December 9, 2004 Convenience is the name of the game with the Hov Pod, the latest hovercraft design for marine leisure and commercial usage. Large enough to carry three adults, the Hov Pod offers a full hovercraft experience, riding on cushioned air over land and water without any of the hassles of more complicated craft. With a top speed of 60 km/h on the water, a maximum weight of 250 kg and a retail price of UK 16.500 pounds, the Hov Pod is designed for the hobbyist who likes to go anywhere in style.
Hov Pods are extremely easy to drive, similar to a motorcycle, with basic tuition taking only 15 minutes to operate. The Hov Pod can operate over sea, lake, rivers, rapids, swamp, wetlands, tidal deltas, desert, beaches, sand banks, mud-flats, grass, packed snow, ice, or indeed any hard surface. There's no need for a prepared surface or launch slipway and the Hov Pod is unaffected by tides.
The Hov Pod has a top speed on water of 60 km/h and comfortably cruises at 32 km/h. It's powered by a 52 HP Two Cylinder Hirth 2-Stroke engine and controlled via handlebar steering with a twist grip throttle and full flow balanced twin rudders. It has a 25 litre fuel tank which should last almost two hours at cruising speed or an hour at full throttle.
Designed for easy use and upkeep, the Hov Pod is one of the most simple and easy craft to service and maintain. It uses a very simple air-cooled two-stroke engine that can be maintained by any mechanic or service engineer with petrol two-stroke engine experience. The engine sits in a large accessible engine bay with removable covers and all basic maintenance can be undertaken very easily and quickly with the engine in position. Because of the simple drive arrangement and because the engine is not water-cooled, it can be removed for major services or bench work in under one hour.
Many hovercraft use two engines, one for thrust, one for lift. Hov Pods have only one engine for lift and thrust, making it easier and safer to coordinate one set of controls, easier to service one engine, and reduce the noise from only one engine. Thrust engines are often placed in front of the driver, but the Hov Pod - without a gearbox assembly - allows the engine to be placed much lower. This creates a lower centre of gravity and reduces the tendency to roll, as observed with other hovercraft, and provides much greater ease of control. It also ensures no airflow disturbance to the fan and a clear airflow results in greater efficiency.
Where most hovercraft have a single skin floor, the Hov Pod has a double skin floor, between which runs a buoyancy layer for greater safety and strength. Hovercraft should be considered land based vehicles as much as water based; stopping on a small rock shouldn't cause the floor to crack, since cracks let in water. Moreover, many hovercraft have poor buoyancy characteristics, whereas the Hov Pod has full buoyancy sandwiched between a rigid, double skin floor, to allow stopping on water.
Many hovercraft have a problem with starting on water, and you will sometimes hear the expression "getting over the hump", that describes the problem in getting back up onto the cushion of air to start moving again. The Hov Pod is designed to lift a payload of 250 kilos (HP52) or 330 Kilos (HP65) on water starts.
The Hov Pod has 65 different segments (for damage limitation), so rather than having to replace the whole skirt if damaged, at great cost, you just replace the damaged segment. It only takes a minute to change each segment; far easier than trying to recover a hovercraft with a damaged one-piece skirt. Hov Pods are also designed to withstand accidents when they occur, protected by an aluminium plus rubber bumper strip to minimise damage to the craft. Very few hovercraft have such protection, despite the fact that cracked GRP damage can be difficult and quite costly to repair. Hov Pods also fit aluminium and Kevlar impact sheets, and aluminium runners on the underside of the Hov Pod for durability whilst coming to rest on firm ground.
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