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3rd Cockpit is a charm! - Steve Wekarchuk

 
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SWeker



Joined: 04 Mar 2004
Posts: 224
Location: Brooklin, Ontario, Canada

PostPosted: Tue Jun 19, 2012 9:43 pm    Post subject: 3rd Cockpit is a charm! - Steve Wekarchuk Reply with quote

Evening Gents,

After roughly 3 years, I'm back! My personal life has been busy with work, community volunteering, and of course my family, but I couldn't wait any longer. I needed to get back into the sim world. For those that remember, my first project was a Boeing 737 (www.boeing737.ca) and my second project was an A319 (www.wekarchuk.com/a319). Hard to say why I sold my first project, but I know I regretted it almost immediately. The second project was more curiosity for the Airbus family of planes, but pushing buttons quickly lost its appeal.

My dream was always to own a real cockpit. Since helping FDS out on a number of projects that involved the real deal, I was hooked. Don't get me wrong, the FDS products add an uncanny realism to any sim, and I plan to use them extensively in my new sim, but nothing beats the smell and confines of the real deal.

At the end of April of this year, one of my dreams was realized when I purchased a real Boeing 737 cockpit. Ohhh, if I only knew what was in store for me!!!


After months of attempting to arrange shipping, I threw in the towel. I planned what was supposed to be a simple road trip to Arkansas to pick-up 'N351UA' - an ex-United ship built in 1989 and retired in 2009. A bit of a celebrity on 'airliners.net' both as an active bird and a retired hunk of metal (http://www.airliners.net/search/photo.search?regsearch=N351UA)

The trip started out perfectly. Trailer rented, vacation booked at work, and I even had my 6 year old son along for the ride. Although a 15 hour drive, our arrival made both my son and I giddy with excitement!


Unfortunately, we quickly learned how much effort a real cockpit conversion was going to be. Met by 2 scruffy looking gents, it quickly became apparent that the cockpit did NOT stand a chance of settling on my trailer. Not only was it too large, but it weighed over 10,000lbs as is (so they claimed).


I had three options; (1) Return home empty handed (2) strip everything I could out of it (3) Beg the workers to work through the night cutting off a section I could manage. Let me put this into perspective. The cockpit included the full diameter, it included everything from the forward entry doors to the nose (minus the radar dome) including the lavatory and galley!!! WTF! As cool as it would have been to have all of it, with 11 feet being the smallest dimension, I would have needed permits from Arkansas to Canada. Not feasible.

Did I also mention I had less then 12 hours to start the trek home again??? As I knew Peter & Steve Cos quite well given projects in the past, I placed a few panicked calls for advise. Needless to say, the calm and collected feedback I received helped me decide my course of action - Option #3, Beg the workers to work through the night cutting off a section I could manage.

After some convincing and some cash placed in their palm, the deal was sealed, it would be cut right there on the spot! I've been told this was a 3 day job, one that I needed to have completed in 6-8 hours. Possible?


The job started well enough, but continued to be plagued with issues. Have you ever seen the TV show 'Gold Rush', where everything seems to break or go wrong? I could easily draw a parallel to my new sim. The crane broke 3 times!!! One time in which the hydrolic line broke, spewing fluid everywhere and also dropping the sim to the tarmac.


After some repairs to the crane and a 90 minute trip to a "local" store for parts, the cutting began. The pictures speak a thousand words, this is NOT EASY or for the faint of heart. It was at this point, where I had my third reality check and I truly questioned what I had gotten myself into!




Cutting literally took hours, and had us jammed in the smallest placeto make the necessary cuts. While cutting took place with the gas powered saw, I stripped what I wanted out of the galley, flight attendant station, lavatory (OK, just the door), and cockpit circuit breakers. Note to self, next time I'm curious about what's behind a panel.....ask. I pop one panel only to find 2 x yellow masks drop from the ceiling hissing with oxygen. I also learned that where there is a wasp, there is usually a wasp nest. OUCH!

After the bottom was cut, it was time to remove the rear portion of the cockpit. Unfortunately, it is with great sadness that I couldn't get everything from the cockpit door and forward. Given that the galley and lavatory were in place, it was impossible to make the cut, and I had to settle for a cut at the rear window frame. Disappointing, but impossible given time. Needless to say, at about 2am, the cockpit section was separated!




While loading the cockpit, I had my forth flash of doubt, but by the next morning and the trip home, my confidence in the project was restored. My son and I are now home safe and sound, but now face further challenges. I'm still awaiting a crane to remove it off the rented trailer, have a ton of clean-up to do underneath, and then I need to see if it will fit into my garage! It will be really close.

Despite the challenges, I would definitely do it all again. However I must admit, this is only the beginning. At the FDS Open House, I was fortunate enough to meet with Matt Ford and James Price. Two great guys who warned me of the work ahead. How true they are! I'm excited to be back....but this will be a long journey.

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Steve Wekarchuk
www.wekarchuk.com
facebook.com/sweker
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tugo31



Joined: 30 Nov 2007
Posts: 112
Location: Mexico

PostPosted: Tue Jun 19, 2012 9:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What a story!! and some months ago i felt frustrated because i was planning to buy the B737NG Modular Nose Section and i had some problems for the pick up at the airport (250 km away from my town) that made that impossible for me to do so, but now after this i might be do so.

When you want something for the sim, there are no obstacles!!!

Keep the good work Steve, I'm a big fan of your projects.

Regards


Juan
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N737AG



Joined: 12 Aug 2004
Posts: 175
Location: Weston, FL, U.S.A.

PostPosted: Wed Jun 20, 2012 7:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Steve :

Great story.Been there too. From what I see on your pictures, you managed to save all the flight control quadrants below the floor of the cockpit. That is great because you will be able to link the controls and get a lot of realism with centering, force and feel.

Have fun !
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Axel Grau
Project : Boeing 737-800
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melnato



Joined: 04 Feb 2006
Posts: 1087
Location: Australia

PostPosted: Wed Jun 20, 2012 5:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have to laugh Steve. Two years ago when I met you, you had "retired" much to my shock and disbelief.
I knew back then you would be back!...and with a project only fit for "men" Smile

Congrats mate!

Nat
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mauriceb



Joined: 22 Aug 2005
Posts: 1051
Location: Gravenhurst, Ontario - Canada

PostPosted: Wed Jun 20, 2012 7:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh Steve!!! What is it about flight simulation that makes relatively sane people go totally bonkers? Very Happy I somehow knew the Airbus venture was a mistake for you but I never imagined it would turn into this.

What really puzzles me is how did you manage to convince your wife that she would have to park her car outside during Canadian Winters particularly? She is either a Saint or she is planning something big of her own Smile

Anyway, best of luck in your new endeavours. I'm quite sure you will surmount every obstacle and I look forward to flying in your sim some day.

Cheers,

Maurice
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SWeker



Joined: 04 Mar 2004
Posts: 224
Location: Brooklin, Ontario, Canada

PostPosted: Wed Jul 18, 2012 8:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Couple pictures to close out the transport from Arkansas to Ontario. It is finally in its new home....my garage....

Moving it into the driveway


The boys checking it out


While 'cleaning' up the belly.


All cleaned up and ready for pots and motors.


Trying to cram it into the garage!


It's in!!! *barely*


Checking out the view...

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Steve Wekarchuk
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Tomlin



Joined: 23 Aug 2004
Posts: 1008

PostPosted: Tue Jul 24, 2012 3:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey Steve

Good to see you back in the hobby.
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Eric Tomlin
Learjet 45

Waycross, Ga (KAYS)
www.Hangar45.net
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