Keeping Your Airplane in Tune
Water is everywhere. For seaplane operators that is a great thing. But when it comes to aircraft and float maintenance, that can create some special considerations. One of the most common questions we get on the phone or when customers stop in is "what products should I be using to care for my floats?" Be it grease and lubricants, sealants, or anticorrosion products, we do have some recommendations for them. By no means is this list inclusive, but it covers the most common products we use and recommend, and is a good starting point if you aren't already using a similar product.
Grease - HCF 605, or a high-quality marine grade grease with at least a 500-degree melting point. We use grease to lubricate the wheel bearings, main gear retract mechanisms, nose gear pivots, and rod ends. Grease should never be applied to the nose track itself, as the current nose trolley blocks are made of impregnated nylon which are designed to operate smoothly without lubrication. Applying any sort of product to these will cause dirt, dust, and debris to collect, which impedes smooth operation of the nose gear and can lead to unnecessary wear.
Float Sealant - Sikaflex or Pro Seal, or RTV Silicone. For sealing dry areas of the float or applying patches to damaged areas, our manufacturing group uses Pro Seal 890. This is a great product, but requires a special gun to apply. Another option which also works well is Sikaflex 201 or 252. This can also be applied to dry areas to seal them. If the area is currently wet, an RTV Silicone can be applied to seal the area.
Hardware Lubrication and Protection Grease - LPS 2, or Boeshield T9. Hardware should be lubricated before installation, either using grease and a brush applied to the hardware, or by spraying on LPS 2. Exposed hardware can then either be protected with grease, which can have a tendency to collect dust, dirt, and run or rub off, or Boeshield T9, which forms a protective barrier on the exposed parts.
The service manuals for our floats also detail procedures for caring for the different systems on our floats and the products we recommend. A quick phone call to Customer Service is always welcome if you have other questions. We can provide some of these products, or help you locate them locally as well, and are always open to questions or suggestions if you are using a different product or have questions about whether your product is a suitable substitute.
Some grease, a small brush, and a few extra minutes can go a long way towards making sure everything runs smoothly on your floats.