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

Saturday, November 29, 2008

tail skid area, wing jig & stuff

One of the things I wanted to do was make a jig for building the wings. So, I took some time to match up the front and rear fuselage fittings with corresponding blocks of aluminium and attached them to a long piece of angle.

Now, when it comes to mating the wings with the fuselage, the fittings will line right up.

I also fabricated a simple tool to cut out the little leather circles which keep the wires from chaffing. I took a piece of tubing and ground the end sharp.

Then, you just give a few taps with the hammer and you have perfectly round leather disks.

Which go here. Brass wire secures them in place. I have several more disks to make yet.

Part of the support structure at the tail skid are two tubes which act as transverse wires. The tubes are flattened at one end. I used a vice and a hammer to get the shape I wanted.

Then the ends were given an angle.

And the tube was cut to fit. Notice the angle in the universal clip on the upper right side of the picture. The tube fits into a slot on the lower tail skid support.

Here they are painted and bolted in place.
More to come

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Fuselage out of the jig !!!

It's been unusually cold in Atlanta for the past few weeks. This hampered my wire soldering technique. It seemed that every time I pulled the iron from the wire, it instantly solidified. Even with a lot of flux, the cold temperatures (about 40 degrees) kept the solder from flowing.

So, I thought about it.

I decided to direct a small cube heater on the end of the wire being soldered. This kept things warm and the solder flowed much better. I was amazing how much heat that little box produced! Plus, it blew the smoke out of the way, which I liked. Now my hands stayed toasty warm and my feet froze.

In the mail yesterday came a box from Rich Davidson. He had collected a bunch of miscelaneous Jenny parts and thought I might be able to use them. Rich and Ginger live on a picturesque grass strip ajacent to a gorgeous river in southern Indiana. Man, it doesn't get better than that.

Anyway, they sent several control pullies that I could use (below)

And an original section of Station 3.

Rich also sent a control fan that had obviously survived quite a crash. This fan sits under the rear seat. If it was bent (and this is a casting) than I hate to think what happened to the guy in the seat!

I can't thank Rich and Ginger enough for helping me with the parts. The pieces will fly again. If you get a minute, look up their airstrip at They put on several top-notch fly-ins each year and everyone I know who attended the fly-ins spoke highly of the events.

Well - the moment of truth had finally arrived :

After soldering the last few wires, the fuselage came out of the jig...for good I hope.

Several of the neighborhood kids were playing in the back yard when I volunteered them to help carry the fuselage out of the shop. Now they know it's really an aeroplane I'm building rather than a bridge (Yea, someone once asked "are you building a bridge?"). My kids are on the front and back end of the line up.

Here's another shot.

The empty table seemed so strange! This will be broken down when I get a chance. Poor Brighton was distraught. He couldn't figure out where his swing set went.
Have a good Thanksgiving holiday. More after that.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

more fuselage stuff

I'm not going to bore you with pictures of the wires I have been soldering! That's the latest progress - I'm still soldering wires. Perhaps I'm slow. I can do about 4 wires per hour and I have 8 or 9 more wires to go.

In other Jenny progress. - I had a New York layover yesterday so I drove to Bethel, PA and visited the Golden Age Air Museum. I had just enough time to drool over Paul Dougherty's imaculate Jenny and take some more detailed pictures of future parts I have to make. Paul gave me an original side cowl to use as a pattern. When I got home to Atlanta, my fellow hangar employees wondered "what in the world that crazy pilot had in the baggage compartment now". At least they helped me unload the thing.

I told you the Jenny parts would fly again.

Also, my friend and fellow Bucker Jungmann pilot Dave Daugherty put the Peach Basket pattern into CAD for me. I have a set of them already, but someday someone else might need a set and we have it ready for the water jet cutter. Just say the word.

At our Veterans Day fly-in last weekend, Mike Cochran flew up from Americus, GA and gave me a disk filled with historic photos of the old Souther Field. Americus, if you recall, was a Jenny training base during WWI and the place where Charles Lindbergh bought his first Jenny. I thought this photo was pretty neat. Check out all those Jennies!

Mike is an Avionics Maintenance Instructor at the college and rather interested in the history of Souther Field. I appreciated the photos! Thanks, Mike.

Till next time


Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Fuselage details

Here's how the tie rod finally goes together (see previous blog). When I get enough parts together to justify breaking out the paint gun, the grey primer will become black urethane.

A month ago, Ken Rovie sent me this nifty tool used for straightening piano wire. When you get the wire from MSC, it comes in a tight spool. Working with it is like wrestling with a big spring. So, a few passes through this tool straightens things out. The wire doesn't come out perfectly straight, but it's pretty close.

One of the wires I built today was the transverse wire at Station 5. You can't have a traditional "lower longeron to upper longeron" transverse wire because your feet would get in the way. So, Curtiss raised the attach point so you can reach the rudder bar. I found each Jenny to be a little different here. One Jenny I researched had a tab and shackle in this area and one other had the eye-bolt going through the vertical station. I decided to go with the eye-bolt method, but the bolt would go through the rear longeron bolt location.

The wire transverses to the bracket on the other side.

And looks like this.

While I was bending wire, I finished the last wire in the tail post area. These wires have to be built on site because the wires hook directly to the tailpost fitting. There is not a shackle here (upper right of the picture) so you can't make the wire somewhere else and attach it with pins.

Lastly, I received a package from Ed Rogers and his students at Indian Lake High School in Lewistown, Ohio. They offered use of some patterns they had made for a Jenny seat and I took them up on their offer.

When the box arrived, not only tha pattern was there, but the students had made a Canuck control stick. Each student took time to sign their name. That was really neat and I was touched.

Just for fun, I stuck the stick into the control stick casting and it fit perfectly. Looks like they made an accurate Jenny part. Nice work, everyone.