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, July 31, 2009

Landing Gear airfoil

The final piece of the airfoil was glued today. Now the "sandwich" is complete and ready for shaping.

That will occur early next week. Till then



Thursday, July 30, 2009

Landing Gear Airfoil

All right - I admit it. I had to remake the top rear airfoil piece. I cut the first one too close. So, I took another piece of spruce today and marked the routing lines.

Fired up the router.

And cut the shape on the table saw.

Here's the new piece. You can see that I gave myself a little more "meat" above the airfoil curve. This is where I made a mistake on the first piece. I figured if I cut as close to the line as possible, I would have to do less sanding. Well...I got too close and undercut the line. Not this time!

The new piece will be glued and clamped to the rest of the structure next. Till then...


Monday, July 27, 2009

Landing Gear wires

Made the four wires that brace the Landing Gear today. Nothing special - just takes time. Here's the left rear one:

And the right front and back wires.

Here you can see all the wires.

My friend John Gaertner sent me this neat photo, sent to him by his friend Mark. There was a caption with it that said:

SAFEST WAY HOME - Arthur Chester, stunt flyer, injured in automobile after exhibition in South Bend, IND., refused to risk riding on ground on trip back home to Chicago. His good leg was strapped to foot controls and off he went.

Sept. 20th 1925

H.C. Elmore - News Times - South Bend Ind.

Now, I agree with that!

Guess everyone is enjoying Oshkosh this week. I was contemplating - may be Oshkosh 2010, or probably 2011 - We should have a Jenny gathering like they did back in 1991. What do you think? I'm in....



Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Landing gear airfoil

It's been a week since I had time to work on the Jenny, but I was away at training (for work) and by the time I got home, a week had gone by.

So, back to the landing gear airfoil. John Kuck offered to help again and we set up the table saw to cut the excess spruce from the four airfoil pieces.

Here you can see one of the pieces after a few cuts. The excess will be sanded away with the belt sander. All four pieces were cut this way.

For strength, the grain of the top piece runs front to back (the four airfoil pieces run left to right). So, I cut my 5/16 in. board into several pieces.

Here you can see the general layout. The airfoil is taking shape.

We decided to glue the front / bottom airfoil piece to the boards. Glue was applied to the surfaces...

...and everything was clamped to the together.

While that was drying, a milestone was met. The holes for the landing gear were drilled to size and temporary bolts were installed. Same for the fittings at the top of the gear legs.

Also, the airfoil brackets were made on a simple bending jig. These will be welded to the inside of the peach baskets.


Thursday, July 09, 2009

Creating sawdust - routing the gear airfoil

Interestingly, the inside of the landing gear airfoil is routed to save weight. It is also routed to allow the peach basket tie rods to go through the middle of the airfoil.

So, out came the router today.

Also, my friend John Kuck came over to help. John is one of the Peach State Aerodrome regulars, active in our museum and owns a Taylorcraft and a Stearman. Quite frankly, he is handy to have around.

John and I spent the day marking the inside of the airfoil pieces and hollowing out the shapes with the router. Below, you can see the trench for the threaded tie rod.

Here are two of the four pieces routed and ready for finish sanding.
Here John displays the final two pieces.
I do have good news to report - The Golden Age Air Museum's Jenny has flown !

Congratulations to Paul, his father and the rest of the GAAM crew. This airplane is magnificent.
More later

Monday, July 06, 2009

Wires and fittings and the gear airfoil

Continuing with the landing gear, I decided to build the cross brace wires today. Before I could wrap the wires, the shackles needed to be dyed to the proper 1917 color.

I had experimented with dying hardware with household lye before, but I was not happy with the results. I knew lye was extremely caustic. I put a small amount into a cup of water and soaked a few bolts. It took forever for the bolts to change color and when they did, the color was chalky and uneven. So, I gave up on the idea.

Oh, what you learn when you ask questions.

I remembered seeing the beautiful silver shackles on Paul Dougherty's Jenny during my visit to Pennsylvania. I asked him "How did you do that?"

