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Ian Brooks

What should I be looking for when I check out a second hand craft?


Still joking ;D



There are a number of points that should be looked for in a second hand craft – here are a few things to out look for.

Skirt

The skirt on a hovercraft has a limited life – like the tyres in a car. Many craft will come up for sale with well worn skirts. This isn’t a disaster, but the cost of a new skirt can be high - £400 and upwards, so be prepared for the expense.

Old bag skirts will be recognised by the presence of multiple repairs and patches, together with wear on the ground contact line.

Worn-out segment skirts will be seen to have a frayed and torn lower edge (where it meets the ground) with the backing material showing through the rubber.

Hull

Hulls have frequently suffered damage from minor collisions, abrasion and so on. Look for the signs of repairs. The place you really must look is underneath, as damage here is likely and you don’t want to find it when floating without power in a choppy estuary! The good news is that GRP can be repaired fairly easily – but it has to be worth a negotiation with the seller.

Engines

Checking the engine is similar to any motorbike or car – but more so. Hovercraft engines get a hard life, so take someone who knows engines with you.

In addition to the usual things, look out for salt corrosion if the craft has been used on the sea.

Fan or propeller

Old and perished fans can be dangerous. If the blades have turned green or pink, this indicates deterioration due to UV light, and they will have to be replaced, at around £100 - £200 per set.

With propellers, check for signs of erosion on the leading edge, caused by sand and grit in the air flow literally sand blasting the edge.

Transmission

Belts are often used – and should be checked carefully for fraying, cracking or other damage. You may choose to replace it anyway once you own the craft – they are well known for breaking, I like to know that mine is in good condition.

Check for play and roughness in bearings.

Controls

Controls often rely on long bowden cables, which can suffer from salt corrosion. Check for free operation and frayed ends, and replace if in doubt.

Guards

Check guards for security and strength, and if you intend to use the craft at HCUK events, that they meet the current construction regulations.

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Ian Brooks
Gloucester, UK