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The World’s only Amphibious Ice cream van!

The SeaRoader Amphitruck

NEWS

September 2012

A new one off build for Stephen Fry’s new show ‘Gadget Man’ and based on one of the Worlds most recognized cars -
The London Black Cab!


 

TOP GEAR AMPHIBIOUS part1

Well, by now you would have seen the ‘Top Gear’ amphibious film. As was to be expected it was us that were chosen to be the main consultants for the show. We had the Herald and Toyota in our workshops for the construction of the hulls etc to make them float and do the testing. You have to admire the ‘Top Gear’ crew as they do know how to put a great show together.

TOP GEAR AMPHIBIOUS part2

We have done it again! Check out the new pick-up on TOP GEAR
doing the Channel crossing – Hilarious!

Once again we were chosen to build amphibious cars for the BBC – Thought it was good last time? Just wait until you see the new series!!!!!!!

Some of our other builds!…….

We were invited to :

http://emergencyservicesshow.com/

and this was the pre show Police UK road test:

*For your interest please read this recent Police UK test.

I must have photographed tens of thousands of emergency vehicles over the years, but my trip to the deepest reaches of Gloucestershire on Easter Saturday was to be my first experience with an amphibious emergency vehicle of any kind. The vehicle concerned is known as the “SeaRoader”, and amongst its many variants is a concept vehicle for Police use. With designer Mike Ryan’s abundant enthusiasm and clear passion for his creation, PC-UK was allowed exclusive access to this unique vehicle, and we put the SeaRoader to the test both on land and on water.

Mike Ryan, who has always had an interest in boats, has been designing and building amphibious vehicles of one sort or another for over 20 years, and his web site shows a number of previous projects including a motorcycle, a Fiat Panda and even a Lamborghini Countach. These were, however, one-off vehicles, and it was not long before Mike realised that there was a market for a true work-horse amphibian, which needed to be affordable, easy to use, and multi-role.

This new way of thinking was to become the SeaRoader. Mike’s original vehicle was built from scratch in 30 days, and by his own admission “worked exceptionally well”. Key to the design was simplicity in all areas, and an immensely strong chassis which is now known as ‘ECC’ (external chassis concept) and is built from 3mm thick steel. The strength and ruggedness of the vehicles are further enhanced by the steel body panels being made from 16 gauge. Using GRP was simply not an option for the SeaRoader: such materials would be subject to potential damage when the vehicle entered or left the water, further steel was the only option strong enough to handle optional extras such as bolt-on winches.

Unusual in amphibious vehicles was the decision to use completely separate engines for road and water use. Located at the rear of the SeaRoader, for propulsion whilst on the water is the “Beta Marine Unit”, which uses a remarkably small one litre of diesel an hour whilst on the water. As can be seen from the photographs, the SeaRoader is a displacement vessel, i.e. it does not ride or “plane” on top of the water like faster speed boats, and whilst afloat a standard SeaRoader can achieve a respectable 6 mph. I say “standard”, because Mike can also offer a SeaRoader with a power take off driving either a jet or a stern tube, for greater performance! Most important of all is that the SeaRoader changes from being a land based vehicle to a water based craft in a matter of seconds and the driver does not have to leave his/her seat to modify the vehicle for its new role.

Located at the front, the Land Rover diesel engine offers similar performance to that achievable by a standard Land Rover. Many other amphibious vehicles have suffered from engine overheating in the past (a requirement to keep water out also tends to keep the cooling air out too), but the SeaRoader has no bilge under the engine and gearbox, which allows the heat to escape. A final environmental consideration is the installation of a secondary sump, with its own drain, which prevents any oil or dirt being washed away. Some countries have differing emissions requirements, and the SeaRoader will soon be offered with a new Peugeot (India) diesel engine to satisfy even the most exacting country’s requirements.

The current SeaRoader production model is already selling well, and is available in two different options. A fully built SeaRoader, powered by the Land Rover 200 TDI diesel engine (with excellent 4×4 of-road capability) can be yours for £27,595 (plus VAT): or you may consider building one yourself from a chassis kit costing £9.995 (plus VAT). Dependent upon which country the SeaRoader is being used in, there are a number of differing requirements as to how to correctly register it. The SeaRoader will readily pass the SVA test in the UK, and it also complies with the Boat Safety Certificate scheme which will be needed for use on inland waters.

Mike has already planned and built a number of SeaRoader variants, including a low profile model for the military, an ambulance, and a version specifically for police purposes. So what possible use could a police force have for a SeaRoader?

The SeaRoader’s speed afloat is not intended to challenge the performance of a dedicated rigid inflatable craft. Whilst there are a relatively small number of dedicated marine units around the UK, these are expensive resources to maintain, and it often takes some considerable time to deploy and travel to a water based incident which could be at the other end of the country. Initial interest has been expressed by some emergency services keen to explore the feasibility and potential cost savings of using the SeaRoader as a standard patrol vehicle in coastal areas, or regions with large lakes or reservoirs, knowing that within seconds the vehicle could be deployed into the water, perhaps to save somebody’s life. Using standard Land Rover running gear, a vehicle already trusted and used by many of the emergency services, staff training and spare parts availability is maximised, whilst reducing the impact of any maintenance windows when the SeaRoader would be off the road.

The PC-UK road test (can I really call it that?) demonstrated just how well the SeaRoader has been designed and developed. On dry land the police-specification vehicle handles as well as any equivalent unmodified Land Rover, the driving position was comfortable and the visibility to the front and sides was excellent. I was particularly keen to see how well the vehicle could deal with steep banks whilst entering and exiting the water, and was surprised to note how the boat shaped bow allows surprising angles to be overcome – albeit in four wheel drive with limited slip diff. By necessity, the doors are mounted high in the body work (they have to be, for use afloat), but there is a useful step provided by the rugged chassis to assist when climbing aboard.

I was somewhat disappointed with the lack of drama when driving down a grassy bank and into a lake, but after all that is the way it should be. The SeaRoader become buoyant in fairly shallow water, and you can just notice the chunky road tyres, at the limit of their suspension travel, reluctantly giving up their last grip on the lake bed as the Beta unit takes over. Afloat, the SeaRoader sits level and square in the water, and feels very buoyant. There are large areas of captive buoyancy at the front and rear of the vehicle: Mike advised that there is sufficient buoyancy to keep the SeaRoader afloat even if it were to become full of water, but I’ll have to take his word for this as I wasn’t keen to try on this occasion! Leaving the water is similarly drama-less, the Beta unit pushing the SeaRoader until the road tyres gain grip on the incline of the shore.

Safely back on shore, and time to reflect on a very safe and capable amphibious vehicle. With very little (if any) of the Land Rover’s handling and off-road capabilities having been lost in the conversion, the SeaRoader is equally at home in or out of water, and is ever ready to fulfil either role within seconds. It will be interesting to see how the SeaRoader is received by the UK’s emergency services, and whether it cost-effective amphibious capability will see it joining any operational fleets.

I would like to express my thanks to Mike Ryan and his team for their enthusiastic help and co-operation in undertaking this review. Further information on the SeaRoader range can be found at Mike’s web sitewww.searoader.com

Mike Ryan