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

Friday, February 27, 2009

Tail skid

Today the bottom plate was welded to the tail skid assembly. I used a piece of .100 steel ....

...and welded it into place. This really made the structure strong.

Here's the tail skid assembly in place.

I also soldered the last three fuselage wires - six ends total.


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Tail skid

I've been messing with the tail skid lately. Today I welded the skid support to the skid tube. This is a thick piece of .100 steel bent around the 1 in. tube.

But, the wooden tail skid is 1 1/2 in.

So, the ears of the support had to be bent back inwards to parallel the sides of the skid.

I did this by clamping the support to two steel blocks equal to 1 1/2 in. The first side was easy. This picture shows the second side being bent with the aid of a big clamp.

See what I mean?

The support on the skid.

The entire assembly waiting to be drilled, lightening holes added, the skid casting screwed to the skid and the bungee cords wrapped and tied.....but you get the idea.

Also ran a quarter twenty eight tap on the engine bearer "U" bolts.

Here they are ready to have the cotter key hole drilled and sent to be heat treated. More on that as it happens.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Seat Rails

Spent several hours putting copper on the ends of the seat rail supports today.

Sorry this isn't very exciting, but I actually enjoy coppering the ends.

When they are all done, everything will be drilled and given a last coat of varnish.

I think I finished eight ends today. There are still several left to do, including the main rails.
Till then...

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Elevator Bellcrank

Todays progress was aimed at the elevator bellcrank located behind the rear seat. A year ago, Mr. Robert Summers from Ohio was kind enough to part with his original Jenny bellcrank assembly and I put it aside until now.

As you can see from this close up picture, the bellcrank was damaged. Originally, there was a flange attached here that connected (via a ball and swivel) the control stick to the bellcrank. Obviously, this had to be repaired.

I looked at several restored Jennies, and consulted the few drawings that were available, and each one was slightly different. So, I decided to proceed this way:

I took what remained of the original flange and straightend it out. The material wasn't too thick, .032 in to be exact. Onto this flange, I welded two 5 inch long steel pieces, joining them side by side as well as running a bead along the inside where the jagged original flange ended.

I used a block of aluminium to keep the pieces uniform and straight.

The collar that held the flange in place was brazed to the tube and secured with a split pin. I rebrazed this area, too.

Then, a front and back brace was welded into place. The flange was cut to 4 1/2 inches long with 1 1/8 in free for the rod end bearing. Thankfully, I got this measurement from the Golden Age Air Museum's Jenny, for I could not find this distance anywhere on the drawings.

Here's the rod end in place. Eventually, there will be two bushings made to keep the bearing in the center.

Here's where the bellcrank fits in the fuselage.

Had a little extra time leftover to re-make the engine bearer U bolts. Because the Hisso sits up higher than the OX-5, the first batch of U-bolts I made from the drawings were worthless. So, out came the bending block and hammer.

Here they are fitted on the bearers.

They need to be threaded yet, and heat treated, but that's another project for another day.
Till next time,

Monday, February 09, 2009

Rear Seat Pulley

The fork of the pulley was made out of .040 steel stock today. It consisted of two pieces bent to fit the pulley housing. I think the original piece was brazed together and filed smooth, but I opted to weld the pieces together. Either way, the weld was filed smooth and I could not tell the difference in the finished product.

The holes were drilled.

And the fork brazed onto the housing. Don't panic! It always looks this way when you braze metal together.

Here's the original piece on the left and the new piece on the right. The bead blaster took care of the ugly brazing slag.

The finished parts in primer below.

A bit labor intensive for a simple pulley, but it was worth it.
Below is a recent picture of the Golden Age Air Museum's Jenny. Paul had an artist paint the original Earl Daugherty Biliken on the fin. Looks great!


Friday, February 06, 2009

Pulley Housing

Had a few hours to work this afternoon, so I got a lot of misclaneous things done - sanded all the recently varnished parts from the last blog, remade a cross wire that I didn't like the first time, and decided to make a new pulley for the aileron cable circiut.

I had one original part, so I transfered the pattern to some MDF.

Cut them out on the bandsaw

And worked the metal around the curve. This is just .032 sheet steel, so it was pretty workable.

After much trimming and fitting, the spine was welded and ground smooth.

More later.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009


OK the fun part - the perimeter of the seat is reinforced by some half round pieces of ratan. Paul Dougherty was smart enough to order enough ratan for two airplanes when he made his Jenny seats and I ended up with the leftover.

Anyway, the ratan has to make some really "curvy" shapes, so the wood has to be softened some way. I learned a trick from Dylan Schoelzel who spends his time building canoes.

I filled my PVC pipe with water and stole my wife's fabric softner. I added a capfull or two and let the ratan soak for a day and a half. The fabric softener did exactly what it was designed to do, temporarily soften the wood.

While I was waiting, I drilled the holes in the seat back according to the drawing.

When the ratan was removed from the pipe, it was like a fibrous piece of taffy. Well, not that soft, but bending it was easy. One other tip: mark the centerline of the ratan. When you can see the pencil line in the hole, you know you are about to drill in the center of the wood.

I used two clamps and worked my way around, one hole at a time.

After a few holes, I began bending the metal around the ratan.

At the top of the seat, the curve becomes most severe. The ratan wants to twist as you bend it. Two close clamps solve this problem. The ratan stayed nice and straight while the #4 brass screw was twisted into place.

The entire edge was trimmed and tapped over the curve.

Voila! Two Jenny seats.

In case you are wondering (or looking at this website as you build your own Jenny) Paul got this ratan from Frank's Cane & Rush Supply. 7252 Heil Ave. Huntington Beach CA 92647
Phone 714-847-0707. They sell it as a round rod, but they have a neat machine that splits it for you.

Also - I had about 2 hours of working time until the ratan dried back out and became rigid. I was very pleased with the job of the fabric softner!

Lastly, I found out about an original Jenny being restored in Fairbanks, AK. I was fortunate enough to talk with John Morack who sent me this neat picture (among others). This Jenny belonged to Ben Eilson's, a famous Alaksa aviator and mail pilot.

The OX-5 had been replaced with a Hisso back in the 1930's. They just built a set of wings and when everything is restored, it will hang in the Fairbank's Airport, ironically, named after Ben Eilson. Can't wait to see that someday.



Monday, February 02, 2009

Seats and Seat rails

Back to work today on the seats. First step was to bend the flange 90 degrees.

The bottom of the seat pattern is not straight across. There's an angle at the end, which makes the back of the seat recline a bit, so I notched out a relief cut to accomidate the bend.

Then, the curve was made on a shrinking machine. The key is to shrink a little, check on the wooden seat bottom, shrink some more, check it again and so on.

Here's the completed curve.

I also had time to rout the main seat rails.

Here's one of them.

All the seat supports were given their first varnish coat. Only one of the two main rails is shown.

So ends a day's work. Enjoy!