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Thread: Float kit on a new build airplane that might not use floats for a few years?

  1. #1

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    Float kit on a new build airplane that might not use floats for a few years?

    Hello,

    I have a carbon cub fx3 on order and am trying to decide whether or not to have it built with a factory float kit. The kit costs about $2500 and adds about 8 lbs of weight to the airframe.

    I am having a hard time deciding because I am not currently float rated but might be interested in he future, as I am on the waiting list for a slip that should become available by 2035.

    Is it worth carrying around the weight for 5 or 10 years if I never put it on floats until then? Does float kit rigidity offer any structural benefits for ski or off-aiport wheel flying? Is the float kit usually required for straight floats or just amphibs? Could the external float fittings be added later if I opted to just go for the airframe reinforcement now?

    I don't know much of anything about floats, so I apologize if any of this seems nonsensical.
    Last edited by Narwhal; 03-18-2021 at 09:17 PM.

  2. #2

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    You have to call and ask just what "airframes reinforcement" is being done. 10 lbs sounds like a lot of weight. for two float fittings and a few tabs. You will need extra tabs for water rudder and hydraulic line penetrations if you go amphibs. The tabs won't weigh much and the fittings can be used to attach an external load seeing that you are experimental. If you have any possible intent of floats down the road better to do it now than cut and patch fabric latter.
    DENNY
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  3. #3

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    Do it IMHO because if U ever sell, the float kit is always a plus. And I don't think U could get one added to a completed airplane for $2500....

    A completely different horse, but several years ago a friend had a float kit added to his Cessna 172Hawk XP (R-172) It cost him about ten grand back then....
    Last edited by Pete Schoeninger; 03-18-2021 at 09:57 PM.
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  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pete Schoeninger View Post
    Do it IMHO because if U ever sell, the float kit is always a plus. And I don't think U could get one added to a completed airplane for $1500....

    A completely different horse, but several years ago a friend had a float kit added to his Cessna 172Hawk XP (R-172) It cost him about ten grand back then....
    Sorry, the cost is $2500 actually (I was looking at the EX3 kit cost for float kit parts before). Still, a lot less than 10k.

  5. #5
    Bill Rusk's Avatar
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    I would strongly recommend adding it for resale value. I know you may not plan on selling but unfortunately "life happens". I agree 10 pounds seems excessive unless the basic frame must be reinforced. A stock SC does not need extra reinforcements, just the fittings, which should be around three to 4 pounds max.

    Just my opinion.

    Bill
    Very Blessed.
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  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by DENNY View Post
    You have to call and ask just what "airframes reinforcement" is being done. 10 lbs sounds like a lot of weight. for two float fittings and a few tabs. You will need extra tabs for water rudder and hydraulic line penetrations if you go amphibs. The tabs won't weigh much and the fittings can be used to attach an external load seeing that you are experimental. If you have any possible intent of floats down the road better to do it now than cut and patch fabric latter.
    DENNY
    With a little more digging it seems like the weight is 8 lbs and involves this:

    "The tubes around the float fittings have an increased thickness, and an extra tube has been added on the bottom to complete an "X" in the float attach area."
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  7. #7
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    You’ll want to add it if you’re thinking about floats down the road, given what it entails (aka impossible to add later). It also stiffens up the airplane for off-airport work on wheels too. Some of the Maules had a similar option, and there has been more than one owner that had to go find a different airplane to put on floats or to give up their float goals. The flexibility this gives you for future equipment, plus resale value, is quite worth the money in my opinion.

    I am, however, very good at spending other people’s money

    —Amy
    Proud owner of a collection of airplane pieces (sometimes in one big piece) known as the Oklahoma Kid.
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  8. #8
    Steve Pierce's Avatar
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    I recently added a float kit to an FX2. From what you have posted I would not do it. Not that difficult to add later. The brackets are welded inside the frame, you just have to drill and install the fittings. The fin is easily installed on a covered airplane as well. The floats are hard to come by as well. Just my 2 cents.
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    Last edited by Steve Pierce; 03-19-2021 at 07:32 AM.
    Steve Pierce

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  9. #9

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    I have an EX3 kit that accidentally has a float kit. There are several tubes with a half tube doubler added, in addition to the brackets. The doubled tubes are all in the area of the rear float fittings. Also the aforementioned extra tube. I don’t know anything about the engineering involved.
    john
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  10. #10

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    Float insurance rates may figure into your decision. It’s very expensive to insure floats in AK.

    Living in ANC should also figure in. If you live on a lake and can tie up in your yard is one thing. Lake Hood is another. Operating on Hood is a pain in the butt but having to drive out to babysit the plane, and floats need more babysitting than wheels? And the same parking thing happens wherever it is you plan to go. Parking on streams with glacial river influence that go up and down several feet with the slightest change in weather? Yah, I don’t miss flying floats.
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  11. #11
    Steve Pierce's Avatar
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    Stewart has a good point on insurance. Reached out to my Cub Crafters dealer I work with a lot and he informed me it has to be ordered for floats to get all the extra tubing etc. Also there is not really a good float option for the FX3, the big engine X Cub does have though.
    Steve Pierce

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  12. #12

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    Steve,

    How thick is that aluminum ventral fin in the photo you posted?
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  13. #13

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    $2,500 bucks on a new Carbon Cub isn't even background noise. I say add the float kit.
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  14. #14

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    Hmmm, all very good points so far and valuable information, thank you all. I have at least 6 months to make the decision on options.

    I talked to my sales rep and he stated that the float kit option is only necessary for amphib floats and was related to part-23 type testing done regarding a 9G-single float impact with amphibs during a landing on wheels.

