and when he felt the back of the floats hit the beach, a ground crewman would simply lift the tail up and with power, back it up on the beach. We built huge cement tiedowns under water and never had a problem until a guy engaged too much Bata one time and dipped the nose in the water. Engine change needless to say but the pilot was the airline owner's son. Of course that does not work with a Cub unless someone paddles it back in with some help to pull it up on shore, ie, ramp. So easy to load and taxi out though. For a commercial operation or boarding passengers, it is sure a lot safer to have the floats steady. Sure saves unexpected dunkings. Also, it gives a good way to do a runup while still tied down.

    It will be interesting to see if the Turbine Cubs will work that way too.

  15. #15
    Cranman
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    Seaplane ramps

    I agree the best way to land a seaplane is on a ramp. I built mine 10' wide and 20' long. The width is important if you have to land with a fair amount of crosswind. The pitch should be between a 1-12 to 2-12. I tried a steeper pitch, but had trouble with the plane sliding back into the water. To minimize the slippery planks, try to build out of rough sawn lumber. I also left about 3/8" gap between planks for the same reason. I screwed the whole thing together to avoid nails working themselves out only to raise h___ with the float bottoms.

  16. #16
    Cranman
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    Floating docks

    If you decide on a floating dock I recommend the following:
    Use 3" poly pipe (that orange gas pipe works well). Lag bolt pipe to your dock with a single lag bolt. Install vertically about every 16" inches. The pipe should stick down into the water about 24"(I used 36" pieces). The depth is necessary to make sure the plastic ALWAYS rubs on the float chine. By adjusting the tension of the lag bolt the pipes can be turned horizontally for the winter.

  17. #17
    mvivion's Avatar
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    Cranman,

    Good points. Ernie, I once watched a fellow hot-shoeing a Turbo Beaver to a beach on Kodiak, using reverse thrust. As he backed up to the beach (without shore assistance, as you noted) a very loud crunching noise was heard as he mangled the water rudders on the beach.

    I then took his customers back to town, while he waited for parts.

    As Cranman noted, we made our ramps out of rough sawn 2 X 10's. With the advent of really good anti corrosive screws now, that's definitely how I'd put them together.

    We had a ramp that lived at Karluk Lake, and I kept an amphibious Beaver on that ramp, on a really rocky lakeshore many many nights. We had winds of well over 60 knots, and with the Beaver stuck on the ramp hard, and faced into it, it was no problem, though our beach was sheltered from the wave action of the big lake.

    In that case, we had the ramp secured a foot or so off the bottom, and as you taxiied up onto the ramp, the ramp settled onto the rocks, and the plane slid up onto it and stuck. The water level was such (and pretty consistent there) where you could just fire up, warm up and power off the ramp in the morning. There was a shallow spot in just the right spot for that to work there.

    MTV

  18. #18
    irishfield's Avatar
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    Thanks Ernie, Cranman and Mike....now I'm really getting the information I need. Like the pipe idea! Keeps the plane out from under the dock and a bit of flex to ease the pounding! I need to make my ramps about 12' wide as the stance on my Rebel Amphib is 8' c/c with about 10' overall width. I'll have to figure out what total length I need to cover the hole season as there seems to be about a 3 foot water fluctuation on this lake (Temagami). I have one nice shoreline for this on the south side where it stays shallow for about 15 feet out from shore and then drops off quickly to 35'. I just need to get it pegged to shore at the high water line and make sure that I have enough ramp still in the water to beach on if the water drops as we move into fall.

    Thanks again...keep the ideas coming and all the float fliers here should have no float damage next season!

    Wayne

  19. #19
    mvivion's Avatar
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    Irishfield,

    Or, you can take the other tack, which is to build a dock on pilings, far enough from shore that the ramp will be in deep water even at seasonal low water. Then build a walkway to shore. Again, if you build a U-shaped dock, with an enclosed ramp, all on pilings, it would be easy to construct a walkway to shore that would deal with any water fluctuations.

    MTV

  20. #20
    irishfield's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mvivion
    Irishfield,

    Or, you can take the other tack, which is to build a dock on pilings, far enough from shore that the ramp will be in deep water even at seasonal low water. Then build a walkway to shore. Again, if you build a U-shaped dock, with an enclosed ramp, all on pilings, it would be easy to construct a walkway to shore that would deal with any water fluctuations.

    MTV
    Thanks, already have two pier (rock crib) docks in front of the place...just trying to seperate the kids (me) running the boats from the airplanes. Unfortunate that one of the pier docks is made in a L with the side turned to open water...but then again...maybe this one is perfect and I could mount the ramp to the inside faces of the two piers the dock spans across. Might make a mess if I hit the ramp too quick though! The other way, like you said MTV, would be to attach two floaters to this pier dock that I already have and since it's sideways to open water would be perfect. Attach the ramp to each floater and could even peg the ramp into the water by bracing the sunk end against the bottoms of the floaters. Kinda concerned the weight of the airplane might put the docks under though???

    Wayne

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