Vesconite Supports Airboats for African Ecotourism

Vesconite Supports Airboats for African Ecotourism

A company that specializes in African airboat ecotourism tours has switched to the hard-wearing thermoplastic Vesconite discs and holders as a support for the engine/gearbox – propeller system to ensure that its boats can cope with the rigors of an African boating experience.

The U.S. manufacturer had built the engine stands with nylon dampers encased in stainless steel tubes, explains Airboats Afrika Managing Director Chris Grosch.

However, the result was a significant number of cracks in the tubes due to the constant vibrations and strain, which worried Grosch as his expeditions would often take him to hippo and crocodile-filled African rivers where it would be difficult to access maintenance facilities.

“We are not in the Everglades and you can’t whip out a cell phone and call a buddy,” he says of the ease of accessing help in the United States.

“In Africa, you can’t do that. So then we worked out a concept of all kinds of things we deemed reliable.”

Grosch’s engine-mounting solution was to make a metal cup holder into which a Vesconite disc is bolted, and on which the engine sits.

Through these means, vibration was lessened and steel-on-steel wear was eliminated. Vesconite also provided the advantage of being dimensionally stable and resistant to salt water, which were boons for the tour company, which had to chisel off salt off the original water-absorbing nylon support base in the past.

Grosch’s company advertises its availability for tours in Angola, Botswana, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, DRC, Republic of Congo, Gabon, Gambia, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe, as well as locations in Asia, Australia, the Caribbean and Latin America.

Since Africa does not have the deep navigable rivers that you find elsewhere, he opted for airboats, which can provide a cruising-type experience even in shallow waters.

Driven by an air propeller, airboats have no moving parts below the waterline. Their flat bottoms allow them to enter difficult terrain, including swamps, marshes, river deltas and estuaries, lakes, lagoons, coastal waters, snow and ice. They are also able to move on grass and sand, and can be maneuvered from water, over land, and on to vehicles to transport visitors between water bodies.

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