Many hovercraft around the world run on two stroke engines for their power to weight ratio. The Rotax engine series have been used in many designs. with two stroke engines they love to be loved and used. Leave one sitting around and almost 100% it will not start easily or at all. Two stroke engines wear out very quickly 300hrs to full rebuild. That is a rotax figure. The cost to rebuild a two stroke is enormous. We have decided to build an interchangeable 4 stroke power module for our Viper 5. Working on land and salt lakes does not reqire the same power to weight ratio as running a hovercraft over water. So an automotive 4 stroke engine is within weight limits. The 4 stroke engine will lower our maintiance costs and the fuel bill to. No need to pay for two stroke oil either. So as you all can read in the last two posts WA Hovercraft is advancing and lowering costs as fast as possible. If you have a tough project on a salt lake or any flat surface we can help you. We will work with you and come up with a solution.Now if you have some really crazy project way out the back of beyond … we go there to.
Another Salt Lake experience. This time 3 days. I left with 78 newly made ballistic nylon skirts. They lasted 8hours flying time and were just about 3/4 done. A good result for us. The lake as always changed A lot over the kilometers. With large timber reminents. From this experience the new Salt Lake skirt has been born. Made with Hyperlon, sporting a set of custom made wear strips that won’t wear very quickly. The new skirts are exciting. They may solve the constant wear suffered on Salt Lakes. This will bring the price down and reliability up. New skirt repair patches that can be put on in 3 mins or less in the field have been invented. This gives confidence of returning to base no matter the skirt damage suffered. So a very productive trip with real outcomes. If you want to try the new hovercraft and skirt combo on your Salt Lake.To see if this transport solution is for you. Give us a call, email.
This has confused me to. I am a very honest person and whether it’s good for business or not I tell of my failures as well as my triumphs. I have searched for an identify in the hovercraft world for a decade at least now. I started WA Hovercraft in 2007. I’ve been building hovercraft long before that. I am at 19 builds and counting. I have worked on Salt Lakes in Australia carting, drilling, transport, surveys, ore recovery, drone recovery I also worked as a wind machine on adverts. The Rhino hovercraft was used in The live show Clarkson Hammond and May. See the video in video section. This is an earlier version on the Rhino Hovercraft. Now I have done all this since 2007. So while I was searching for and Identify one found me. I am the can do man with Hovercraft. If you have an idea I will give it a shot. Also I am not a manufacturer of mass produced hovercraft. Or moulded Hovercraft. What I do is churn out. New, different, hand built and quite possibly the most awesome hovercraft on the planet. I started building from plans gotten off the internet from around the world. Through doing all this various work I have developed a sixth sense as to what technologies could be bended and reworked into a Hovercraft. My talent lies in forward thinking, backwards thinking and being present to develop new, different and the most extreme hovercraft ever seen. To build Hovercraft do new things and be useful or just be pure fun.
I build at my own pace and with my own cash. I do not take deposits or promise a new craft in a short time frame. I do not build for anyone other than me. So If you manage to find one of my craft for sale know it is built with passion and will be the best I could do. Over time I’ve got to be a much better builder so later models are more advanced, they use my personal ideas and touches.
All my hovercraft were and are hand built with hand tools. They are all unique, this means no two hovercraft I have built are the same to date. So if you have managed to get one of the 19 out there, you have something no one else has on the planet. How cool is that.
I have been on holiday and had some great thinking time. The ideas are flowing faster than I can get them built.
