What is a Float Kit on a Cessna 180 or 185 or 206?
It is often misunderstood what a "Float Kit" is on a Cessna, especially the 180's, the 185's and the 206's. Not all of these backcountry aircraft can be put on floats. The "Float kit" is not the floats, it is the ABILITY for that plane to be put on floats. What a Float kit consists of on a 180 or a 185 is the following (In no particular order):
1) Structrual reinforcement around the attach points and closer rivet patterns on wings and door posts.
2) Four "lifting rings" on the top of the fuselage between the wing for raising it off the ground during float installation.
3) Factory corrosion proofing throughout all the internal surface skins. Zinc-Chromate primer is on all inside surfaces, not just the fuselage.
4) A removable "V brace" in the front windshield for wing root reinforcement.
5) A larger vertical fin on 1975 and later 180's (The 185 Fin). If a 180 has this, it is eligible for the 290 Lb Gross Weight increase STC.
6) Stainless steel control cables.
7) Four gas caps on bladdered, long range fuel Skywagons.
8) A 90 inch two blade prop on 1977 and later 180K's. (Up from 82 inches)
9) Water rudder centering springs under the dorsal fin in the fuselage in '77 or later 180's and 185's
It is not economically feasible to add a "Float kit" to a 180 or a 185 that does not have one already on it. 80% of 180's and 185's have floats kits. Only 10% of 206's have Float Kits. On the New "H" model 206's, the ability to install floats is referred to as "Float Provisions" in order to allay the confusion that a float kit is the floats.
On a pre-1986 206, the float kit is all of the above plus a taller, wider rudder and tailcone. Some years need a skeg under the tailcone too.
Float operations are not always hard on an airframe. Rough water amphibious work will shake up a plane while smooth lakes and rivers on straight floats are easier on the plane than when it is on wheels. Salt water corrodes, fresh water hardly has an effect. It seems that many buyers and owners want all the benefits of a float kitted plane with the corrosion proofing and structural reinforcement but they want it to have never been on floats. The chromate and the extra rivets, V brace and skins all add up to about 37 Lbs more weight than a non float kitted plane.
All Skywagons can be put on Skis with slight modification. Many have been on all three, floats, skis and wheels over the years as owners and seasons change.