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Harbor Sport Aviation is your source for Light Sport and experimental float planes, floats, mount parts, service and consulting for float plane configuration and instruction. We sell several makes of floats including Claymar, Zenair, Full Lotus, HSA-Fillinger amphibs, and the 1300 CZ amphibs. We are currently mounting our 83rd plane on the HSA floats. We manufacture an amphibious rig for the Full Lotus floats, and also designed produce the gear for the HSA Fillinger floats. We have facilities to mount and make any parts for the LSA (up to 1500 lb) float plane.
As a Rans dealer for many years, I have found that the S-6 and S-7 make a great platform for floats. The Rans company is great to work with, and has an outstanding support network for tech issues and parts.
We can assist in the FAA paperwork, and offer instsruction and check-out service for those who are transitioning or starting the fun of float flying.
Some tips and descriptions for the options available for LSA sized aircraft are in the following site pages.
Some options for LSA sized airplane floats.
There have been several floats made in the last 20 years, but a lot of them were in the 1100 to 1200 size. They were adequate and light and available at a fair price. If your plane is light, and you and your passenger are light, they can be a good match. If you are marginally floated, you have to put the floats a little further forward to have a safe amount of buoyancy. This also puts the weight of the float further forward. Also, the planing area is smaller so they are not quicker off the water than a larger float. Lately there have been several models available in the 1400 to 1500 size, which work better on most of the current LSA sized models being built and sold. Most of the floats we install are amphibious. That seems to be what is in demand. It is great to have both land and sea, but it adds cost, weight and maintainence. A straight float will outperform the amphib version.
ZENAIR 1450 and 1200, both an straight and amphibious. They can be purchased factory completed, or purchased as a kit. The 1450 size and design are great, and they perform well. There have been recent changes in the type of rivet used, and some improvement in the nose wheel construction. Factory built amphibs are around 14K .Check Zenair float site for current pricing. The 1200 size is also still in production and used to be made in the CZ Republic, and can still be found on the used market between 7 to 10K. They were well built well, but a little small for most of the planes we deal with.
HSA-FILLINGER 1500 and 1450. I paired the 1500 amphibs float on my Rans S-6 and have been very pleased with them. They are a large 1500 and priced well. They is well made and perform well. We also mounted the 1400s on An Aeroprakt and the performance is great. Both available for around $18,500. Call for current priced as exchange changes. Pictures in Gallery.
MURPHY 1500s, amphibib or straight, they are flatter entry float and pound a bit, but perform well. Available factory built or kit form, check Murphy for pricing.
WHIPLINE came out with a beautiful 1450 amphib, in a combination of aluminum and composite. It also comes with a big price tag. Mid 30s at least. A great looking float from the largest float manufacturer. I don't think this float ever went into production. Maybe in the future?
BAUMAN 1550 and 1450 - great float , 1550 being straight and the 1450 amphib, but they are no longer in business. There are some on the used market.
EDO 1320 -A great straight float if you can find a good pair. Not currently made, but occasionally you will see a set on the used market.
CZAW 1300 - a Whipline copy, a really nice float made at the end of the Cz. Operation in the Czech Republic. It is a flat top design with a locker and great gear with suspension. The size is at least a 1400. I understand that they wil be available 2018. We are a dealer for them, but I have not taken delivery of any sets yet. Price is 20K for the amphibs, $8,500 for the straights.
AEROCET 1400. Last year came out with a beautiful amphib. It also has a big price, around 40K. Aerocet is a great performing float in all the sizes, and has well designed hull, gear and suspention. Perfect water handling.
AEROCET 1100A -This float is no longer made but can be found on the used market. I have a pair on my Rans, and they are good floats. The gear has some issues that can be improved, but they are a little small for most new LSA aircraft. The molds were purchased and were scaled to 1500 up by a Company in Norway, and being constructed of Carbon fiber. I don't think they are in production yet. I was told their cost would be 20K.s
CLAYMAR 1400 amphibs- these are a Kevlar/glass constructed float. We have installed 9 pair of these floats and really like them. They are well built are now almost as light as aluminum, handle well and have a good gear and suspension. They are around 30K. A great float!
PUDDLE JUMPER - The previous 1200 worked ok with light planes, but their nose wheel did not fit some aircraft well, and some manufacturers produced their own nose wheel design. I have a pair in stock that I have modified, with two nose wheels, a "shopping cart" nose wheel design. I am using an electric actuating system, that has down lock feature that eliminated separate cables for the locking, requiring only a toggle switch to cycle. They are not the same caliber as Aerocet or Claymar, but do well for a basic light float plane.
I have mounted them on a Rans S-6ES, and they did a great jib on a light plane. New floats from Puddle Jumper are less than 10K. Check their site for up to date information. I also understand that they now have a larger 1400 size, that will suit the higher weight LSA aircraft.
