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Looking at a Lake LA4-200

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Looking at a Lake LA4-200

Unread postby Parker Woodruff » Tue Mar 29, 2011 4:12 pm

Hello all,

New to the board.

I'm currently plane shopping I recently moved out to Florida (Tampa/Lakeland area). I got hooked on seaplanes last year when I got my SES at Brown's. I figure with my move, right now is the perfect time in my life for me to get a seaplane.

The first question I have is to the value of Lakes...it doesn't seem like any are really moving these days. The same ads stay up on TAP, Controller, and ASO. Blue book and vREF both give values significantly lower than asking prices these days. That's the opposite as normally vREF seems to indicate higher than asking/selling by a few %. So...what has everyone seen the market doing?

Next, I don't mind traveling to see a plane, but there is one locally that I'm interested in. It's pretty clean. After flying with Paul Furnee this past Saturday in a Lake 250, he showed one to me he's trying to sell. It's s/n 1040, Tail number N959DF. Model year 1980 LA4-200. I know about the damage history on the bird [url]=http://www3.ntsb.gov/aviationquery/brief.aspx?ev_id=20001205X00529&key=1NTSB[/url]

Paul says it's a nice plane, the damage has been repaired well, and he knows of the squawks it will take to be airworthy in an annual inspection.

Thoughts? Most of my time is in Mooneys and Cessnas, so this stuff is fairly new.

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Re: Looking at a Lake LA4-200

Unread postby Steve Riggins » Tue Mar 29, 2011 9:13 pm

Hi Parker,

Hopefully some of the other guys will have some ideas, as I have ridden in a lake, but that is a far as it goes. For my use, a low wing would not work well in a lot of docking situations. Maybe where you would use one, it will not be an issue. I suppose parts availability would be one question I would have and wonder if that is not part of what is effecting Lake prices. There are probably lots of pros and cons, you just need to get input from people that have time in boats and floats, as brand loyalty is always there. Steve
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Re: Looking at a Lake LA4-200

Unread postby jjbaker » Tue Mar 29, 2011 9:44 pm

Hi Parker & Welcome to the Seaplaneforum.com

Lot's of flying aluminum for sale these days and certainly enough overpriced planes for a softer than soft market sitting around hoping to be picked up.
Not a clue about Lakes, even though I remember being around 59DF on occasion in the past. From my old aircraft sales days, I remember the saying: It's worth what you want to pay for it. I hope SkimmerOne (John Staber) will chime in with some helpful hints and tricks.
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Re: Looking at a Lake LA4-200

Unread postby Parker Woodruff » Wed Mar 30, 2011 9:05 am

I've looked hard at Cessna 185s on amphibs...prices are just a bit too hard for me to stomach on a "for fun" plane - with 6 figures I could buy a 190-230 knot Mooney. (M20S Screamin Eagle or M20K 305 Rocket conversion).

I do have to have wheels on a seaplane.
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Re: Looking at a Lake LA4-200

Unread postby Parker Woodruff » Wed Mar 30, 2011 12:07 pm

Also, in my original post, I didn't post the link to the other aircraft I'm looking at.

http://www.controller.com/listingsdetai ... 184763.htm?
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Re: Looking at a Lake LA4-200

Unread postby jjbaker » Thu Mar 31, 2011 1:30 am

Hey Parker,

I didn't see AF times and SMOH/SNEW/SPOH on the first Lake you posted. Obviously plane #1 is younger, may sport a more updated panel and or have a younger engine. The Controller plane is at 1400 hours and I don't know what TBO is on these. If I was the buyer and both planes were in budget, I'd go for the one with no DH and favor either one which has not seen training abuse. Another question I like to ask is how long the plane's been sitting on the market and which one's have squeaky clean AD/SB records. I personally would not scare back from a slightly outdated panel, it's a hell of a lot more fun to upgrade with something of your choice and let the plane grow and get better with you, over time.

