Building for Salt Water Float Flying

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Joined: Mon Mar 09, 2015 1:57 am

Building for Salt Water Float Flying

Post by Kynett »

With float planes, you can either avoid the salt water landings to avoid corrosion or you can build in corrosion prevention the Navy way and enjoy the water landings, and ensure you rinse with a hose thoroughly each salt water landing day if possible.

Subject Nagged me endlessly. Met with one of Navy's NAVAIR corrosion control kingpins.
Why Navy- Carrier Aircraft and support Helo's all operate in salt air. Bow wave stirs it up more.
Floats- no question must be composite- Clamar
What I have learned so far-

Navy has a manual 509-1 series. It is open source on the internet. It's dry reading, written in governmenteze but a wealth of info once you decide to turn your brain on. No spoon feeding in it.

Bottom line-
-alodine and prime EVERYTHING first after everything drilled out. Plans remind you of this.
Anodized is a great start- but 509 manual says prime anodized as well.
-You don't see ANYTHING not painted on the exterior of a Navy aircraft. If anodizing was the final answer, you can bet the Navy would be using it as a final exterior coating. All is primed in the interior. Yes- adds a few pounds,
but are you the FAA average 170 lb person? I'll lose the weight to make up for the paint. Win win!
-sealant on every location where 2 pieces of metal come together and in between many places where things are bolted on. Each rivet is dipped in SEALANT (NOT PRIMER)first.

-Too much trouble? Pressurized aircraft have to be built this way. Pay me now with a quick build- QUICK TO GET FLYING.... and pay forever fighting corrosion. Pay me later with a slower build... and fly alot more and maintain alot less, with greater piece of mind.

Also 509 manual lists what works best to coat all fasteners like screws and nuts/bolts/washers that are used, and not primed and painted. Alot of companies come to the Navy to try and sell them their coatings. The Navy is constantly testing. Forget the marketing hype-go with what works best.

Corrosion example Of note: there was a guy I heard about who never rinsed out the big round uncoated, unpainted aluminum tailboom, and flew on floats in salt water routinely. It may have been "anodized"... I don't know. He died when the corrosion caused the tail boom to fail. So I will prime the inside of ALL my tubes.... and lose some weight as well. And invest in a bore scope that ties right into my Phone. Borescope also incredibly handy for preflight..... if I build it that way.

Now if I can just find the right color Navy approved topcoat paint that flexes to survive those punishing carrier landings. If it works for them, the soft aircam landings should keep every 2 piece metal interface sealed up pretty well.

Haven't figured out whether to use desiccant or heating rods in tailboom, Vert Stab, and subfloor voids yet to keep those areas dry.
Plan to seal them up tight as possible to eliminate rain and rinsing water from entering, with one small protected airhole to equalize pressure. Don' know how to filter out the salt in the air traveling into the airhole vent yet. Still working on that.

Glad to hear from others who have mastered this issue.
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