Buying a new hovercraft - Turn-key, Build or Assemble? What are the options?

added by russ on March 21, 2017 at 07:02

All three options have their advantages. Companies like ourselves and a number of others, supply a turnkey product to buyers who want to get out there and have fun using their hovercraft. Just like you’d buy a jetski, boat, car or quad, you spend your money and make your choice as to the brand, size and specification.  For your money, you get a fully warranted, reliable vehicle which should be certified and built to the standards of the MCA Hovercraft Code of Practice. It really should be that simple!

There’s basically two other options.

Build from plans

Companies such as Universal Hovercraft in the USA will sell you a set of plans and you can build the whole hovercraft yourself. You’ll buy the timber, source an engine or two, sew up your own skirt, source fan assembly parts, build steel fan frames, upholster seats and decide what colour gloss it needs to be finished in. It can be a fascinating project – as long as you have the necessary space, time and (crucially) skills & knowledge to complete it safely.

Unfortunately, where new and first time owners/builders are concerned, it’s probably fair to say that more don’t get finished than do. It’s a major project, demanding and time consuming. Enthusiasm and cash often run out before the projects completed – especially given the price of marine quality plywood nowadays! This often means that they end up on ebay as another unfinished project (which in themselves can a be a good buy if the work has been completed safely and well.)  

So, if it does make it to completion, what do you have? Well – taking the Sevtec & Universal designs, they’re very much a water craft designed for the American market – much more at home on big, open areas of water than exploring creeks and gullies. Their bag skirted design can be a challenge on mudflats and the large propeller means they can lack maneuverability. This means they work well as a long distance cruisers on calm water, but they’re not really a thrilling ride.  Think more ‘limo’ than ‘Lotus’ and you have the idea!

Without the development that a professional manufacturer puts into their craft, homebuilds should always be inspected by a competent engineer before operation. The terrible 2011 incident in New Zealand, when a man who’d built a hovercraft was killed by the propeller flying off the first time he used it just illustrates the point only too clearly.  But dramatic accidents aside, (this was an unfortunate but inevitable accident) making the hovercraft work properly can be nearly as big a job as constructing it. The builder often become despondent the first time out when it doesn’t work and it ends up - you guessed it - on ebay. Fine tuning the skirt, lift and thrust fans/props, matching the engine to the fan and selecting the correct speeds, getting the trim right, chasing away vibrations and making the steering safe…none of it is a five minute job and can soak up hundreds of hours of painstaking development.

And so, a year after work began, and with the homebuilder still setting-up his craft and ironing out problems, the feller who bought a professionally manufactured craft has many hours of hovercrafting adventures behind him. Now that’s not to say that the homebuilder isn’t enjoying himself – but it’s certainly a different type of enjoyment!

The other issue with regards building a hovercraft is the resale value. Being of (usually) a timber or aluminium construction, they usually look pretty crude,  and are often seen to sport features such as (I kid you not) plastic garden chairs for seating. It’s rare that a homebuilt hovercraft will fetch even a fraction of what it costs to build (especially if you price in your own time.) Sadly, it’s a fact that people simply aren’t prepared to pay much for your own efforts - rather like with homebuilt/converted camper vans. Some are very good, but they’ll never get the same price as a coach-built one.  On the other hand, a well maintained, three year old commercially built hovercraft can reasonably be expected to retain as much as 75% of its value.

 

 

Some hovercraft home-builds can be....rudimentary! (below) Limited to grassy field, it would be best not set out on a maritime adventure in this one!

 

Build a Hovercraft Kit

Going back a few years, we realised we were being asked time and again to supply complete kits, so we introduced them and have sold many since then. This is very much ‘halfway house’ between buying a completed hovercraft and building a hovercraft from plans. The kits we supply contain everything needed to build one of our Marlin or Snapper models. The fiberglass hull is fully assembled so that the fit-out is simply a mechanical project which is well within the capabilities of any competent mechanic without needing specialist tools and equipment.

Whilst it gives the builder the satisfaction of building their own machine, there’s two major advantages in the kit, compared to building a wooden hovercraft from a set of plans – aside from the fact it’s a much quicker build, meaning you can get out and play with it that much sooner!

Firstly, it’s going to work. Engine, fan, transmission, hull design are already decided and have been successfully used hundreds of times. No guessing, no calculations - follow the instructions and you’ll build and play!