    As Steve Pierce said earlier, the brackets are welded inside the frame on every carbon cub and the fittings for straight floats could simply be bolted on later without major trouble.

    So, I could go without the 8lbs of reinforcements for the float kit and still put the airplane on straight floats later if I decided I wanted to do that.

    The factory order form says they would build an FX3 with Clamar 2180 amphibious floats. I presume the Clamar 2200 straight floats would also work flotation and rigging, but I don't know.

  15. #15
    skywagon8a's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GreggB View Post
    $2,500 bucks on a new Carbon Cub isn't even background noise. I say add the float kit.
    Quote Originally Posted by Narwhal View Post
    I talked to my sales rep and he stated that the float kit option is only necessary for amphib floats and was related to part-23 type testing done regarding a 9G-single float impact with amphibs during a landing on wheels.

    So, I could go without the 8lbs of reinforcements for the float kit and still put the airplane on straight floats later if I decided I wanted to do that.
    I see several questions which are looking for one answer.
    You have not stated whether you have convenient access to a safe water storage and fuel location. (Necessary for straight floats)
    You have no idea of whether you will ever install floats or not.
    Straight floats do not "need" the kit.
    Amphibious floats do need the kit.
    The kit weighs 8 lbs.
    Carbon Cubs are expensive.
    Amphibious floats are expensive, straight floats not so much.
    Judging by your questions, you will not settle for leaving your airplane out of doors without a hangar.
    Is there a convenient hangar available for a straight float airplane?

    I see only one possible answer to your questions. Have the factory install the float kit.
    N1PA
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  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by skywagon8a View Post
    I see several questions which are looking for one answer.
    You have not stated whether you have convenient access to a safe water storage and fuel location. (Necessary for straight floats)
    You have no idea of whether you will ever install floats or not.
    Straight floats do not "need" the kit.
    Amphibious floats do need the kit.
    The kit weighs 8 lbs.
    Carbon Cubs are expensive.
    Amphibious floats are expensive, straight floats not so much.
    Judging by your questions, you will not settle for leaving your airplane out of doors without a hangar.
    Is there a convenient hangar available for a straight float airplane?

    I see only one possible answer to your questions. Have the factory install the float kit.
    The float slip I envision would be at Lake Hood (PALH) but I'm barely 1% up the list there which is 15 years long. I'm thinking in 15 years I might be able to tolerate keeping the plane outside, as it wouldn't be so new at that point. Who knows what will happen in life by then though. The length of time involved with that is why this is all so very tentative. Amphibs always seemed very high-maintenance and rube-goldberg like to me, but that's just my perception which might be incorrect.

    Additionally, I do not know if my present T-hangar will accomodate amphibs dimensionally, I will have take measurements (not to mention it will be at least a few years before I could afford them after making this airplane purchase, I don't think I'm as loaded as the typical carbon cub person, but the current price of used PA-18's made the cost/benefit of a cub-type sway toward a new build).

    I am still open to the idea of installing the kit for ampibs, my sales rep said he would show me what it entails at the factory and let me make the decision then. He said that it was theoretically possible to install these reinforcements later, but that there were possible corrosion and welding slag problems if it was done on a covered airplane. At least now I have a lot more info and some good advice from you guys when I decide. At the end of the day perhaps the reinforced fuselage tubing near the aft float attach points has some additional benefits as well.
    Last edited by Narwhal; 03-20-2021 at 05:58 AM.

  17. #17
    skywagon8a's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Narwhal View Post
    I'm thinking in 15 years I might be able to tolerate keeping the plane outside, as it wouldn't be so new at that point. Who knows what will happen in life by then though.
    I have one answer for that thought. After keeping your "baby" in a hangar for 15 years, you will consider it to be blasphemy to leave it outside for even one night.
    N1PA
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  18. #18

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    An airplane never parked outside isn’t being used correctly.
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    Spent years in Alaska without a hangar. Now years in NH with a hangar. Moving back this summer and will likely not have a hangar. One thing that was very obvious is the crap that travels through the air from west to east and settles on everything living outside (especially fabric airplanes) is a problem on the east coast. Never noticed it in AK. The other thing I’ve noticed is while sites like this bring everyone together on one open forum, we’re all still very different in how we use and think of our airplanes. My buddy hates to ride in my truck because I have a dog that goes with me everywhere. He spends half of every Saturday cleaning his truck. Whatever works for you.
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  20. #20
    skywagon8a's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stewartb View Post
    An airplane never parked outside isn’t being used correctly.
    My comment was not related to use of the airplane, only the storage of it when not in use. I notice you have a nice hangar to keep your planes inside.
    N1PA
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  21. #21
    Steve Pierce's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Ed View Post
    Steve,

    How thick is that aluminum ventral fin in the photo you posted?
    .100"

    The fittings and fin I installed were for straight floats.
    Steve Pierce

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    Will Rogers
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  22. #22

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    Yes, my wife said it was time the mistress had a home so she bought a hangar house. Pretty cool, no doubt, especially for a Cub with slats. The first summer the Wildcat spent outdoors was windy. 25 years outside with the 180 was no problem.
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  23. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by stewartb View Post
    Yes, my wife said it was time the mistress had a home so she bought a hangar house. Pretty cool, no doubt, especially for a Cub with slats. The first summer the Wildcat spent outdoors was windy. 25 years outside with the 180 was no problem.
    Yep, wolf lake is awesome! I did some Super Cub flying there this year while I was trying to determine if I wanted one. Unfortunately I have a daily to commute to southwest Anchorage to deal with.

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