Construct a land hovercraft using a power tools and a several old gas-powered leaf blowers. This hovercraft supports one average size adult rider and allow you traverse concrete pavement, asphalt, shallow water and grass on a cushion of air. This design uses three gas-powered leaf blowers for the lift and drive fans of the hovercraft. You purchase the leaf blowers online, rent from your local hardware store or search the want ads for used gas-powered leaf blowers.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Challenging
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Things you need
- 6 mil plastic sheeting
- Tape measure
- Permanent marker
- Utility knife
- Duct tape
- 2 sheets of 1/2-inch plywood, 4 feet by 8 feet
- 3 gas powered leaf blowers
- Quick drying epoxy
- Staple gun and 3/8 inch heavy staples
- 1 6-foot 2 x 4 stud
- Circular saw
- 8 foot nylon strap
- 6 feet of string
- 4 wood screws
- 1 4 inch long 1/2 inch carriage bolt
- 1 1/2 inch nut
- 3 1/2 inch washers
Place the six millimetre plastic sheeting on a flat smooth surface like a garage floor. Measure a six by ten foot section. Mark the outline of the six by ten foot rectangle with the permanent marker and cut it out using the utility knife. Measure and draw a smaller rectangle that is two feet wide by five feet long in the centre of the six by ten foot rectangle. Lay down duct tape in a rectangular pattern, six inches around the outside of the centre rectangle.
Cut small half inch holes with the utility knife through the duct tape rectangle. Place the holes six inches apart around the duct tape rectangle. Make sure to cut through all layers of duct tape and plastic sheeting.
Locate the centre of one end of the sheet of plywood and place a mark about centre of the narrow end of the plywood eight inches from the edge. Cut a hole at this mark using a jigsaw large enough to fit the end of the leaf blower being used. Drill a half inch hole on the opposite end of the plywood sheet also in the centre, eight inches in from the edge. Repeat on the other sheet plywood. Ensure sure the holes line-up before cutting the second sheet.
Cover the area of the smaller centre rectangle with quick drying epoxy and carefully lay one of the plywood sheets in the middle of the plastic sheeting. Press the plywood down firmly, then set some weight on the centre of the plywood sheet and allow the epoxy to dry.
Fold about 4 inches of the plastic sheeting up and over the edges of the plywood and attach by stapling into place about every two inches. Place duct tape over the line of staples and the wear the edge of the plastic meets the plywood. Attach the second sheet of plywood to the stapled side of the first sheet. Spread quick-drying epoxy all over the top of the stapled plywood sheet and set the second sheet on top of the first. make sure all the holes and edges line up and allow to dry.
Cut the two by four into two pieces with the circular saw, one piece 4 feet long the second two feet long. Locate the centre of the 4 foot section and drill a half inch hole through it. Cut the nylon strap into two equal lengths. Staple the end of one of the nylon straps to one end of the four foot piece of two by four. Place one of the leaf blowers between the edge of the two by four with the strap and the centre hole you drilled. Pull the nylon strap tightly over the leaf blower and staple the other end of the strap to the two by four near the centre hole. Make sure the leaf blower is strapped down securely. Repeat on the other side of the four other pieces of two by four. Tie string around the trigger of each leaf blower to function as throttle cables. This will be the thrust assembly.
Attach the two foot piece of two by four near the centre of and perpendicular to the four foot piece with wood screws -- make sure not to cover the centre hole. This will function as a steering arm.
Place the plywood on its side and locate the half inch hole. Cover the plastic sheeting with duct tape where the hole is located and cut a small hole through the plastic sheeting and duct tape. Push the carriage bolt through the hole, so the head of the bolt is on the bottom of the hovercraft. Screw the nut down on the bolt to hold it firmly in place and apply epoxy around the head of the bolt and let dry.
Set the plywood base back on the ground plastic side down and remove the nut from the carriage bolt. Place three washers over the carriage bolt shaft. Set the leaf blower thrust assembly on the carriage bolt and thread the nut securely down to hold the thrust assembly in place. make sure not to tighten the nut to the point where the thrust assembly cannot rotate. Place the third leaf blower into the front hole of the base.
Situate yourself in the centre of the craft. Start the front leaf blower and allow it to inflate the skirt fully and begin hovering, then grasp both throttle cables and start the rear leaf blowers. Use the steering arm to manoeuvre the craft around and the throttle cables to control thrust.
Tips and warnings
- This hovercraft will work best on smooth flat surfaces.
- Wear a helmet and other protective gear while operating.
- Operate in clear open spaces, away from traffic and other potential dangers.
- This vehicle has no brakes, allow for adequate space and time to come to a stop.
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