Jerry's Hovercraft Page


A New Project, ...the UH-16S


photo courtesy of Universal Hovercraft


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 so sure.

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.


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 almost completed
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.


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 Hull


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 epoxy,
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 Hull 2


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.
UH-16 4

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!
UH-16 5


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 !
34" lift fan and 36" thrust prop comparison

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.
UH-16S 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).
thrust duct laid out on make shift table

The foam ready to be wrapped around the plywood cylinder
foam ready to be applied to the duct

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.
hot wire cutter

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" !
UH-10T2/F as a makeshift table

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.

60" thrust duct template

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
sanded duct

Finished Duct


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

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