Secondly, and this one’s a big one, it’ll be worth money when (if!) you come to sell it. The GRP hull’s are the same as we use on production, ‘turn-key’ hovercraft so that the finished article looks basically the same as those models. No clumsy wood, sharp corners, garden chair seating or unfinished edges – the finished hovercraft will look the part and fetch a good price.

 

 

 

 

Options for a ‘new’ hovercraft

Whether you buy a complete, turn-key hovercraft, a hovercraft kit, or build a hovercraft is down to your own skills, funds and wishes of course.  We're here to advise, just pick up the phone!

The next part of this series looks at the various aspects of hovercraft design, with advice about what to look for in a used / second-hand hovercraft.

 

 

 

 

 

Buying a new or second hand hovercraft? Some advice to avoid a costly mistake!

added by russ on March 20, 2017 at 05:39

Introduction

There's more used hovercraft than ever currently offered on Ebay, Gumtree and other sites - so now seems a good time to offer some advice to potential buyers. They're still, to most people, a bit magical and often misunderstood. That they are the most environmentally sound powered vessel available should be a massive boon to their popularity but – but this worthy fact is sadly often outweighed by unnecessarily noisy and unreliable examples which cause too much of a disturbance and get the good ones a bad name!

But here we are in 2017, and with more professional, high quality cruising/recreational craft operating than ever before, it's fair to say it's an activity that's flourishing. Over the course of the last five years we’ve really seen both the hobby and the market radically change. There’s more manufacturers producing good quality, affordable and safe hovercraft - some excellent plans available for home builders, and new engines which make practical small hovercraft with great performance and reliability. On top of that, last year, the MCA issued an industry led ‘Hovercraft Code of Practice’ which sets out standards for hovercraft construction and reassures buyers they're getting a legitimate bit of kit for their money.

Throughout this brief series, we’ll look at what hovercrafting is all about, where/what to buy or build and the options open to you, where to operate your craft and what the Hovercraft Club of Great Britain(HCGB) is all about.

First Off - Racing Hovercraft

I’ve raced hovercraft with a mixed bag of success and it’s fast, fun & loud. Racing craft are a completely different beast to recreational craft and designed for blasting round a grassy field – they’re extremely lightweight and overpowered (top Formula Ones are nearly 200bhp….!) making them a spectacular sport. They feature some sublime engineering but push the limits of what's possible to the maximum - so they tend to break down a lot and are usually two stroke powered. They’re very noisy, don’t float very well and are completely unsuitable as a cruising/recreational vehicle…but when you open the throttle on an F1 and you’re doing 100km/h four seconds later - well, suddenly all the disappointments make sense!

Take a look at www.hovercraft.org.uk for more details about when and where to see these machines in action.

Racing hovercraft are singularly unsuitable for recreational and cruising use for the reasons listed above, and this brings us neatly onto the first – and most important piece of advice we can give you when looking at buying a hovercraft….Not all small hovercraft are the same - make sure you buy the right type and design of hovercraft for your purposes!

We'll roll the information out over the next week or so, looking at different designs, suitability and 'what to look for' with regards parts and components when buying a hovercraft second hand. The important thing is that you understand right from the off that not all small hovercraft are the same - to avoid disappointment - and possible danger - we want to make sure you buy the right type and design of hovercraft for your purposes.

Recreational Hovercraft - What’s it all about?

Hovercraft come in all shapes and sizes from small single seat examples, medium size commercial/passenger vehicles to the massive American LCAC naval landing craft, which can deliver a squad of Marines and an Abrams main Battle tank to a contested beach . All work on the same basic principle of the vehicle riding on a cushion of air, generated by engine driven fans. This principle allows the hovercraft to travel over any sealed surface – grass, sand, ice and snow, water etc etc. Personal/Recreational/Cruising hovercraft (the three terms get used and are all pretty much the same thing!) are typically 1-6 seats and used as a leisure vehicle in much the same way as a Jetski, Boat or Quad etc. Some folks choose to build their own craft, others prefer to buy a professionally manufactured craft with the benefits of a warranty and proven design. In both cases, you have a vessel which allows you access to anywhere boat can go - in addition to its incredible shallow water/intertidal/amphibious ability. It’s this unique ability that make hovercraft so appealing to a growing number of enthusiasts.

There are plenty of events organised by clubs - especially in the United Kingdom, USA and Australia and suitable, well maintained hovercraft are just as capable of solo or ‘buddy’ cruising in protected waters as any other marine vehicle.