You could likely swing a pre-purchase inspection/ title search with some local Lake expert who's not into selling, ask for a fresh annual (if not already included) and bring the queen home. Amphibs seem obscenely high priced, but there are maybe some nicer 180's priced low. The real market prices are in the basement, though. I know of several airplanes which will be converted to flower pots before they are sold for peanuts.
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Re: Looking at a Lake LA4-200

Unread postby Paul S » Sun Apr 03, 2011 10:51 pm

Parker Woodruff wrote:Thoughts? Most of my time is in Mooneys and Cessnas, so this stuff is fairly new.

Parker Woodruff


Parker,

Lake amphibians are in my opinion one of the very best values in amphibians, so in a soft market like we have currently they are an even better value. Lakes are great seaplanes, but they do require you to learn them well if you are to really enjoy them. The learning curve will be significantly higher than a float plane, but once you have that under your belt you will discover an extremely capable, versatile, and efficient aircraft. And on the water they are so much fun I can't even accurately describe it :D (Of course Paul Furnee has probably already shown you much of that.)

I have many times considered buying a Cessna amphib just because I have so many friends with them, and because I think they are cool. But every time I start thinking seriously about one, I remind myself how much fun my old 180 Lake is, and how little fuel it burns, and drop the idea of getting rid of it. If money were no object I'd have a Cessna for back country fishing trips to distant places, and a lake for my fun stuff. Of course money is an object to me, so I have a Kitfox amphib, and a Lake LA4. And my Cessna buddies tell me I have the best of both worlds already... The Lake and the Kitfox together burn less fuel than a 185 amphib, and combined are less expensive to purchase, so I tend to agree. But admittedly I still find myself occasionally lusting over a big Cessna amphib ;)

Ok, back to Lakes....If you haven't already found it, check out http://www.lakeflyers.com There is a whole bunch of good stuff on lakes on that website. You will also find an article there I wrote for SPA's 2000 Water Flying Annual about my LA4-180 that gives many details and reasons why I feel the older Lakes are the best value in amphibious seaplanes.

If I were buying a Lake today I would try to find one that was light, and I would trust the judgment of a lake expert for my prepurchase inspection. There are some beautiful but heavy Lakes out there that fly lousy, and some ugly but light ones that fly beautifully. I took an ugly but good flying light lake and made it beautiful, which ultimately provided me with a great performing but inexpensive seaplane. And I haven't yet found a better replacement for it. But I'm always looking...

Paul Seehafer
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LA4-180 at local seaplane gathering (Cessna 180 in background)
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Re: Looking at a Lake LA4-200

Unread postby Tim McCormack » Mon Apr 04, 2011 10:24 am

I hate to bad-mouth anybody else's airplane. It's like telling a guy his wife is ugly. :? But, one thing I feel compelled to mention is the fact that Lakes tend to be very noisy to people on the ground (or water). You can always tell a Lake coming in or taking off. There is one near my sister's camp that is so loud, and takes so long to get off the water, that I even complain about it (only to myself and family, though.) I worry that the guy will piss off the neighbors to the point that they complain to "the authorities" which will directly affect the rest of us who go into this highly populated lake.

If you intend to use it in a noise sensitive area, be warned.
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Re: Looking at a Lake LA4-200

Unread postby cubdriver2 » Mon Apr 04, 2011 11:48 am

Tim McCormack wrote:I hate to bad-mouth anybody else's airplane. It's like telling a guy his wife is ugly. :? But, one thing I feel compelled to mention is the fact that Lakes tend to be very noisy to people on the ground (or water). You can always tell a Lake coming in or taking off. There is one near my sister's camp that is so loud, and takes so long to get off the water, that I even complain about it (only to myself and family, though.) I worry that the guy will piss off the neighbors to the point that they complain to "the authorities" which will directly affect the rest of us who go into this highly populated lake.

If you intend to use it in a noise sensitive area, be warned.


Bingo, Tim said it before I did, one drops in here 1 or 2 times a year, Otsego lake is 9 miles long and you can hear it from either end when it takes off. When people find out that I'm one of the local float guys they often ask if I'm the guy with the obnoxious plane that looks like a boat.

