« Reply #3 on: May 15, 2021, 9:19 am »
 
All very interesting! The SRN4 was where my interest in hovercraft started I suspect, my family used to use it for holidays. Mainly because my dad hated boats and thought the hovercraft was the least horrible way of getting over. I’ve been on the Princess Margaret, vivid memories of my dad being very sea sick! The waves were enormous though, incredible that the craft could cope in those conditions.

The experience of going on cushion stays with me, it seemed to go on up forever - at least to a six year old!
Ian Brooks
Gloucester, UK

« Reply #2 on: May 15, 2021, 1:43 am »
 
Thanks for posting this article by Steve Catanach and my compliments to him too. 
The SRN4 era were great days.  Around 1978 not only was I a member of the HCGB but also I was invited to become a member of an organisation known as the UKHS (UK Hovercraft Society).  The membership was mainly people who either worked in some part of the (commercial) Hovercraft community like Mike Pinder, John Griffen’s dad (I think – memory a bit sketchy on this point) or those who had strong affiliations to it ~ Lord knows why I was allowed to join, but I was proposed (you had to be) by a friend from back then called Neil McDonald and I got accepted.  Actually, I didn’t got to many meetings, but as I recall they were quite posh affairs, usually people travelled from all over the country and they started the evening with a meal followed with a talk by someone eminently qualified. 
The most memorable of these evenings was as guests of the hierarchy running Seaspeed’s Dover operation, who invited us to tour the whole set-up one night after it had closed to the public.  After being shown around the customer areas we went to maintenance buildings and saw that - which was fascinating.  But the highlight and pinnacle of the tour was being taken to the overnight ‘work in progress’ maintenance being carried out, under the skirt of the Princess Margaret! Ooooh errh missus.
It was fascinating fact that in order to do the maintenance, which for each craft was done on alternate nights, seven days a week I believe; they had to manoeuvre the craft, on cushion, into a precise location – this was done by tethering the craft by huge anchor chains, one at each corner of the vessel and then gently allowing the chains to tighten in static hover.  The whole purpose of this was they could then let the craft settle down back onto the concrete where upon the whole beast was jacked up on huge pneumatic support pads which rose up out of the concrete apron, a bit like hoisting a car up on a lift in a car dealership.  A network of acro type frames with lighting rigs were then put into position to form a secondary support.  The jacked-up height was about the same as full hover height, they then lifted the skirt in two places (bit like a vertical curtain) this was wide and high enough to allow a fork lift truck loaded with replacement skirt material, to go in and out under the machine, plus it gave authorised pedestrian access. 
The maintenance teams then set to work replacing worn or torn segments and panels of skirt in a very similar fashion to how you guys do, only on a much, much, grander scale.  The whole area of the skirt containment was split into four equal sections (compartments) by a series of vertical curtains of skirt material.  We were told that the idea, or theory at least of the compartments was to give better overall stabilisation and they were thought to prevent excess pitch and roll - which passengers often complained about.   However, the general debris floating in the water of the English Channel which the craft continuously hovered over, often meant that this 5ft high curtain  arrangement would get badly ripped and by sheer fluke on one crossing, a complete section of material forming the crafts latter two compartments, got ripped away completely and the crafts operating captain at the time, who quite naturally didn’t know what had happened, did notice that for some reason the machines overall stability in that sea state got better and it was soon discovered that the accidentally modified compartment arrangement – two at the front, one on each side and just the one huge compartment in the aft section, increased the overall comfort and performance experienced - so from that accident they decided not to replace that particular curtain. 
To next morning we were invited to go back, before operations started to go aboard the huge machine and we were allowed to climb the ladder, placed in the middle of the car deck, which allowed internal access to the control cockpit.  Apart from being amazed at the array of equipment panels and paraphernalia I’ll never forget how cramped it was. 
I could rabbit it on more but in my enthusiasm to share my experience by this posting I’ve just noticed that I’ve typed for ages and ages already – sorry about that.  Happy days though. 

« Reply #1 on: May 10, 2021, 6:11 pm »