I will be bringing a very unique never before seen ‘well most of it anyways’ hovercraft to the 2017 rally. If you thought Tempest was cool. Built in three months from concept to prototype. Another two years on and she is a very different looking craft. Done in sparling carbon fibre with aluminium accents. Now sporting a 65hp Rotax engine. She brutally fast and manoeuvres in a 360 degree arc on the spot land or water. Not only does the Rhino Hovercraft tick the speed enthusiasts boxes, Rhino is a fantastic cruising craft she punches way above her size. A large ferry wave is no problem, white caps forming on the waves, again no problem. With a crazy power to weight ratio the Rhino Hovercraft rides a very good cushion, this in turn means better obstacle clearance including the waves as aforementioned. When designed the Rhino was given a larger cushion footprint by way of larger than normal size skirts. these were contained by a deeper hull and lower attach points. Flotation was an important inclusion and if cut in half you would still get something to float on. With room for three or go fast with one The rhino will do the job. The ape hanger bars are not just for wicked looks. You can stand up and use your weight to pull tighter turns. Or to see further ahead. Maybe just to get some wind in your face. Electric start for easy use. Large 950mm Duct with electric elevator and push pull rudders. This craft is the bomb. Yet I’m not bring it to the rally, WHY???? You ask in unison. Because I have something brand new, never seen at a rally I’ve been to. It can’t have it came out of my head. I’m adding to it to make it the coolest hovercraft you have laid eyes on. Not maybe the best built but cracking hot stuff. I don’t build perfection, I build awesome, believe that!
Now not much has been written for some time. I had a small disaster in the testing of the Rhino. After all the work of the refit and getting the engine mounted and plumbed. The fan blew up within 30 seconds of leaving the shoreline. Now if it had been my engineering I could have taken it. The explosion bent the engine frame rendering it useless, destroyed the duct. My engineering wasn’t the cause. That would be why I took it badly. What happened was a sand bag that was used as ballast got sucked under the fan guard and into the fan. As the battle went the bag won and the fan was no more. I put the Rhino under wraps for 2 months before taking it apart to access the damage. good news is the duct and fan guard stopped all the debris from the fan. So no injuries on that front. I did eventually build a new frame and duct. All much improved over the last effort. So now the Rhino is a really nice craft to fly and I enjoy it a lot.
Just because I want to know. I’ll try and to a rough calculation as to what it costs to fly a hovercraft.
Using a Rotax 582 as the engine. cost $8500 once you get all the ad ons to make it go. This engine lasts 300 hours before TBO. To get another 300 hrs you need to almost pay for the engine again. Around $5000
I’ll just use the first 300 hours. so $8500 / 300
You get a figure of $28 per hour you use the engine.
In 300 hours you will probably use 2 fans @$350 ea
You get $2.30 per hour
Belts are $150 ea in 300 hrs expect to use 3
You get $1.50 per hour
Skirts at least two sets probably a lot more if you take your time to do the hours. Set of skirts $2000 if you want someone else to sew them.
You get $13.30 per hour
Fuel I’ll use 15L per hour @ $1.30 per L
You get $19.50
2 stroke oil. $40 per 4 L . 50:1 ratio. 300ml for an hour
You get $3 per hour.
Now there are other things to consider like coolant, batteries, fuel filters. I know this but to keep it as simple as I’ll just use the parts above to get a very rough calculation.
All together you are looking at $67.60 per hour. This is running costs not including the purchase price or building materials of the craft itself.
So the Black Rhino is close to being done. The skirt still needs replacing. I’ll get to it in time. I have two years in the development of the Black Rhino and she is now an excellent craft. We have been putting her through her paces and so far so good. She is becoming more reliable every trip out.
The Accipiter is coming along slowly. The balance needs addressing and more weight in the front end is needed. The cabin also needs finishing to an acceptable standard. The hull is very good and works a treat. The engine however is not always compliant. Doesn’t much like drinking salt water either. It needs an overhaul. Other than a few small issues this craft is a goer as well.
I do have plans in my head for another craft. But it will have to wait until I finish the others and get something sold to pay for the next offering.
