Hovercraft Buyers Guide
Hov Pod Syndicate
Why I Bought a Hov Pod
Hovercraft Buyers Guide
Buying a hovercraft? Learn the hard way, or read this guide. We hear many sad stories from people who have purchased hovercraft from
other suppliers, only to discover the hard way, what works well, and what
doesn’t. We have created this simple guide to advise customers what to consider
because, cheaper craft are often sold at greater cost!
Small hovercraft can be classified as race craft, kit-build or leisure.
1. Race craft focus on speed
2. Self-build focus on low cost
3. Leisure craft focus on safety and reliability
Buyers should consider:
Cost versus Performance, Safety and Reliability.
For Race craft, speed is the key objective,
so weight is reduced wherever possible. For example, to reduce
weight, craft have very thin GRP, so safety can be compromised.
Race craft are often designed for land rather than use on sea.
Thin GRP is needed for racing but not in leisure use as any
impact causes expensive damage. Safety features such as the fan
cage may restrict airflow, so safety is often compromised by speed.
So the Hov Pod is designed for safety rather than speed.
Self-build folk favour the low cost approach;
this often can affect quality, safety and performance. People
spend considerable hours building hovercraft, (200 to 400 hours)
only to experience major disappointment on the first outing. The
Hov Pod has taken years of development to eliminate the pitfalls
associated with hovercraft design and manufacture. That said,
some people love a challenge, and are happy to spend hundreds
of hours creating their own craft. But at what cost? Too much
work and not enough play can make Jack a dull boy!
The third type of craft appeals to people who just want to have fun.
Leisure hovercraft demand safety, reliability, and
ease of use. The Hov Pod may not be the fastest craft in town, but we
do like our customers to have fun in safety. We don’t scrimp on quality
either. Check out the build quality and many benefits such as stainless
steel fittings to combat salt-water use, or the high spec electrical
components, for trouble free operation. Not all leisure craft are the
same. Some manufacturers sell new hovercraft with second-hand engines,
purchased from a local salvage yard. Or craft that dig the nose into
water and stop suddenly with dire consequences. Craft that do not
contain enough buoyancy and sink! Craft that don’t restart on water
(a paddle could be useful) One-piece skirts that cost megabucks to
repair. Hulls that crack and let in water, craft you can’t steer
without throwing your weight violently into the corners!
Engine type. The Hov Pod is offered with a choice of 2 or 4 stroke engines. We offer highly reliable high
power-to-weight Rotax 2 stroke engines or Weber 120 Turbo powered 4 stroke engines. Engines are located under a uniquely designed
engine cover system that offers excellent protection from the elements
yet is very quick and easy to remove (approx 15 seconds). The Hov Pod
engines have been put through their paces for hundreds of hours in very
harsh marine conditions in climates such as Africa, The Caribbean,
and the Middle East. 4 stroke engines are heavier than 2 stroke engines, but are generally quieter, have less harmful emissions, and are more economic to run, so have a longer operating range per tank of fuel.
One engine or two? Many hovercraft use two engines,
one for thrust, one for lift. Hov Pods have only one engine for lift and
thrust; reason being that it is easier and far safer to coordinate one
set of controls, easier to service one engine, plus you get less noise
from one engine. Thrust engines are often placed in front of the driver
- yuck! All those fumes and noise coming at you, and the
first wave that hits you may swamp the engine, causing lift failure.
Front sited lift engine hovercraft are generally nose heavy, so increase the chance of ploughing in. We deliberately designed the Hov Pod without a gearbox assembly,
this allows us to site the engine much lower in the craft, providing
lower centre of gravity, reducing the tendency to roll (we have even
seen other craft literally roll over in a simple low speed turn),
and providing much greater ease of control. We also place the engine
low down to ensure no airflow disturbance to the fan; clear airflow
results in greater efficiency. Of course we only use new engines,
whereas many new hovercraft have been sold with reconditioned engines
Stopping on land.
Hovercraft should be considered as land-based vehicles as well as water-based;
stopping on a small rock shouldn’t cause the floor to crack, since cracks
let-in water. Most hovercraft have a single thin skin floor, made from glass fibre. The Hov Pod hull is unique, manufactured from HDPE (High Density
Polyethylene). HDPE has been used in the past to construct Formula 1 Race crash barriers and artificial joints; it is extremely strong, impact resistant and extremely buoyant. (One day, all hovercraft manufacturers will use this material). We add aluminium runners, impact sheets and wear bolts to protect the craft from the
inevitable knocks that occasionally occur.
Stopping on water?
During demonstrations, a number of customers have panicked when we stop the
Hov Pod on water, because other manufacturers have told them to avoid
doing this! Many hovercraft have a problem with starting on water, and
you will sometimes hear the expression "getting over the hump", that
describes the problem in getting back up onto the cushion of air to
start moving again. The Hov Pod is designed to lift a payload of 225
kilos or 495 pounds (HP52) to 325 Kilos or 716 pounds (HP120 Turbo) on water starts. Other craft also
have a very severe tendency to spin and throw occupants when stopped
quickly on water; the Hov Pod has been designed to quickly yet safely
and smoothly stop in a controlled straight line.
