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

Saturday, November 27, 2010


Last night I brought four of the wing struts home. Today the ends were sanded to allow for the 10 oz. copper to fit underneath the fitting.

Before the coppering could begin, each strut got one coat of varnish.

Here they are hanging to dry with two original struts restored for decoration.

More soon


Friday, November 26, 2010

Station 3 braces, Mag Switch & Fuel Gauge

The side pieces of Station 3's brace were made today and welded in place.

And the left side was started. Notice the wet towels around the tubing. I had to weld these pieces with the tubing in the airframe...a wooden airframe. The top part was welded first.

Then the side pieces were fabricated...

...and welded in place. Here is a picture of left brace after the primer paint was sprayed.

Now you can see the braces with the engine bearers in place. Next step is to drill through everything - the tank cradle strap, station 3 brace, engine bearer and a 90 degree brace under the engine bearer (which had to be made yet) and bolt everything together.

Also had time to install the magneto switch. Glen Marsh was kind enough to clean up this switch but I only told him to "paint it black". Later, I realized that the switch was "gloss black" so I had to repaint it. either way, the switch looks good in place. I can't wait to install the vintage style wires.

John Gaertner is nearly finished with the fuel gauge.

I like it!

More soon


Monday, November 22, 2010

ORA and GAAM visits

Yesterday I just returned from a four day work trip to New York. Since I had two days to sit around and wait, I headed north towards Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome.

Tom Polapink, the editor of WWI Aero magazine, made arrangements for me to see the ORA Hisso powered Jenny. I was particularly interested in seeing how Cole Palen had rigged a fuel pump to the back of their Hisso.

When I got there, Bill Gordon was busy pulling several aeroplanes out of the hangar. Bill is the Chief pilot at ORA and when I asked him what he was doing, he said "pulling aeroplanes out of your way so you can see the Jenny." Boy, that was nice! I got to crawl all over the Jenny, take measurements and lots of pictures.

Above: L to R - me, Mark Mondello (ORA volunteer) and Tom Polapink

Unfortunately, the accessory case of their engine was different than ours. Their fuel pump was mounted in a different location. I was out of luck. But, I was invited to see several other Hisso's in the ORA Museum. Surely one of them would have the same accessory drive.

Nope. Each one of their three other Hisso's had a different set up. Oh, well.

Hey, who could resist a chance to make aeroplane noises?

After spending the day with Bill Gordon, Tom Polapink, Mark Mondello and ORA Museum President Mike Digiacomio, I was touched by their hospitality and generosity. They opened up the place to my disposal and for an old aeroplane nut like me, that was an awfully nice thing to do.

The next day I drove to my old hometown in Pennsylvania and went straight to the Golden Age Air Museum. It was good to see Paul Dougherty, Mike Cilurso and Mike Diamiani again. They were working on covering a Fokker Triplane and it sure was turning out nice. Anyway, Paul loaned me the molds to make the louvers in the Jenny cowling.

These molds are designed for a 50 ton press. You put the sheet metal in place, drill two holes, score a thin line and press some heavy rubber into the mold. You 'll see how they work when I get to making the cowlings this winter.

In case you are wondering, Paul used a big router bit to make the shape of the louvers in the mold.

After spending the day at the museum, we flew back to Atlanta. John Gaertner sent me pictures of the fuel gauge progress. Here are the float rods attached to the base.

We beefed up the area where the rods threaded into the base. This was a known failure point and since we were there, we added more material.

John also made a die to draw the brass float halves.

The fuel gauge needles were water jet cut from thin stock.

That's it for today. I am still amazed by the hospitality shown to me at both ORA and the GAAM. It's nice to know there are still good people out there.

More soon!


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Wire hoops, cable guides, Station 3 support

Glen Marsh was kind enough to overhaul the inside of my mag switch so I painted the case a gloss black color today and added the white letters.

I also finished making the wire hoops. Once again, the .080 hard wire was bent into a loop, wrapped with wire and soldered.

Here is the rear "hoop" in place at the tail post.

And the other "hoop" location underneath the rear wing attach fitting. The fabric should fit just nicely around there.

The rudder cable guide blocks were given their final coat of varnish and drilled for the long, brass screws.

Here is the rudder cable guide installed. This keeps the cables from rubbing on the elevator horn.

Station 3 is the metal cross tube that is different than the OX-5 Jennies. Instead of a curving arc, the tubing angles down with a curve in the middle. I intentionally left the engine bearer support brackets off the tube when I made it. I didn't want to weld them in place initially but rather weld them later when I knew the exact location of the engine bearers. Since a bolt goes through here, I thought the alignment was somewhat important.

Now, how do you weld on a tube surrounded by wood?

Simple. I got a bunch of soaking wet towels and surrounded the area. I paid particular attention to the end of the tube where it meets the upper longeron. I wanted to keep that area cool.

It worked just fine. When I removed the towels, the longerons were cool. For the picture, I moved the engine bearers back into place so you can see the relationship.

The next step is to put the wet towels back into place and weld the side supports onto the brackets.

More soon. Enjoy!


Friday, November 12, 2010

Furring strips, struts and wings

The copper was installed on the cabane struts this week. This is 10 oz. copper easily cut with some tin snips.

Then the nails were installed.

Here are all four cabane struts. One coat of varnish has already been applied, so after some wet sanding, they will get their final coat.

Here's a close up of the ends.

The struts were trial fit in their sockets.

The furring strips were given their final coat of varnish Wednesday, so the next day they were installed. Each strip was held in place by some slotted brass #8 screws. Glen Marsh gave me a hand putting the top furring strip in place.

The wire fabric attach hoops were then permanently mounted.

Here is a picture of Brian Eberle installing the furring strips on the left side.

The moment of truth! Since the wing pins arrived from the plating company, the right lower wing was given a trial fit.

Looks pretty neat!

The holes lined up pretty well, but a little "tweaking' will be necessary to get a smooth fit.

Kodak moment above.

John Gaertner is nearly finished with the fuel gauge. The lower base was originally a casting (like the bullet) but we decided to make this out of two pieces of aluminum welded together. the fillet at the base will be ground smooth.

My good friend Joe Vasile stopped by the hangar to see the Jenny. I've known Joe for a long time since we share a passion for Bucker biplanes. Joe has two Bucker Jungmanns and a Jungmeister project so we're always swapping parts or stories. Joe recently retired from the Air Force where he flew U-2's and now lives in Virginia. It was good to see him.

More next week.


Thursday, November 04, 2010

Rudder Cables

Worked on a few more cable splices today.

When the rudder cables were made, I left one end open. I didn't want to make them to a specific length but rather mark the last end with the cables in place. After centering the rudder and centering the rudder bar, I reinstalled the cables and marked the location of the last splices. Here are the right side rudder cables.

And the left side rudder cables.

At the rudder horn, the cables are joined together with a common shackle.

I have the first two ends of the elevator cables spliced. Six more ends to go!

John Gaertner got the wing pins back from the plating company. Can't wait to install them!

More next week. We have a big Veterans Day Event at the museum this weekend.