The past month has been a busy one for N332UA. After it became apparent that the cockpit would not fit into the originally planned indoor destination, we had to divert to a nearby corporate hangar, which was generously offered by Pat Colgan, the owner of Capital Aviation, an excellent avionics and general maintenance shop. Not wanting to overstay my welcome, I embarked on a plan to cut off the bottom four feet or so of the nose section. After a month of pulling wire, removing insulation, wrestling with ducts and removing pitot/static lines, the section was finally separated and I rented the telescopic forklift again.
We were concerned about picking up the entire 2000 pound section with one strap through the eyebrow windows, but this turned out to be no problem with a strap rated for 6000 pounds. We had no way of knowing where the center of gravity was prior to picking it up, but luckily it would up being slightly aft of the middle of the section, which facilitated putting it down on stack of 6×6 beams we had put in place to keep the cockpit level on the trailer I scored off of craigslist.
After securing it with tiedown straps, we climbed up on the tires holding up the aft edge, walked past the galley and the lav, and onto the flight deck for the first time. I had crawled underneath and stood up a few times in the previous weeks when we were in the process of cutting, but with the cockpit a full 90 degrees nose up, I wasn’t really able to get much past the jumpseats to touch anything. Now that I was able to really get a good look at the main instrument panel, flight controls and throttle quadrant, it became clear that this particular cockpit is in really good shape, even in spite of having sat out in the weather for few months after it was put up for sale. Whatever buyers remorse I might have had went flying right out the window.
Next steps: build a metal dolly to reduce the height, and cut off another foot from the aft end to reduce the width, all on the way to the next borrowed work space.
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