Amphibian vehicles that can run on land and water are rare in India. Occasionally, some inventor creates one and gains some publicity, but soon fades from public view. Here, we have a man from Kerala who created an amphibian vehicle out of a discarded Maruti Omni van. How did he do it? Let’s check the video to find out.
The video has been uploaded by Fasttrack by Manorama Online on their YouTube channel. The man behind this creation is Jain Raj, a resident of Ernakulam district’s Perumbavoor region. Jain has always been very passionate about cars since childhood. He made several miniature car models as a kid, but due to financial constraints, he couldn’t pursue the same. During the lockdown, Jain started working on his first project. It was a miniature Jeep that used a Pulsar 220 engine. After the Jeep, he built an airboat.
It was then that he came up with the idea of a car that can work both on the road and on water. He asked and inquired about the same from many people but couldn’t find much help. He then started the project himself by buying a scrapped Maruti Omni. Old Omnis – now discontinued – are easy to find. He bought the car and completely chopped the roof. He removed the seats to reduce the weight. If there was one thing that Jain was sure about, it was weight reduction. The original Omni seats weighed some 13 kilos each – the simple plastic seats he uses weigh only 3 kilos. He knew that the heavier the car gets, the more difficult it becomes for him to execute the plan. Everything that added ton the weight was removed from the Omni. He also made the underbody of the Omni water-tight.
The car uses a 1,000 cc petrol engine paired with the gearbox of Gypsy SUV. The engine works normally when the car is on the road, though he has changed the tyres to small radius tractor-type tyres to ensure grip on muddy surfaces near the lakes and rivers where he tests the amphibian Omni.
The car Omni drives normally into the water, and once in the water, the 6 HP engine mounted on the floor powers the propeller installed under the body. The underbody of the van is covered using steel sheets to avoid rust. Most of the fabrication work on this car was done by Jain himself.
Steering is done using the front wheels – the front wheels turn as normal when the steering wheel is turned, and they effectively function like rudders to steer the van in the water. Jain admits that there is resistance in the water due to the tyres. He says that if it were possible to raise the wheels out of the water (into the body of the vehicle) water resistance would go down a lot. However, then he would have to find a different solution to steering the Omni in the water – maybe connect the steering wheel to a proper rudder.
He mentions in the video several times that he is not great with mechanical work, and because of the same reason, he has faced several issues. Initially, he had difficulties finding the right place to mount the engine. Weight balance is crucial for this project, and he also had vibration issues as he did not mount the engine properly. The third time is a charm, and he has not faced any problems with the engine at the time the video was shot.
He now plans to install a jet to propel the car when it is in the water, and that would completely change the way the car would perform. However, jet propulsion pushes water at higher RPMs to move the boat when it is in the water. This works fine when the car or boat is being driven at high speed. As the speed reduces, it is difficult to steer, and there is nothing to steer it around. Hopefully, Jain comes up with an idea to overcome all these obstacles and finishes this project soon. He plans to take permission from concerned authorities to make this road legal and also get approval to use this vehicle for recovery during natural disasters.