As a quick example of a recent cruise, four of us launched two-seat integrated, professionally manufactured hovercraft into the Swale in Kent (the stretch of water separating the Isle of Sheppey form the mainland.) From there, we traveled up to the River Medway - the Medway's a hovercrafter's heaven with massive tidal sandbanks and mudflats. In no time, we were exploring the gullies and saltings which no other vehicle can access. We visited a WWI German U-Boat laying at Stoke Marshes, climbed inside a Napoleonic Fortress and took a spin around 'Deadman's Island' (a macabre yet fascinating island containing the - often exposed - graves of quarantine victims and French Prisoners of War….) Then it was off to Upnor Castle for Sunday lunch and a pint, before returning via Bee Ness Jetty, Grain Tower and finally home via our favourite hover pub 'The Old House at Home' in Queenborough. In all we covered 65 miles, used less than three gallons of fuel and all agreed it was a fabulous day out. I'm still grinning as a I write this….

So where do you start?

First off, you’ll need to decide what you’re planning to use your hovercraft for. You might just want it as a toy for driving round a big garden/inland lake or playing field. You might be a bit more ambitious and planning maritime cruises. The usage does have a big effect on the type of craft you’re looking for. Larger 3-4 seat hovercraft are often more challenging to steer in confined places, but more comfortable on long distance cruises. Small hovercraft are great for inexperienced drivers and kids and are more sporting in nature – providing bigger thrills.

Are you a builder or a buyer? Lots of people over the years have built hovercraft as much for the thrill of building it themselves as for what it can do. Lots of them built one at school and are revisiting that. We’ll come onto building craft in due course, but for now it’s enough to consider whether you have the time, money, skills, tools and space to invest into what is going to be a huge project building a successful hovercraft.

If you're going to buy a craft, new or used? What are the pitfalls of buying a used hovercraft (or even a new one….) and how can you avoid them? More than ever, there’s a thriving recreational hovercraft scene in the UK.

There’s a massive range of hovercraft out there, some good, some bad, and some plain dangerous! Before we start getting into specifics in tomorrow's article, there's plenty of places for you to start your research, a few of which are listed below.

www.Youtube.com (type hovercraft cruising into search)

www.hovercraft.org.uk (the world's biggest club - 30 quid a year to join is money well spent!)

http://britishhovercraft.com/Contact.aspx (our own contact page lists up events companies where you can go along and drive a hovercraft.)

 

 

The 37Efi fuel injected Vanguard hovercraft engine from Briggs & Stratton

added by russ on March 1, 2017 at 09:10

 

 

In 2016, Briggs & Stratton released a new fuel injected version of the ‘big-block’ 35bhp engine that we use in our Marlin & Coastal-Pro hovercraft. Upgraded to 37bhp and with fuel injection, unfortunately, it was initially only available in the US market. We had to beg and plead with Basco (the UK importers) for some months before the US would give one up for us to test.

The motor has already proved popular with the ‘Mud Motor’ community so we had high hopes it would make a good hovercraft engine. When we did get our grubby mits on the first one in Europe, we ‘hoverised’ it and installed it into a Marlin ‘Beast,’ handing it straight over to no less than Jeremy Clarkson to open the ‘Clarkson, Hammond & May LIVE’ shows. When we got the craft back (reasonably undented, remarkably!) we got down to proper testing, putting another 50 or so hours on it with no issues whatsoever. Then we removed it and fitted it into a Coastal-Pro MACV where it has behaved impeccably for another 60 hours.

So what do we think?

Well, we love it to be honest!

Headline power figure is only 2bhp more than the regular, identical-but-carburettored V-Twin. However, it feels considerably stronger than that – and fan data seems to suggest that it could be nearer 40bhp than the advertised figure. Meanwhile, the improved torque of the engine is very apparent, with excellent throttle response and a higher resistance to ‘fan-stall’ when turning at high speed. Tickover is very smooth, and it appears to be slightly more economical, though that is more difficult to accurately quantify.

Since then, we’ve fitted eight to customer craft and they’ve performed really well.

Installed in the Marlin, it makes for a lively performer with excellent hump performance and injects some real sparkle into the craft. In a Coastal-Pro, the engine gives noticeably more push, which is great news when undertaking demanding work or with more load on board.

