Buy a Hovercraft
Buy a Hovercraft – 6 things to ask a hovercraft supplier before you buy a hovercraft
1/. Hovercraft Construction
Hovercraft are weight sensitive, so manufacturers reduce weight wherever possible – some glass fibre hovercraft are very lightweight, the construction is much thinner than boat GRP, so may not last many seasons if you intend to race hovercraft.
Cruising hovercraft tend to be more durable but heavier, so decide how you will use before you choose your hovercraft. HDPE is far stronger than glass fibre, and extremely buoyant.
Question – what is the hull made from, how durable is it, if I damage the hull, is it game over? How much will it cost to repair? How will it handle ice?
2/. Hovercraft Engines
Some suppliers try to maintain that 2 stroke engines are louder than 4 stroke engines; actually most hovercraft noise emits from the fan blades tips and larger ducts are more air efficient than smaller duct sizes, less powerful engines need to rotate the blades faster to get more air throughput. Diesel engines are only found on larger hovercraft, they do not have the power to weight characteristics required for smaller hovercraft. Some suppliers invalidate engine warranty by modifying the engine to get maximum energy output, engine manufactures don’t like their products running on high stress all day, who does!
Question – is full engine manufacturer’s warranty offered with this hovercraft?
3/. Hovercraft Safety
To get over this power inadequacies, some suppliers decide not to fit a rear fan guard to allow cleaner air-throughput for greater efficiency – you need to decide if a rear fan a sensible safety feature when kids are around, or not. Fans spin at 2000 rpm – kids might wish to learn play guitar as they get older. In rare cases, fingers have become detached, there was even one fatality recorded in New Zealand – self builder, no fan protection, front or rear.
Question – Is a rear fan guard fitted? Or just a warning sticker? Younger kids don’t read so well.
4/. Hovercraft Plowing
Some hovercraft plow in on water – plowing refers to sudden deceleration which might cause the hovercraft to spill contents over the handlebars, passengers and all. Some suppliers reduce plowing tendencies through design, other suppliers say – “hovercraft plow, live with that”.
Question – Does the hovercraft have a design to reduce the risk of plowing?
5/. Hovercraft Hump
Particularly so in shallow water, hovercraft need maximum power to get airborne – to get over the pressure wave all hovercraft create. Hovercraft suppliers may fudge their specifications to mislead people, since it is not widely understood, that hovercraft can pick up 50% more weight when starting on land. We have seen some suppliers showing 4 or 5 people skimming over a puddle – this is misleading, since the issue only involves starting on water – if you stop and cannot get back on that air cushion, it could be a long swim home. You must drill down to ask this question –
Question – What weight can be lifted when starting from an on-water start?
6/. Hovercraft Skirt Material
Hovercraft skirts can be designed as one bag, or many sections – multiple sections are better since if damage occurs, it is cheaper to replace one section than the whole bag skirt. Neoprene coated nylon will deteriorate when expose to UV (sunlight) Hypalon tears too easily, we recommend polyurethane coated anti-rip nylon weave.
Question – How long will the skirts last? What are the replacement costs? How much will shipping cost?