The Curious Tale of the Stolen Hovercraft.....

added by Emma on July 21, 2017 at 05:32

A few weeks back, we heard from one of our local customers , the news that he’d had his Marlin II stolen. He was gutted, as you’d expect – the hovercraft simply vanished from his garden. He’s had enormous fun with it over the last 3 years. It was a well spec’d hovercraft built to order with a unique, one-off screen design, upgraded engine and lots of other options. We circulated it on social media and despite hundreds of good people sharing the alert, we heard nothing – it was gone.

But by a stroke of good-fortune, some three weeks later, a sharp-eyed policeman was visiting a small industrial yard in Ramsgate and noticed an odd looking vehicle on a trailer covered by a tarpaulin. When he took a look underneath, he realised what it was and was aware that a hovercraft had been stolen locally. We were called to identify it and when we looked, initially we thought – “No.” It was clearly a BHC hovercraft but it had been massively modified from standard. The screen had been cut around and shortened, the headlights removed and the recesses filled, the sides has large metal plates riveted to them and a hot-rod style number fin fixed to the duct. IOt even had a fake VIN plate fixed to the rear. The engine cover was missing, the dashboard (with its identification number) removed and then the red parts were all painted green. However, a closer inspection revealed red paint underneath....

Ah-ha! We build around 100 hovercraft each year and we can recognise pretty much every one of them, even when the VIN plate is removed. This hovercraft was one of only three examples of this model built in this colour scheme. We know the other two are safe and sound, so it was clear it was the stolen craft. The engine is a 50hp ‘Rampage,’ which we build in-house and following a small accident last year we made a very specific repair to the hovercraft which we soon spotted, putting the issue beyond any doubt.

The problem is that the poor thing has been brutalised! Although a colossal amount of work went into disguising its identity, there’s lots broken and missing and some of the work is very substandard. It was filthy dirty and neglected looking – it seems incredible that all that happened within three weeks of the theft! So despite its recovery, the poor owner is left with a craft that is worth a fraction of its previous value, even when he’s spent the money to have it refurbished to a safe/working standard.

It’s not often hovercraft get stolen, and to be blunt, you’d be a fool to nick one. They’re too high profile, and there’s too few around to disappear into the clutter. The club is full of enthusiasts and anywhere it gets used, it gets spotted. They attract huge attention and they’re not saleable, because anywhere it turns up within the community, it’ll be recognised.

So – we’ll fix it up, get it working and then I believe it’ll be sold – as is so often the case, the owner feels it’s tainted now, and no longer wants it. Shame on the thieves for the upset and cost their actions inflict on their victims.  

If anyone has any further information about the theft, please contact Kent Police on 01622 690690, because so far - there's no happy ending to this one I’m afraid and it would be good to see the thieves caught and punished for the distress they've caused. 

 

The Marlin II Hovercraft pictured 'pre-theft' setting out to enjoy a cruise on the River Medway.

Barely recognisable, as discovered in Ramsgate three weeks after the theft.

 

 

 

 

Credit where it's due, a spectacular refurbishment by "Hovercraft Africa!"

added by Emma on June 19, 2017 at 08:04

Some time ago, Tim Dawson, a Brit hovercraft enthusiast residing in South Africa, came across a couple of decade-old, sad and neglected Marlin I hovercraft.

The Marlin I is an old machine now, and the craft we produce now bear very little technical similarity with the hovercraft Tim acquired. So, he set about a major refurb of these second-hand hovercraft with advice and parts from BHC to update the craft somewhat. Confronted by UV degraded gel-coat, seized engines and transmissions, I have to say, the finished hovercraft look amazing.

The refurbishment is well documented in his video HERE

Tim has set up a business, Hovercraft Africa, which operates the craft for commercial work - and we have asked him to come on board as our agent in South Africa, so you can contact Tim for a demonstration or advice.

For more details, visit www.hovercraftafrica.com

Here's some before and after photos, pretty impressive eh? :-)

 

 

 

Choose how to buy your hovercraft, hull only, complete kit or finished hovercraft!

added by Emma on May 23, 2017 at 10:47

Buying a 'Bitsa' Hovercraft - What are they? How to save money buying a new hovercraft!

added by Emma on May 16, 2017 at 06:30

Occasionally, you may see that we advertise what we call 'Bitsa' Hovercraft. The name comes from the fact they are made from 'Bits of This and Bits of That' where have GRP parts which come out of the mould with a slightly sub-standard finish.

