Service was founded in 2005 with the single aim of ‘producing hovercraft to meet the
needs of the client’. We pride ourselves on listening to what a client
thinks they want and then offering a range of solutions to meet their needs.
founder of the company Mr K Smallwood, was a lecturer / teacher in Product
Design and Design Engineering for more than 30 years. He has been involved with
hovercraft design and manufacture since 1974; there are very few people in Europe with as much experience in producing performance,
recreational or light commercial hovercraft.
Smallwood is also Chairman of the Design and Construction regulatory body for UK and European Racing Craft. He
was also instrumental in the supply of technical support to the MCA during the
work on writing the Hovercraft Code of Practice.
Vortex Services are also
active members of HMA (Hovercraft
Manufacturers Association) who supported the MCA in their work.
are 3 full time members of staff on the factory floor and a further 2 part time
staff employed at critical stages in the production process. We also have a
Company Secretary and Accountant.
2012 Vortex Services moved to a new purpose built factory so that it would have
the manufacturing space to produce the 7m long Vortex 7 craft as well as
creating a production line for our smaller craft.
performance racing craft have won every major championship in the UK, Europe and
Our craft have won the British F1 Championship for the past 7 years
and prior to retiring from the World racing scene, K Smallwood has been double
World Champion, the last time in 2010.
In July 2016 at the World Championship Meeting, Vortex craft took 8 of the 21
podium places, taking 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th in one formula.
leisure craft are exported all over the World and our light commercial craft
(hovercraft with an un laden weight of less than 1000kg) have been used as
Taxis (Holland), Search and Rescue (Canada), Hovercraft Experience (France), Ice
Rescue (northern Sweden),
Aid Agencies (Madagascar)
and Sea Survey work (UK
Services produce a wide range of craft that help us to meet the needs of our
The Storm is an entry level, single
seat craft used as a training and corporate entertainment hovercraft. Engines
from 30 – 80hp have been used in this craft.
The Raptor is a single seat high performance
racing craft which has many F3, F50 and FS titles to its name. Engines from 50
– 130hp have been used in this craft.
The Predator is at the pinnacle of hovercraft
racing technology, this F1 craft has been the most successful Europe
racing craft for the past 9 years, and is unsurpassed in its collection of
trophies and awards. Engine from 120 – 210hp have been used in this craft.
This new craft for 2016, is a twin engined, 2
seat leisure craft that has been very well received in the market place. This
craft uses a 13hp engine for lift and a 35hp engine for thrust.
A real work horse craft, and the mainstay of
our commercial activities. This 4 / 5 seat craft is powered by an 80hp Toyota engine or a 120hp
turbo version for operation in difficult conditions. This is the updated
version of the successful Vortex 3, 4 & 5.
This large craft has the size and power to
operate in a wide range of environments, doing a wide range of varied tasks.
750kg payload and large deck area makes it ideal as a transport craft moving
aid to remote regions or as a medical evac craft able to carry 2 stretchers and
medical staff. Twin engines (Toyota)
are used on this craft; 45hp for lift and an 80hp for thrust, 120hp turbo
version is available for operation in difficult conditions.
All our hulls
are made to a very high standard using high quality, high specification
materials, whether it be constructing our entry level Storm craft or a World
Championship winning F1 race craft, the care taken is the same.
Full composite construction, most
areas are made up of a 3 layer system, 300grm CSM (chopped strand matt),
265grm Diolen (hybrid woven cloth) 300grm CSM. Polyester resin is used
making repairs in the field easy. Addition layers of Kevlar (255grm)
are sandwiched to provide additional support in high stress areas, ie
engine mounting points and load mount fixings. Foam cores also increase panel
stiffness in non stress areas.
Underneath, the floor has an
additional layer of 12mm end grain balsa wood (as used in power boat
construction) this produces a very hard wearing, puncture resistant floor
surface (not on race craft).6 off HDPE (high density
polyethylene) landing pads are bolted to the floor, these are sacrificial
items and are easily replaced at major service intervals. These landing
pads enable the craft to operate on strong abrasion surfaces such as
Unlike many other hovercraft, any
part of our leisure & commercial craft can be walked on, even the rear duct. The only part that
is not a stress item is the windscreen!!The inside floor of the craft has
built in load stress integral mouldings, meaning that heavy items like
pumps and engines are directly mounted to these mouldings and not just attached
to the floor of the craft.
skirt system that we use on our commercial craft is of the industry standard
loop and segment skirt.
type of skirt uses a loop (or bag) that is fitted to the top of the hull and to
the underneath lower edge of the planing surface.
this loop is attached individual skirt segments (sometimes called fingers).
There are 80+ of these small segments, and it is the lower tip of these that
supports the craft when on lift.
segments are bolted to the loop using 3 nylon bolts, and are fastened to the
lower part of the loop using plastic cable ties.
are many advantage of this skirt type
as the segments are small the amount the segment can collapse is small. Craft
with full height segments are much more prone to the side of the craft ‘dipping
down’ as the craft operates. Also the loop, which is pressurised to 25% higher
than the segment pressure, also aids stability.
loss of a single full height segment can dramatically affect the way the craft
performs; you would need to loose 4 or 5 of our smaller segments to have the
same drop in performance.
height of our segments are the same as the hover height, so obstacle clearance
is not affected.
all the lift air being channeled around the loop, the space within the hull
normally used as the air feed with other skirt systems, can now be dedicated to
buoyancy and hull strength.