Price-wise, it’s a more expensive engine, so the premium is £450.00 compared to the standard 35bhp carburettor engine. Personally, I think it’s worth every penny – but it’ll depend on your own requirements and budget of course.

For more details, call or email us.  

 info@britishhovercraft.com

0044(0)1304 619820

 

 

2016 was quite a year - so, what's coming in 2017?

added by russ on January 6, 2017 at 06:05

USA, Philippines, The Bahamas, Finland, Sweden, Republic of  Ireland, Scotland, Portugal & The UAE. As well as numerous UK sales, off the top of my head, this is a list of the countries we sent hovercraft to in 2016.

Constantly developed and improved products, better marketing and the weak pound have all combined to make 2016 a pretty good year business-wise. Whilst British exports are (for now!) hamstrung by her membership of the European Union, as usual we lost some fantastic enquiries to ridiculous trade tariffs  - for instance, an order to provide 10 Snappers for an events company in Brazil fell through when the client discovered the duty rate is 80%!

So the long term forecast following the 'Brexit' referendum of June 23rd 2016 is good for British manufacturers and exporters, once we’re able to make our own trade deals with emerging nations and commonwealth countries – many of which are prime markets for a company making luxury toys and providing alternative transport methods!

What I have promised myself is that in 2017, we'll find distributors for our products in Australia - we get numerous enquiries, and having sold a few hovercraft there (plus two years of running a hovercraft driving events business in Queensland, helping out in the 2010 floods and enjoying cruises organised by the Australian Hovercraft Club!) we know what an amazing time you can have with them down under!

So – what’s new for this year? Work continues on our larger 6-seat craft which we hope to have in production by early summer, the new Marlin will likewise be launched, though that’s likely to be later in the year. We’ve got some new products and R&D projects underway which will further improve existing Marlin, Snapper & Coastal-Pro craft as well. New website, some competitions, HCGB cruise diary to be published - oh and BHC will once again be providing big laughs and hilarity, myself racing a Formula One hovercraft in the European Hovercraft race series (at my age I should know better but these things are kind of addictive you know!) So - lot’s happening! make sure you subscribe to our newsletter to be kept up to date, and our Youtube channel for all things hovercraft-related!

Warwick Jacobs resigns from the Hovercraft Museum Trust.

added by russ on October 19, 2016 at 10:21

Sad news from the hovercraft museum this weekend when we heard that Warwick Jacobs has resigned from his role as a trustee and curator.

It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that there would be no museum without Warwick. Back in 1986, in an attempt to save the last of the Hovertravel SRN-5’s, he approached the ‘Hovercraft Society’ and successfully called in favours and sponsors to store the 40ft hovercraft ‘here there and everywhere’ until a permanent site could be found. From this beginning, the collection grew quickly, found its home at HMS Daedalus, and in 2000 took possession of two of the monstrous SRN-4’s which had been plying their trade across the channel for over 30 years. More recently, with these important pieces of British transport history facing the likelihood of being scrapped (issues with the ownership, and tenure of the site…) Warwick again took a lead in winning a stay of execution whilst alternatives are sought. None of this would have happened without his flair, drive and ambition – and his knowledge of the history of hovercraft is well into ‘obsession’ territory! I know I speak for many volunteers when I say it’s a terrible shame that the face of the museum (Warwick is the  ‘Go-To’ man for TV interviews on either hovercraft or the museum itself) has found it necessary to leave the Hovercraft Museum Trust.

This will certainly mean there are challenging times ahead for the remaining trustees, and we truly hope they can continue to match Warwick’s commitment and devotion to this valuable collection.

Everyone here at The British Hovercraft Company would like to thank Warwick for the 30 years of hard work. The place won’t be the same without you!

Warwick (left) accepting an award on behalf of the museum from The Transport trust - with Frances Cockerell & Stuart Wilkinson.

 

What you may not know is that Warwick is also a very talented, professional  artist. Here's a  framed print he sent our own Emma Pullen on her birthday!

You can see his work HERE

 

If it quacks like a duck......our '£2,000,000.00" Deal!

added by russ on October 4, 2016 at 09:45

Back in Summer, we received an enquiry which sounded good. Very good in fact. It led to a meeting which, if I weren’t such a cynic, may well have resulted in huge financial loss, imprisonment - or worse.  So, I hope this cautionary tale will read by small business owners and a lesson learned.