We can't fit these parts to a production craft. But the parts we use are structurally fine, they just have flaws such as a scratch, chemical 'pickling' or a slight crack/light damage. Once we have enough parts to match up the colour and make it viable, we turn these parts into a ‘Bitsa’ Marlin. Coastal-Pro or Snapper. It is sometimes built with (for instance) a reconditioned or low-hour engine, slightly used or discoloured skirt, maybe a slightly lower final spec than standard where it excludes instruments or trim. We're very demanding on our quality standards, and in actual fact, what we reject may well be considered acceptable by other manufacturers.

In all cases, the craft are built to our usual high-standard, and come fully warranted as per our standard production craft. The specification changes are clearly explained before sale, so that you can be 100% clear exactly what you are getting. In most cases, the craft simply has cosmetic flaws within the fiberglass parts, easily covered by graphics (or mud!)

 

All the hovercraft below are 'Bitsa' hovercraft, and as you can see - they all look great!

 

 

This Coastal-Pro even works as a promotional vehicle!

 

Buying a second hand hovercraft - some advice.

added by Emma on March 29, 2017 at 07:09

General Advice

In this chapter of our hovercraft buyers guide one, we’ll examine what to look for when buying a used recreational hovercraft. Over the years, lots of hovercraft manufacturers have come and gone – some producing great hovercraft…some less so. Even some current models are pretty poor and have quality or performance issues so you do really need to be careful. A used hovercraft that was junk when it was new…is still junk after 6 months or 6 years! The same applies to home-built hovercraft that come onto the market – even given good plans, the build, component quality, and specification vary enormously.

Just like when you buy most vehicles, your options are to buy either privately, or from a business. It’s likely that buying from a business will be more expensive but your purchase should come with a warranty, basic training and support, and being covered by consumer law, is probably a safer option for inexperienced or first time owners.

Just like we said in the initial part of this guide, the first thing you need to do is to decide what you want to use the hovercraft for. Is it for playing around a grassy field? Or cruising on salt water estuaries? The demands of the marine environment is significantly more and generally, a properly prepared cruising craft will cost more money than a basic machine to provide fun playing around in a grassy field.  

Hovercraft from UK manufacturers such as BBV Hovercraft and Vortex Engineering (and ourselves!) are likely to be ‘marine-ready’ is that is what most professionally manufactured hovercraft are built for. Look for stainless steel and alloy components to resist the dreaded salt water, decent buoyancy and flotation, freeboard and 4-stroke engines.

You may well come across an ‘unfinished project’ – either an unfinished refurbishment, or unfinished self-build hovercraft kit. Enthusiasm and cash often run out during the project and the resulting ebay sale can be a good buy if you have the knowledge and skills to finish it. But spotting what’s safe and effective in a hovercraft design is pretty tough if this is your first foray into the hobby. Before you go ahead, it may well be worth joining the HCGB - Hovercraft Club of Great Britain www.hovercraft.org.uk and asking for advice on the club’s Facebook page - the club forum is pretty much dead now, Facebook will get quick, helpful responses though. Take photos and find out as much as you can – it’s a small community and it’s quite  likely that somebody will even know the history of the craft.

Quite a number of older home built hovercraft will be powered by small 2-Stroke motorbike engines. These ‘Challenger’ hovercraft were often built from Hovercraft Club plans and have dated badly – they are little use for real-world cruising and unfortunately, they’ve also had their day as a competitive racing hull, so they’re little more than a casual play-around toy. 

The other type you may come across is a home-built hovercraft built from design plans. These can range from one to as many as six seats of 20ft or more. Provided the build quality is good (which can be very difficult to ascertain for a novice) these can be a pretty good buy and allow you access to proper cruising events and experiences. They’re competent enough as cruisers, but preparation for salt-water may be sub-standard. As mentioned above, inspecting the quality of the build and components is critical, as no two are the same.

