New Hovercraft for 2015 Hovercraft Rally.

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Well well well, here I go again. Been thinking hard for a long time on all the features I would like on a hovercraft. I want it to be sea worthy like a Sevtec, I want it fast like a rocket, I want good freeboard when floating, I want an anti plow system and a stable skirt. I want it to carry two to three people max. The fan, duct and engine need to be simple and not break. Oh and it does have to look good.

With all this in mind I started my bespoke build two days ago. I must say working without plans is so much quicker. I have half a hull done already. Christmas today so no work, but tomorrow I’ll get some more done.

There will be no full pictures until you all see it at the rally. I couldn’t possibly bring the same hovercraft as last time. That would be like wearing the same dress twice to the Grammys, just isn’t done.

Merry Christmas to all the happy hovercrafters

It took 3 days and the craft needs its deck panels but other wise the hull is almost done. A little faster than the shuttle I must say. I had been thinking about it for ages and it just came out that fast. I use many techniques to make the build faster and maintain quality. The best ever that I will share is a hot glue gun. Why spend hours wire locking panels only to have to remove the wire. Never made sense to me, I from my first build just used a hot glue gun. You stick the craft together, adjust with a hot air gun as you go. Then glass the joints, The glue can stay under the glass work no problem.

It will take a little time for me to make the duct, rudders, engine frame, wiring, painting.

I must say she is going to be different, lots of features of many hovercraft I like all on one. This craft is my first ( own build ). I must say it is very satisfying to build your own from your head. I am not a typical builder, I do not have plans none at all for this craft. I pretty much make it up as I go along. I know what I want feature wise and just build them in as I go. It is very liberating to build in this fashion.

I figure If you are reading this and want a hovercraft then just build one, to get started buy some 3mm ply and go nuts. While planning can be satisfying it is like a appetiser to the main meal, the build. Point is get building and see what comes out of the shed!

I have a few engine choices sitting around. I have a 503, I like these for the simplicity, no rad to mount, good power to weight ratio. I have 582 but no pulleys for it. I have 16hp Vanguard that will work but not overly well. I have an electric motor I have been experimenting with but don’t have light weight batteries as they are very expensive. I though I’d better get messing with electric if that is going to be the future. Makes a good lift engine as it can be mounted in any direction or orientation. The 583 is an option but I think it would make the machine a missile rather than a hovercraft. With 100hp this thing will take off it doesn’t weigh very much. I think the 55hp tuned 503 will be the goer for simplicity sake. It should be plenty fast enough to keep up with the vipers, renegades and turbos and we’ll see how it goes against the rockets.

Another tit bit, the whole craft is made of 3mm ply, carbon fibre, carbon/aramid. The hull at the moment can be lifted clean off the ground quite easily. The engine and duct are going to ad the weight but I bet two people can still lift it.

More work tomorrow only one deck panel made today. It is hot in my shed. If I lived in Queensland my President Mr Venn could sort that with some shed insulation but alas I live to far south west for a normal delivery.

The deck panels are on. It is one unique looking hovercraft. I guarantee you have never seen anything quite like this beast. While I have taken influences from many different hovercraft, it is not quite any of them. Although you will see the influences.

Hovercraft designs and features that have influenced my project.

Owen Ellis and Paul Moody, The ever popular Turbo and Renegade range. Lightweight, easy to drive with priority forward air supply.
Bob Windt of Universal Hovercraft. Composite design, lightweight building, aero dynamics and air flow
Chris Fitzgerald, Neoteric Hovercraft Skirt designs and the use of jupes.
Barry Palmer, Sevtec. Seaworthy hovercraft able to take a wave
Ron Fishlock, Canair. Keeping things light, Easy construction
Mike Nell, Viper Hovercraft. Boat like front end, well balanced, great to fly, above average performance for a home built craft. Reinforcement and use of angles to strengthen 3mm ply panels. I have built 3 cruisers and the influence will remain as they are great hovercraft.

I have taken what I believe to be the best features of all these designs and made a mongrel beast. It is very unique looking pretty unforgettable actually. It will be a talking point, I hope for the right reasons!

