View Full Version : Universal hovercraft

13-Jan-11, 04:00 PM
I had a picture emailed to me from a friend in the USA of his first hovercraft from back in 1985. It was one of the universal hovercraft designs. It had a 440cc snow mobile engine for thrust (approx 40 hp) and a 10 hp B&S for lift.

He said that he had 60 mph out of the craft on ice. I have heard from other sources that the universal designs are fast.

I noticed that there seems to be quite a lot of the universal designs on the racing scene in the USA. How come we never see any of these craft on the UK & European race circuits?

Ewan Black
13-Jan-11, 05:29 PM
They are incredibly efficient craft, very home spun- you get to gnaw your own prop. Without wanting to sound derogatory, they always used to be so homespun there was no way they'd have passed our scrutineering. I can remember the days of stock fence being used for guarding!!

14-Jan-11, 06:24 AM
That sounds like it would have been the UH-12R design with the plywood enclosed rib construction filled with empty soda bottles for emergency floatation. There are a few other UH-12 variants of twin and single engine, and at least two entirely different hull construction techniques, one of which leaves a tell tale trail of polystyrene beads wherever it touches if the recommended procedure of not sealing the bottom is adhered to to allow the polystyrene to dry out between outings. In this case, sealing the hull was just adding unnecessary weight.

The UH-12's are shaped underneath similarly to a hydroplane but with a narrow perimeter bag skirt.

To make the craft turn around race buoys in anything less than a very wide arc, a braking system was devised similar to a Sevtec turning system which deflates the inner side bag, which allowed the turn side hull inner face to catch the water surface and turn abruptly. This worked so well that it was deemed un-competitive. In a racing situation it created two entirely different race lines that criss crossed each other at every turn and craft could bump each other quite dramatically so deemed unsafe as well and the turning brakes became banned but not forgotten.


Here is another vid that shows how efficient UH craft are and also how easy they are to drive.


14-Jan-11, 01:31 PM
I raced a UH-12R at the Worlds in F1 at Weston Park 1991.

I'll never forget the day we unloaded it from the container and a local commented "you expect to get around the race course in THAT?"

Ended up getting 2nd place behind Magnus.
No negative comments thereafter!


3-Feb-11, 12:02 AM

I remember that one, very funny.