Inspecting the hovercraft

Having found something that looks like it might do the job, go along for a look. Here’s our advice for some of the things you need to look for when inspecting a potential purchase.

Skirt
Just like the tyres on your car, hovercraft skirts are a disposable service item. A lot of hovercraft coming onto the market will feature a spectacularly well worn skirt. Material has shot up in price recently and a new skirt can be upwards of £500.00 so make sure you allow for it. If you see ragged edges or thin/de-laminating material – the segment needs replacement. Marlin (for example) skirts segments are around £9.00+VAT (or a whole skirt is approx £450.00) each so it’s  simple matter to count up the cost to get the skirt back into shape – most wear occurs on the front and read quarters. As long as you have a pattern (or even a sample) then a skirt can be made to sit any model – we’ve found ourselves with patterns for around 20 different models and can usually make replacements for other models. Avoid ‘cheap’ materials such as curtainside – it’s works badly and wears out quickly. Neoprene coasted Nylon is the right material.

 

An old ‘bag’ skirt will be patched and repaired, and be worn on the ground contact line. They can be very specialist to replace, requiring expensive material and glues, a lot of time and experience to replace – be ready for a substantial bill if a bag skirt needs replacement. In all honesty, unless it’s a big hovercraft (6 or more seats) a bag skirt is a liability. The better option for larger hovercraft is a ‘bag and finger’ (or ‘loop and segment’) skirt which combines a bag skirt which has segments below giving better performance and lower repair costs – the bag is not in contact with the surface and the segments can be more easily and cheaply replaced. 

Hull
Fibreglass (GRP,) other laminates, aluminium & wood are all good materials to build a hovercraft from. Plastic (such as HDPE) are best avoided. Through hard use, over the years, hulls will get knocked around in minor bumps, they’ll get scratched and dirty. That should all be visible, but look carefully at mounting points (fan frame/engine/steering etc) inspecting for cracks, distortions or damage repair. These are important mountings and need to be strong.

 

Make sure you look underneath the hull as that’s where it can take a real hammering, especially when badly driven over rocky terrain! Partly fill the plenum chamber with a garden hose and see if any water escapes – if it can get out, it can get in!

 Wood is tricky, there’s wood and wood. Marine ply is the best so you need to check the hull isn’t built from cheap material, and rotten. Look at the bottom, hovercraft often get put away wet which can cause wood to sit & rot.

Just remember that repairs add weight – hovercraft hate weight!  The good news is that GRP, wood and aluminium can be repaired fairly easily. Aside from the fact it’s too heavy to build a successful hovercraft from, another problem with plastic/HDPE is that it can’t be easily repaired.   

Engines
Engines in hovercraft can get a hard life – many poorly designed craft need lots of power lots of the time to operate - and car engines can be spinning constantly at 5-6000rpm. Given that these are often sourced from an old, scrapyard sourced donor vehicle that may have had another 20,000 miles in it, when fitted to a hovercraft, their life expectancy can be just a few hours. Flat 4 Subarus & BMW motorbike engines are both popular choices but getting pretty old now in 2017 and should really be rebuilt before fitting.

Small commercial engines (Kohler, Briggs & Stratton, Honda etc) are increasingly popular and designed to run at a higher load racing for a larger amount of their life. Aside from their economy and low noise levels, they’re light, simple, cheap to repair and service.

2-Strokes are a liability! Noisy, expensive to run and unreliable. They particularly loathe salt-water, but offer high power-to-weight ratio. They'll offend everyone within two miles with their noise however.

Whatever engine the hovercraft is fitted with, look for obvious signs of wear or neglect, noises, smoke and oil leaks. If you’re not confident on this, a friend knowledgeable in engines is very useful.