Many hovercraft have poor buoyancy characteristics and can actually
sink if swamped, whereas the Hov Pod hull is extremely buoyant, and tested to take over one ton in weight before water regression is possible. Not only will the Hov Pod stop
quite happily on water but it has also been independently tested
for flooded buoyancy approval. Buying a professional designed and
manufactured craft helps to overcome regulatory restrictions, where they apply.
Occasionally, hovercraft skirts may get damaged so you need to know how to
replace a skirt, and how difficult the job will be. The Hov Pod has 65
different segments, (for damage limitation) so rather than having to
replace the whole skirt if damaged, at great cost, you just replace
the damaged segment. Naturally you will wish to go exploring with
your hovercraft, but need to get home safely, so having a few spare
skirt segments handy is a good idea, only takes a minute to change
each segment; far easier than trying to recover a hovercraft with
a damaged one-piece skirt. Hov Pods use a
Polyurethane /Nylon material
for excellent wear, UV and salt-water protection.
We invite customers to try tear this material during demonstrations - no one has managed in over one year. The Hov Pod in tests has operated with up to 25% of the skirts missing.
The careful design of the skirts also means that in normal use the Hov
Pod generates virtually no spray and the drive and passenger can stay virtually dry.
The Hov Pod hull is unique, manufactured from HDPE (High Density
Polyethylene). HDPE has been used in the past to construct Formula 1 Race crash barriers and artificial joints; it is extremely strong, impact resistant and extremely buoyant.
Hov Pods are designed to withstand accidents when they occur,
protected by an aluminium plus rubber bumper strip to minimise damage to the craft.
Glass fibre hovercraft not fitted with bumper bars can disintegrate on impact with stationary objects; cracked GRP damage can be difficult and quite costly to repair.
We also fit aluminium impact sheets, aluminium runners and wear bolts on the underside
of the Hov Pod for durability whilst coming to rest on firm ground. We no longer manufacture hovercraft from glass fibre; we have seen other manufactured hovercraft where the hull has literally fallen apart
after hitting a wave.
"Ploughing in" is a term to describe a problem where a hovercraft suddenly
stops, due to the nose of the craft dipping into water - as anyone knows, sudden
stopping or deceleration will cause passengers and driver to part company with a
vehicle, so we have designed the Hov Pod to overcome this problem. The Hov Pod
has never ploughed in, though we continue to hear of incidents where other
hovercraft have suffered this problem, sometimes with quite serious consequences.
Transporting the Hov Pod. The Hov Pod can be supplied with
a fully galvanised custom designed trailer made by an approved trailer manufacturer.
For safety this trailer is designed for single person operation. Many cheaper
trailers are available but require either two three or four people to back
breakingly lift the craft off and on the trailer. The Hov Pod trailer utilises
4 rubber coated rollers (to protect the hull and stop that annoying banging when
trailering) and a simple winch mechanism to gently unload or reload the Hov Pod
in about a minute.
Good safety design is no accident; extensive
development has gone into designing the Hov Pod. Safety is a very
important aspect of design for the leisure market, and our designers
have considered many factors not found on other craft. For example,
we fit a front and rear guard to the fan assembly - who in their
right mind wouldn’t? (Actually, the majority of hovercraft manufacturers don’t)
Consider sealed batteries and ventilated fuel tanks for example. Or ease
of use, the Hov Pod only needs fingertip control, no need to shift your
weight to turn corners! Again the Hov Pod has gone through a full
Other considerations: Check craft quality, is the craft constructed
of GRP, has GRP chop strand mat been used or as in the construction of the Hov Pod,
quadraxial mat? A whack with a mallet shouldn’t offend. GRP when new nearly always
looks great but if not made by experts in a controlled environment it will soon suffer
from many hidden problems. Ask to see an older model to check the quality of the GRP,
which can crack and delaminate after 6 months. An immaculate looking craft on day one
can, after 6 months, can look very forlorn. GRP repairs are costly. Does the craft
have a really solid bumper protection system? Can you give the impact areas on the
side and bottom of the craft good hard whacks with a mallet? Can you sit on the side
quite happily without breaking it?
Ease of use: On Water - can the craft be used in the conditions you
intend to use? On water, sit on the side, climb in, climb out, will it topple over?
Does it plough in? Will it float? What weight can it lift in on water-starts? Has any
government provided safety certification? Do an emergency stop; can you keep control?
Does the craft travel in a straight line? Do you have to throw your weight when cornering?
many craft will not turn unless you move your weight to the side of the craft? Is driving
instinctive to use, with handlebars and throttle, or are complex joysticks and elevator
controls needed to use the craft?
We have deliberately focused on product quality, and to understand our
marketing approach, you should read the
Design Philosophy Document. Stretching the dollar, pound or
euro is important for everyone, but
so too is value for money, no one wants to spend thousands on a
vehicle that is unsafe or difficult to repair.
Hov Pods are extremely easy to drive, similar to a motorcycle, and
fantastic fun. In demonstrations, we can usually hand over the
controls to a person after 15 minutes tuition. Hov Pods were
specifically designed for marine leisure and commercial use,
and have many features that you will not find on other hovercraft.
Hov Pods are designed to be easy to use, easy to service, safe
to operate, reliable, durable and fun.
We hope you will soon arrange a demo so that we can show you
the superior features of the Hov Pod so that you can see for
yourself, why it remains probably the best leisure hovercraft
available anywhere in the world today.
Arrange a demo now via our Contact Page
Hovercraft Buyers Guide