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

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Peach Basket - some good & some bad

Good news - the mail man came yesterday with a big box.

"Whats in the box, dad?"

"Oh, Jenny wing struts."

"They are dirty," replied Brighton, with the logic of a two and a half year old.

"Let me help."

Sure enough, the box was full of original Jenny wing struts that Gary Kahl of Clear Lake, Iowa pulled out of an attic. Three of the struts are useable. Unfortunately, the rest were either cracked, warped or broken. But they are good for patterns !

Check out these cool strut markings.

OK, now back to the peach baskets.

As you recall, I made the front peach basket support plate out of 1/16 in. steel. That was the easy part. I put a 90 degree bend on one end and figured, with some heat, the other two funky bends will melt right around there. Wrong! The material was too thick to "easily" bend. You couldn't tap it around like I thought. I even welded the plate to the peach basket to help hold the plate while I applied the heat and bent the steel. It did not go well. So in frustration, I left the shop without putting away the tools. It was one of those days....

I thought about it the next day. I knew I could do better. We learn from our mistakes, right? So, out came the grinder and off came the support.

I decided to make some steel patterns out of some .020 stock which could be bent practically by hand. This way, I could see where the bend lines had to be before transfering them to the thick steel.

This raised another issue. The axle is a 1 1/2 in. tube and it rides up and down in the peach basket. I measured the opening - 1 5/8 in. Perfect, right? That's a 1 1/2 in. axle and two 1/16 in plates.

Not exactly.

With the two side plates installed (with the 1/16 in. material) the axle was a really tight fit. Looks like I will have to grind out the opening a little larger. The bends in the side plates are not exact right angles (bend allowance) so I really need a 1 3/4 in opening.

Oh, the things you learn when rebuilding an aeroplane.



Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Peach Basket

There are two side supports on the Peach Baskets. These were cut out from some 1/16 in. sheet steel on the bandsaw.

Here you can see the paper pattern. I only had a drawing for the front support, so I had to make my own pattern for the back one. It wasn't too bad.

But after the third support was cut, my bandsaw blade broke in half ! Ahhh. I shouldn't complain. The bandsaw had been faithfully cutting for several years. I ordered a new blade from MSC and it should be here today.
But, not to stop working - I drilled the lightening holes in the supports.

Here's the flat pattern in place. The flange has been bent 90 degrees to go inside the axle race and the rest of the support gets twisted to match the peach basket. I'll do this with a torch later.

Also, the front gear airfoil support was made on the form.

It will be welded here.

More later

Monday, May 25, 2009

Peach Baskets

Lots of time was spent today with the plumb bob, yardstick and buble level because I wanted to drill the holes in the gear legs. Perhaps I spent too much time measuring, but I wanted to make sure things were straight before I drilled the holes. Several times, I had to sand a little off each gear leg to make them fit.

First, I pre-drilled the gear leg holes in the peach basket. I made these holes undersized just in case I had to make some last minute adjustments. Then I put the gear legs in place and drilled through the wood. I'll drill them to the correct size when I'm satisfied everything is square.

The two tie rod holes were drilled to 5/16 in.

There are two threaded tie rods thah hold the peach baskets together. These will be hidden by the spruce airfoil to be built later.

The tie rods were temporarily secured with AN nuts.

Here they are. I was amazed how strong everything had become once the tie rods were secured.

More later

Friday, May 22, 2009

Peach basket

Spent a lot of time grinding and sanding today. Here's how the peach baskets look after bead blasting and painting.

There is a wooden airfoil shape between the gear legs. It hides the axle. The airfoil is held in place by a front and rear "socket" made from 1/16 in. sheet steel. I made the wooden pattern for the front socket today.

And the pattern for the rear socket. These sockets are welded to the inside of the peach baskets.

Welding the peach baskets tightened things up a bit, plus the addition of the front-to-rear support piece meant I had to re-fit the gear legs. Some time on the bandsaw and sander took care of that.

This is pretty neat - here's an original wing strut salvaged by Gary Kahl of Clear Lake Iowa. It was sent to me today and the strut turned out to be in great shape. Check out that Curtiss logo! Hasn't been touched since 1918, probably.

Recently, I received an e-mail from John Atkinson. John is a colledge student in Michigan and owns a Piper Pacer. He really likes Jennies and hopes to build one someday. He was kind enough to send a picture of the Jenny at the Air Force Museum in Dayton, OH. It's a great picture and I thought it needed to be shared with everyone.

Thanks, John

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Peach Baskets

I know I have not posted anything for a long time, but I was away for the past 8 days (Europe trip - work) and I just got home Tuesday night. Since I hadn't done my usual number of posts, several people e-mailed and asked if I was OK! I appreciate the concern for my well being.

Anyway - I'm back and work continues. Spent several hours today welding up the second peach basket .

Here's a good look at the inside ring. The weld has to be ground smooth yet.

Here you can see the two support pieces holding the peach baskets together.

Other than grinding and sand blasting, the basic peach basket structure is complete. The side pieces will be made next and the holes drilled.
Enjoy! Good to be home.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Left Peach Basket

Worked on the left peach basket today. First thing I did was heat the front flange, bend it and weld it shut.

Then the 7/16 in wide steel strip were cut from the 1/16 in sheet and bent around a 1 1/2 in. tube. Everything was tacked in place before welding.

Here's the welded flange. Next step is to grind the welds smooth.


Thursday, May 07, 2009

Peach Basket brace

The peach basket supports were bent over a square form this afternoon. The sides were bent 90 degrees and the tab was bent 41 degrees.

Here's how the brace goes into place.

A little heat....a little filler rod....


Another view.

The side supports have to be built yet, but I think I'll get the other peach basket to the same point next.
Till then

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

peach basket

The inside curve was welded into the peach basket. You can easily see where the 1 1/2 in axle goes now.

Since the original peach baskets were one piece and bend inward to make the flanges, I decided to grind the welds smooth. The effect will look the same. So, out came the grinders....

After a rough grinding, files were used to smooth things out and finally some 220 grit sandpaper finished the process.

Almost done.

There is a 1/16 in. steel piece that strengthens the outside and inside parts of the peach basket. I made a paper pattern and transferred it to steel. This will be bent and welded later.

This morning I picked up a few water jet cut pieces from Dynamic Edge Technologies in Newnan GA. My friend David Daugherty did the CAD work for the pieces that hold the airfoil in place between the landing gear and the bungee cord covers.

John Porokski (the owner of Dynamic Edge) gave me the tour of the place while I was there. What a neat machine! I was amazed by what it could do. Anyway, I would highly recommend Dynamic Edge if you need anything cut by a water jet machine. They were fast, reasonably priced and good to their word.

Here are the water jet parts.

You'll see them used as progress on the peach baskets progress.
Till then....

Friday, May 01, 2009

Peach Basket

Since the gear legs were fitted in place, it was time to weld the peach basket. First step was to cut some 7/16 in. steel strips on the bandsaw.

Then bend them over a radius equal to the curve in the peach basket.

And weld them in place.

Also, the front of the peach basket was closed by heating...


...and welding.

All in a days work. Next step is to weld the outer flange and the "u" shape on the inside.

More early next week.