It has a name, She is the Black Rhino. Thundering to the Hovercraft rally in Moe she will go.

Making Movies now.

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A strange request came through from a movie art department. We were asked if we could make wind. But of course yes is the answer. We tested the 100hp Subaru with a 3 blade propeller, it had an area effect but the wind dissipated quickly after 4 m or so. We moved on to the 65hp rotax with the ducted fan. The result is a tornado like effect. From the duct it make a thin Colum of wind. This is good for hitting objects and pin point areas. While the 100hp wasn’t up to the task the Viper 5 was.

We were invited to be part of the art department for the film shoot, of course we accepted. Has to be easier than a Salt lake right?

We arrived on set and duly made wind on request all day. It was a new life experience for us and an enjoyable one at that. So If you need wind we can do that!

UH15R second coming.

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The White Knight has gone to a new home so we have been working on the UH15R. It was moth balled some months back when it disappointed us with a top speed of 33 knots. Plenty of ideas for it have been flying around the workshop.

So here are the upgrades installed

Firstly more flotation in the form of extruded polystyrene this had two benefits more flotation and stiffening up the structure. (remember it is made of Core Flute plastic)

The cabin was insulated with foam boards and covered in marine carpet. Glue everywhere!

The dash is redone and curved now very aesthetically pleasing.

New seating.

A canopy over the cockpit that is remotely lifted using two electric actuators. (read super cool)

A new fuel tank for the lift engine. It is right on the centre line for better balance.

A new thrust engine is on the way, A rotax 503 50hp.

Work still to do, Paint, wiring, thrust engine mounting, inspection hatches installed. Shouldn’t take to long and we’ll take it for a test spin.

Keep tuned in for updates.

Lake Disappointment Videos.

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I found some video of the Viper 5 on Lake Disappointment in the little sandy desert. It looks like the moon, but I assure you it is hot and alive with flies. Check them out in the video section.

Different fans, blades and pitches.

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There has been a lack of writing on this web site. I have been posting but on the Australian Hovercraft Federation website. It seems to me that more people read this and the information is well used. I should however duplicate it and post here as well.

Fans is what we have been up to. we have tested 8,9,12 blade fans with pmax and 5z blades at different pitches. We were tiring to achieve a little more lift from the integrated system while maintaining thrust on the vipers.

Results as follows.

9 blades on a 12 blade hub Pmax. Good lift adequate Thrust at plus 5000rpm. Drawbacks heavy and caused vibrations. These vibrations shook the engine mounting bolts loose and the centerflex bolts out. The craft vibrated quite uncomfortably as well.

12 Blade Pmax. Smoother but still heavy. A heaver hub and centerflex arrangement used. Mad amounts of lift pretty poor thrust. Good for land work but not to good for water use.

9 blade 5 z works well in a 840mm duct not so well in the 960mm duct. Pitching the fan correctly makes a difference.

8 blade in 960 mm duct at 45 degrees maxes the 65 hp rotax at 6500rpm. This gives great thrust but lift is a little low. Ok on water not so good on land. Craft tends to lower in the front end at around 30 knots. Pushing past 30 knots is a little hairy and takes an experienced operator.

We also tried a 6 blade 720mm p max set up with a 25 hp engine. The engine was not strong enough to max out rpms with this blade even at the lowest possible pitch. So back to the 6 blade 5z 25 degrees set up.

We did it so you don’t have to.

We have tried many more fans and pitches in the past. This is just the latest round For more information contact us.

Been A While

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Winter has set in. I thought the heat was hard to work in. Cold fingers just don’t work like they should. We took the White Knight out for a run after sitting unloved for some months. It sat because the exhaust springs snapped and the fuel delivery was poor. Three hours of work and the problems are cured. New springs attached and sikaflexed so they don’t break so fast. All good so far. The fuel problem was caused by a piece of silicon that had made its way into the fuel tank. It has been removed. So it is fixed and ready for a long run. On the run the Knight was fast and nimble and a lot of fun to fly, it was lined up with a 100 hp 4x craft and a short drag was done. The Knight kept up with the much higher hp Viper 4 x. The Knight is very light, everything that could be deleted has been and every length was taken to ensure the lightest hovercraft could be built without sacrificing hull strength. By using epoxy instead of Polyester resin the craft can flex a little without breaking. Epoxy is the way to go, yes it costs more but the results are so much better and neater. The Shuttle is finished and ready to be tested, only problem is it needs a crew to move it and get it off the trailer. So far the number of bodies required have not been able to be mustered on the same day. Lets hope that changes soon. The Viper 5 is awaiting a new upgrade, more on that as I progress. The red UH sits with a new skirt and adjusted lift fan. It Hovers very well. It requires a new thrust engine to get going again, read here funds required. So for now it sits and awaits the day a budget is applied to the problem.

