Cessna 172 on floats - upgrade?

This forum has been developed to discuss aviation related topics.

Moderators: ahramin, sky's the limit, sepia, Sulako, lilfssister, North Shore, I WAS Birddog

Post Reply
Message
Author
AR705
Rank 0
Rank 0
Posts: 7
Joined: Mon Jul 31, 2017 6:23 am

Cessna 172 on floats - upgrade?

#1 Post by AR705 » Wed Aug 30, 2017 8:53 pm

Hi all, long time reader of the site, looking for advice from more experienced float flyers!

Currently flying a run of mill Cessna 172 on floats. Has 160hp STC and sits on CAP2000s. I'm relatively low time on floats but enjoying it for sure. Looking forward to more back country fishing trips and finding that the family has a decent interest in flying along.

Plane performs fine... But at or near gross (which isn't hard to do) the floats are certainly holding the plane back! I'm stuck wondering if it's worth doing the usual upgrades to the 172 (better floats, powerflow exhaust, lighten up where I can, maybe someday a 180hp) OR bite the bullet and save up for a 180/185 in a couple years. I find myself wanting around 700-800lbs useful in the 172, which is tough to get legally, even on better (bigger) floats.

There are quite a few 180/185s in the area on floats. I can't believe they cost THAT much more to operate!! Sure they burn more fuel but you cover the distance a lot faster so it's not a ton more expensive! Not looking to build hours, looking to cover distance! A 180/185 would sure carry the loads I want a lot safer, which would make me more comfortable than running the 172 always at or near gross! The 172 is sure a nice plane and I know it can do a lot more than I can do right now. But, upgrades to a 172 would put me in the same price area or even more than a decent 180, so that's where I'm stuck... I've read all I can find on the internet but few people talk about making this type of jump and how they felt about it afterwards! Either way, living the dream! Thanks!
---------- ADS -----------
  

fish4life
Rank (9)
Rank (9)
Posts: 1451
Joined: Sun Jun 27, 2010 6:32 am

Re: Cessna 172 on floats - upgrade?

#2 Post by fish4life » Wed Aug 30, 2017 11:02 pm

It would be like having a 1/4 ton truck and adding air bags to help it with load and a super charger to help the fact it doesn't have enough power when what you need is a 1/2 ton.

How many people are you looking to fly around when you say family? 185's are great machines but a 180 is still quite capable especially if you can find one of the older light ones. The 180 would be very close the the operating cost of the 172, 185's are going to be more of a difference in up front cost as well as ongoing cost of operating.
---------- ADS -----------
  

goingnowherefast
Rank 8
Rank 8
Posts: 937
Joined: Wed Mar 13, 2013 9:24 am

Re: Cessna 172 on floats - upgrade?

#3 Post by goingnowherefast » Thu Aug 31, 2017 5:38 am

The early model, short body 180 sounds about perfect. Basically the same cabin with bigger floats, bigger wing and bigger engine that allow more weight to be carried comfortably. It does go faster too. Roughly 25% faster on 30% more fuel, plus a constant speed prop and 2 more cylinders to wear, so need to consider that too.

A 185 is quite a bit more airplane than a 172 and significantly more to operate too. Basically twice the power, and we all know that means lots more $$.
---------- ADS -----------
  

User avatar
PilotDAR
Rank 10
Rank 10
Posts: 2533
Joined: Sun Sep 30, 2012 6:46 pm
Location: Near CNJ4 Orillia, Ontario

Re: Cessna 172 on floats - upgrade?

#4 Post by PilotDAR » Thu Aug 31, 2017 6:08 am

Leave the 172 as it is, and save up for the 180. You'll have the added cost of propeller maintenance, and a little more engine cost, but it's the better plane for the job, and the small increase in cost will be less than spending to modify the 172 for a meager performance improvement.
---------- ADS -----------
  

Spafloats2.0
Rank 0
Rank 0
Posts: 6
Joined: Thu Aug 24, 2017 3:53 pm

Re: Cessna 172 on floats - upgrade?

#5 Post by Spafloats2.0 » Thu Aug 31, 2017 7:17 am

Save for a 180. It is a lot more capable floatplane than a 172.
---------- ADS -----------
  

digits_
Rank (9)
Rank (9)
Posts: 1228
Joined: Mon Feb 14, 2011 2:26 am

Re: Cessna 172 on floats - upgrade?