Fan / propeller & transmission
This inspection is critical. An old/damaged fan or propeller, badly mounted can be – literally – lethal. Walk away (or allow for replacement of) anything home made, or old fashioned ‘Truflow’ brand blades which are no longer available. Any sign of purple or green in a MultiWing or Hascon blade means it’s in need of replacement. Any cracks or significant chips in the blade means it needs to go - a new set can run to  £150.00-£200.00 or so, depending on the number. With propellers, check it’s a branded, microlight specification unit, and check for signs of erosion on the leading edge, caused by sand and grit in the air flow literally sand blasting the edge. Look for damage and cracks. Check the belt (cover may need removing) and check for fraying or tears but on balance I'd always replace an unknown belt - just like a cambelt on your car, they can fail without any prior visible wear or damage at high hours and quality varies enormously. Check for play and roughness in bearings and cracks in the fan/engine frame or mounting points where they bolt to the hull. Check that the fan guard(s) are complete and well fitted.

 

Controls
Steering and elevators (if fitted) are usually controlled by ‘bowden’ cables – they can corrode over time when used in a salty environment, so check they operate freely.

Performance : One of the challenges of hovercraft is that of performance. If it doesn’t work properly, it may be that it doesn’t work at all. It may not be able to operate over water due to skirt-drag or inadequate thrust, it may not hover properly because of poor fan or skirt design. Steering may be comprised due to poor rudder design. All this leads to the obvious conclusion that it’s very wise to try the hovercraft out before you part with any cash.

Our Advice in Summary

  • If you haven’t owned a hovercraft before, then buy a hovercraft in full, working order – NOT one that requires work or refurbishment.
  • Decide on the use for your hovercraft and research the model to ensure it is suitable.
  • Racing hovercraft are completely unsuitable for cruising and marine use.
  • Phone the manufacturer for advice and find out what spares are available.
  • Ask around, join the HCGB talk to experienced club members and operators.
  • Don’t buy a poor / unknown brand or design
  • Be doubly careful of the quality of components and construction of homebuilt hovercraft.
  • Double check safety, construction & guarding of rotating parts.
  • Budget for a full service, skirt wear and any obvious repairs.
  • Ask if it is possible to test the hovercraft.

 

Below - a good example of a hovercraft advertised on ebay which is well worth buying..... (or not!)

(Seriously, this was on ebay last year and he wanted money for it!)

 

 

Below - An awesome bit of kit, £10,000 gets you a missile capable of 0-60mph in under 5 seconds. BUT - not suitable for cruising or salt-water use.

 

 

 

 

An old-fashioned 'Skima' Hovercraft - ugly by today's standards and ancient design means it's very, very loud! (photo : James Hovercraft / Hovercraft Museum)

 

 

 

Prices 2016/2017

added by Emma on August 19, 2016 at 06:17

Well, it's been two years since we revised our pricing and we've spent the last week working through all our costs to settle on our new 2016 pricing structure. Whilst some of our products have had to increase in price, others have stayed the same and we've even been able to drop the price slightly on some parts, upgrades and accessories. In all cases,price adjustments have been modest and reflect our production costs – there's no major increases.

We'll continue to monitor our production costs, and where possible, we're quite prepared to reduce prices to keep our products as competitive as they've always been.

These prices come into effect on September 1st 2016 and until then our current pricing applies. So, if you're considering a Snapper or Marlin purchase, grab the opportunity and get your order in before prices increase in two weeks time.

If you would like further information please contact us at emma@britishhovercraft.com

Two driving event craft, Spares and Training for only £8500.00 inc VAT!

added by Emma on August 16, 2016 at 09:27

 

We have available 2 x single seat hovercraft which are perfect for a corporate events/driving Events Company. Both craft have been fully refurbished by The British Hovercraft Company.

List of work done includes:

 

  • Hull (underside) of the craft completely re-glassed and sealed.
  • New blades and belt
  • Interior floor recovered with non-slip material
  • Engine serviced
  • New graphics
  • New upholstery and fuel tank cover
  • New wire and P-clips
  • New skirt

This package comes with 1 full replacement sk

irt, a full spares package and training on how to drive and maintain the craft as well as advice on how to set up a corporate track if required.

Alternatively, these fun little craft are just as suitable for belting round a field or garden, can be driven by kids as young as 10 years old (under strict adult supervision!) or for use in sheltered water such as bays estuaries, lakes and rivers. In fact, at this price, they're well worth grabbing if you simply want to scratch that hovercraft itch!

Craft are also available individually at £3950.00 inc VAT.

