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

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

engine bearer

As mentioned in the last blog, I laminated the two ash pieces with the one spruce piece today. This makes the engine bearer support across station 3.'ll see how it goes together soon!

I also spent some time sanding the first engine bearer to its final finish. I used a hand sander and spindle sander to do the job. I also cut it to length. Below is a picture of the original bearer and the new one.

Here is the bearer tucked into place. I have to laminate the other side yet.

Here's another example of nice people stepping in to help this project. Ron got an e-mail from Kent McMakin the other day. Kent is a well known aircraft restorer in his own right and has a hangar at the antique aircraft mecca known as Brodhead. Kent found a few miscellaneous Jenny parts somewhere and he immediately thought of us. That was nice of him. We appreciate it.

Till next time,


Monday, December 24, 2007

Bad Cable and Engine Bearer lamination

Yesterday, I started making cables. The first cables I made, I used some leftover 1 X 19 cable that I had gotten from Aircraft Spruce a long time ago. I didn't have much - just enough to make a few test cables and two small Station 2 cables.

When I purchased the solder and flux from MSC, I decided to get some cable from them. Boy, was I surprised! When I put the thimble and cable in the jig, I noticed that the cable began to unwrap. One or two strands were lose down the entire length of the cable. I could not use the cable on an airplane this way!

In the picture above, you can see where I stopped wrapping. Notice the tightly wound Aircraft Spruce cable on the top and the lose MSC cable on the bottom.

Here's another shot of the cable. Hopefully, you can see the delamination in the photo.

Completely frustrated by the turn of events, I turned my attention to something else.

The engine bearers are laminated from four pieces of wood. The sequence is ash, spruce, spruce and ash. The total thickness is 3 inches.

My friend, neighbor and master woodworker Walter Ivey was kind enough to mill down some strips of ash for me. Here you can see the entire thing glued and clamped together. The original engine bearer is on the right.

Here is a shot after the clamps were removed. Next step is sanding it smooth and cutting to length.

Since it was bit cool in Georgia right now (50 degrees is too cold for the glue) I brought the entire thing into the house to dry. With all the clamps sticking out, the kids wanted to know what contraption was invading their living room!

I also had time to cut the engine bearer support piece. It is also laminated, but only with three pieces - ash, spruce, ash. I will glue this later. This piece goes across the fuselage at Station 3. The rear of the engine bearer rests here (the front goes in the spider plate). You'll see this soon.

Have a nice holiday season.



Wednesday, December 19, 2007

First cables made

Well, I had a chance to use Chet's new tool. As I expected, it made cable wrapping a breeze. Here's what it looked like in action:

Here's a trick I learned from Paul Dougherty. Start wrapping the cable about an inch or two below the thimble - right where the two cables touch together without interference. Then, with a needle nosed pliers and a tack hammer, push the wrapping to the top. It creates a nice tight wrap under the turned up end of the thimble and pulls everything together.

Above - the wrap after pushing to the top.

Do the "7 to 1" method to calculate your cable wraps. With 1/8 in. cable, the wrap should be 7/8 in. long with a 1/8 in. gap between them.

Trying to cut this cable makes me like the piano wire! It's a pain. But once again, Paul recommended that I use the grinding wheel to cut off the end. While you are there, grind the cable until you have a nice tapered end. Be careful and cut the right cable - they are together at this point.

Here's the finished end out of Chet's jig.

Here's an end fully soldered.

And here's the first two cables in place.

Till tomorrow, enjoy!


Front Fuselage

Saturday, I had a chance to attach the lower longeron to the front three stations. I decided to start here and work towards the tail. Hopefully next shop day, I'll start building the cables for this area.

The drill jig really made life easier, although I still measured a hundred times before actually pulling the trigger on the drill.

Unfortunately, I was saddened to learn that my aviation mentor Bill Schadler passed away on Friday. Many years ago, he took a starry eyed, aviation crazed ten year old under his wing and gave me the world. He taught me how to fly in an Aeronca Champ. I learned how to rib stitch, shoot a rivet gun and change Lycoming cylinders before I was old enough to drive. He taught me lessons in life that I still use today.

