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

Monday, October 29, 2007

Brace wires & wire bending

I think today was a momentous occasion! The final wooden piece was finished, as were all the metal fittings needed to finish the basic fuselage structure. All the insides need to be made yet, but step at a time.

It was momentous because I broke the fuselage down for the first time to start building all the wires.

As I mentioned earlier, Robert Rust sold me his spare wire bender. His father built two benders back when they were working on lots of WWI stuff (Nieuport 28, SPAD, Pfalz). This tool has saved me !! Check this out - all you have to do is stick the .080 piano wire in the tool.

Pull the handle.

And voila! The perfect loop. All you have to do now is slide up the ferrule.

Tip - this piano wire is mean - it's even more mean when it's a short piece and you're trying to bend it. Wire is cheap. You sanity is not. Give yourself a lot of extra wire to give you leverage to bend the wire. Trust me!

Since I broke down the fuselage, it was time to put the upper fittings in place (the fuselage is built upside down, remember). After measuring several times, each fitting was marked and a small hole was drilled in the center.....

For the small brass screw that holds the fitting in place.

Now, the fun part! With the help of my new tool, I built the brace wires for the first three upper bays. It's amazing how strong the structure becomes at this point.

I have many more wires to build, so keep posted. See you then.


Friday, October 26, 2007

Station 3

I saved the most critical (in my opinion) piece for last. This is where the cross brace goes horizontally across the inside of the fuselage at Station 3. I deem it critical because the engine mount rests here and alignment is pretty important.

If you remember, the OX-5 Jennies have down thrust built into the engine bearers. It gives the nose of the Jenny it's distinctive cant. But, the Hisso Jenny is straight. It does not have the downward angle of the engine. It's engine bearer is straight.

I had an OX-5 drawing for Station 3 and a real piece for a pattern, but I had to figure out the rest. First, I put an original engine bearer in place and made sure that it was level. Then I measured where the cross brace would go and ensured that it was also level. Matching the two gave me the location of the cutout.

Here's how I made the cutout. Four holes were drilled for the saber saw to fit.

Here's the hole after the center dropped out. Don't forget to flip it over and re-cut the other side. The saber saw blade has a little flex to it. This ensures that it is square.

Then the rest can be routed in the usual method.

I did not get to completely sand everything smooth today. I ran out of time. But the rough shape was routed and the finishing touched will be completed next time.

I put the original Station 3 piece in the picture above so you can see the difference between the OX-5 and Hisso hole location.



Saturday, October 20, 2007

Station 3 and 4

I finished the Station 3 transverse wire fitting today. Here's a picture of where it will go. The turnbuckle will attach to the side of the engine bearer for support.

I spent a bit of time routing out Station 4. The key is setting up - it takes far more time to set up the router than to actually cut something. Same for the holding jig. I used a simple fence attachment to the router set to cut 11/16 in. from the edge.

Here are three of our four kids holding the finished Station 4.

Couldn't resist this one.

Check these out! The machine shop at Atlanta Aero Composites did a great job machining the lower wing attach fittings. Because they were machined from a solid billet, they had them NDT'd for any imperfections. They passed. Notice the two different sizes for the front and back spars.

Here's where they will eventually go.

Till next time


Monday, October 15, 2007

Station 3

Back to Station 3! There are two doublers on the transverse wire fitting. I cut them out of .10 sheet steel and ground them into shape.

Then they were brazed together and drilled to accept the turnbuckle. Advice for those of you thinking of building a Jenny - bend the pieces to the 50 degree angle BEFORE brazing! Unless you like brazing the same piece I did.

Next step is to drill the holes in the ears to match the big Station 3 fitting.

Till then


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Fuselage Station 4 and Station 3 fitting

One neat thing - the Station 4 Upper fittings that came with the project were brand new (if you call 1917 new) and never used. This is nice, however the tabs that hold the cross brace were not bent. Simple, right? Just heat them up and bend them.

Sort of...

I heated the tab with a torch and tapped on the flange with a punch and a hammer. It actually took more than that. I used the hammer, steel block and a pair of pilers to do the job.

One thing I learned - when you try and bend the tab be careful! Support the front and back of the fitting. It will want to warp from the heat.

Anyway, here is the completed fitting.

And the completed fitting in place.

I also cut out the transverse wire fitting on Station 3. I rough cut them on the band saw out of 0.10 steel and shaped by the grinder. There will be a reinforcing plate welded on next and the holes drilled. Stick around. You'll see!

Expect a blog early next week. Busy weekend coming up. Back to the Jenny Monday. Till then!


Station 11

Brazed the last two universal fittings yesterday.

Here's the simple bending jig (the same size as the longeron). A piece of masking tape holds the flat fitting in place while you get everything lined up.

Give it a tap or two....rotate it around and tap some more.

Here's the finished fitting in place at Station 11. The tail skid will mount here later.

Till next time


Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Station 11

In the mail today came a great book titled Manual of Rigging and Technical Data. It looks like it was published around 1918 or so and it really has some great stuff in it! For those of you thinking about building a Jenny, I would recommend getting this book.

My friend and fellow Bucker pilot Bob Bailey was kind enough to copy this original manual and send it to me. He has a few more copies and the price is reasonable, so if anyone wants one get in touch with me and I'll put you in touch with Bob.

The book also has lots of detail about the Thomas-Morse Scout and DeHavilland DH4 - like how to build the wing jigs, fuselage alignment procedures etc. Plus, lots of Jenny stuff.

Thanks, again, Bob. The book will be put to good use.

In the shop today. I welded up the lower Station 11 bracket. On the top, there are two cutouts for brace tubes. I started by drilling pilot holes and widening them with a 1/2 in. drill bit.

I'm sure a milling machine would work better here, but since I don't have a milling machine, I used a Dremel tool to clean out the holes.

Here's the piece before drilling.

I also made two more "ear pieces" for the Station 11 Universal fittings. I miscalculated when I sent the order to the water jet cutter, so I had to make two ears the old fashioned way - band sawing, grinding and filing.

Till next time. Enjoy