The automobile is certainly my longest love, but the aircraft was my first. Ever so often these two loves combine to create some glorious oddities. The Man with the Golden Gun's airbound AMC Matador fascinated me in my youth. NASCAR's Jet Dryer's were fascinating even before Montoya turned one into a bonfire. But just last week, a favorite YouTuber of mine Airforceproud95 posted a video with one of these odd ass trucks.
Of course, me being me, I just COULD NOT allow this to just slip by without further investigation.
Very few things are built in life without a specific goal (I'm looking at you Murano Cross Cabriolet) These floatplane trucks were built specifically for one task, to take a seaplane out of the water and on to land. Now, one may think that the best method of doing this would be to have a special built trailer hooked on to the back of your truck and then reverse into a slipway. While this is the simplest way, there are 2 shortfalls with this method. First, reversing a trailer into a slipway, especially to lineup with a boat that's already in the water, is hard. Secondly, it is quite often that these pickups will reverse into the water itself, exposing the rear end to corrosion (especially if it's salty seawater). So, if one were to make a purpose built vehicle to launch a seaplane, these 2 problems would have to be addressed. Ok, so putting the trailer at the front should fix this.
I am yet to find a build thread of how exactly they are made, but from browsing a handful of forums, it's quite a simple process. First, you'll need a pickup with 4WD (or a front wheel drive body on frame vehicle) the cheaper the better. Then you will have to cut off the rear. You really don't need the bed, it is now excess weight, and those rear wheels will just fudge up cornering if you're going to have a fixed trailer at the front (when you turn right the rear will want to go right while the front will want to go left). Disconnecting the rear axle will also leave the front wheels to be the only source of locomotion. A lot of these trucks do mount a custom fuel tank right behind the cab and what appears to be a toolbox in some cases.
Next is the trailer, which will be rigidly mounted to the front of the pickup, that is, no articulation, making it essentially a pickup in reverse. There is also some lifting jack mechanism built in to the front trailer as well. This often works hydraulically, akin to a motorcycle jack or as you can see below, it can also work with a winch to lift the seaplane off the ground.
According to the forums, these oddities are typically found in the American North West, where floatplanes are common. While most of them are confined to airports near water, people have spotted them in the wild on the streets.
So while this post may not have made you or I an expert on floatplane trucks, at least we're now a bit more aware of these oddities. If you know more about them, own one or know someone who does, feel free to share below. I'm sure the knowledge shared will be appreciated.