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, November 29, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

My parents were here from Pennsylvania all this week so I didn't work on the Jenny too much. Kids got spoiled and we did a lot of fun things for the Thanksgiving holiday.

I did pick up a Type C tachometer for the Jenny today. It was purchased at an estate sale in north Georgia many years ago by Mr. Van Thurston.

Several days ago, Michael Brennan wrote me this e-mail:

I send this note with much gratitude.

The Lemoyne Gallery, here in Tallahasse, produces an annual Christmas show and they usually come to me with requests for various props. In January, they asked me to build a vintage mail plane for this year's show.

Thanks to your wonderful blog I was able to gather plenty of information. I did have to reduce the span to 30 feet. It is a big hit parked in front of the gallery. There is something about an airplane out of place that gets plenty of attention. I added an additional step to make getting in and out easier; there is always someone having their picture taken in it.

Vintage airplane do not have to fly to be sensational. Also, they build much faster when they do not have to fly and the material comes from Lowes. Oh, and the instruments are drink coasters.

Mostly though, thanks for your wonderful journalism and photography. Your blog is a part of my daily life.

Best Regards, Michael Brennan

I really appreciate the kind words, Michael. When I was a kid, if a local shopping mall had your Jenny on display and we were allowed to have our picture taken in it, I doubt I would have gotten out of the seat. Other children would never have gotten their turn!

Hope to post more progress pictures later this week. I want to finish building the turtledeck.



Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Mahogany strips

Yesterday morning, I went to see Walter Ivey, who lives a few miles from my house. Walt and I work together and we have spent many enjoyable hours in thc cockpit together flying all over the place. Anyway, Walt is quite a wood worker and he was gracious enough to stop building some bathroom cabinets for his wife long enough to rip some rough stock Mahogany for me.

The strips will be used to frame the baggage door as well as the map table in the front cockpit. Solid Mahogany is used here, as opposed to the Mahogany plywood used to make the bulkheads.

I got an e-mail from Milt Clary the other day. If you remember, Milt spearheaded the construction of a mini-Jenny and he wrote:

I thought you would be interested in knowing that the 1/2 scale Curtiss Jenny I helped my church build back in the summer of 08 is now prominently displayed at the Museum of Science & History in Ft Worth.

As it turns out, there were several training bases there prior to our entry into WWI where RCAF pilots trained in Jennys. The museum has an aviation display highlighting the early days of flight in and around Ft. Worth and the Jenny was a major, if not the only player during that era.

I'm glad the Jenny found a good home. Thanks, Milt.



Sunday, November 22, 2009


More work on the baggage compartment today. Bulkhead #7 had the lightening holes cut out. The drawing dimentions were smudged so badly, I had to take an educated guess - for those future Jenny builders, I drilled a 1/4 in hole on the one side and a 3/4 in. hole on the other.

The rest was cut out with a jig saw.

Here is bulkhead 7.

There is a small baggage compartment behind the pilot's seat, so the cutout was made in the same manner.

This is Bulkhead #1

The baggage compartment floor was also made today. Mot much will fit in here - it's only 9 1/4 in long and about 24 inches wide. People probably didn't have as much "stuff" as we have today. So, in 1920, I'm sure the space was adequate.

The plywood piece sitting on the floor will be used to make the baggage door.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


Turtledeck drawings - you know, I spent a lot of time pouring over these Curtiss drawings trying to get a mental image of how the turtle deck was constructed. I wanted to make the turtledeck exactly as Curtiss made it in the factory. But, things in the drawings did not add up correctly.

For example, I was trying to figure out the two, long side stringers. What was the thickness? One drawing showed a 5/8 in. thick piece running the entire length of the turtledeck. But when I looked at the bulkhead cutouts (where the stringers run) I expected to see a 5/8 in cutout, right?

Well, the first four showed a 11/32 in. cutout and the last four showed a 3/16 in cutout. How could the stringer run the entire way if it was 5/8th in. thick? By my calculations, the stringer would have to taper.

But, the stringer drawing didn't show a taper. Hmmm.

I spent hours calculating, envisioning and pouring over pictures until I could no longer stand it. So, I called Paul Dougherty.. "Make the turtledeck fit your airplane," he said. "The side stringers are indeed 5/8 in. thick the entire way. Cut out the bulkheads to make them fit."

So I did.

Here you can see an example of the bulkhead cutout. Notice the side stringer is not flush with the inner bulkhead. Another stringer sits on top of the side stringer and you have to account for that. I have not made the top stringer yet, so be patient. When you see how it fits, perhaps in the next blog entry, it will all make sense.

