April 2003

The frame of the hovercraft is joined in the middle of the rear section. To give this point extra strength I decided it needed a more sturdy 50mm wide rear strip, rather than the 3/16" x 5/8" which I had used everywhere else. I took a length of 50mm x 4mm strip into work to get a series of lightening holes punched in it. Marc ran it through the fly-press and it all went well until the punch tool jammed in the hole. Ian, one of the other workshop technicians came past and said "You want to put some release oil on that otherwise it will jam!" We got it released in the end, and finished all of the holes. So, well done Marc, but maybe a punch isnít the best tool. Next time Iíll cut the holes out at home using a hole saw, or Q-max punch.

Engine

There are two approaches to engines. Some people go for an engine specifically designed for small leisure vehicles and craft - like karting, microlight aircraft etc, while others go for engines taken out of scrapped bikes. I had decided to use some sort of bike engine. I thought it would be interesting to learn about bike engines and it would probably be much cheaper. I was after a 250cc two-stroke and the simplest family of bike engines to "hoverize" is the Yamaha. The Yamaha which most people recommend is the TZR.

Looking for a bike

As it says in the Constructorís Guide; if you buy a complete bike, you get not just the engine but the ECU, servo, rad, exhausts, air box and clocks. And after stripping off the bits you want you can then sell the remains on to someone else. I had been looking around for a suitable Yamaha 250cc engine for a while without luck. A few had appeared on EBAY and in bike magazines but it seemed they always went for silly money and they were always located a hundred miles away, or both.

Then a couple of ex-BEMSEE TZR250s appeared on EBAY from a chap near Guildford. Wow! 20 miles away, and the starting price was £600 for the pair. I emailed the seller and he told me they were 2MA/1KT (not reverse cylinder), and both race tuned. Only one had a V5 log book, but they were both mostly complete. The auction was due to end on Friday night so I waited until the day before and put in a bid. Nobody else made a bid, so I get them for £600. What a result, hopefully, but time will tell whether they are any good or not!

So it was off to pick up the TZRs in the Landrover with my ex-army trailer in tow. As I know b***er all about bikes I was afraid I might come back with who knows what ? Maybe two halves of a 2CV rather than two racers, but luckily my neighbour John who does know about bikes kindly offered to come along and look them over.

Now, my mum has always been very worried about motorbikes, and never wanted me to have one. This was no problem as I had never been interested in motorbikes, being a Landrover fan since before I could drive. But it was sort of ironic then that on my mumís birthday I end up buying two!

Iím always suspicious when it comes to private deals Ė hey is that just me? Donít forget, the bikes only went for their starting price. Would the seller have changed his mind? Would he refuse to sell them? Anyway the deal went through with no problems. I got the V5, and I came away much poorer, but with two bikes in the back of the trailer.

Over the next week I got emails from several people who had seen the sale on EBAY and wanted to buy spares. But I was keen to sell the rest of each bike as one lot rather than break it up completely and sell it bit by bit. One chap in particular was after a replacement frame Ė but he lived on the Isle of Wight.
 

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