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Re: Looking at a Lake LA4-200

Unread postby Parker Woodruff » Mon Apr 04, 2011 12:42 pm

Thanks for the input so far. Can anyone tell me if this is a modified cowl on the aircraft in question?

http://www.controller.com/listingsdetai ... 184763.htm

Also, does anyone know this aircraft that's for sale at Winterhaven? All I know is that there was pretty significant damage history previously posted in the OP. That said, I haven't gone by to see if this plane survived last week's storm!! Note the part missing on the left side of the panel.
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What's missing on the left side of the panel?
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Re: Looking at a Lake LA4-200

Unread postby RKittine » Mon Apr 04, 2011 1:57 pm

We have one at our airport and it is also very noisy, but I still would love to own one and hope to, if I am able to stop flying LSA. In the meantime, Aeroncas and Luscombes (and maybe a flight or two in Glenn's J-4 this season, will have to be it.
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Re: Looking at a Lake LA4-200

Unread postby skimmerone » Mon Apr 04, 2011 2:52 pm

I am here, at last. I can assure you that N959DF survived! Winter Haven did not get hit by anything other than about 5 minutes of 60mph wind and lots of rain. Thank God, as Skimmer One was also parked there.

Now, about buying a Lake. If it were me, I would rule out N135PS due to the amount of time on the engine (and I don't like the paint job). It has been my experience that unless engines are flown once a week, they are usually due for overhaul around 1500 hours. I do know the previous owner of 5PS, one Paul Sage who might have bought it new and he kept it on Lake Rosalie, near GIF. The gear doors are weed catchers and don't improve the performance enough to warrant them. The also add weight. The air intake is aftermarket and supposedly gives more ram air. Can't remember whether it has bat wings or not. In my estimation the aircraft never should have been certified without bat wings as they are there to keep the air from being sucked up through the prop from under the wing. Most, but not all, have an annoying stall burble, at lift off and at some climb out speeds and that is eliminated by bat wings or VGs, and a wing root fairing. It is imperative to have a Lake pilot test fly it for you. N959DF does not have batwings if you look at the shadow of the wings in the head-on photo. You haven't mentioned the time on 9DF. I would not turn down a Lake that had damage history, providing it was repaired properly, as many have it and it flew properly. The float fuel tanks are very nice to have as the 200 sucks plenty of fuel and it gives you that warm feeling when you are getting down to only 10 gallons left in the main tank.

Lake owners tend to keep their Lake for many years, some having owned more than one over the years. To know them is to love them and you must get checked out by an instructor thoroughly familiar with Lakes. 9DF has nice upholstery which is nice to have as the standard seats are pretty spartan and only good for 2 hours usually. I walked by her last week but didn't spend alot of time inspecting her. The later model Lakes (1980-81) have some nice features not found in earlier ones, like the fresh air vents. Check the bottom for concaveness between the bulkheads and the spray rails for a constant 30 degree downward slope from front to back. If they are splayed up at the aft end so that they are horizontal, it has been in some heavy water. There is usually a kink in the side skin at the first bulkhead in front of the step if this has been the case. It usually "pops right out" at me when I come across one.

Docking can be done with the Lake as long as the dock is the proper height and the wind is not too strong from the wrong direction. It is preferred to beach it gear up or down. The Lake is virtual untippable in a strong wind due to its low profile in the water and the wing floats. It is possible to turn down and upwind in almost any wind condition. Contrary to popular belief they can be made watertight and not leak a drop. I have two based nearby that fit that category. Granted that they are noisier than a Cub on floats, but no where near as loud as, let's say a 185 or 206 and their short takeoff run gets them out of the area in a hurry. By the way, one of those non leaking Lakes mentioned above is the same one that goes to Otsego Lake 1 or 2 times a year. And best of all the Lake can be purchased for a fraction of the cost of a similarly equipped Cessna on amphibs, is more economical to run, and you don't need a ladder to get in or to fuel. It can be moved around the tarmac by lifting the nose and dollying around.

Feel free to call me or e-mail me with any questions. Been there, done that. John
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Re: Looking at a Lake LA4-200

Unread postby Paul S » Mon Apr 04, 2011 5:37 pm

I agree Lakes can be loud. However, as John said not as bad as some of the bigger Cessnas. BUT, both Lakes and the big Cessna's can be operated much quieter with just a little common sense. If one pulls the prop back just a little it makes it much quieter. I've flown mine around home for years and my neighbors only complained about how loud it was when I originally got it, before I figured out how to operate it with less prop rpm.

