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, March 31, 2008

More cables

Cross five more cables off the list - a result of yesterday's work.

These are the new cross cables at Station 2/3 and 4/5

Only 24 more cables to go! I'll try to make them quickly so I can post something a little more interesting in the future.



Wednesday, March 26, 2008

dyeing fittings

Soldered a few more cables today. One issue kept coming up and it had been really frustrating. When I soldered the cables, the flux seemed to take the dye out of the cad plating. You can see that below. I tried wrapping the fitting with tape and took extra care to not let the the flux come into contact with the fitting. But it never worked.

I called Paul Dougherty. He told me that the original Curtiss shackles and turnbuckle ends were originally cad plated a silver/white color. Today, modern hardware is plated with a golden color. He mentioned that you could soak the ends in a lye/water solution and it would remove the dye, but he had not done it but a few times.

So, I called Frank Pavliga. Frank is another antique airplane guru who built a beautiful Waco 9 recently. I was told that he knew more about the process. Sure enough, he did. The process works rather well. The fittings turn silver. However, they take on a "galvanized" silver look and have a slight "chalky" appearance.

So, I decided to try the process on a spare cable. First, you have to find pure lye. Apparently, lye is a very dangerous chemical. Your big chain stores (Lowes and Home Depot) don't sell it. They pulled it from their shelves a few years ago. Apparently they were worrived about the corrosive and caustic effects. I knew plumbers used lye to clear drains. So a trip to a local mom and pop hardware store (thank goodness for them) yielded had Household Drain Opener....which was 100 percent pure lye.

I added three or four teaspoons to water. Make sure you use a glass container. Otherwise the lye will eat through your metal container.

Then I soaked the fitting for about 30 minutes. Don't breathe the fumes and make sure you use cold water.

I worried about having residual caustic lye trapped in the crevices of the cable, so I made a solution of baking soda and water as a rinse.

After the fitting turned silver, I washed it with the baking soda solution and then doused it with cold water. Here are the results:

They look great. Before I do all the other fittings, I will let the test fittings sit for a month. I want to make sure that it stays the silver color and does not get too chalky. My other option is to paint the fittings silver or simply leave them alone (stains and all). I will debate this one for a while. Anyone out there have any experience with this?

If I were to build another Jenny, I would have had the fittings cad plated silver before soldering them in place. Live and learn.

More this weekend


Monday, March 17, 2008

More wires

Only two and a half more stations to go! I had several uninterrupted hours in the shop today. I turned myself into a wire wrapping machine. I finished up the wires between station 5 and 6. I made the double wires between 4 and 5. Plus I started the double wires in 3. Whew!

Here's a closer shot of the double wires. I didn't get them all soldered today. That's for the next time.



Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Station 5 and 6 floor wires

Made a few more wires today.

These wires cross below the floorboards below station 5 and 6. Remember - in the jig, the bottom is the top!


Monday, March 03, 2008

Station 4/5 double wires

Cross another four wires off the list! The double cross wires between stations 4 and 5 were made today.

Nicholas checked my work after school.

"That's cool can we throw baseball?" Kids!

Here's a closer shot.

Paul Dougherty at the Golden Age Air Museum sent me these updated pictures of their Jenny.

They are ready to start covering, although it's a shame to cover up such beautiful workmanship. Paul and his dad did a great job restoring this Jenny. If ever you are in Central Pennsylvania, stop by and see it. You'll be glad you did. If you can't get there, check out



Saturday, March 01, 2008

Hisso Propeller

Good news! The Hisso prop arrived safely from St. Croix Propellers. Pretty neat, eh?

Here's the story:

When old engine guru Denny Trone graciously decided to let me have his spare Hisso, I happened to notice several propellers displayed on his back wall. I was not thinking about props at the time, but one propeller in particular caught our attention. It had a beautiful scimictar shape - kinda "1920-ish". Not sweeping. Not straight. Sort of in between. So, I took several pictures of it and went on my merry way.

Several prop makers were later contacted with above picture. Chad Wille e-mailed me back and said "So you like the prop on Denny's wall..." Having made the propeller for Old Rhinebeck's Hisso powered Jenny, I found out that he was all tooled up and ready to carve another one.

I was pleased with the prop he made. On time and on budget. Of course the true test will come when we bolt it on and go flying, but that is a later worry for a later day.

See...isn't this better than pictures of the cables I made today?