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  1. #1
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    Neil Hewitt's Avatar
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    Switching shells

    Hi all. Been a while since I've been here, and I'm glad to see the move went OK and everything's back up and running. Time to donate again...

    Anyway - as some of you know, I have the slowest-moving cockpit project in history, having spent the last 4 years going backwards and forwards over several attempts at building a shell, only to become deeply unhappy with it each time and start over. Three times so far. The glacial pace has depressed me no end. By the time I have a working sim, FSX will have been out for a decade!

    Once again, I find myself at a crossroads. Having re-built about 50% of my current shell effort in the last couple of months, I've yet again hit a wall. What I realise now is that I am no craftsman. I can knock up some shelves, yes; I can make a nice mug tree. But I just don't have the room, the tools, the quality of materials, and certainly not the skill to do large-scale work in wood without detailed plans. In particular, my technique of 'design and build in-situ' just doesn't cut it. A few sketches do not a design make.

    So I decided to take advantage of what I am good at - computing, software and technology - and go for a different approach. Sit down, learn how to do CAD properly, and design a shell; then have the parts laser-cut from plywood or MDF, leaving me with the assembly, finishing and interior. All of which I'm confident I can do well. But 'learning CAD' is not an overnight thing. People spend years just getting good at it. And those are years I really don't have any desire to put in.

    Then I realised that there is already a shell design out there that does what I want. It's small enough to fit in my limited space, but still provide a full two-seat cockpit. It fits neatly with my goal of creating a generic, bizjet-style sim. It's Ron Rollo's hugely impressive Learjet 45 shell (L45 Shell - Project 45). I rate this shell up there with Ivar Hestnes and the Norwegian 737 Project (and those other impressive Scandinavian-origin shell projects). It's a thing of beauty that will actually fit my room.

    Ron builds and sells kits from which you can assemble the shell and the main interior parts. But the cost of having one shipped from the US to the UK is prohibitive - about half the cost of the kit itself on top, and that's before you pay a swingeing import duty. Luckily for me and other overseas builders, Ron also sells copies of his paper plans from which the shell kit is cut. I've invested in a set. When they arrive here in London, I will have them scanned and professionally converted to 2D vectors which - with a little tweaking - can be used to laser-cut the entire parts set on a CNC cutter. No more dodgy jigsaw cutting. From our limited email conversations so far I can tell that Ron is a fantastic guy who really loves his project and helping others to achieve the same kind of results.

    I'm looking forward to this immensely. I don't underestimate the amount of work or time involved, but it'll be productive work with a definite goal rather than the aimless tinkering I've been doing the last 4 years.

    So - you may actually see some real updates from me over the next few months. And even if you don't, go check out Ron's site and wonder why more people aren't doing Learjet sims when such a great option exists.

  2. #2
    Warren fsaviator's Avatar
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    Re: Switching shells

    Neil! Good to see you still at it.

  3. #3
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    Neil Hewitt's Avatar
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    Re: Switching shells

    Hi Warren!

    I didn't realise quite what an essay I'd written until I saw it posted How's your project going?

  4. #4
    Executive Assistant Geremy Britton's Avatar
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    Re: Switching shells

    Neil, good to hear from you, Keep us all posted on any progress.
    You know where I am if you need anything.
    Geremy Britton
    Executive Assistant, MyCockpit Inc
    Head of GLB Flight Products
    www.geremy.co.uk

  5. #5
    500+ This must be a daytime job Sean Nixon's Avatar
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    Re: Switching shells

    More importantly, are you coming to Holland this year?

  6. #6
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    Neil Hewitt's Avatar
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    Re: Switching shells

    Quote Originally Posted by Sean Nixon View Post
    More importantly, are you coming to Holland this year?
    Not sure. I'm having some health problems at the moment and I don't know if I'll be up to it. I'm having to make some big lifestyle adjustments and I need to lose about half my body weight. I'm not sure that 3 nights in a Dutch bar would be particularly good for me . But I'll think on it.

    At least I'll fit in the Learjet shell once I'm done!