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, January 29, 2011

Radiator Brace and New Wire Splicing Video

I wanted to get the radiator supports built so the radiator could stand alone on the fuselage without me worrying about it falling off. After studying the drawings, I decided it would be easier to make a template right from the aeroplane.

I had to plane some spruce to 3/4 in thick to begin.

Here is the rear part of the brace after the cuts were made on the bandsaw.

This is how it goes. This brace not only holds the radiator steady, but the cowling screws to the wood. That's why the wood sticks out past the longeron. Remember the furring strip? You can see it on the right. The brace has to match that profile so the cowl is smooth.

Here is where the Hisso installation is different. Normally with the OX-5 engine installed, this piece of spruce runs from the fitting straight to the radiator. However the spark plugs of the Hisso interfere with the top part of the brace and a notch has to be cut.

Smoothing out the notch with the spindle sander.

Here is the radiator end of the brace. 3/16 in was cut away for the attach fitting.

Speaking of attach fittings - the OX-5 fitting would not work so Brian Eberle made one from .063 steel that was custom to our brace.

OX-5 fitting on the left. Our Hisso fitting on the right.

See how it works now?

Here is the completed brace. It gets a coat of varnish next followed by some copper.

David Harwell, who owns Barnstormers Workshop at the Peach State airport gave me this photo yesterday from his collection. It's a great picture of a Navy Jenny on floats called an N-9 even if the landing didn't go as planned. In order to lift the floats, the N-9 had a greater wingspan than the JN4D. Unfortunately it also had less speed! Later versions of the N-9 had Hisso engines.

According to the book Jenny was No Lady this particular N-9 was the second to last one from a batch of thirty built by Curtiss in 1917. Neat stuff.

Lastly, John Gaertner has finished editing the cable splicing video we shot a few weeks ago and it is now available from his company - Blue Swallow Aircraft.

I had a chance to see the video and I sure wish I had a copy when I learned cable splicing. That was the purpose of making the video - to save people the frustration of learning it from an old book, making lots of mistakes and getting frustrated. I was fortunate enough to have Paul Dougherty show me how to do it once, but by the time I got home the details were fuzzy and I finally figured it out after many frantic phone calls were made to poor Paul. (I know you are grinning right now, Paul)

Here is a still shot from the movie.

John is also making cable splicing and wrapping jigs that you can get on his website. If anyone is interested, go to www.blueswallowaircraft and check it out.

More soon


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Radiator, pump and control horns

Before I left on my last trip, I finished brazing the other side of the radiator. Here's a picture right after brazing.

Cleaned up a bit...

Now you can see how the original OX-5 radiator would hit the Hisso cylinder banks.

I also found two NOS Titan CH5495 fuel pumps still in their original wax papered box! They are in remarkable shape and should fit perfectly in the Hisso after we make the adapter gear.

In order to save time, I asked John Gaertner to make a set of aileron control horns for me. Here they are.

My friend Steve Beaver sent me these pictures from the Curtiss Museum in Hammandsport, NY. Steve had just dropped off his daughter at college in Ithica, NY and since he was so close, he just had to stop by the museum. I heard this was a great museum, but I have not had the opportunity to go there. Someday....

Check out the old map in the map case.

Remember the last post - I asked all the Jenny model builders out there to answer Rolland's question about the best Jenny RC kit? Well, several people were kind enough to answer and the majority recommended the Proctor kit. I passed this information along to Roland who was most appreciative.

A special thanks to : Anthony Hixon, David Paule, Mike Diamiani, Anthony Dilluvio, Cliff Hartley and Milt Clary for replying to my request.

Lastly, several of you have e-mailed asking for big pictures of the Jenny rather than my detail shots. This Saturday, a reporter from Autopilot Magazine is coming to do a feature story on the project. I plan on pulling the fuselage out of the shop and photographing it outside.

More soon



Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Radiator and support

I was supposed to work today, but my flight canceled because of the inclement weather in New York. So, I headed to the shop.

Recognize these? The throttle brackets were painted this afternoon.

We stopped work on the radiator bracket because I didn't have any steel rivets. Ron picked up some this morning. They are 1/8 in. diameter rivets. Jacob Biang ran all the RV builder classes and he told me that the rivet length should be equal to your material (in this case two .090 plates) plus 1.5 times the diameter. It's nice to have knowledgeable friends.

Anyway, the pilot holes were drilled with a #30 bit and the steel rivets installed.

After some scotch brite, more primer and a coat of black paint, the radiator support is finally ready to carry the weight of the radiator.

Speaking of the radiator, the side of the expansion tank hits the Hisso cylinder banks so off it came with a cutoff wheel.

Some brass sheet was cut to size.

After much fitting, the new side piece was ready to solder. This piece of brass does not just sit flush with the ends of the tank. The piece of brass has "ears" which go inside the hole. It holds the piece in place and the extra material makes it stronger.

Plus it is easier to solder that way. Here is what the side looks like after the solder is applied.

Here is what it looks like after sanding with a Dremel tool.

The lower piece was made the same way. Here you can see the "ear" that I was talking about.

