Buy Hovercraft - Hovercraft Review
Hovercraft have become more popular in recent years, people love RC hovercraft, but why let your pet hamster have all the fun?
If you are considering purchase of a leisure hovercraft, please read this review and request our free hovercraft buyer’s guide. If you are considering to buy a personal hovercraft, it is a good idea to consider carefully the following points. Let us look at the false assumptions customers make, and dispel these myths straight away.
All hovercraft are not pretty much the same, they differ significantly!
There are operational issues you need to be aware of, to ensure you don’t buy the wrong type or hovercraft model. Read our free hovercraft buyers guide to understand what these differences are, and to understand hovercraft terms such as Hump, and Ploughing.
Race pedigree hovercraft are not suitable as cruising hovercraft, and cruise hovercraft are too slow to win races, so decide how you wish to use your hovercraft.
Although hovercraft generally have a very good safety record, there are moving parts – if you are considering to buy hovercraft kits or plans, be aware that one poor chap died last year in NZ because the fans in the duct area of a hovercraft he built, were unguarded, and the fan blades struck his head.
Now you might think that was pretty stupid, like, who would consider to build a hovercraft with fan blades unguarded, but you will be shocked to learn that many professional hovercraft have fans left unguarded. How is this possible? Could you imagine the health and safety guys allowing a factory machine to hover down the road with rotating parts unguarded? No, ofcourse not, but because hovercraft are very weight dependent, by removing the essential rear fan guard, manufacturers can get more air through the duct, and get better performance from cheaper under powered engines.
Why use cheaper underpowered engines?
To get the price down to be more competitive, because many customers believe the myth that all hovercraft are pretty much the same!
Under powered engines can be modified and up rated to squeeze more power out than intended by the engine manufacturer – but such action by hovercraft suppliers will invalidate the engine manufacturer’s warranty. If the engine blows up because it was not intended to output power at the top end of its capability, you are on your own! Besides which, you really do need power in reserve.
Why do I need power in reserve?
All hovercraft have to overcome a pressure wave known as the Hump. You should check what weight a hovercraft can manage for on-water starting. Some manufacturers quote payload capability as on-land capability – all hovercraft can carry more weight when starting on land, perhaps 50% more weight – so check, what weight the hovercraft can lift when starting from an on-water position, this is crucial. You need to consider your weight and your passenger weight before venturing out on the water – eaten too many pies lately?
Under powered engines, or those that have been up rated, might not lift the passenger weight you wish to carry, you really need to consider passenger weight. If you have to stop somewhere, and cannot get started from on-water, you need to consider how you will get home. A mobile phone is pretty useless in marine emergencies, as often there is no signal coverage, so consider getting a VHF radio, and flares pack. Under powered hovercraft that cannot get started on water, generate a lot of spray, but are stuck if unable to get over hump.
Here is a hovercraft starting on water, with enough power to get over hump:
Hovercraft skirts come in a variety of styles and made from a variety of materials, some long lasting, some not. A segmented skirt is better than a one piece or bag skirt, since each section can be replaced at lower cost. Neoprene coated nylon as used by manufacturers of cheaper hovercraft, degrade when exposed to sunlight (UV). Hypalon is better than neoprene coated nylon but tears too easily for my liking – hovercraft might catch debris in the mud, sand is hard wearing (as used for sand blasting) and concrete asphalt surfaces are also hard, but perhaps the worst surface of all is ice. I recommend polyurethane coated nylon weave at 375 Gsm – this material is really strong and segments will not need replacing every couple of months. Frequent skirt replacement costs are hiked by shipping charges, so it is perhaps a good idea to buy some spares when you purchase the craft. Cheaper hovercraft have cheaper skirts, they last a short while so manufacturers can make back their profit magin when you need replacements!
Ploughing or plowing is a term to describe sudden stopping on water, when the nose catches the water, and the hovercraft comes to a very abrupt stop. Usually, when a hovercraft ploughts in, passengers and contents are catapulted over the handlebars. Check whether the hovercraft you consider purchasing ploughs in – some manufacturers claim ploughing is something you had just better get used to, other manufacturers set trim correctly to reduce the likelihood of the problem occurring.
Example of a hovercraft ploughing-in