Rain and more rain.

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The Shuttle is ready to come off the trailer. Three skirt fingers were missing, they have been replaced. Now it keeps raining. Good timing hey. As soon as it stops the shuttle will be off the trailer to check the lift system. If all goes well it will be off to the boat ramp. Both engines are running well in test mode.

Right after this post the shuttle was deemed unfixable. When it was taken to the dump it still weighed 560kg with nothing on it. So I was correct all along. The Weight was understated on the paperwork. It said 1 tonne. It weighed a lot more than that. So the design was to heavy for the foot print. Looked great just didn’t work well.


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What’s been going on? The lift fan and engine combo is not good enough. The rear end lifts off but not the rest. She needs more oomph.

Good news. The cage is built. The thrust engine is mounted and wired. The prop is pitched thanks to our new digital protractor. The propeller is mounted on the engine boss.

The thrust end is done and works just fine. The EA81 Subaru engine fired right up and ran no problems. The propeller seems to be pitched right. Won’t know till I open it right up. Not sure I want to do that statically. It has quite some thrust. The new rudders seem to work as does the elevator. The elevator uses an electric actuator to move it up and down. Because it doesn’t have to move instantly an actuator is fine for the job. Different story with the rudders, they must move quickly.

A new fan to try will be on the way shortly. lets hope the lift engine at 26 hp is good enough for the job.

Easily the most frustrating part of the rebuild is this end bit. Dialling everything in to just right. time spent here though is imperative to a well working machine and a safe to operate machine more importantly.

The wait is almost over, almost!

Lift system on Shuttle done.

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Finally getting somewhere. The lift system is done and done. Just waiting on the lift fan. Once installed The engine can be fired up and the system tested. Will it work the first time? The rear thrust engine needs mounting 3 man job to lift the monster. then the rear cage can be done and the rudders fitted. Wire the rear engine mount a radiator for it. Put he prop on. build a cage/ cover for both the lift fan and the prop. then it can be tested. The paint is now done as it is going to be until it proves it works. Maybe then we’ll look at making the Shuttle pretty again. The other hovercraft in the fleet haven’t moved in a month. Busy making the shuttle go and playing cricket on a Saturday. Winter will be the go for cruises again, better weather on the water, here in Perth anyway.

Shuttle re design and build

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Been awhile, the web site has been a little broken. All fixed now. Since the last post WA Hovercraft has been busy redesigning and building the hover shuttle. First thing done was to strip the shuttle to the gunnel 500 kgs were removed including the Mazda 13b engine. ( This is a known figure as all the parts coming off were weighed ) This left the base and the skirt as the only original parts. From there a new lift duct was built and installed as was the new thrust module. engine frames and mounts were made from slotted steel for strength and light weight. Separate lift and thrust is now the go. The whole lot has been covered with 3mm luan ply, fibreglass taped together. This was covered with bog and sanded to create the final finish. New rudders have been made, they now 51 inches long instead of the 15 they were. An elevator will be added as well. The build is coming along nicely. The propeller arrived yesterday, of course it doesn’t fit properly (another job to do). The lift fan is on the way. Once it arrives the lift system can be finished. The electric actuator systems have mostly been removed to make the craft far more simple and less prone to breakdowns. The liquid cooled Kawasaki is a thing of beauty can’t wait to fire it up. It is wired and turns over just need to attach the fuel hose to make it fire. Paint was started yesterday it needs a few coats and a week or so to do it nicely. It is getting there and is closer to the finish line than the start.