For any other questions call us on 01304 619820

The World's Best Hovercraft? What would we buy?

added by Emma on July 13, 2016 at 06:46

The British Hovercraft Company make a range of hovercraft but by no means do we make something for everyone. We often get asked for hovercraft which aren’t in our product range. Like any vehicle, hovercraft come in all shapes and sizes, and we don’t try to cater for every demand – or market. We stick to building the best hovercraft we can, whilst sticking within reasonable budgets to match our customer’s requirements.

But! If money was no object, what would we buy?

Big = Good!  : Griffon TD 8000

Sold all around the world, Griffon Hoverwork manufacture commercial hovercraft from 6 -60 seats. Undoubtedly, the world leaders in large hovercraft, Griffon's largest craft is the TD8000 is a 21m, 1600hp aluminium craft that is capable of 40knots. There's a military version and the Indian Coastguard ordered 12 of these beasts for coastal patrol. Griffon is a huge British success story and this is a truly amazing machine!

 

 

Beautiful : Airlift Pioneer MkIII

A few years ago, I was lucky enough to visit the Airlift factory in Australia where a Pioneer MkIII was in construction. The attention to detail, the quality of the engineering and that jaw-dropping styling are a result of the simple fact that Company Director Ross McLeod is a genuine artist. The attention to detail is astonishing and I left wanting one really badly. Fast, beautiful and low-noise, if I could have just one hovercraft, this would be it. Although the new Airlift Wildfire would run it close…

 

 

 

High-End : The Slider

The Slider's a lovely looking bit of kit, made in New Zealand, with great styling and a clever lift system. This together with an expensive engine and a labour intensive loop-and-segment skirt means it's very expensive to buy. Shame it’s a two stroke engine, but it's a great looking machine with good performance. Gets a definite thumbs up from us!

 

 

Hoverboard - No, I'm not talking about those stupid wheeled electric things that burst into flames and singe your novelty pop socks. They don't hover and they're rubbish (as proven by the fact I haven't seen one since Boxing Day 2015) Anyway, it's 2016, and watching a re-run of Back to The Future II last weekend I realised I still haven’t got my hoverboard! Despite a spectacular hoax last year YOUTUBE VIDEO https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A4vE_vpkr90 I think it might be a little while yet as the technology isn’t even on the horizon. But admit it - it’s worth the wait and you want one don’t you? Badly. And believe me, whoever does manage to crack it will be rich beyond dreams!

 

 

Racing Hovercraft : Eurocraft

Designed by Swedish Formula One world champion Magnus Ivanoff, the Eurocraft was a long time in development and drew on the huge experience of a team of European racers. Since then, it has gone on to take numerous European and World championships in the hands of Italian ‘Superstar’ Michele Scanavino and many others.  Constructed from vacuum bagged carbon-fibre/kevlar and powered by tuned snowmobile engines, an F1 Eurocraft can call on over 220bhp….providing simply ballistic performance, demanding God-like driving skill and massive plums. Oh Boy…

 

 

Concept Hovercraft : The VW Aqua Hovercraft

Okay, it won’t ever happen and the photo here is computer generated -it's a bit of fun sponsored by VW, the dream of a Chinese student and wouldn’t work. But if it did get built and it did work (you know, we learn how to break the laws of physics) then I may have to reconsider my opinion that VW make good but boring cars!  Hydrogen fuel cells, retractable wheels, superb styling - what's not to love (apart from the dodgy emission figures!)

 

 

‘Plane’ Stupid! - WIGS

A hovercraft that flies? Now that’s got to be a good idea! WIG (Wing In Ground Effect) technology was pioneered by the Russians back in the 1960’s with the awesome Ekranoplan ‘Caspian Sea Monster’ and has subsequently made its way into the recreational market with either fully built or (even more scarily!) home built offerings from Universal Hovercraft in the USA.  Flying low above the surface (water if you have any sense) using the interaction between wing and surface, the idea of blatting through the middle of London, weaving between the River Cats, 15ft above the Thames does have a certain hooligan/suicidal appeal!