"I dyed them in lye"

"No kidding....?"

Remembering my earlier troublesome attempts, I asked him for his technique. Here goes:

1.) Use a lot of lye. Fill the jar with 10 to 20 percent lye and the rest water. It will turn a milky color when you stirr it. At this ratio, the hardware will change color in a minute or two.
2.) The solution is not usable forever. I found that after the water becomes clear again, the chemical change slows down considerably. You can't just add more lye, either. I'n not a chemist so don't ask me for a detailed explanation. Paul just says it's so and it works for me.
3.) Don't get any on you. Lye is mean stuff.
4.) Use a glass container. The chemical reaction generates a lot of heat. Watch out when you grab it. The glass will be hot.
5.) Don't smell it. Notice that my container is outside. Did I mention this is nasty stuff?
6.) When you pull the hardware out of the solution, wash it with clean water.
Below are the shackles from the aircraft hardware store next to the ones dyed in the lye. One thing I noticed - The original factory plating has to be intact. Since the lye only changes the color of the plating, any scratches will still be there when you are finished.

You can do this to bolts, too.

Now that the shackles had been dyed, I started making the cables which brace the landing gear. These are thick cables - 3/16 in - which are bigger than the 1/8 in. cables used in the fuselage.

Because the cables are thicker, do you need to wrap them more? Yes. I checked the Brimm and Boges book and the formula is the same. Each wrapped section is seven times the diameter of the wire.
In this instance, the 3/16 in cable needs a wrapped length of 1 5/16 in. There are three wraps per end. Including the tapered end, the total length of the wrapping is about 4 inches.
Also, the gap between the wraps should be equal to the diameter of the wire, but not less than 1/8 in.

Here our son Nicholas shows the day's handywork. Four cable ends wrapped and ready for solder.
Another thing I wanted to do today was get the spruce for the landing gear airfoil measured and ready for shaping. The airfoil consists of 4 one inch boards and a cross grained bottom board.
I made a cardboard template and traced the outline onto the individual boards.

I will rough cut the shape with the table saw. Before that happens, several lightening spaces will have to be routed on the inside as well as two grooves to accept the landing gear tie rods. All these dimentions were traced onto the boards too.

Now I'm ready to create sawdust. Next shop day. Till then

Friday, July 03, 2009

Landing Gear brace wire fittings

Back in the shop all day today! Continuing where I left off before vacation, I cut out the last three landing gear wire fittings. The rough shape was cut with the bandsaw.

And ground on the bench grinder. It's pretty thick steel (.250) so grinding took a lot of time.

Then the approximate angle was bent using the torch and a hammer.

And the 5/16 in. holes were drilled too.

Here are the fittings out of the bead blaster and ready for primer.

The front fitting goes here.

And the rear fitting goes here.

It doesn't seem like a full day's work, but cutting and grinding the thick steel took lots of time. You can't rush a Jenny...on the ground or in the air!
Have a good 4th of July holiday.
More later...

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Back from Vacation

The family and I just returned from a wonderful vacation to our native Central Pennsylvania. We had a great time and the weather was perfect. Besides watching the kids get spoiled by the grandparents, I had an opportunity to visit the Golden Age Air Museum in Bethel, PA. Their Jenny is close to making its first flight and I took lots of pictures.

While I was there, Paul Dougherty and his father attached the horse hair filled cockpit coaming....

....and Mike Damiami worked on getting the OX-5 ready to run. Mike works Technical Support for Lycoming Aircraft Engines during the week and on the weekends, he lends his expertise to the museum. He is a valuable source of information. I know. I've called his number before when the Lycoming in my Bucker was giving me fits.

Before I left, I picked up some original sheet metal from a Jenny rear cockpit. I don't know how I got it to fit it into the van filled with luggage, DVD players, coloring books, baseball gloves, four kids, one wife, a dog and a cooler full of beverages, but I did and the cockpit sheet metal made it to Georgia safely.

Of course I had to put it on the airplane...just to see if it fit!

Gotta fly tomorow, but I expect work to resume on the Jenny Friday. Till then