A Response to Seaplanes West

It has come to our attention that another Cessna 182 modifier has posted an editorial questioning the value of our Boss 182 engine conversion and gross weight increases.  Experienced seaplane pilot and Wipaire CEO Bob Wiplinger has written the response below to educate you on the value of a Wipaire-modified Cessna 182.


Jim mentions that we are swapping out the 230 horsepower Lycoming 540 for the 300 hp Lycoming 580, but in reality the 580 is 315 hp out of the box with the horsepower tolerance on the plus side of 315 hp. The engine is also good for 340 hp+ when ported and polished by the Ly-Con group. Another feature that we have that adds horsepower is a newly designed and somewhat tuned exhaust system by Aerospace Welding, which adds effective horsepower at the prop shaft, over and above the stock exhaust system.

Jim does some arithmetic and comes out with a useful load for a Boss 182 of about 929 pounds. This is relatively accurate, but what he does not mention are the added benefits of an S or T model over and above the older generation aircraft. These benefits include:

  • Full internal corrosion proofing using the most up-to-date epoxy-based primers applied to a Boeing and military spec. This feature makes it possible for the aircraft to be operated in a salt water environment and greatly enhances its value, especially on resale if the buyer happens to live near saltwater
  • A modern avionics suite and an instrument panel layout with modern lighting, warning panel, and professionally done placarding and paint finish, all that meets the more modern FAR Part 23 standard.
  • Modern gauges that are able to be purchased off the shelf and are not the old cluster gauges that are hard to repair or replace.
  • A more modern autopilot that flies the aircraft very well.
  • Interior seating (usually leather) with crash worthiness standards that meet the newer Part 23 crash standards.
  • An up-to-date airframe with all of the latest structural improvements, including wet wing and fuselage access panels.
  • Fresh air vents (twice as many of them), all located conveniently to give the utmost in comfort to pilot and passengers, also meeting the Part 23 standard.

Yes, all of these do add weight, Jim is correct about that, but the advantage of some of them, such as corrosion proofing and crash-worthy seats, could be really worth a lot. The other thing he fails to mention is that all of the gross weight mods we offer are applicable to the P, Q, and R models, which blow the Seaplanes West modified aircraft out of the water, because the Wipline 3000 float is significantly lighter than the Aerocet 3400 float and the gross weight (3370 vs. 3350) of the Wipline mod is 20 pounds more. If one goes to the Wipaire 3500 pound gross weight, Seaplanes West has nothing to compete with it, which means the useful load advantage to Wipaire would be in the realm of 200 pounds!

Jim mentions the cost of the 3500 pound wing upgrade.  We sell S & T model 182s modified to the “Boss 182” standard on amphibious floats with a mostly glass avionics package with a modern autopilot, new paint, glass and all of the advantages as listed above, for around $500k (and a substantial deduction is available for buyers that opt for a lower gross weight). Compare that to the Seaplanes West package. Jim talks about cost per pound, maybe we should investigate value per pound!

Jim also mentions some misleading information that we put out, especially regarding the cross brace on the lower firewall that must be changed at every float change. We offered to buy them from Jim for our float kit, but he refused to sell them to us, so we designed our own engine mount (for P, Q, R, and S models) which I admit is pretty much a copy of his, but beefed up a little bit for the 3500 pound gross aircraft. In doing this we also designed an enhanced lower firewall beef-up that replaces the Seaplanes West cross brace that many of you know all too much about trying to reach those four nuts, down behind the rudder pedals, and below the floor. With our system (which, by the way, is good for 3500 pounds plus) you don’t have to do anything, and your mechanic will love you because he won’t have skinned knuckles.

Some other points regarding our engine mount for Continental-powered aircraft. As mentioned above, it has all the advantages of the Seaplanes West, and none of the disadvantages. In designing our mount we also tested a Seaplanes West engine mount and found that its strength is adequate for up to our 3370 pound gross weight. So if you have a Seaplanes West mount, it will be compatible with our seaplane kit up to a gross weight of 3370 in the future. You can even get rid of the knuckle-busting cross brace.

Other advantages of the Wipaire 182 conversion include an enhanced cord rudder that improves crosswind operations to FAR Part 23 standards, and the larger ventral fin improves directional stability to be equal that of a 206 or maybe even a 208 Caravan. This feature makes autopilots love the airplane they’re in, because it allows them to do their job much better. Oh yes, the reason we have that larger ventral fin is we did not move the entire float installation rearward (compromising forward buoyancy) in order to pass the directional stability requirement. Even though the 3000 float (actual buoyancy 3125 for the amphib, and 3301 for the straight) is a little smaller than the 3400, you will find you’ll be looking at a whole bunch more float when taxiing downwind at gross weight with the Wipline, as opposed to the Seaplanes West installation of either Wiplines or Aerocet’s.

Other improvements include:

  • You’ve probably noticed that with one or two people in the aircraft, it’s likely impossible to be within the forward CG limit. With the Wipaire 182 series of seaplane kits, Wipaire engineers added two inches of forward CG limit and opened up the envelope, such that it’s virtually impossible to load out of the forward CG limit. Flight schools will love this!
  • One additional interesting piece of information is that we could not get the aircraft (either Lycoming or Continental) to pass the noise requirement at 3500 pounds gross weight until we installed the new Hartzell “Trailblazer” carbon fiber composite 82″ propeller. This prop is so advanced that with it installed we passed with over a 3 dB margin. That may not sound like a lot, but if you’re sitting at the end of a lake when the plane goes over, it’s tremendous! For this reason the Trailblazer is standard equipment on our high gross aircraft.
  • Last but not least, all of the testing that Wipaire accomplished will allow all 182 models from P on to qualify for a landplane gross weight of 3158 pounds, which is more than enough to retain the original useful load with the larger engine STC upgrades. Look for this in the near future.

Visit our Cessna 182 Modifications page to learn more!