 

 

Historic - The SRN4

There’s been plenty of weird and wonderful designs over the years, and many of them now reside in the Hovercraft Museum in Lee-on-Solent. Well worth a visit (open Weekends and Wednesdays, see their website for details) and stuffed full of crazy inventions and some wonderful old monsters including the biggest passenger craft ever built, two of the SRN4 cross channel craft operated by Hoverlloyd, Seaspeed and later the joint company, Hoverspeed. They were taken out of service in 2000 but remain an imposing, majestic monster from another age, the like of which we’ll never see again. One of my favourite British inventions of the last century (the Spitfire just edges it out of the number one spot!) the two on display are fighting for their lives in the face of hungry property developers who wish to build flats on the land upon which they stand. I love these beasties – in fact a handbuilt model of ‘Swift’ which once graced the Hoverlloyd MD’s office now takes pride of place in mine!

 

 

Well - that's our selection - who knows what we'll end up building in the future? Maybe there's a few ideas here!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hovercraft Hire for Survey, Crew Transfer, Environmental Monitoring & Habitat Surveys

added by Emma on May 11, 2016 at 07:07

Low-cost, small hovercraft hire is now possible due to the Hovercraft Code of Practice. With no requirement for commercial coding, operating costs are considerably reduced leading to affordable hire/rental costs. We now provide MACV hire to businesses and organisations needing access to areas where previously the only option was to walk.

Here at The British Hovercraft Company, we are ideally positioned to provide hovercraft hire and rental services to companies and organisations that need access to intertidal areas.

Our Coastal-Pro hovercraft is a handy, easily deployed professionally prepared 3-4 seat hovercraft which benefits from the fact that we as the manufacturer, have unrivalled backup, support & workshop facilites for our (very reliable!) hire hovercraft. It has a load capacity up to 350kgs (depending on surface/wind/conditions) on water, even more on mudflats.  It offers the lowest noise levels of any professionally manufactured hovercraft, so quiet that it meets and exceeds the EU standards for recreational boats (the Recreational Craft Directive.) This means that it is particularly suitable for use in SSSI's and other environmentally sensitive areas. It creates absolutely no damage to the surface over which it travels, exerting less pressure on the ground than the tide does.

Recent work has been with universities, survey companies, piling companies (Mersey Gateway project) and civil engineers where the hovercraft has provided a much safer transport option than walking across dangerous mudflats carrying equipment and damaging the marine substrate.

Hire costs are in the region of £700 per day, depending on travel/deployment etc with discounts for longer term contracts.

For more details, visit www.coastaltransit.services

 

 

Early start working alongside Argocats

 

The flat hull on a Hovercraft offers a firm, solid base for survey equipment.

 

Using wheeled transport in a sensitive environment can cause enromous damage, these tracks were visible a month later!

 

Red and Silver Marlin II 'Beast' hovercraft, *** NEW! *** ONLY £9950.00 inc VAT

added by Emma on May 9, 2016 at 09:53

 

 

This red hull/silver trim Marlin 'Beast' looks superb and is another bargain from our 'Spring Clear Out!' It's shown here part way through the build and will be completed within a week. The hull itself is perfect, the screen has some very slight scratches. It's priced to sell at >2£k less than list price, because the customer changed their mind on colour choice, so this one needs to go. We're offering it at Marlin II money because it's in the way!

37bhp Vanguard, 'T' Seat, dial kit (GPS speedo/heading compass) tacho/engine hour meter, nav lights, yellow beacon, fully marine ready with stainless/alloy components throughout and marinised electrics.

Ready  for use in a marine environment, floats like a boat, does 40mph, 15mpg, low noise levels and a years warranty. An absolutely thrilling toy for lads and dads, yacht tender or summer fun. Simply (as JC put it) "The Most Fun You Can Have With an Engine!" This is a professionally built, serious bit of kit which complies with the regulations in the MCA Hovercraft Code of Practice and comes with training and a years warranty.

Can be delivered in the UK or shipped overseas in a container. Price includes VAT.

For full details, see our website http://britishhovercraft.com/Buy-A-Hovercraft/Marlin-2-3-Seater.aspx

Any questions, call or email us.

info@britishhovercraft.com
0044 (0)1304 619820

 

 


Search


Categories

None


Tags


Archive


Recent Posts