Reboot time again

Just a quick note. After a hiatus caused by filling up my build room with boxes and packaging material (note to self – don’t order quite so much Ikea furniture in one go again), I started back on the shell, and to my despair I noticed that once again, it’s cock-eyed. It’s simple: my method of building in-situ and working it out as I go is just not working. The shell I’m building is not fit for purpose. I am not the carpenter my dad was.

They say that if at first you don’t succeed, you should try, try and try again. Well, this is my third try and to be honest, I’ve had enough. I don’t have it in me to try again.

So where does that leave the project? Not dead, in case you were worried. But a third (and final) reboot of the project is called for. The current shell will be disassembled and stripped for off-cuts. Then, I’ve decided to leave the job to the professionals and invest in a shell designed by someone else. I don’t mind assembling it. I don’t even mind cutting out the parts. But I need a design that’s proven, and feasible in the space I have.

Only two shells really stand out if you search online. One is FDS’ excellent metal-frame-and-panel 737 shell, which of course was the inspiration for my current attempt at shell-building. However, that’s just too big for my build room, and the 737 is the smallest shell they do. The other option is Ron Rollo’s fantastic Learjet 45 shell, which I’ve waxed lyrical about before. This is small enough (just) to fit in my room.

Ron makes shell kits with most of the parts that you’ll need to get a frame together and ready for finishing – though there’s still an awful lot for the builder to do, depending on how finished you want the frame to be externally. The kits are reasonably priced, too, given how much time Ron invests in each. But shipping 150kg of MDF from the US to the UK is not reasonably priced, no matter how you go about it. Thankfully, Ron also offers just the plans for the shell as an optional purchase, and armed with these you can cut the pieces yourself. Or, and this is the route I intend to take, get someone else to cut them for you.

It’s not 100% decided yet. The Learjet shell is a little snug for my liking – 1.5m from floor to ceiling, and only about 1.6m wide at the widest point. That’s 400mm smaller in each dimension than the shell I was building myself. I’m a fairly wide (and heavy) load, and I’m not sure how well the Ford Galaxy seats I have will fit in the Learjet’s constricted space. I’m doing my research and reserving my decision.

Of course, I’m not building a Learjet sim, and I’m not about to convert over to one. Ron’s community of builders are all dedicated Learjet guys, whereas I’d be looking to put a generic spin on the thing. I’d need to be sure it would suit my needs.

If I don’t go down this route, though, I think the project is dead, because I’m not going to throw away another year bumbling around trying to make a third attempt at a shell. Short of learning CAD and designing one properly myself, this is the only way the project is going to continue.

I’ll post my decision here when I’ve made it, and we’ll see where we go from there.