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, April 29, 2009

Good Jenny day today. Productive.

There is a triangular "wedge" that takes up the space between the gear legs and the side of the peach basket. Luckily, Doc Hood made a drawing of this piece. From what I can tell, no drawing exists for this wedge, so I owe one to Doc for doing this. Anyway, I transferred Doc's numbers to a piece of spruce.

This gives you an idea as to where the "wedge" goes. You can see my line which marks the angle of the cut.
Speaking of the cut - the wedge is tapered. The thick side is 1 1/4 in and the skinny side is 1/8 in. Using scrap pieces of pine, I got the table saw angle just right and cut the wedge.

Plus, there is a cutout for the axle. The other wedge was made the same way.

The right gear legs were finished as well this afternoon ! Lots of sanding and cutting, but I was pleased with the results.

I also wanted to show you the turtle deck with the lightening holes cut out.

Lastly, John Gaertner has the cap strips on the second lower wing.

He also put the rudder bar pedestals into CAD. Next step here is to have the resin patterns made for casting.

Till tomorow

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


My dad came to visit for the weekend - got to see the kids play baseball etc. - had a nice time. But, after he went home, it was back to work cutting out the turtledeck lightening holes.

I cut a 1 in. hole in the plywood, and the outline was cut with the jig saw.

The inside was sanded with the little spindle sander.

And the bigger curves used the larger sanding sleeve. After this was finished, the outside was sanded to the line and everything smoothed by hand with 220 grit sandpaper. I was able to get all the holes cut today. More tomorow....


Thursday, April 23, 2009


I put the modeling clay in the right peach basket today. A few seconds in the microwave (when the wife wasn't looking) made the clay soft and easy to mold. After it sits for a day (hardens), I'll pull it out of the peach basket and transfer the lines to the gear leg.

The patterns from the Golden Age Air Museum arrived today so I wasted no time tearing open the box. Thanks, Paul. I appreciate it.

The bulkheads were cut on the bandsaw.

Next step is to sand to the line with the spindle sander and cut all the notches for the stringers.

Here are the bulkheads in order. The lightening holes are marked, but not yet cut.

Looks neat!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Rear gear leg fitting

Fit the left rear gear leg into the fitting today.

This fitting was an original Jenny piece, so it was neat to see it functional again. Some Jennies have two bolts here, others (like this one) have a single bolt.

Once again, take your time on this cut. Not only is it angled, but it's beveled. Plus, some reshaping of the gear leg was in order to match the fitting.

Hope to have the other side done tomorow. Plus, Paul sent the turtle deck patterns (lifesaver) so I will get busy cutting plywood again.



Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Landing Gear Legs

Good Jenny day today ! I didn't get picked for jury duty (only one case and they didn't get to my number) so I spent today working out the gear legs. I'm happy to say things went really well.

I should have mentioned earlier, but I used modeling clay to get an image of the rear gear leg shape.

This picture shows the clay after removal from the peach basket. Now I had a general idea where to start cutting.

I put the clay template next to a piece of 2 x 4 scrap pine, marked the angles and started trimming. I had a chance to experiment - sand more in one place, change the angle in another etc.

With what I learned on the scrap piece, I started cutting on the gear leg. Things went really well. I got the leg "roughed in" and tomorow I will do the finish sanding. Also, I have to figure out how much spruce will have to be cut out to accomodate the axle.

Next step is cutting the other end of the gear leg so it fits the rear gear fitting.

Till then

Friday, April 17, 2009


It's been an interesting couple of weeks. My car broke a timing belt on the way home from work, so Jenny shop time was spent under the hood of a well used Honda. But, I got that fixed.

I've also been cutting and sanding away on the landing gear legs. I was having trouble with the alignment and I spent a frustrating couple of hours trying to figure it out. The half-finished peach baskets that came with the project were pretty nicely built, so I figured they were right.
So, I figured the front fittings were the culprit, but I built them exactly to the drawings and they measured correctly. After an hour of head-scratching, I decided to double check the measurements of the peach baskets. Sure enough, the angles of the bends were wrong! Should have looked there sooner. Oh, well.... By then, I was too tired to do anything about it.

