Curtiss Jenny Restoration

Welcome! We hope you enjoy following the restoration process of a 1918 Curtiss JN4D Jenny. Once completed, the aeroplane will be flown and displayed at the Candler Field Museum in Williamson GA (30 miles south of Atlanta). You can contact me below by clicking on "VIEW MY PROFILE"

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Location: Peachtree City, Georgia, United States

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

vertical fin is started

Construction of the vertical fin has begun!

To start, the bottom of the fin is curved to follow the upper curvature of the stabilizer. I know purists will howl, but I bent the spruce using the "soak in boiling water for two hours" method. It worked just fine.

Here are the two pieces in the jig.

Then the main pieces were cut from the Spruce stock. Here's the fin leading edge being sanded to a 3/8in. radius.

The top of the rear spar tapers from 1 in. to 9/16 in to meet the leading edge.

Thankfully, Doc Hood made some really great full-sized fin drawings. Here's the structure with the blocks in place and waiting for the curved lower section to dry.

Expect more on the weekend



Thursday, September 21, 2006

Two elevators down

Finished the last three wires of elevator #2.

My wife says that pictures without people are I put her in the picture. Baby #4 is due in November.



Elevator wires

Well, the six wires are now done on elevator #1. Funny, I spent an hour learning to make the first wire. By the sixth wire, I could make it in a few minutes. Guess that's called learning, eh?

Elevator #2 had three of the six wires completed. Hope to finish it soon.



Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Wire and ferrules

Time to discuss wires! Paul Dougherty of the Golden Age Air Museum was kind enough to send a picture of the three types of wires used in the Jenny. (

The top wire is hard wire with a ferrule, used for bracing. The middle wire is woven cable wrapped with cord and varnished. It is used for control cables. Lastly, the bottom wire is cable, wrapped with wire and soldered. The flying and landing wires are built this way.

Now, the hard wire process. Lots of debate here. Originally, the wires were soldered inside and out to prevent corrosion. I suspect the entire wire was then given a coat of varnish and that was it! Every surviving wire that came with my project was really rusty. Guess there wasn't too much protection with this method.

Another method is to paint the wire inside and out with a good 2 part urethane paint. That will give very good rust protection.

I decided to use this method, although in the future I will try the soldering process for comparisons sake.

Now, to make the hard wire - the handy bending jig was used to form the loop.

I used a PPG primer to prime the ferrule and wire. Make sure the inside of the ferrule is covered. I actually dipped them and smoothed everything with a brush.

Slide the ferrule up to the bend in the loop. I found it easiest to clamp the ferrule in a vice and pull the wire through. Don't worry about scratching up the primer finish. It will be painted black later. Also, don't forget the turnbuckle fitting!

Bend the extra wire back to lock the ferrule. I cut wire to length with a wire cutter, although a cut off wheel on a dremel tool would work as well.

Here's the top of the elevator horn.

Here's a shot of all three wires in place.

More later.



Thursday, September 07, 2006

More coppering

The last two days were spent putting the 10 oz copper on the stabilizer and elevator #1. There nine spots on the stabilizer and 4 places on the elevator that got coppered. Working with the soft brass was nice and easy. Plus it looks cool. I didn't think I would spend so much time here, but the end result was worth it.

Here's the elevator horn temporarily in place.

Here's Graham holding the coppered elevator.

One more elevator to go. But I got sidetracked and started experimenting with the hardwire bending. I have two original Jenny turnbuckles (which need to be cleaned up later) that my friend Bill James gave me. With these, I practiced bending the Number 12 wire on the jig. More on this later. I still have an elevator to copper!



Saturday, September 02, 2006

Elevators & coppering

Yesterday the 1st coat of varnish was applied to the elevators. Today, they were scuff sanded with 220 and given the second coat.

While they were drying, I decided to finish the copper pieces on the stabilizer.

I bought some 10 oz copper from at a reasonable price and they shipped it quickly. It cuts easily with a tin snips or even a sharp scissors.

Once cut to length, the copper bends easily by hand. Here's the place where the stabilizer to fin fitting will go.

When drilling the copper, the slower the speed the better. (I found out this the hard way!) My Drill Press has a 450RPM speed and it worked well.

Here's a hinge after nailing. Eventually, all the nails will be sealed with solder.

Here's the outer hinge.

And don't forget the back side of the hinge.

Have a good Labor Day Weekend. Till next time.