If I'm getting too technical here, I apologize. Someday someone else will want to build a Jenny and I hope to save them lots of hours scratching their head and wondering why the drawings don't add up!

Anyway, each bulkhead was individually trimmed to fit the stringers. It was the standard "cut a little, put it back on, remove it, cut a little more and so on" type of construction.

Also - a little tip -don't cut the grove for the center stringer yet (like I did). Wait until you have the sides cut and fitted. Then, lay your stringer on top of the bulkhead, mark it, and cut the groove. You'll get a much straighter stringer that way.

After pouring through the thick MSC and McMaster-Carr catalogues, Paul told me that the best material to make the turtledeck side hinges was found at Home Depot. After a short shopping spree, I brought the brass hinges It will be cut to shape in the near future.
Till then, enjoy.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Firewall flange & tail skid wires

I stopped by Richard Epton's hangar today and cut some galvanized sheet into 1 1/2 in. strips for the firewall flange using his shears.

Then the strip was bent in half with the brake.

And finally the curve was created using a shrinker.

It's best to work from one end to the other.

Getting the best fit possible.

The finished curve will eventually be riveted to the firewall.

I was not happy with the first tail skid wire spacer I made. I guessed the dimentions by using Paul Daugherty's Jenny as a template, but when I built the tail skid, the skid hit the wires. So, a new, wider one needed to be made.
First step was to weld a new rectangle out of 1/4. in tubing. Then, the wire bender was dusted off and put to good use.

Here's the new assembly.

As you can see, when the tail skid pivots (to turn the aeroplane) the wood does not hit the wires.

Here's another view.

I could not resist - Brighton calls this his "Jenny Propeller"


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Radiator support bracket and tail skid stuff

"Who said two rights don't make a left?" - Sorry - Couldn't resist that play on words. The project came with two right side radiator brackets so I decided to make one into a left bracket. It's the same flat pattern, only bent differently. You can see the two identical pieces below.

It was just a matter of exactly bending the original folds the opposite way. Bending blocks helped but you still had to be careful.

Now you have a right and a left.

Decided to finish the tail skid shoe. The shoe is held on to the skid with screws. The screws need to be countersunk as deeply as possible so the skid can wear without scraping the head off the screw.

Here you can see the recessed screw.

And the skid in place, awaiting black paint and another coat of varnish on the wood.

Built the lower tail skid area cross brace today. It's a 1 1/4 by 1 1/4 in. piece of spruce rough cut on the bandsaw.

And asnede to the line with the spindle sander.

Here is the brace in place. The wires will be changed because they are hitting the skid when it reaches full travel. The square joint will be made rectangular so as to spread out the wires.


Monday, November 09, 2009

Aileron Cable Pulley

I made the second aileron cable pulley guide today.

Welded and drilled for the 1/4 in. holes.

Bead blasted and painted in primer.

Now there are two!

Here is the right one in place. Notice the pulley angle.

Also had time to work on the tail skid shoe. The ash skid was designed with some extra material on the end so you can sand it to match the angle of the shoe.

More tomorrow. Enjoy

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Pulleys and casting

Hello again! I was only down and out for a day and I was feeling better shortly thereafter, so those of you who sent their regards, thank you. But, the reason the blog seemed to stop was not due to the illness, but rather a long international trip at work.

I just returned and I was pleased to see a box on my doorstep from Harry Burak at Zemco Machine Inc. They were the new pulleys for the Jenny.

The original Jenny pulley is somewhat unique and after searching through several catalogs (MSC, McMaster-Carr) none of the pulleys today were exactly the same. Paul Daugherty had Harry Burak copy an original piece and lucky for me, Harry saved the CAD program.

The pulleys have an inside bearing which can be purchased at Aircraft Spruce.

Harry can make many more, if you need a set. He can be reached at: Zemco Machine Inc. 205 N. Broad St. Doylestown, PA 18901.

Also in the box was a new fuel tank gauge flange. It gets soldered to the tank. Noticed that it is angled. To accomodate the downthrust of the OX-5 engine, the fuel tank sits at an angle in the fuselage. That would mean the fuel gauge would be angled, too. This piece maked the fuel gauge sit level with the fuselage.

That being said, the Hisso doesn't have the downthrust like the OX-5 so I may not be able to use this piece as it was intended. We'll cross that path when the rest of the fuel gauge is finished.

More soon