A friend of mine with a 550 powered 185 amphib drops in on my lake occasionally, and by comparison my Lake would be quiet. But now he too knows how to pull his prop back to make it quieter, and I frankly am amazed at how quiet even a 185 can be operated if you can just keep the prop rpm down.

I think the bottom line is that seaplane noise is relative. Whatever we fly we should try to operate as quietly as possible. Noise is the most offensive part to people on shore. My little kitfox amphib is so quiet that my wife can't hear it even if I buzz the house (2,000 prop rpm WOT). Yet by comparison, a 65hp J3 would be loud. So as I said it's all relative. I'm pretty convinced with a little common sense none of them need to offend people on shore.

Regarding the long take off runs with a Lake; I think John and I will agree, a Lake pilot that uses a a lot of water to get off probably doesn't know how to fly it. My old 180 hp LA-4 will easily take off in less distance than most other amphibs, especially in the same hp range. Bob Stebbins has beat floatplanes off the water for years now with his 180 Lake at the Sun-N-Fun's splash in. But he knows how to fly his plane.
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Re: Looking at a Lake LA4-200

Unread postby cubdriver2 » Tue Apr 05, 2011 12:06 am

Gone, but doesn't change the fact that it's true.

Glenn
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Re: Looking at a Lake LA4-200

Unread postby Steve Riggins » Tue Apr 05, 2011 7:47 am

.
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Re: Looking at a Lake LA4-200

Unread postby Rhyppa » Tue Apr 05, 2011 8:04 am

Glen, what is more annoying, one takeoff with a 185 lasting 20 seconds to extract 4 people and gear from a lake, or 3 takeoffs with two landings in between to extract the same 4 people and gear in a plane like yours? Point being, if your float plane is a tool and not a toy, a lot of times having the right tool to accomplish your job efficiently and safely means having a big motor that makes some noise. While I completely understand that all airplane pilots, and seaplane pilots in particular, need to be extra careful about noise and disturbing those who aren't so fond of planes, posts like yours just give more fodder to those looking for any reason to ban them. Big Cessna's can takeoff with a reasonable amount of noise given enough water and a pilot who knows better. They also have the ability to minimize the length and number of disturbances by using the power available to them. Russ
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Re: Looking at a Lake LA4-200

Unread postby Paul S » Tue Apr 05, 2011 11:12 am

I believe even a noisey seaplane can be accepted by the neighbors if you make a point not to loiter in the same area doing multiple takeoff and landings (aka "burning up a lake").

We had an instructor with a relatively quiet 172 almost close a bunch of lakes in our state because he refused to move around, so the lakes closest to his school just got hammered. Finally all of us had to get on his case to do things differently. We've had no problems since.

I think it is wonderful having a quiet seaplane like the Kitfox. But I know personally that one can operate a Lake or a 185 and still keep the peace at home, as long as a little common sense is applied.

Hey Glenn, why don't you really tell us what you think? ;)
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Re: Looking at a Lake LA4-200

Unread postby Tim McCormack » Tue Apr 05, 2011 11:42 am

Glenn, see what I meant about talking about an ugly wife? And you were just parroting what someone else said to you. :lol:
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Re: Looking at a Lake LA4-200

Unread postby Parker Woodruff » Tue Apr 05, 2011 2:03 pm

skimmerone wrote:Feel free to call me or e-mail me with any questions. Been there, done that. John


Sent you a PM.
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Re: Looking at a Lake LA4-200

Unread postby RKittine » Tue Apr 05, 2011 2:10 pm

Very good point about Mission. I basically use a Seaplane as a Trainer and a Toy. I have learned to go to very friendly seaplane areas when doing multiple take-offs and landings with students. As long as I keep to one take off and one landing a day, the Restricted place I am able to use, will tolerate having a seaplane there.
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Re: Looking at a Lake LA4-200

