In the top row, you get an idea of the skirt cutting and gluing process. We used a vinyl material reinforced with a nylon weave. This is inexpensive, and can be glued with vinyl glue. After the skirt was made, we also sewed along the seams for added strength. The great thing about this skirt is, the glue makes it really easy to patch holes! The shoes in the doorway are because the glue smells BAD. You need to get some fresh air here, kids, they're not lying! In the next picture, Lindsey and Greg are hard at work putting on the new skirt. Following that, you see Bill (who STILL hasn't gotten a chance to fly the thing yet, but keeps helping!).
Down in the middle of the third row, you will notice a detailed view of our trailer's business end. We needed to store it inside because we were afraid someone would come along and rip it off (it's so nice!). In row four, you see us taking full advantage of our borrowed Physics Lab facilities. We used the ten-ton crane (can we say overkill?) to hoist the Tesla up and work on the undercarriage. It sure helped, since we often had no more than two people at a time working.
In the final few pictures, you get a glimpse of the neat poster which Erick designed for the open house. You remember Erick, he's the guy who painted the craft. He continues to amaze and intimidate us with his unbounded artistic prowess.
Right before EOH, we WASHED the thing. And boy did the hull need washing. It still sparkles when clean due to several pounds of automotive paint and enamel. As you can see, this vehicle really looks awesome.
Anyway, the pilots in the following pictures are Erick, Nathan, and Greg, in order of appearance. In the final shot, you get a great view of our brand new spiffy propeller from Tennessee Propeller Inc. (check them out if you want some great quality props!)
The Tesla was a great success at EOH 1999! Our modifications included a new skirt, a new propeller with a steeper pitch, stronger landing skids, a redesigned electrical system, a new fuel pump, and a functional choke control. We also went through tremendous pains to put the battery way up in the nose of the craft. This solved our back-heaviness. The craft is so well weighted now, we barely have to lean except for seriously sharp turns and the like.
We did have one accident involving a parked bicycle (no hovercrafts or people harmed, but a new bike wheel was purchased). And we discovered a weak spot in the cockpit wall as one pilot was leaning into a turn and got caught off guard by a bump. An approximately four inch square chunk came off from the starboard wall, and another dangerous looking crack formed a foot back from that. In the following pictures, you see our repair job, which consisted of fiberglass and epoxy. We used stiff plastic to make the epoxy surface flat and smooth, and clamps to encourage everything to stay together overnight. The result doesn't look picture perfect, but it's pretty darn good for an evening's work! In the future, we'll sand and repaint the damaged areas, and touch up some dings and scratches too. We also plan to attach strips of quarter round along the top of the cockpit walls for reinforcement.
In the last two pics, you see our new whips and chains for increased trailer safety, and new tail lights since one of the old ones got smacked to pieces.
Thanks a million to everyone who helped this EOH. It was a lot of fun, even though it involved sitting out in the freezing cold for two solid days =) Again, we want to thank our pals at Universal Hovercraft, who continue to supply us with materials, advice, and knowledge in a timely fashion.