#6 Post by digits_ » Thu Aug 31, 2017 7:52 am

A cessna 172 with 180hp on floats is still quite a bad performer. You'll get about 85 kts cruise out of it at max rpm. 80kts on a hot day if you are heavy.
---------- ADS -----------
  

North Shore
Rank Moderator
Rank Moderator
Posts: 5251
Joined: Mon Feb 16, 2004 3:47 pm
Location: Straight outta Dundarave...

Re: Cessna 172 on floats - upgrade?

#7 Post by North Shore » Thu Aug 31, 2017 12:46 pm

Thought about a 182? One of the forum members has a nice one for sale here: https://m.facebook.com/marketplace/perm ... 0469480047
---------- ADS -----------
  
Say, what's that mountain goat doing up here in the mist?

Ass, Licence, Job. In that order.

Big Pistons Forever
Rank 11
Rank 11
Posts: 4948
Joined: Wed Feb 18, 2004 7:17 pm
Location: West Coast

Re: Cessna 172 on floats - upgrade?

#8 Post by Big Pistons Forever » Thu Aug 31, 2017 5:22 pm

My first float plane was a Piper Tri-Pacer on floats. With bat tips it performed about the same as a 172 on floats. After 2 years my partners and I got tired of the limited performance and bought a 1957 C 180 which as far as I am concerned is the transition point from a toy to a practical floatplane. After the first season the general consensus in our group was we should have bought a 180 right off the bat rather than start with a smaller float plane and work up.
---------- ADS -----------
  

Meddler
Rank 3
Rank 3
Posts: 186
Joined: Fri Jan 24, 2014 3:18 pm

Re: Cessna 172 on floats - upgrade?

#9 Post by Meddler » Fri Sep 01, 2017 8:29 am

My advice would be upgrade to the 185 if you can afford it. It won't be long in the 180 befor you start thinking hmm, maybe I need extended baggage-stol kit, etc. Also you ll be able to load up 3 family members in the 180 but then you ll be at max weight and un satisfied with the performance!
---------- ADS -----------
  

AR705
Rank 0
Rank 0
Posts: 7
Joined: Mon Jul 31, 2017 6:23 am

Re: Cessna 172 on floats - upgrade?

#10 Post by AR705 » Fri Sep 01, 2017 8:34 pm

Thanks everyone for the great (and consistent) advice! Seems a pretty strong consensus, which doesn't surprise me... I think the 172 is a great and fun float plane, but falls short when you try and put things in it! It's a tease with such a big area for cargo. Two guys, half fuel and a bit of gear seems it! Liked the analogy with the 1/4 tonne truck, cause my first truck (many years ago) was an early 80s chev s10... Which I'm ashamed to admit was modifying with headers, k&n etc for more power, the good ol 2.8 litre v6 no less! Next 5 trucks, all half tons! You'd think that would be a good enough lesson! Did my license on wheels in this 172, so am happy to have had it, and it's teaching me lots about float flying! Figure another season or two (no rush on learning) and then it'll be time for making the move up! The 182 does look like a good option too... Thanks for helping me save me money in the near-term by upgrades aimed at trying to squeeze every last bit out of the ol 172. In the meantime, having fun exploring new lakes, new winds, and learning!
---------- ADS -----------
  

co-joe
Rank 11
Rank 11
Posts: 3178
Joined: Mon Feb 16, 2004 2:33 am
Location: YYC 230 degree radial at about 10 DME

Re: Cessna 172 on floats - upgrade?

#11 Post by co-joe » Sun Sep 03, 2017 12:41 am

North Shore wrote:Thought about a 182? One of the forum members has a nice one for sale here: https://m.facebook.com/marketplace/perm ... 0469480047
What would a 182 be like on floats? Sounds like pretty much the same airframe at least in the early production as the 180. And the 270 horse PPonk sounds like it would be pretty hard to beat. Can you put a 182 on skis? Don't trike gear machines have better resale on wheels?
---------- ADS -----------
  

North Shore
Rank Moderator
Rank Moderator
Posts: 5251
Joined: Mon Feb 16, 2004 3:47 pm
Location: Straight outta Dundarave...

Re: Cessna 172 on floats - upgrade?

#12 Post by North Shore » Sun Sep 03, 2017 3:10 pm

Dunno - never flew it on skis.
I flew GRTI (the one mentioned above,) for two seasons on floats out on the coast. It's what you would call a 'gentleman's' float plane...much more forgiving than an 185, but not as good a performer, either. Can't speak to its performance hot/high, as I was at sea level. Most of the time it had two adults in there, occasionally 3 of 4. We did a 240nautical round trip with 4 adults on board, no problem. (I was the heaviest at 170lb, though, so the numbers might not work if you're planning on flying 4 of you to a Weightwatchers Anonymous meeting...)
It'd be a good family machine..
---------- ADS -----------
  
Say, what's that mountain goat doing up here in the mist?