He was my mentor. He was my hero. He was my friend. I will miss him.


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Cable wrapping tool

It happened again today.

I'm so amazed by the generosity of people. Out of the blue, Chet Peek offered me me his wire wrapping tool to use. I was nearly speechless! Sure, I'd love to use it! These tools are so hard to find.

True to his word, the package arrived this morning. Chet, as you remember, has restored a Jenny and a Standard J1.

This tool is a jig that holds the cable on the thimble so you can wrap the wire around the cables. Pretty ingenious. I can't wait to try it out.

I had read about this WWI vintage tool in my 1940 book Brimm and Bogges Aircraft Maintenance for the Airplane Mechanic but never thought I'd ever see one. The book is a great source for "the way they used to do things"

Anyway, I'm indebted to Chet for use of this tool. It will make my life much more pleasant!


Hisso Exhaust

Here's another example of nice people out there - As you remember, I acquired what I thought was a "Hisso Jenny" exhaust system. Well, it turned out to be a SPAD 7 exhaust system! Talk about a rare find.

Anyway, the exhaust was nearly seven foot long and I could not in my right mind cut it to fit the Jenny. I knew there was someone out there who needed that exhaust.

I contacted Pete Hayes who was building a SPAD and he got me in touch with SPAD guru Bill Reitzlaff. Bill is building several SPADs and his work is top notch. We arranged a swap - he knew where there was a Hisso Jenny exhaust.

True to his word, the exhaust wound up on my doorstep.

Luckily, I had a bunch of extra wood from the wife's latest house project idea, so yesterday I built the box to send Bill his exhaust.

It's comforting to meet all these nice people. Bill's SPAD blog is neat to view. You'll see his expert work. Check it out:

Till next time


Monday, December 03, 2007

Wire wrapping and soldering

I promised the wife that I would knock out the wall between the living room and dining room last week. It took twice as long as I anticipated hence the spread between this blog and the last one. Sorry about that. But today, I had a few hours to spare and decided to try this cable wrapping thing again.

One nice thing about this blog - after the last post, I heard from some wonderful people who offered advice about cable soldering. One of them was Chet Peek, who restored not only a Jenny, but a Standard J1 as well. I guess it's safe to say that Chet had built his share of cables! His advise was really helpful. Chet had written a book about the restoration of his Jenny several years ago. If you like Jennies, grab a copy of his book.

Fellow Jenny restorer Paul Dougherty also called to offer advice. He first told me that there are only 276 cables in the Jenny, so I better get moving! Seriously, he told me what to get to make my cable wrapping a lot easier. He was right.

I went to MSC Industrial Supply with his list in my hands. He uses "Stay-Clean Liquid Soldering Flux" and a 50/50 .125 Solid Wire Solder. I also bought a bunch of 1/8 in. 1 X 19 Cable and a handful of Galvanized Thimbles. For wrapping, he used plain, old black galvanized wire also available from MSC.

I decided to practice with the new "stuff". I made a simple, temporary jig out of some ash and set the thimble and cable in place. Don't forget to bend up the tabs of the thimble!

Here's the cable after the wrapping. I used an original cable as a pattern. Basically, it's a 7 : 1 ratio for the wrapping. For 1/8 in. cable, that's three 7/8 in. wraps and a 1/8 in space in between.

Soldering took some patience. The iron seemed like it took forever to get the cable hot, but once it did, the solder flowed easily. The new flux worked better than the last stuff I used. The cable looks all yucky and burned at the end, but don't worry. It all wiped off.

Here's the finished practice cable.

After that, I decided to make another one.

This one turned out a lot better.

And here is where it goes. Only 275 more to make! I'm feeling pretty good about it now.

Paul also sent me a picture of his Jenny restoration. Nice, eh?

Till next time