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, June 24, 2011

Disassembly and aileron coppering

It was time to undo everything we spent months doing! It needed to be done however if progress was to be made.

All the wires were removed...

...and cataloged for re installation at a later date.

The upper wings were removed and Brian started safety wiring the turnbuckles.

I put the little leather grommets between the wires.

And John Kuck safety wired the other wing.

All four wings are now ready to cover.

Today, Brighton and I headed to the shop. I wanted to get the copper reinforcements on the ailerons. We took some 10 oz. copper and cut it into 7/16 in strips with the shears. Brighton's job was to stand on the shear bar to work the blade.

The copper helps hold the ribs on.

We sheared all the strips we will need for both ailerons. He liked that machine!

The ribs on the right aileron are all coppered now.

Also, the aileron horn gets some crush protection from the copper. That was made today also.

Lastly, professional photographer John Slemp has made available his photographs of the Jenny available for public view:

I'm sure John could make you some fine prints if you want some. He does really nice avaition photography. I really like the Ryan STA photos. Pretty classy!


More soon. Enjoy


Monday, June 20, 2011

Jenny gets some sunshine.

Well, the Jenny came out of the hangar this evening!

L to R - Glen Marsh, Ron Alexander, me, Brian Eberle

My wife took these photos and I wanted to get some published before the night was over. Luckily, professional photographer John Slemp was there with a camera that probably cost more than my car. So, when I get the information, you'll be able to see John's nice high-res photos on his website.

Now it is time to take the wings off and finish the fuselage.



King Post wires

Made the remaining king post wires last night. First step was to bent the piano wire with the bending tool, insert the fitting and pull the ferrule up to the loop.

Cut and bend the end.

The king post wires are now built.

In preparation for covering, each drag / anti drag wire got an anti-chaffing patch secured with wire.

Inter wing turnbuckles were safety wired till the clock struck twelve. Enough for one day.



Friday, June 17, 2011

Jenny roll out date

OK everyone, the last flying wire has been built so now it is time to move the Jenny out of the hangar for some sun shine! Once it goes back in, the wings will come off and the covering process will begin.

So, on Monday evening, we will open the hangar doors and roll the Jenny out onto the ramp for the first time. This will be the only time to see it fully assembled without fabric. The next time you will see it this way is during final assembly!

We still have a lot of work to do on the fuselage (sheet metal, fuel lines, oil pump), but the wings and tail are ready to be covered with fabric. My goal is to start covering them around the first of July.

I'll post pictures when I get them. Till then...



Right side king post

My son Brighton and I went to the shop early this morning and we made the rest of the king post wires on the left side of the airplane.

I also finished drilling and dressing the king post cross wire fittings Brian Eberle cut out the other day.

Once they were bent and fit to the lower king post fitting, the inner ends were brazed together.

Here are the fittings after brazing. They need to go into the bead blaster next followed by painting, but for now, I was happy just to get them brazed.

This is where they attach.

Brighton wanted to deburr the holes. Gladly!

He also wanted to build his own airplane. Hey, it kept him occupied while I ran the torch.



Thursday, June 16, 2011

King post

Brian volunteered to work last night, so after a few slices of Pizza he started wrapping wires.

On the the other end of the work bench, I started making the six wires right aileron brace wires. The .010 piano wire was bent using the wire bending tool.

The loose ends were bent up by hand and cut off with wire cutters.

Voila! One wire end awaiting a shackle.

The six wires were completed shortly thereafter. I have not tensioned the wires yet.

Before Brian made the rear king post wires, we cut and drilled the king post rod.

Here is how the bracing rod fits. I used some 7/16 in .049 steel tubing for this. I have a drawing of the general king post area, but nothing states the size of the rod. Luckily, I had two original king post top brackets and I measured the socket to get the correct size.

We switched duties and I took a turn wrapping wires while Brian cut out the king post cross brace fittings out of sheet steel.

Two more to go.

Here is the fitting after a little bending. The end will be brazed before the wire loop is attached.

That was enough for one night. Here is the progress so far.

We are still on track for the photo roll out Monday evening. Enjoy!


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Back from vacation

Hello again,

Just got back from a well needed family vacation to the old stomping grounds of my youth in Pennsylvania. One of the highlights of the trip was my plan to participate in the Golden Age Air Museum's Flying Circus show, but the weather was awful and the show got cancelled on Saturday. Unfortunately, I had to return to Atlanta Sunday, but at least I got to see the Jenny fly around the patch.

Back to work!

While I was in Pennsylvania, fellow antique airplane nut Mike Cilurso handed me a very rare tool - an original 1940's vintage cable splicing tool! Man, these things are as rare as hen's teeth. The neat thing about this tool is the way it holds the cable in place and allows you to rotate the entire assembly making cable weaving a whole lot easier. More about this tool later.

I'm trying to finish up the king post wires this week. These fittings were made out of flat stock, drilled and countersunk.

This is where the new fittings attach on the upper wings. They hold the wire from the king post inwards . None of the bolts have the spherical washers installed yet. We are still in the trial fit stage.

This is the wire attached to the new fittings.

Here is the top of the king post.

And the wire going towards the tip.

OK, back to the new tool. I made a few wrapped wires with this tool and it worked really well. In this picture, you can see the prototype tool I made a few years ago (center) the new production tool made by Blue Swallow Aircraft (top) and the original tool from the 1940's (bottom).

I was worried the new tool would make me want to throw away the home made tools, but that was not the case. They worked equally as well. So, if you can't get the original 1940's tool, don't despair! The new tools are easier to make and work the same.

The only advantage of the 1940's tool was the ability to rotate the assembly all the way around. When you have to weave the underside of the cable, all you do is release tension on the thumb screw and spin it around. With my tool, I have to unload the vice and manually turn the whole thing around. Gives me ideas....perhaps the next version of my tool....

Anyway, our plan is to finish the wires by this weekend. On Monday, we will roll the Jenny out of the hangar and take pictures. After that, the wings will come off and the covering process will begin.

Till then - enjoy


Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Wire wrapping...and wrapping...and wrapping...

The other night, while sitting on the couch pondering why I ate too much at our Memorial Day picnic, I decided to head to the shop and make a few more wires. Two text messages later, Brian Eberle joined me and we went to work.

I called it "Dueling Wire Wrapping Machines" - we each made wires on either end of the table.

This morning, I went back to the shop and continued working.

The wire cut-offs are a good measure of progress.

My wife took the other three kids for haircuts, so Brighton accompanied me to the hangar. He wanted to make his own wire, so I set up one of the tools and told him what to do.

He wrapped for a while and I showed him how to tap the wraps to make them tight.

The grinding wheel was a little scary for him, so I cut off the end and he finished the wrap.

Then he saw the bubble wrap in the corner and all thoughts of making more wires went away.

Seven more wires to go.

I may not post anything for a week or two so hang on - got a busy week ahead with other things. You might have noticed that my trusty Panasonic digital camera seems like it is getting sick (the pictures have been blurry). It's been a faithful camera for the last ten years and it took all the pictures you have seen on this blog. But I think it is time for a new camera. Oh, well. Good bye old friend.