We sell hovercraft all over the world so it was no surprise when ‘Alex’ contacted us by telephone from (he said) Russia, keen to know more about pricing, lead times and specifications. After several calls, he made it clear he was the middle-man and his commission was to be considered. The entire deal was worth some £2m, so we agreed 20% for brokering the deal. This is pretty familiar stuff, though the numbers are usually less. At this stage, we were dubious it would go anywhere - we’ve heard these promises before, but if you don’t run with it, you’ll never get the deal will you? One of these big deals has to – eventually – come good!

Alex was somewhat reticent about revealing who the client was, but that’s understandable as he was ostensibly protecting his position with regards a £400,000 commission. He told us the craft were to be used for rental on a frozen lake in Russia where the jet skis and boats were impossible to use in the frozen winter – okay that made sense. He asked us to submit an invoice for the full amount (150 hovercraft totaling £2m) for him to forward to his client who he called just ‘Dmitri.’ Duly sent, we were asked if we could schedule a meeting. ‘Of course’ we said, ‘when would you like to visit us?’ ‘No,’ he told us, ‘Dmitri will be in Milan next week on other business, would you meet him there?’

Some years ago, we started writing the ‘HoveRules’ – a document which now comprises 23 inviolate rules and is growing all the time as we learn more and try not to repeat mistakes we’ve made (I’d recommend that you do it for your own business, if only because it’s very liberating!) Rule number 7 (an early one) is that we don’t travel to meetings to see people we have no trading history with, and that haven’t in some way shown commitment to trade with us.

So why did my wife (and business partner) and I find ourselves on a flight to Milan a few days later? Well, we were due a break and had pondered where to go for a few days to recharge our batteries after a few frantic weeks at work. Easyjet flights £36 return and a 4* hotel at £50/night was cheap enough and – as I said above – if you don’t see it through to its conclusion, you’ll never do the deal will you! At worst, we’d get our break in a city that, otherwise I wouldn’t have found a reason to visit.

On arrival, we were meeting my friend who lives a few hours from Milan. Alex told us we didn’t need an interpreter – he would translate for us as Dmitri spoke only French and Russian. But – as I said at the outset, I’m a cynical type of feller and would rather have a trusted companion translating for me. At this point, we still did not have a surname, a company name, address or any other information – we knew only that we were meeting Alex and Dmitri at the Hotel ME Milan, one of the best in the city. As you can imagine, I was going into this extremely sceptical it was going anywhere.  We arrived at the hotel and some ten minutes later ‘Dmitri’ turned up. He was a short, rotund man, around 55 years old, dressed in an expensive suit and clearly of middle-eastern origin. A firm handshake, confident manner and he took us to the bar where we settled down to business with a drink. I presented him with a bottle of ‘Chase’ – an English Vodka as a gift and he seemed quite appreciative of the gesture (So he should be the stuff is £44 a bottle duty free!) There was no sign of Alex - I still don’t know if that was poor planning or a deliberate ploy. It was therefore very fortunate we’d taken my friend along or god-alone knows what we’d have ‘agreed’ to!

I asked Dmitri how he’d found us and he asked why that was important. I asked him what his full name was, where he was from and whether he had a business card. He wrote a large letter ‘X’ on a napkin and refused to give me a phone number. I asked what he wanted the hovercraft for - he replied it was to rent out through hotels in the Balkan states – a different story than Alex’s. How did he find us? ‘At a racing meeting.’ More nonsense! He asked no technical questions, only vaguely alluding to the fact he would expect a warranty on the craft. Basically, he displayed no interest in the products and wanted to get straight down to how he would pay – at which point the scam was revealed and I acknowledged we had wasted a decent bottle of vodka and a day of our holiday.

He would be paying £500,000 in cash he told us.

Oh. Now, 500 ‘large’ (Realising I was dealing with a crook, I found myself talking all 'Guy Ritchie') isn’t small change. To meet money laundering regulations, I’d need (at least) his full name, proof of where the money had come from and to meet him at my bank in the UK to pay it straight in. Needless to say, this wasn’t what he had in mind at all! Whilst my friend progressed the negotiations a little, I had a chance to look the man over again. He wore a pretty good suit but the shoes, glasses and (give away of giveaways!) wristwatch were all cheap. Unless I’m a very poor judge of character, this wasn’t a truly wealthy man as he purported to be and reinforced my position - we were, to quote the Dragons, ‘out!’ Via our translator, he suggested leaving the cash payment to the end of the deal, when the last craft were delivered -  that the invoice amount would be reduced accordingly (see the problem here, I would have agreed a £500,000 discount on his purchase price for the same number/value of craft and he’d have that in writing) but it was clear it was all about this half million in cash. He got ‘upset’ saying we didn’t trust him (at least he was right about that) and said maybe we should go back to ‘making 10 craft each year’ until we pointed out we build close on 100… he was really quite surprised at that.