DOWNIND TECH (Previously Shark) these floats can be made to work if you want to add a lot of work to a new float. Their displacement sizes are over rated, there are no "hard" points for spreader bars and mount points, and you need to clean up and reinforce the main and nose gear, and gear wells. The company is shaky at best, and I don't know if they are in production anymore? I was told that the company was purchaced, and will be made in Canada.
AEROCOMP - Run away from these. Poor design and quality.
MEAD floats- They looked good, but they are not in real production to my knowledge. Be very careful, as it seems several customers owned the same set of floats!
FULL LOTUS -1450 and 1260 -Full Lotus has some unique and great qualities. They are tough, forgiving float, draw very little water, can be landed on grass without wheels and do not need to be pumped out. We make a couple of amphib options for these floats, but the Full Lotus Company is now making the 1450s, the mains became a system, with the main wheels in the float itself. We tested one set but found it heavy (340 lbs all up weight) and the mains so far back in design that land rotation was difficult. There was also some serious water tracking problems on the set we mounted. I believe it is due to the "bulging" sides of the float where the gear box replaced bladder area. This may just be prototype set that we had? I hope?
Our amphib gear works well, but it cannot be clean as it is all exposed (Flintsone style), and is a little lighter, uses 4130 axles and support. Unless you have an old set of floats, I would recommend looking into amphibs from the Full Lotus Company if they have made some improvements. The 1450 seems to be better suited for most LSA sized planes, but the 1260s can work well if you are light. We are a dealer for these as well. Check Full Lotus web site for current pricing, 1450s near @7,300, and $6500 for the 1260 size.
I know there are more float options, some products from Europe, but these are the models we see, are familiar with and have installed to date.
There is no perfect medium for floats. They all have their strengths and flaws.
-With aluminum, there are thousands of rivets for leak potential, corrosion issues, but they are lightweight, and have a good track record
-In composites, cost and weight, but they are easily repaired, and are very water tight, and becoming lighter.
-Inflatable floats--not the lightest material, and have some water osmosis issues in the "bladders", if left in the water, the bladers need to be emptied twice a year. I understand that this has been resolved with a new bladder material. They are tough, never need to be pumped, and are forgiving, no need to paint is a plus too. With amphibs, they become a little "dirty", as there is no where to hide the gear. Full Lotus is now in developement of a main gear box built into the float itself, which should clean it up and reduce stress and weight from outboard/inboard gear placement, as well as reduce drag.
Other costs to consider:
-paint, for composite or aluminum floats and parts which can be a factor, expect $1800 to $2000 if you have it done.
-Some floats come without water rudders, which run from $580 to $900 a pair.
-Full Lotus requires stiffener tubes at around $600
- Rigging parts- Some floats come with part of the rigging pieces you will need, but almost never the aircraft end, as that is custom to each type of plane. Here is where you sometimes you do well with a used set that was on a similar aircraft. Some have mount kits available, that includes parts and materials to finish it on your own. Some come with spreader bars ($250 to $500), but not all. Water rudder rigging is another consideration. Our mount parts are $2500 to $3000, depending on spreader bars, and custom needed parts. We can sell parts "al a carte" too, if you have some need for select parts.
-Amphibious has the extra hydraulic line (usually Nylaflow tubing which is not expensive) and fittings, and or wiring and switches for electric actuators, and gear position sensors. Mirrors for a visual confirmation of gear position , and a gear position indicator.
Our amphib gear for the Full Lotus is $4,350 plus floats ($7500) and stiffener tubes ($600), and the Full Lotus 1450 Floats and amphib gear is $12,500. We normally mount our gear to a set of floats here, to be sure it is set up right, as customers have had installation associated problems. If you are considering our gear, you should call us before mounting your plane or buying stiffener tubes as there are other things to consider.
-A seaplane prop (large diameter) that can handle water contact is a must. There are several, but we have had good luck wih Warp Drive brand. I am not sure how well the hollow composite props will hold up.
We do all work here, including TIG welding and machining custom parts. We do mounts fairly quickly and with a very clean end result. We weigh and test fly the planes, and can help with the paperwork as well.
Some mounting ideas
A good place to start with step placement is 2" aft of the aft loaded aft CG envelope, which is going to put you most likely in the mid chord area of the wing. This varies a little bit with each aircraft, and with marginally sized floats you will need to move them forward. We normally mount our floats at about 5.5 degrees incidence to the wing chord. You want to maintain at least 18 " of propeller to waterline clearance. We mount the aircraft from. 20 to 22" off the deck of the float.
Rans S-6 aircraft we normally put the step at 38" aft of firewall plumbed to the float, measured with the deck of the float level and 5.5 degrees incidence for the small floats, and the step 5" further aft with 1450 size floats.
Rans S-7 aircraft is 51" aft of the firewall plumbed and 56" with most 1450 sized floats, measured as above.
I hope this helps you with your float choices.