Unread postby Rhyppa » Tue Apr 05, 2011 5:12 pm

I'm not busting on anyone's smaller seaplane by calling it a toy either. Just pointing out that different uses require different airplanes. Some make more noise but for less time. I wouldn't want to see any seaplane pilot prohibited from using an area because his primary mission requires a different plane than someone else's. I also wouldn't want to be limited to how much throttle I can use when safety is saying use it all. I started out with a 7AC champ on PK 1500's, and while it was quiet and a lot of fun, its use as a seaplane tool was limited. If you are in need of moving people and gear any distance you will end up with a noisy Cessna, DeHaviland, or something even more fun. I would like to think that Glen was reminding all of us to be sensitive to where we are at when we pour the coals to it. And that is good advice. Russ
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Re: Looking at a Lake LA4-200

Unread postby RKittine » Tue Apr 05, 2011 6:25 pm

Unfortunately both of my airplanes that I can now fly are toys, but I like to play. If I decide to go for another FAA medical, maybe I can get the C-182 and the 340A back in the air, with me behind the controls, but for now it is 1430 MGW (on Floats).
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Re: Looking at a Lake LA4-200

Unread postby Paul S » Wed Apr 06, 2011 5:45 pm

"Unfortunately both of my airplanes that I can now fly are toys"

Do you really miss flying the bigger airplanes that much? I'm curious as I have a blast with my little LSA seaplane. And I know all kinds of guys that voluntarily gave up their larger airplanes for the LSA's and never looked back (no medical issues). Granted, it's always best to be able to fly both, but if I could only fly an LSA I'd probably have 98% of my needs met.
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Re: Looking at a Lake LA4-200

Unread postby Parker Woodruff » Wed Apr 06, 2011 6:17 pm

There was an offer made on N135PS today (not by me). We'll see if that sale goes thru.
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Re: Looking at a Lake LA4-200

Unread postby Luc » Thu Mar 29, 2012 1:33 pm

Hello members,

My name is Luc and I'm new here. You can learn more from the intro I've posted.

The reason I've joined this forum, is that I too got a Crush on Lakes and found this forum from a Google research on "Lake LA4-200 pro & con".

I took good time reading all the above which I found very interesting, but I also consulted few most credible peoples I know and here are the questions that came up about the Lakes.

A bit of Backgroud
Very good general aviation knowledge (i.e. : Descent on airframes, mostly on jet engines, almost none with small planes).
Started a private licence at 20 years old (Unfinished).
Currently on going a private licence (Not licenced yet) at 49 years old, with 21.1 hours. Ready for Solo after only 7 hours.
Hundreds and hundreds hours on realistic fighter jets simulators.
My current licence process is "Job related" for which I will end-up flying CT114 Tutors air labs, and maybe an F5B (My current licence will be a long process and learning curve, although I will not do IFR).

BUT (There is a BUT) ... Doing my licence gave me a BIG STING, the one of having my own plane already being sick of rentals. My interests are for around 130 to 150 knots cruising planes, having no interests for Cessna like 100 knots planes. I would like a "Utility" plane capable of land & water landings, but I simply hate and have NO INTEREST for floats.

#1) I would appreciate any form of comments or advice (i.e : Don't do it your to old, don't take a Lake, Good choice).
#2) What about maintenance? I was told that Lakes usually requires much more maintenance then normal small plane.
#3) What about inssurance cost compared to a similar "Land only" plane? Is there a big difference? What is the factor (2X)?
#4) Are the Lakes easy or hard to handle (water landing, ground landing, general handling) How many "Check" hours required?
#5) Deciding to buy one, is there any good reference or thrustful place or organisims that can help selecting the right one other then a "Problem's nest"?
#6) What are the Lakes "Pro & Con"? Any models, year or serie to avoid?
#7) The landing gear seems a bit "Flimzy" with not alot of "Shock absorber" travel. Any coments or advises on Lakes ground landing capabilities or weakness?

And finally, I've noticed the Lakes to have a strange elevator section (i.e. : Seems to have two separate elevator system or damn HUGE compensator) can someone explain this tail concept?

I appreciate the time you will put providing me with clues and information,

Have a nice day,

Luc
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