We left. Cordially. We shook his hand, wished him the best - and fled.

Afterwards, my friend filled us in with the bits we missed during their (at times) heated conversation but the bombshell came later in the day when he spoke to his father-in-law back in Venice. He clicked his fingers ‘I saw this on television!’ he said – ‘this is a scam being run by a middle-eastern gang. It’s forged money that they want to get into the UK. They’re targeting small UK companies and giving them an attractive ‘order’ that they can’t refuse.’ Known apparently as 'The Milan Scam.'

Finally, all the bits slotted into place. The cash, the man, the structure of payments all supported what he was telling us. We’d have been committing a very serious crime, they’d ‘have’ us hooked and could blackmail or use us in any way they wished. I’ll be clear, there was no way we’d have risked our business or a prison sentence to do this deal – and I’m guessing these are pretty unpleasant people to deal with if you changed your mind later on. My friend received one phone call from ‘Alex’ the day after and told him we couldn’t build the hovercraft quick enough to satisfy their order or some such excuse.

We enjoyed a few days break down in Milan (lovely city by the way!) and flew back to the UK no worse off for the experience, but reiterating Rule 7 to ourselves - we don’t run round after people who haven’t proved their credentials and/or serious intent.

We’ve submitted the information to UK authorities in the hope that exposing the scam may prevent small UK businesses from getting caught in this web. Half a million in cash is a pretty powerful incentive and I can imagine some businesses being overawed by it, to the detriment of clear thinking. The further we went with it the more this ‘deal’ stunk, but we had to see it through and it proved once again that if it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck!

** INSANE! ** 230bhp Formula One Racing Hovercraft For Sale!

added by russ on October 3, 2016 at 11:59

With half a dozen UK Formula One national championships under its belt - this racing hovercraft is certainly one of the most successful ever built.

Constructed by its owner, Dan Turnbull, the carbon/kevlar hull is incredibly light (the whole craft weighs around 200kgs) and stuffed so full of power, it can practically ignore the laws of physics! With separate lift and a  Rotax snowmobile thrust engine "'Over 200bhp" (Dan is a Rolls Royce aircraft engineer and you know RR only ever claim power is 'adequate!') it has a power to weight ratio a Bugatti Veyron would kill for. This translates into a 0-60mph time in the supercar league of under 4 seconds! Top speed is ~80mph depending on driver skill and.....commitment! It is genuinely, one of the fastest F1 hovercraft ever built.

With nothing left to prove, Dan is selling this amazing machine to the first person approaching him with £9,950.00 and the lucky owner will be taught how to control and maintain this amazing beast.

A million miles away from what we at BHC supply, we thought it was well worth publicising the sale of this racing hovercraft and seriously, if you want the ultimate thrill, a genuine high tech, performance vehicle unlike anything you've ever driven, look no further! Drop me a line to russ(at)britishhovercraft.com and I'll put you in touch.

Russ

 

 

A reply to some client questions.

added by russ on September 9, 2016 at 08:39

Copied here because many of the questions are fairly common ones!

All our craft use Briggs & Stratton Vanguard engines.  Built in Japan by Daihatsu, they are low revving four-strokes, which means decent noise levels and very good economy. Snappers use around 4-5 litres of fuel an hour, Marlins maybe 6-7 (much less than a jet ski!) They use regular UK/US pump fuel, no need for anything special.  Both will get around 2-4 hours from a fuel tank (12 litres on Snapper, and 25 on a Marlin) but of course it depends on conditions, payload, wind and the driver.

Maintenance is (in brief) as follows.

Pre-operation, check the craft over. Visually inspect skirt fix and wear, oil levels, fan condition, belt etc. Takes a couple of minutes per craft.

After a days operation in salt water, wash the craft off thoroughly with fresh water. Allow five minutes per craft.

If skirt needs maintenance, you can change each segment individually (approx. 58 on a Marlin/52 on a Snapper) and it takes just two minutes. The skirt – on water – will last a very long time, you’re likely to get well over a year from them. Sand/Mudflats/gravel obviously wear it faster but its top quality material and designed especially for us by a 'technical materials' company.

