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, September 30, 2011

Soldering and Oil tank intake tube beading

I started off tonight by soldering the engine compartment cross wires. Fellow Jenny restorer Phil Mintari recommended using a non-acid flux/solder mix so I decided to try it.

The iron can be seen on the left. This shows you what it looks like when you begin the soldering process. Kinda messy...

One technique is to get a "puddle" of solder on the tip of the iron and rotate the wire in the puddle. Of course, you really want to make sure the solder penetrates underneath the wrapping. When I get to the gap area, I pour a lot of solder into the gap and make it flow rearwards.

After the soldering is finished, I wash away the flux and residue with water and an old toothbrush.

Viola! One completed end.

All four ends were soldered and the wires reinstalled.

I wanted to finish fabricating the oil tank. The basic structure had been built a long time ago and Much thought has been given to the oil inlet and outlet tubes. I didn't want to just weld an aluminum tube to the side of the tank. I thought that method could easily crack and fail. Secondly, I wanted the tube to retain the oil hose without leaking. Here's what I did.

I wanted the inlet/outlet tubes to be beaded. Bill Hammond had just the tool.

I took a length of aluminum tubing, sprayed it with light oil and began the beading process.

You can see how the dies make the bead. Pretty neat! The tubes were then cut to length.

Instead of welding the tubing right to the side of the oil tank, I felt better using a reenforcing boss. I bought these at Aircraft Spruce. The boss on the right will have a oil drain fitting. The tubes will be welded to the bosses and the bosses welded to the tank.

This is where the oil outlet will go.

And the oil return.

The fill cap will be welded here.

And the drain fitting.

The tank is almost ready for welding. I need to do some more trimming, make the radius in the flange cutout more rounded and give one final fit in the fuselage. Whew!

More soon


Sunday, September 25, 2011

Engine compartment cross wires

It sure felt great to spend a few hours at the shop last night. After a hectic schedule at work, turning wrenches on the Jenny was really therapeutic.

A lot of people ask me what it is like to restore a Jenny. I think they are really asking what it is like to spend six plus years on a project and still have more work to do. I came across a quote by Winston Churchill which really described it perfectly.

Winston's quote was referring to writing a book, but the same idea applies to restoring an airplane. So, sorry Winston. I'm stealing your words and replacing the first three with my own:

"Restoring an airplane is an adventure. To begin with, it is a toy and an amusement; then it becomes a mistress, and then it becomes a master, and then a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster, and fling him out to the public.”

Back to the Jenny. After witnessing a fuel leak in the Buzz Pump, we found that the internal o-ring was pinched. I emailed Buzz Aero and George Buzel was kind enough to send a new ring right away. So, I installed the new ring and the leak stopped.

George mentioned that future models of the Buzz pump will not even have this o-ring assembly. I think this is a great idea. Once the Jenny is covered, this pump will be difficult to access if I have to change the o-ring again.

I have no complaints with Buzz Aero. It is good to see companies stand behind their produce. Anyway, here is a picture of the completed installation.

I went to Aircraft Spruce and got some more 5/32 wire and began wrapping. What is this? Wire number two hundred and fifty three....?

Anyway, four ends were wrapped last night.

These wires support the engine bearers.

And they cross in front of the firewall.

A picture from the front.

Lastly, I went to MSC and got some more flux and solder. We have a lot of wrapped wires to solder and I wanted to be provisioned accordingly.

Lastly, I wanted to share with you something really neat, especially if you get excited about old things like Jennies and race cars.

Kurt Wheaton from Oregon emailed me asking about what to do with his grandfather's scrapbooks. His grandfather was an early aviator and Kurt had five scrapbooks filled with Jenny pictures as well as Nieuports, Spads etc. I could not stop drooling.

Well, Kurt decided to share his treasures with the world.

I just had a look at his blog. The pictures are great! Thanks, Kurt.

More soon.



Tuesday, September 20, 2011


While I was busy at work, Ron and Brian got busy covering the flight controls. They gave the stabilizer the first coat of poly brush...

And stitched the ribs...

The aileron stitching was finished and the tapes were applied.

Here are the tapes at the tips.

Lastly, Kurt Wheaton sent this neat photo of a Jenny with a three bladed propeller. His father was an early flyer and Kurt has five of his grandfather's scrapbooks more or less full of Jenny’s and a smattering of other planes, F boats, Spads, Nieuports, etc.

His grandfather was also an early auto racer, like Eddie Rickenbacker, and he lived close enough to Indy that he went there and photographed 3 years of the Indy 500. Kurt has over 300 original photos of that, alone. In fact he has 2 of Rickenbacker that are unpublished, decent photos.
Interestingly, he has original photos of Victor Carlstroms deadly crash, of which I did not even know existed! His grandfather quit flying nearly altogether about two weeks after hearing of Vic’s death.

I hope Kurt will share some more of his collection. Stay tuned....


Tuesday, September 13, 2011


Just a quick update tonight - Brian got some rib stitching done on one aileron. He and Ron also put a coat of poly brush on the stabilizer.

I worked on making the cross wires in front of the firewall but ran out of galvanized wire. Gotta order more when I get back from work.

On another note, Kurt Wheaton sent me this e-mail:

Wondered if any on your list is interested in a Hisso manual. The starting bid is$39.00. I put it up on eBay this morning, and depending on the interest, I'll probably put the LeRhone manual up next.

Hope the project is progressing well!



There you go - a chance to get a neat manual.

More soon. Gotta busy two weeks at work coming up.



Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ignition switch

Here is the offending o-ring on the Buzz pump. Somehow, it got split when the pump was built. I emailed the factory and they are sending another o-ring.

It was time to wire the ignition switch. Paul Dougherty recommended the Brillman Co for old style wire.

Here is the black 16 gauge wire.

I also bought some 3/8 in conduit but in retrospect, I should have gotten some larger stuff. That size only holds three strands of the 16 gauge wire.

Anyway, once the switch was wired, Ron and I figured out where we wanted the conduit to go.

It is secured underneath the upper longeron with a simple clamp and a brass screw.

The conduit ends at the firewall.

Here is the back side of the switch. The wires will be secured above the switch later.

Here is the front side of the switch.

The booster magneto was secured to the airframe by four AN-3 bolts.

Here is the back side of the mag. The wires will be installed soon.



Friday, September 09, 2011

Fuel System

Last night, the fuel plumbing was completed. Originally, the Jenny had few filters of any kind - fuel or oil. I read a lot of stories about Jenny pilots landing in fields with sick or dead engines. Often it was contaminated fuel. Conscientious Jenny pilots strained their gas through a chamois. Especially when they used a rusty steel gas can.

They didn't know better back in 1920. But we do now.

So, a decision was made to install a fuel strainer. We wanted it close to the tank, inconspicuous, and looking like it was supposed to be there. So, we cut the copper fuel line between the fuel tank and the wobble pump.

The ends were flared and EZ Turn was applied to the threads.

The gascolator bracket was secured to the firewall with some screws.

Then the fuel shut off handle was reinstalled.

And the line from the wobble pump to the engine was run through the firewall. We used a uni-bit to cut the hole.

Here is the engine side of the firewall. Eventually, this copper line will be cut and flared and a barb fitting installed. From there, a flexible mil-spec line will run to the carburetor.

Here is how the copper lines are secured.

Then came the moment of truth. A gallon of gas was poured into the tank.

Everything worked well. We did notice a leak around the pressure set screw of the Buzz pump. It was a new pump, so that should not have been happening. We removed the screw and found the o-ring was cut. A new one was ordered.

More soon