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Thread: Does being on floats beat up an airplane?

  1. #1
    Cardiff Kook's Avatar
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    Does being on floats beat up an airplane?

    Why do people list "never on floats" as a positive for a used plane?

  2. #2
    cubdriver2's Avatar
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    Yes, same with skis. Seaplanes sit outside half their life.

    Glenn
    "Optimism is going after Moby Dick in a rowboat and taking the tartar sauce with you!"
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    Off airport has spawned big tires and cushy suspensions. Floats don’t have suspension. Yes, floats are hard on airplanes. Would I reject a plane based on having float history? No.
    Last edited by stewartb; 11-02-2022 at 01:51 PM.
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    BC12D-4-85's Avatar
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    Ocean use vs fresh water lakes and streams....quite a difference for potential wear, tear, and corrosion. Skis are tough on gear and attachments. Flying in rough weather wears controls and components. The problem now is many airplanes are no longer in production (= an aging fleet) and routine maintenance is expensive. So they sit. Which is often worse than flying regularly. Pick your poison.

    Gary
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  5. #5
    Cardiff Kook's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cubdriver2 View Post
    Yes, same with skis. Seaplanes sit outside half their life.

    Glenn
    Ahhh. Never considered the outside part.

    Always learning.

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    The really nice airplanes are all flown inside.
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    On the flip side a 180/185 Cessna with a float kit is a stronger airframe. It really does not matter what the add says, people and logbooks lie. You really need a good pre- buy inspection from someone that knows the type of aircraft. Corrosion would be a main concern on any float plane.
    DENNY
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  8. #8

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    I've worked on enough 180s and 185s, I can usually tell when I get in to the gear box if it spent much time on floats. No give at all to water at high speed.
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  9. #9
    cubdriver2's Avatar
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    Best setup I've been to, hangar over float parking ditch.
    Zoom in

    https://earth.app.goo.gl/?apn=com.go...6819657h,0t,0r

    Glenn
    "Optimism is going after Moby Dick in a rowboat and taking the tartar sauce with you!"
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  10. #10
    BC12D-4-85's Avatar
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    Gear box inspection should include periodic removal of the gear legs. Check for all component's wear and corrosion. How many do that when on conventional gear? Yes, the gear's off when the floats are installed or removed...but how many want or have the time to inspect or repair with the plane hanging from a hoist? And tying up valuable hangar space with others waiting for their float service? I've never seen it happen but it might.

    A local Cessna with mid-teens for AF time had visible lamellar (?) corrosion on the gear box near at least one of the float gear pork chops. When asked the owner who did his own maintenance smeared some grease over it and moved on.

    Gary

  11. #11
    Jim 4WF's Avatar
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    Pilots beat up airplanes— floats are just a part.
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  12. #12

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    It would make a difference if the floats were straight or amphibious. An airplane on amphibs wouldn't necessarily be outside all the time. Mine goes into the hangar every night.
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  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by YJLopes View Post
    I've worked on enough 180s and 185s, I can usually tell when I get in to the gear box if it spent much time on floats. No give at all to water at high speed.
    Gear box? The rear fittings leave tracks on all but the most pampered Skywagons. That’s the first thing most prospective buyers see. Mine make me smile, and I haven’t had that plane on floats for 15 years.
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  14. #14
    CubCruiser's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DENNY View Post
    On the flip side a 180/185 Cessna with a float kit is a stronger airframe. It really does not matter what the add says, people and logbooks lie. You really need a good pre- buy inspection from someone that knows the type of aircraft. Corrosion would be a main concern on any float plane.
    DENNY
    I went to pick up this Amphib described as “immaculate” by the broker. The purchaser took his word for it and didn’t do a pre-buy…this was one of many issues, including the control sticks improperly attached.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Daryl Hickman, ATP, CFI, XYZ, PDQ
    N452SP American Legend Cub
    http://www.CubFlying.com
    http://www.KidsFlyCubs.org
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  15. #15
    aktango58's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BC12D-4-85 View Post
    Ocean use vs fresh water lakes and streams....quite a difference for potential wear, tear, and corrosion. Skis are tough on gear and attachments. Flying in rough weather wears controls and components. The problem now is many airplanes are no longer in production (= an aging fleet) and routine maintenance is expensive. So they sit. Which is often worse than flying regularly. Pick your poison.

    Gary
    While you have a good argument about float planes and corrosion, a plane sitting on the ramp in the gulf coast, (southern states) that sees high humidity and salt air can corrode like no-one's business! Anything around salt water can gather corrosion, not just float planes.

    Lack of suspension transfers vibration and stress through from water-which can be harder than you want- up into the airframe. Lots of things can go wrong. Spars, rear spars, gear boxes and tail sections take a beating.

    Yes, I said rear spars!! Metal fatigues and cracks happen.
    I don't know where you've been me lad, but I see you won first Prize!
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  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by stewartb View Post
    Gear box? The rear fittings leave tracks on all but the most pampered Skywagons. That’s the first thing most prospective buyers see. Mine make me smile, and I haven’t had that plane on floats for 15 years.
    I guess I'm differentiating between visible evidence that a plane has been on float (imprint from rear fittings), vs internal damage as a result of floats. I see the same evidence on the outer gear leg bracket and the same crack in the station 90 bulkhead on 180s and 185s that have spent a lot of time on floats.

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by CubCruiser View Post
    I went to pick up this Amphib described as “immaculate” by the broker. The purchaser took his word for it and didn’t do a pre-buy…this was one of many issues, including the control sticks improperly attached.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Ya just need to stop drill that a few more times I am sure it will be fine.
    DENNY
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  18. #18
    skywagon8a's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CubCruiser View Post
    I went to pick up this Amphib described as “immaculate” by the broker. The purchaser took his word for it and didn’t do a pre-buy…this was one of many issues, including the control sticks improperly attached.

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	3D1B4C1D-B7F9-4734-B3DC-01F3EE775328.jpg 
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ID:	63419
    Where is this on what type of airplane? It looks like a section of skin which was stressed when it was initially installed. Then normal vibrations caused to to crack at a stress riser location. It also appears that a patch to support the material would also crack. This just based upon the provided picture.
    N1PA

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    wireweinie's Avatar
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    Square type air filter. Filter housing rattling against the cowl?

    Web
    Life's tough . . . wear a cup.
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  20. #20
    mvivion's Avatar
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    I would say that the history of ownership, including location, is far more important than whether a 185 was ever floated.

    Ive seen some 185s on floats, that lived in dry country, no salt and hardly used. Find a 185 that worked (key word there) the bayous of Louisiana’s oil patch for several thousand hours, or worked in Kodiak for an extended period, and you’d best look carefully.

    That said, NEVER make assumptions……I worked a Super Cub that lived it’s entire life of almost 20 years in Kodiak, on floats, parked outside. In and out of salt regularly. When I dropped it off in ANC for new fabric, I assumed it might be a loooooong rebuild. Three weeks later, the rebuilder called and asked me if that plane had really been in Kodiak it’s entire life. Yep, why? He said it was one of the cleanest airframes he’d ever seen come in needing fabric, and it really needed fabric.

    Short answer: Don’t make assumptions, do your research, then have a very thorough pre buy done.

    MTV
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