BUILD YOUR OWN HOVERCRAFT!
Lots of people enquire to us about building their own hovercraft – or call us for advice and parts when they hit snags building one from plans. Unfortunately, most of the plans and kits available to build your own craft fall well short of providing the first time builder with any realistic chance of assembling a decent, working, attractive craft.
Many of the plans available are poorly written and based on outdated 1970’s designs. They usually rely on a very simple, flat wooden hull which is heavy, porous, ugly and expensive. They often feature a nasty little, two stroke motorbike engines and worse… a bag skirt! They have no freeboard or flotation and whilst 90% are never finished in any case, those that are completed often work poorly – and almost none produce a genuinely usable recreational craft.
Many are never finished and end up on ebay….another “unfinished project, just needs…….” etc. This is largely because many parts need to be sourced, salvaged or made – many are difficult to find or expensive to buy and this leads to a lot of frustration and a loss of motivation to see the project through.
So what are the other options?
Buy a used craft. Certainly an option but they’re often battered, scruffy looking and in need of restoration. Many are inland racing craft and unusable (or even dangerous) for cruising and recreational use in a salt-water environment. Very few used cruising craft come up for sale which also means prices are high.
Buy a new commercially manufactured craft. The perfect solution if funds allow or you’re not the type of person who looks at things and thinks…”How does that work?” But obviously, a manufactured craft costs a reasonable amount of money and may not offer the ‘Caterham Cars’ thrill of being able to say “I built that!”
The third option – ‘Flying Fish’ Kits
For some years now, the British Hovercraft Company has supplied Pro-Build Component sets to two overseas manufacturers who produce the Flying Fish range under licence. And, in response to the almost constant enquiries we receive to supply parts, kits, hulls and even plans to home builders, we chose 2014 to launch or component sets into the retail market.
These aren’t just kits; our comprehensive pro-build packages are designed to be quick and fun to build. All the parts you need are supplied ready to assemble, not requiring any donor vehicle, fabrication or any special skills. And we mean everything – down to the last nut and bolt!
Building your own hovercraft undoubtedly adds some satisfaction to the finished product – we should know, we build two a week and they still thrill us! Flying Fish Kits offer two huge advantages over building from plan or a partial kit.
They work! The Marlin II and Snapper hovercraft have been sold in substantial numbers, and are almost the ‘industry standard’ for personal hovercraft (Hovercraft Club cruises are usually attended by 80-90% Marlins) so you can be sure you’ll be building a professional looking craft that will perform as it should and will ‘wow’ everyone who sees it. It will work, you’ll have amazing fun with it and it’ll be safe. Building from a plan just isn’t a ‘sure thing’ – it really doesn’t guarantee that you’ll end up with a safe and effective hovercraft -whereas building from a proven component set does.
When/if you come to sell your hovercraft, it’ll be worth a good price – you have a fully working, professional looking craft that people will genuinely want to buy. It has a greta reputation (Flying Fish’ craft are pretty much the industry standard). Take a look on ebay for instance, there’s probably a Marlin or Snapper on there for sale, and they always fetch decent money. Build it well, look after it and your hovercraft has real value. Plywood/aluminium hovercraft built from plans and kits almost never fetch any money as the hull material makes them look quite ugly and crude.
Which Component Set Should You Choose?
Small but enormous fun – the Snapper is the hovercraft of choice at most UK driving events businesses because it’s incredibly easy to drive (both adults and kids) and offers very good performance. It will carry two adults on land but is limited to approx 100kgs on water. It’s powered by a Vanguard 23bhp engine, so it’s quiet, reliable and economical. It is incredibly manoeuvrable, it must be the easiest hovercraft in the world to drive so it’s great to share with the kids. It’ suitability extends to an uncontrolled environment in calm conditions – many owners venture into coastal areas every weekend and the component set includes stainless steel fittings for salt water use. You can even race it in Hovercraft Club events!
The Marlin II was launched in 2010 and is a longer version of the Snapper with a higher seating position (you sit in the Marlin, kneel in the Snapper) larger screen, 35bhp engine and improved performance – particularly in a marine environment. Overall, it’s best described as a ‘sports-cruiser’ and really looks the part! See our website for lots of details and photos.
What’s included in the set?
Everything! All parts are ‘straight off the shelf’ – ie they’re exactly the same components that we use in production of our own craft.
Complete set of fibreglass parts, trimmed.
Complete Fibreglass hull. Top and bottom decks bonded together.Buoyancy foam and engine mounting timber installed.920mm duct – inner and outer mouldings (inner fitted to hull)Rudders & Flow straighteners.23bhp (Snapper) or 35bhp Briggs & Stratton (Marlin) engine, boxed.Built in fuel tank with filler fitting (Marlin) or 12l outboard tank (Snapper)Seat cover (not upholstered)Screen.Belt cover and rear coneSteering cable installed
Alloy engine mounting plates.
Fan blades and hubs, with bearings.
Guard, guard saddles.
Stainless Steel Top & Bottom pulleys, taper lock.
Platinum Spec Drive Belt
Stainless steel Exhaust and downpipes.
Fuel line/filter and primer bulb
Steering kit – handlebars, uprights, stock, mount, grips.
Skirt Material and template (finished segments available at extra cost)
Bilge pump & piping.
Throttle Cable & Lever
Wiring loom & Toggle Switches
Skirt fixing cable and clamps (lower)
Titanfast skirt fixing (upper)
Skirt fix top clips
Sikaflex, peeler rivets.
Complete nut and bolt set.
White with your choice of red or blue trim/secondary colour.
Other colours available at an additional cost of £250.00 (hull) and £150.00 (secondary)
Other options include
Lights (beacons/navigation lights/headlights)
Marlin Screen with Snapper purchase.
One man/one minute trailer.
‘Marinised’ or upgraded engine.
Skirt segments in place of material.
Teak effect flooring.
Production Time : Approximately two weeks.
Build Time : Approximately 2 Weeks/50 hours,.
Build Guide : Video
Cost : Snapper £5,000.00%20VAT
For more details, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 0044(0)1304619820