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"

My Photo
Location: Peachtree City, Georgia, United States

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.




Post a Comment

<< Home