Jerry's Hovercraft Page
Project, ...the UH-16S
photo courtesy of Universal
I had so much fun hovering last summer, and I had this great idea. I should
build a craft big enough for the whole family, all five of us. Well the UH-16S
can carry six. We could cruise all over the Shuswap lakes next summer, we
could even make it a camping trip, and carry our gear with us. My wife isn't
I chose to build the UH-16S because it looks fairly simple, and uses the
same foam construction techniques that I am now familiar with. It is a very
stable platform because it is rectangular. I won't be setting speed records
with this one, but it should still do 50 mph which is plenty for me.
I also own a set of plans for the UH-13P which is a very popular craft
to build. The drawback with the UH-13P is that it requires an expensive
industrial motor (20-25 hp lawn mower engine), where as a used Subaru car
engine (recommended for the UH-16S) is a whole lot cheaper. It's actually
much more economical to build a larger craft.
CONSTRUCTION UPDATE May 3, 2002
I still haven't begun work on the hull, because we just finished
moving, and it would have been more stuff to move. In the meantime I have
the engine stand, and hope to install the bearings, sheaves and shafts
soon. I have completed the rudders, and the thrust duct is mostly complete,
except for a finish coat of epoxy. I have fiberglassed and balanced the lift
fan and thrust prop, and most importantly, I found my Subaru!
I found a 1983 Subaru with an EA-81 carburated engine. I was able to drive
it home, and it only cost me $225.00 CAN. That's only $2.60/hp. (85 hp) By
contrast, the 10hp Tecumseh for my UH-10T2/F cost me $600.00,...that's $60.00/hp
My plan is to have all of the small parts completed by the time I start
the hull, then it should go together quite quickly.
CONSTRUCTION UPDATE June 5, 2002
Well we are moved in, and I have begun the work on the hull. I hope
to fly this summer, but my onlookers are doubtful,.. at times I am too.
I have the hull glued together, and now I am working on the underside.
I will have to work on all the attach strip next, then the lift duct, cockpit
etc. It sounds so simple. To look at the hull construction check out UH-16
CONSTRUCTION UPDATE September 8, 2002
I have most of the hull complete. The lift duct is in place, and
most of the cockpit is in shape. I need to coat everything with layer of
and then I will start to think about the engine, and the thrust
duct. I may need to redo the front inner attach strip, as it doesn't line
up with where the
splitter in the lift duct needs to be. UH-16
CONSTRUCTION UPDATE November 20, 2002
Doesn't seem like I've done much, but I have now gotten the skirt
attached. That required gluing and sewing the skirt, and
attaching it to the craft. First I had some neighbours help me flip the
craft upside down, so that it would be easier to work on.
This meant I had to paint the attach strip first. Now I'll flip it back
over and continue work topside.
Construction Update June 18, 2003
Well I am pretty close to being finished. The last major
projects are the exhaust system, the fuel system, and the the electrical
system. I am ready to install the windshield and the seat covers, so hopefully
another week or so should be see the completion of this project. I am pretty
anxious to get this on the water and out of garage. oh there is the little
detail about the trailer, but I think that will be minor compared to the rest
of the project.
Construction Update July 21, 2003
Well it always takes longer than you think, but last night I achieved two
major goals, I hovered, and
hooked up the thrust prop as well. There are some minor things to be
completed; some wiring, instrument gauges,
vinyl top, and I think I should move the muffler, as it appears to be to
close to adjacent surfaces.
I also need to make a few adjustments to the lift belts / variator.
It's gettin close!
CONSTRUCTION TIPS for the UH16S
- the plans do not show the dimension for the width of the craft,
and you will assume it to be 8' wide as I did,... this is wrong. If you scale
the plans you will see that it is in fact 7'6" wide. I decided to live with
the 8' width as I was too far in to the construction.
- the front of the hull is 6" thick. The plans seem ambiguous
about this .
- the position of the front inner attach strip seems wrong,
but I decided to live with it. If the opening for the skirt inflation is
too small, I'll just have to deal with that later.
- I had a friend's shop drill the mounting holes in the prop
and fan. I found my drill press wouldn't go deep enough, and it's easy to
have the holes go off centre if you try to move the drill press while drilling.
- when welding EMT, grind off the zinc first, use a small rod, low
power and lots of patience.
Some construction pictures:
This is the 60" thrust prop next to my three year old son for scale. I
built the prop and fan first to inspire me.
I might put a clock on the face and use it is decoration in my house until
I need it. That way it's safely out of the way as well.
The 34" lift fan, next to the thrust prop of my UH-10T2/F for scale. At
one time the 36" thrust prop for the 10T2/F seemed really big !
Here is the blank for the sheave to drive the prop. I have turned it on
a lathe, but I don't have a current picture of it.
Next I built the rudders and aileron.
Finished rudders with the bottom 'arms' attached. The one on the bottom
is the elevator.
Now I am working on the thrust duct. I puzzled about building this in
one bay of a garage, but I resolved it by making a paper template elsewhere,
where there was room to draw out the larger radius of the foam, then
I taped it down here, and began to cut it out and glass it together. I used
a hot wire cutter to roughly shape the underside (not shown).
The foam ready to be wrapped around the plywood cylinder
Below is a picture of my hot wire cutter. It's EMT with spark plugs in
the ends to insulate the pipe. I bought the NiChrome wire from a hobby store
for $3.00, and I ran it with a battery charger.
I love my UH-10T2/F, but I realize I also love building stuff, especially
hovercrafts! Currently the UH-10T2/F is underneath the plywood which is
my makeshift table. As soon as I finish shaping the foam, the plywood will
be cut into templates for the thrust duct ,..60" !
All of a sudden I feel as if I may have bitten off more than I can chew!
This is huge. There will be no garage left when the craft is built.
Here is a shot of the foam wrapped around the duct. It's all glued
together with spray can foam,.. definitely a two person job.
Then I took the parts I cut off, and glued them into the inner diameter,
hence the duct tape. There is a ratcheting strap doing the work of holding
it to the cylinder, and about a 100 cloths pins holding the trailing edge
to the duct. These are all ideas out of the Universal Hovercraft construction
booklet and plans.
The duct sanded and ready for epoxy and fiberglass
I am building all the smaller (!) pieces of the UH-16S first, until I
finally have to rearrange my garage for the hull.
The craft will be approx. 8' x 16', and about 6' high, 750 lb., 85 hp.
I am building it in a single engine configuration as per plans.
Comments or questions
page of UH-16S Construction
page | UH-16Thrust
Duct , Props and Fans | UH-16
Engine Stand |UH-16 1
2 | UH-16 3
4 | UH-16
5 | UH-16