Homemade Hovercraft

Hovercraft have long fascinated us since their introduction in the 1950's. Ofcourse with all inventions, many different people have ideas for a concept, but the word hovercraft was patented by inventor Sir Christopher Cockerell, who got the idea after tinkering in his shed with a couple of empty coffee and cat food cans he fastened together to prove his theory. His wife's hair dryer powered the experiment, her kitchen weighing scales recorded the air lift generated. When the first hovercraft crossed the English Channel in 1957, Sir Christopher was used as ballast to correct the weight, and this experience was quite frightening by all accounts.

The hovercraft is not a boat, and hovercraft designs have a number of unique characteristics to consider, Homemade hovercraft tend to be made either by enthusiasts for racing, or by engineers to create something they can accomplish. Heath and safety issues are important to get right - recently a man in NZ tested his homemade craft after working on the project for 7 years and lost his life on the first outing. The most obvious things to consider are the fan blades that rotate at 7,000 rpm. The NZ chap had started his hovercraft without a proper fan guard in place, not something recommended, but here is a clue as to why he may have started a hovercraft without a guard. Many hovercraft manufacturers, especially the so-called racing pedigree producers, regularly leave the rear fan guard off their hovercraft since airflow is restricted by having a guard in place - hovercraft might travel 6 mph faster without a rear guard, but safety is important - fan blades very rarely break, but can do if old and purple - UV light can degrade nylon.  So a front and rear fan guard is essential, to ensure that fragments of nylon blades do not escape should the fan blades break for any reason. A fan guard will prevent small stones entering the duct to damage the fan blades. When one blade breaks, it usually shatters several more in it's wake.

Hovercraft design must take also take account of the fact that hovercraft are weight dependent vehicles, so some manufacturers make them out of very thin glass fibre - this compromises durability, any collision can shatter GRP (mind that tree). Homemade hovercraft builders need to ensure that the engine chosen is powerful enough to get the right performance without being too heavy - hovercraft have difficulty starting from on-water - they create a pressure wave referred to as The Hump. If the engine is lacking power, the hovercraft will not have sufficient power to get over this pressure wave to lift the passenger weight. This compromises safety - how can you get home if your hovercraft cannot lift your weight? Hovercraft can be homemade, some home made hovercraft are very successful, but there are a number of things to consider before you even start your project. Will water ingress into the hull if stopped on water? Passenger weight required - how many pies have they eaten? - you need to consider passenger weight.

Contact us for a free Buyers Guide - what to consider when purchasing a hovercraft. This document details all the problem areas, solutions etc. 

It is now possible to fit out ready made hulls manufactured from HDPE, so contact us for details of local manufacture bare boat opportunities.

See how hovercraft are manufactured below: