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More Information on Floats and Mounting

SOME OPTIONS FOR LSA-SIZED AIRPLANE FLOATSons 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 will take longer to get 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 maintenance.  A straight float will outperform the amphib version.
 

ALUMINUM
ZENAIR 1450 and 1200, both straight and amphibious.  They can be purchased factory completed or purchased as a kit.  The 1450-size and design are great and 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.  They are well-built but a little small for most of the planes we deal with.
 
HSA-FILLINGER  1500 and 1450.  I paired the 1500 amphib float on my Rans S-6 and have been very pleased with them. They are a large 1500 and priced well.  They are well-made and perform well.  We also mounted the 1400s on an Aeroprakt and the performance is great.  Call for current prices. Pictures in Gallery.
 
MURPHY 1500s, amphib or straight, they are a flatter entry float and pound a bit, but perform well.  Available factory-built or kit form, check Murphy for pricing.
 
BAUMAN 1550 and 1450 - great float, 1550 straight and1450 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.
 

COMPOSITES 
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.
 
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 and almost as light as aluminum, handle well and have a good gear and suspension. They are around 34K.  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 mounted them on a Rans S-6ES, and they did a great job 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.
 

INFLATABLE
FULL LOTUS -1450 and 1260  Full Lotus has some unique and great qualities.  They are a tough, forgiving float, draw very little water, can be landed on grass without wheels and do not need to be pumped out.  The Full Lotus Company is now making the 1450s, the mains became a system, with the main wheels in the float itself.  
Check Full Lotus web site for current pricing.
 
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. 


OTHER CONSIDERATIONS

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 bladders 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.


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 $800
- 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 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.  We sell mount parts and are $2500 to $3000, depending on spreader bars, and custom parts needed.  We can sell parts "a la 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.
-A seaplane prop (large diameter) that can handle water contact is a must.  There are several but we have had good luck with 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 published aircraft 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 MOUNTING

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. ​