At 50 hours, change the oil, adjust tappet clearances, check fuel and air filters, replace if necessary.

How long do they last?

We have customers operating with over 600 hours on their engines, mechanically they are very robust (they are for plant/commercial use remember!) but you may replace ancillaries such as carburetors/coils etc in time. A whole new engine is only £1250.00UK so its not an expensive purchase if the worst happens. I’d certainly hope you got 5-10 years use from the craft, but of course, it depends largely how well they are looked after and the hours they clock up. We keep absolutely everything to build them (of course!) so there's nothing cannot be replaced, even the hulls which (to answer your next question) are built from GRP Fibreglass.

Wave capacity

It's difficult to be too precise about but they are all okay in a ‘chop’ – you must remember they are only small – so whatever you may be comfortable in a small boat of the same size, the hovercraft will be okay too. It’s a common question, and you may find this interesting and useful. http://britishhovercraft.com/UploadedFiles/hovercraft%20performance%20and%20information.jpg Also our FAQ page - http://britishhovercraft.com/Buy-A-Hovercraft/Frequently-Asked-Questions.aspx

Which Marlin?

For your use I’d recommend the Marlin ‘Beast’ – it has lots of extras and has more 'kerb appeeal' than the Marlin II Freestyle. The Marlin III is the best of everything, but it costs more money and isn’t really necessary for your purposes.

Marlin II : £9,500.00 - No frills, all thrills hovering!

35bhp Briggs & Stratton Engine

Yellow beacon

Bilge Pump

Jockey Seat for two

Hour meter

Kevlar reinforced floor

Internal Buoyancy foam

Limited range of colours. White hull with either blue or red trim.

 

 

 

The Beast : £11,000.00 - As driven by Jeremy Clarkson!

As above but with the additions of

37bhp Hi-Torque 'Savage' engine.

Rear 'T' Seat - more seating for up to three people.

All-round LED white light and navigation lights.

LED Headlights.

Rubber non-slip flooring.

Improved endplate rudders.

Tacho/Rev Counter.

GPS Speedo/heading compass.

Wide range of hull and secondary colours .

 

 

Marlin III : £12,500.00 - The ultimate yacht tender!

As 'The Beast' but with the following additions.

Upgraded, stiffer hull with integrated screen, revised splitter plate to reduce noise and add additional lift, larger receiver area to give improved plenum flow characteristics.

 

 

Lots more answers to many more question on our website!

 

 

 

 

Hovercraft Capability - Wind, Waves and Weight!

added by russ on August 8, 2016 at 08:40

What are the capabilities of a small hovercraft?

We make modest claims for our craft and have exceeded all of them in practical tests. Our aim is for our customers to understand exactly what their hovercraft is capable of, making for a safe and enjoyable experience. Even more than most vehicles, hovercraft are effected by the load they carry - exceed limits in tough considerations mean that lift and thrust are reduced to the point where the hovercraft cannot operate correctly.  This load capacity is reduced in poor/windy conditions or when travelling over mor edemanding surfaces. Being exposed to such a wide variety of conditions, operating conditions and varied surfaces means that any figures we give as to load and speed can only be at best, an indication. Take a look at the graphic below to better understand the capability of small hovercraft in changing operating conditions. If it's too small you can download a larger version by clicking the link below it.

As usual, if you have any questions, just ask us!

 

hovercraft interaction between wind waves and weight.jpg (2.19 mb)

Genuinely affordable and dependable hovercrafting with the Coastal-Pro!

added by russ on May 20, 2016 at 05:20

Thought we'd share this nice testimonial sent to us by one of our customers. It's particularly appreciated as Ben is a commercially endorsed skipper and has enormous experience piloting the large Griffon Hoverwork commercial hovercraft. The Coastal-Pro is his weekend fun!

'The Coastal Pro works exceptionally well as a leisure craft whilst maintaining a ruggedness not found in other light hovercraft which allows it to be used in more demanding roles. True "turn-key" hovercrafting, cheap to run, easy to maintain, manoeuvrable in tight confines and stable in a seaway. You won't find another twin engine craft, with the same ability, for the price.'

VIDEO OF BEN'S COASTAL-PRO, 4-UP!

 

Ben Avery at the helm of his Coastal-Pro.

Peter Large.mp4 (939.03 kb)


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