Soldered and sanded - this side is done.

Lastly, I'd like to ask the model builders out there for a favor.

Roland KuĊ‚akowski from Poland e-mailed me asking for plans to build an R/C Jenny. I'd like to help him out, but a full set of Jenny plans cost close to $900. That's a lot of money. What's the best Jenny R/C kit out there? How about you guys who scratch built those gorgeous R/C Jennies - what drawings did you use?

Email me if you can help.

More next week!


Tuesday, January 18, 2011


I did a lot of thinking recently about the throttle linkage. Originally, the OX-5 Jenny had a solid pushrod arrangement from the throttle in the cockpit to the carburetor. But the Hisso carburetor is above the engine so that set up would not work.

Glen and I discussed making a bell crank system using pushrods. See, the throttle arm pulls the rod rearward when you open the lever. But the carburetor needs the rod to go forward to open the throttle. One bellcrank was needed to reverse direction. The other was needed to get the arm high enough to reach the carburetor on the top of the engine. Plus, the fuel tank was obstructing the pushrods and the entire thing became one big headache.

So, pardon me but I decided to go with a flexible throttle cable. You won't be able to see it from the cockpit, but it is there.

First thing was to start building the brackets. I used some .090 steel cut on the bandsaw.

Here is the bracket holding the end of the cable in place. The throttle is on the right.

The cable snakes its way to the carburetor where I made another bracket. The cable is clamped to the bracket providing leverage and stability. You can see the throttle arm to the right. The same bracket will hold the mixture cable too.

Here are the brackets after a coat of primer.

Had a visit from my good friend Gordon Clement today.

Gordon is a fellow Bucker pilot. He owns probably the most recognizable Bucker in the United States, the Jungmann once owned by airshow pilot Jim Moser.

Gordon (pictured here with his son Zack) lives on the north side of Atlanta.

That's it for today. Expect another Jenny update around the weekend.



Monday, January 17, 2011

spider plate

After our son's basketball game, I was able to get away to the shop for a few hours. I met Glen and Brian and we started drilling the holes for the spider plate extension.

Here is the extension after clean up in the bead blaster and a coat of primer paint.

Next step is to buy some steel rivets and finish the job. More tomorrow.


Friday, January 14, 2011

Instruments and bad weather

Boy, what a week...or two. After returning from a week long training session for work, Atlanta got hit with a snowstorm. Now, we rarely get snow storms down here in the south, so needless to say, Atlanta was paralyzed. Kids were home from school all week. Roads closed. Nature is still the boss!

When UPS resumed deliveries, we got a package from from Legacy Instruments. The original compass and oil pressure gauge cleaned up nicely...

But unfortunately, the Type C Tachometer was beyond repair. Apparently, the internal spring was broken and replacement parts were impossible to find.

This is the instrument panel so far. The two open spots will be filled by the temperature gauges now being overhauled by Legacy Instruments. The big hole was for our tachometer before it was deemed irreparable.

When I got the news about the tachometer, Paul Dougherty offered to help. He had a spare tachometer, but I knew it were earmarked for one of the museum's other projects and I hated to ask him to part with it.

But David Harwell happened to have a Type B tachometer in his display case and willingly parted with it.

David Harwell owns Barnstormers Workshop at the Peach State Airport, one of the few quality antique aircraft restoration shops in the country.

While I was visiting David, we discussed the fuel pump issue.

Let me back up a bit. Because of the snow in Atlanta, and the fact that no one left the house for three days, I contacted several engine overhaul places and asked them their opinions about pumps that would fit on the Hisso. Pete Jones at Air Repair responded with his suggestions. So did Jodi at Aero Accessories. Paul Dougherty educated me about the pumps he had used in past restorations.

I found out the pump below was used on a Jacobs engine. It was a fine pump, but it was too long to fit in the Jenny. I needed a shorter pump like the ones used on the R-985 radial engine.

David Harwell rummaged through his pile of spare parts and found the exact pump I needed - a Pesco 4100. I'll send this out for overhaul next week.

When I couldn't stand it anymore, I braved the icy roads and met Brian Eberle at the hangar. We got the lower radiator support drilled and cleco'ed. We were on our own here. There are no Hisso drawings so we have to design the engine installation using old pictures and make everything fit the best we can. Remember, we are not building a JN6. We're building a JN4D with a Hisso engine like the barnstormers did back in the 1920"s. They probably made their installation in some farmers field somewhere.

One of the issues was the "lip" of the spider plate. I guessed the width I needed to cradle the curved part of the lower radiator. When we installed the radiator, the lip was too short! The solution was to rivet a larger doubler on the inside of the lip. It works, but for you future Jenny restorers, make the lip bigger than you need and trim it down later.

Now some side news - Phil Mintari in Texas sent pictures of his Jenny. He has been busy spraying dope on the fuselage.

Here is the front half.

Phil spraying away.

This was earlier in the build right before they began the covering process.

Danny Mintari dropping in the OX-5.

If only pictures could talk...this is a great picture of Phil and Patricia Mintari discussing the Jenny.

More soon