During this refit I have, Kevlar covered the bottom of the craft. Reinforced the skirt hooks with alu bar under the Kevlar coat for the hooks to securely be either screwed or riveted. I painted the bottom of the hull with rubber paint and put alu bar in lines as well as on the common impact points. It has no landing feet as such but is protected. The top side got a good flattening. lightweight bog and lots of sanding. I then covered the entire hull in Carbon fibre again. It had only one layer the first time and this was not as stiff as I liked. I coated the carbon fibre in 5 coats of epoxy clear two pac paint. I made the engine frame to fit the duct and the two parts to connect to the hovercraft. I upgraded the engine to a Rotax 582 65hp. It has 15 more ponies than the first time out. I redid the engine monitoring system with a carbon fibre dash. Fully upgraded switches including a 12v outlet. Battery isolation, Deadmans switch. Upgraded steering integrated into the new seat. New battery and fuel compartments. New fuel tank. I put gunnels on it I put some nice chromed bars for passengers. New Engine guard. New rubber flooring. The list is very very long. I thinks she looks pretty good and everywhere you look you will see detail and effort.
Finally I have located and mounted the radiator. The rubber well nuts arrived from Ebay yesterday and were put to use. I use the rubber encapsulated nuts to mount all sorts of things on Hovercraft. They hold in thinly made sections and make sure things don’t move. Putting a screw in can work for a little while but is never permanent. Screws come loose over time and a little over tightening will cause them to lose grip and spin in the hole you have now made. Rawl nuts as they are called squeeze up behind the panel and cannot come out without ripping a large hole. Wonderful invention these. I put them to use and mounted the radiator to the duct under the engine. This was the only place to put it without impeding the thrust air flow. Also to keep the weight of it down as low as possible to get the centre of gravity a little lower. Getting the plumbing right was also a mission. However mission accomplished and it is in and looks good. No one will ever look at it and wonder how that got there. Infact no one will even notice or think how difficult was that to figure out. This happens a lot on hovercraft without plans. When all is done, people look at a hovercraft as one unit not a whole bunch of engineering problems solved. There are so many disciplines involved in hovercraft building it boggles the mind. Let me name a few for the record. Carpenter, Fiberglasser, Auto Electrician, Engineer, Draftsman, Fabricator, Painter. A few abstract ones as well, Dreamer, Inventor, Problem solver. I don’t think this is even the full list, in fact I know its not. Its no wonder builders are few and far between as if you pay someone to do all this work your cheap hovercraft is not going to be cheap for very long. A hovercraft is a labour of love and more of a marathon than a sprint. Hence many projects get started but never finished. It always takes longer than you think it should to finish a hovercraft. If you seek perfection it will take even longer. Sometimes as a builder you have to accept some flaws in order to finish the project. Remember you can always come back to the flaw at a later date. To all the would be builders don’t let this discourage you. There are always experts to call on and if you are willing to learn you will figure out how to get past the tricky bits. Have a go as the feeling of flying a hovercraft you dreamed of and built is amazing and will make you grin ear to ear, maybe even shed a tear or two. Its that good!
A little while back I put the Tempest out to pasture. The exile did not last very long at all. She has been brought back in stunning fashion. I spent many weeks bogging and sanding to get a smooth finish to the hull. I then re covered the hull in carbon fibre. So now it sits flat, she was a little bumpy before. The adding of more carbon fibre had the added benefit of strengthening the hull further with out adding to much weight. Carbon fibre is very light. I added aluminium highlights and a gunnel for looks and hit protection. I changed the steering to go under the new seat. The new seat will take three people now not just the one as before. I added an instrument cluster where there was nothing before. The handle bars remain but installed nicely this time with no steering mechanism showing. I put the fuel tank under the seat so it is not seen anymore. I have built an engine frame and will be installing a Rotax 582 this time, I put the Rotax 503 in the shed. She now has 15 more hp to burn. I am almost ready to install the engine just getting the duct in the right place and the rubber mounts the right height. So from the prototype that she was she is turning into a very good-looking lass. The ugly duckling is becoming a beautiful swan. I am very pleased with her looks. I hope you will be to. I think all the hard work and attention to detail is paying off. From concept to a finished Hovercraft has taken almost two years. Good things take time after all.