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

Monday, July 26, 2010

Almost figured it out - 5 tuck Navy Splice

The control cables on the Jenny are all woven. Weaving cable always intrigued me probably because I was intimidated by it. Man, it sure looks complex. But, I was determined to learn.

I spent some time studying the diagram in the old Brimm and Boges book, trying to understand the process. I had the general idea, but it still seemed intimidating.

Luckily, Paul Dougherty took a few minutes to show me how to weave one during my visit to the Golden Age Air Museum this summer. Voila! That seemed easy! All I had to do was run home and weave my own, right?

Well, it wasn't that easy. As you can see below, it took a few tries. But, the last one I made was pretty close to the one Paul made for me. I think with a little more practice, I'll be ready to make the first cable for the Jenny.

When I get better at this, I'll post a step by step method of making the splice. Perhaps this will make it less intimidating to people like me out there.



Saturday, July 24, 2010

Rear cockpit details

It's hot here in Georgia this time of year, so I decided to go to the hangar at sunrise and paint some black urethane.

Here are the parts on the paint rack before spraying.

After the parts had dried, I went back later that night and installed the floorboard clamps.

The next day, Brian Eberly helped install the control sticks, seat rails, etc.

Here's a view of how the floorboards attach to the vertical seat rail support.

The seat supports. These are original pieces circa 1917.

Another view with the seat installed.

Ah, the stick controls are now installed!

Front stick.

OK, I've waited for this moment for a long time. Since the rudder bars are permanently installed, and the control sticks are permanently installed, and since the seat is bolted to the supports....why not make a little aeroplane noise.

Brian Eberly got his turn too.

This is a fuzzy photo (and I apologize) but you get the idea.

I'm sorry if I'm straying away from the purpose of this blog, but many people had sent me nice e-mails of condolence about the death of our dog last week. Thanks, I appreciate them. So, here is a picture of her in happier times last month as she went for an aeroplane ride.

She liked the wind in her face.

While I'm off topic, one of the nice things about flying for a living is that I get to visit some neat places. I had a quick layover in Dayton, Ohio last a few days ago and I made a dash to the USAF Museum.... see their Jenny, of course!

Afterward, I made a detour to the Woodlawn cemetary. Recognize the name?

As a pilot, I needed to say hello.

More soon....and I promise not to stray from the Jenny anymore.



Sunday, July 18, 2010

Progress today

Very productive day at the hangar today.

My good friend Jerry Wells in Pennsylvania was persuaded to trade a new, modern slip indicator for the antique looking one he had at his shop. He was going to put it in his Bucker Jungmeister but thought the old instrument would look better in the Jenny. Jerry flies airshows in his Jungmeister and now he will have no excuse but to keep the ball in the center with the brand new slip indicator I just sent him.

Here is where the instrument will go. I like it.

Today, Brian Eberle fit the rims to the axles. After everything was measured, we pulled the axle and painted it with primer.

Also, I made the rear fitting on the inter-stick pushrod.

And while the torch was handy, I decided to braze the plate on the tail strut U-bolts.

It looks awful when you turn off the torch.

But, a minute or two in the bead blaster took care of that. The u-bolt was painted tonight too.

The collar that we made at Clint's machine shop was drilled to accept the steel rivet.

After drilling the torque tube, the rivet needed to be bucked. The rivets were pretty long, so we cut them down leaving 1/8 in. sticking out the bottom. Notice the rivet set in the jaws of the vice.

The best way to buck a steel rivet is to heat it. So, the end was heated cherry red...

...and bucked with a rivet gun. This method works pretty well.

Here Glen Marsh heats one of the rivets on the rear stick casting collar.

Ron Alexander and Glen Marsh checked the stick alignment prior to riveting.

Here you can see the torque tube with the stick castings in place.

Perhaps I worry too much, but even after riveting, I decided to braze the stick casting collars. This really strengthened them and gave one more degree of rigidity.

Finally, the torque tube was complete and given a coat of primer.

So were the stick castings and other little pieces awaiting black urethane paint.

Wing struts

I got a bunch of non airworthy Jenny struts not too long ago. Some of them have termite holes, most have trailing edge dings. They were hung in the shop doing nothing so I thought, "Hey wouldn't they look neat cleaned up?"

So I removed the old varnish and gave them a new coat. I left the scratches, oil stains and dents where they were. Some of the struts still had the Curtiss numbers on them.

Most of them have the original Curtiss drawing numbers stamped in the wood too.

Since I have a bunch of them, I was going to put them up for sale on barnstormers or e-bay, but I thought I'd let the readers of this blog have first shot at them. I figured anyone who reads this blog has at least a cursory interest in Jennies and would cherish a piece of the original airplane. If anyone wants one, make me an offer and I'll throw one in a box and ship it to you.

Email me at

Saturday, July 17, 2010


Last week, Clint invited me to his machine shop in Griffin, GA. We made the bearings for the control stick torque tube and the 26 X 4 wheels.

I didn't post anything because right after I returned because I had to rush to Pennsylvania. I got a call that my grandmother was in the hospital and not expected to live much longer. We frantically loaded up the kids, dog and a few suitcases and headed north. I was able to spend some time with my grandmother before she peacefully passed away. If that wasn't bad enough, that evening, our elderly schnauzer dog died too. It wasn't a fun day.

But, I vowed to keep this blog objective, so back to the Jenny.

Clint's company, Atlanta Aerospace Machine is full of neat CNC machines. In the corner sat a manual lathe. This interested me the most and after half an hour, Clint showed me how the thing worked. Here's a picture of Clint setting up the lathe.

The first thing we made was the stop collar for the control stick torque tube. This was made out of a thick piece of 4130 steel turned to the dimensions on the 1918 Curtiss drawing.

Here are the collars. You'll see how they work soon.

The second thing we did was machine the bushings for the wheels. I found an oil impregnated bronze bushing with the proper ID at MSC.

All we had to do was machine the OD to fit the rims.

A perfect fit.

Here is the bearing in place.

More soon.



Monday, July 05, 2010

Tail Skid Bumper Plate

Had a spare three hours this morning, so I decided to make the tail skid bumper plates.

First, 4in. by 6in. squares were cut from a sheet of rubber. This rubber is tough stuff - it has fibers woven throughout. I got it from Paul Dougherty who used it for the bumpers for his Jenny. I believe he got it at an automotive supply store.

Anyway, the wooden braces had their final coat of varnish so it was time to attach the bumpers with some #8 brass round head screws. Here you can see how the tail skid touches the bumper when it turns.

Here is the other side view.
The second one is ready to assemble, but I ran out of time.

More soon. Enjoy