I decided to take a break from the gear and build the turtledeck bulkheads. I cut out the first one using a saber saw.

Then I cut out two more.

But, the third one looked kind of funny. The Jenny turtledeck "flattens" as it goes rearward and the last bulkhead didn't flow with the others. So, I poured over the drawings again. As usual, the numbers were very difficult to read and I had guessed as to the radius. Take a look at this below:

What is the radius? 14 and.....13/16th? I used that measurement but the bulkhead not look right. I decided to move on and cut a different bulkhead. How about bulkhead #6? See below:

Same thing. What is the radius? Most of the dimentions were like that! What now? Would I have to just "eyeball" it and start cutting wood? I didn't want to do that. Hey, the plans are 90 years old, what did I expect.
So, I called Paul Dougherty at the Golden Age Air Museum. His father had built the turtledeck on their Jenny and I was hoping he had figured out the "smudged" numbers and written them down somewhere.
He didn't.
But he wanted to know if I wanted to borrow his paper patterns! Paul's father was faced with the same problem a few years ago, and he managed to borrowed patterns from another Jenny restorer Phil Mintari, and copy them onto paper.
Problem solved......thankfully. This is the fun of restoring an old airplane. You're part builder and part detective.
Oh, by the way. Did I mention that I have Jury Duty all next week?
Like I said - it's been an interesting few weeks.

Monday, April 13, 2009


Hope everyone had a good Easter holiday. It was pretty busy around the house lately, but I did manage to get the floorboards sanded and varnished.

Also, I was not happy with the finish on the seat rails. The tree pollen count was pretty high in Georgia when I varnished them last (after all - it's spring time) and the tiny pollen grains settled onto the tacky varnish. This bothered me, so I re-sanded the seat rails and gave them another coat. This time, I was pleased with the finish.

More later.


Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Rear Gear leg

Well, here's the last few days progress:

The seat rails and supports were removed from the fuselage. Each piece was sanded and given another coat of varnish.

The bottom of the seats were also varnished.

It's amazing - you don't realize how many little pieces there are until you have to wet sand each one! Also, the tops of the floorboards were given their second coat.

OK - now for the fun part. The lower end of the gear leg fits into the peach basket with several different bends. I have only one set of airfoil shaped rear gear legs, so I didn't want to ruin them by making the wrong cuts. I spent a long time pouring over the Curtiss drawings and making practice pieces. I couldn't figure it out and I was scared to start cutting without a game plan.
I finally called Paul Dougherty and with his help, the entire thing began to make sense.
The peach basket has several angles to it. Below, you can see how the gear leg slides down the bottom of the peach basket. Easy, right? Should slide right in there.
Nope. The peach basket flange curves! From this picture below, you can see how the peach basket flange is bent at a 31 degree angle.
You can see the gear leg angle here, too. Now do you see why I'm taking my time with this?

And there is one more angle. The square end has to be cut to match the bottom, and transitioned into the airfoil shape above. I marked the angle and cut it (with extra) with the bandsaw. I didn't go all the way to the airfoil shape. I cut higher and higher, may be an inch or two, each time I made a trial fit.
As the leg progressed to the first curve, the front has to be sanded to match the angle. This was done by making a pencil line, sanding off a little bit, and re-fitting. Once again, I was cautious and did not take away too much material each time.
As of today, I have the gear leg sanded to the half-way point.

John Gaertner started on the second lower wing today.

I also heard from Ed Rogers at Indian Lake High School. Looks like the kids have the rudder and elevators built for their project Jenny.

In case you're curious why my rudder is wood and this one is tubing - they are building the Canadian version of the Jenny - which had tail feathers made from steel rather than spruce.

Hope to sand and cut more tomorow.