Ass, Licence, Job. In that order.

bobo
Rank 1
Rank 1
Posts: 36
Joined: Sat Mar 08, 2008 8:41 am

Re: Cessna 172 on floats - upgrade?

#13 Post by bobo » Mon Sep 04, 2017 8:48 am

North Shore wrote:Dunno - never flew it on skis.
I flew GRTI (the one mentioned above,) for two seasons on floats out on the coast. It's what you would call a 'gentleman's' float plane...much more forgiving than an 185, but not as good a performer, either. Can't speak to its performance hot/high, as I was at sea level. Most of the time it had two adults in there, occasionally 3 of 4. We did a 240nautical round trip with 4 adults on board, no problem. (I was the heaviest at 170lb, though, so the numbers might not work if you're planning on flying 4 of you to a Weightwatchers Anonymous meeting...)
It'd be a good family machine..
I flew one on skis when I was based in Nakina,Ontario in 1970. It was owned by a local store owner who wanted some supplies delivered to one of his trapper customers about 80 miles away. Took off from the snow packed runway was very lengthy and air handling was normal although cruise was only about 95 mph. Landed in deep snow at the trappers camp and had a hard job getting the plane to turn so I could taxi back to where the trapper was waiting with his snowmobile and sled. Finally got to him and unloaded about 300 lbs of supplies. Take off was memorable. Thank goodness it was a long lake (about 5 miles from my landing site to the end of the lake,) In the deep snow the aircraft seemed to just crawl with full throttle, with the stick back as far as I could pull it the nose ski finally rose after extending the oleo so the drag was cut by 1/3. To make a long story short, I used up about 3 miles of lake to get airborne. Got back to Nakina and told the store owner never again would I fly it on skis.
---------- ADS -----------
  

Tips Up
Rank 2
Rank 2
Posts: 91
Joined: Mon Jun 11, 2012 12:29 pm

Re: Cessna 172 on floats - upgrade?

#14 Post by Tips Up » Tue Sep 05, 2017 3:20 pm

Save your money on the 172 upgrades. Take time learning to fly the 172 on floats and what float flying really means- not just taking off and landing on pretty lakes. How to judge lakes to get into and out of not just today but with changes of weather, changes in water surface, changes in loads, assessing docks and beaching spots, different locations and most important learning from the old timers as much as possible. I ve flown the 172, 180, and 185 on floats and wheels. The biggest question you have to be honest about is what mission you really need that plane for 90% of the time. Realistically how big is your family not only today but in the future and how often are they going to come with you? Where are you going to take them on a frequent basis and what kind of loads do you need to carry the majority of the time for those trips. The 172 is a fine plane for one or two guys and gear. Which is fine if that is going to be the majority of your trips. If your family is honestly going to come often then think about what they are today and in 5 years and the type of plane you need for that. The 180 is fine for 2 adults and 2 kids until they are big teenagers depending on how far you need to go. The 185 I put in 2 adults and 4 kids and gear in the floats with full fuel. It is a great float plane and awesome on wheels or skis. But does cost more to run. 180/5's have great resale value. The 182 was not purpose built from the factory to be a float plane. (i.e. corrosion protection, attachment points) The older models have similar performance to a 180 with a wider cabin which is nice. 185 has better performance on the water. If you go back and forth from wheels to floats or skis then it becomes a matter of which configuration you prefer and what mission you have for the plane which is a different discussion.
Don't be stuck with a bigger plane you can't afford to run or maintain if the majority of your trips won't require it.
---------- ADS -----------
  

trey kule
Rank 11
Rank 11
Posts: 4306
Joined: Fri Aug 19, 2005 7:09 pm

Re: Cessna 172 on floats - upgrade?

#15 Post by trey kule » Tue Sep 05, 2017 3:41 pm

The early model, short body 180 sounds about perfect.
One of the nicest float planes I ever flew. Not as big inside, or as good a performer as a 185, but a real joy to fly. I really don't recall their useful load, ( iIRC. About 800ish) but remember they only held about 40 or 50 gal of fuel...at least the twoI flew. Much cheaper then compared to a 185. Well under 100k with tight floats.

I have very little time on 172 onfloats. Very little. Did not much care for it, and I do not recall it having anywhere near an 800 pound useful load..
---------- ADS -----------
  
Everyone is a genius in hindsight

Post Reply

Return to “General Comments”