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, January 30, 2012

Rib stitching has begun

Hey! The first rib stitch has occurred!

Ron likes the modified seine knot right out of the Ploy Fiber Manual. First, you make the island...

...then the bikini....

...over and under... make the "W".....

...pull it tight.

Only a hundred and nineteen to go on this wing!

John Kuck and I finished burnishing the front cockpit cowl. This piece was almost six hours of burnishing. You can see why we are happy.

Next step - burnishing the next piece.

More soon. Enjoy


Saturday, January 28, 2012

Plane in the background

All you have to do is ask....! Remember the airplane in the background? We got an answer.

Gary Fathers emailed me right away. He said:

As you know, my favorite plane is the Thomas Morse S4c scout, so you know what I'm gonna say next don't ya!!!

The plane in the photo is an S4c re-engined with something, don't know what though, probably something huge for racing purposes I'd guess. Several of them were modified after the war for barnstorming, displays etc, and even modified with tandem seating by grossly widening the fuselage for a passenger. Looking at the attempts at streamlining it was probably for racing.

A closer photo can be found on Flikr at this link;
I think it looks pretty much the same.
See ya Gary

From what I can tell, the engine looks like an OX-5. Thanks, Gary for the identification. Gary is building a scale Thomas Morse and I can't wait to see it.

Jim Landon also e-mailed me and made the same identification. He also made a very detailed Thomas Morse Scout several years ago.

Getting back to Jennies... Jim sent pictures of the extremely detailed 1/16 scale Jenny model he is building for a museum in Colorado. Check out this detail!

Absolutely stunning.

Hope to work on the Jenny Sunday evening. There is more burnishing to do and I think the first rib stitch will be made. Till then... enjoy


Friday, January 27, 2012

Reverse exhaust stack

I got some feedback about the reason for the forward facing exhaust on the OX-5 engine. I also noticed the unusual airplane in the background. Anyone know what kind it is??

Don Barnes wrote:

I was told about 35 years ago by a former Jenny pilot, that they would reverse the stacks to place the outlet further forward out of their field of view for flying at night.

The aircraft picture was taken in 1926 was known as Ole #1. The pilot posing was T.A. Ewell.


Another plausible explanation came from expert model builder Anthony Hixson, who also sent me pictures of his really neat 1/4 scale Fokker DRI painted up in one of Von Richtofens paint schemes. Anyway, Anthony writes:

Hi Brian,

I have a theory about the backwards exhaust. If the plane was used for wing walking exhibitions it was probably a bit more comfortable for the wing walker to climb out of the front cockpit without getting blasted by hot exhaust fumes. Seems plausible anyways.

Or a really screwed up mechanic ;)


Thanks, guys.


Sheet metal

We had a productive evening the other night. John Kuck met Brian, Ron and me at the hangar. In a twist of fate, Russel Sanford called me that morning and volunteered his services too.

The first order of business was to finish burnishing the side cowl !!

Since the side cowl has a few fragile points near the big access door cutout, Russell and John held it steady during the burnishing process.

Above: the last burnish !

L to R - Russell Sanford, Brian Eberle, Brian Karli, John Kuck, Ron Alexander

I should count how many burnishes are there. Nah...I don't want to know.

While we were burnishing, Ron and Brian put down a layer of poly-brush and the rib stitching reinforcing tapes. Because of the wing camber, the fabric has to be stitched before final shrinking.

John Kuck made a bunch of 1 1/2 inch lines on the right side cowl - guide lines for future burnishing!

Meanwhile, Russell and I started burnishing the front upper cowl.

That's about an hour's worth of work right there.

Don Barnes sent me more neat old Jenny pictures from the San Diego collection. I'll be sprinkling them throughout the next few blog entries. Hey, I can only take so many boring burnishing pictures, right?

Anyway, the one picture which immediately became of interest is this photo of T. Clayde Ryan in a Jenny. See anything unusual?

Absolutely no windshield! Guess they didn't need it. Also notice the big cockpit cutout.

Just think about this...Claude Ryan's company built Lindbergh's New York to Paris Spirit of St. Louis...with a burnished cowl !!

Lastly, check out this paint scheme. Gotta love the rear cockpit machine gun.

More soon. Enjoy


Monday, January 23, 2012

Front cockpit cowl

Had some time this afternoon, so I worked on the front cockpit cowl again. The strut cutout holes got some much needed attention with a file and sandpaper. Also sanded all the edges.

Lastly, in preparation for burnishing, lines were drawn across the cowl at 1 1/4 inch intervals.

Don Barnes sent me some really neat Jenny photos. He saw them in the Ryan Aeronautical Photo Collection @

Thought you might like them.

What is so unique about this photo is the OX-5 exhaust. Notice it faces forward! I wonder why?

Here is another view. Looks like they just took the exhaust and flipped it upside down and moved it to the other side.

Anyway, I like seeing old Jenny photos. Hope you do too. Thanks Don!



Sunday, January 22, 2012

Sheet metal and "Wings"

I was thinking about the tachometer the other day. We have to order a cable to go from the engine to the rear cockpit and I was wondering what size cable to order. When I pulled out the tachometer drive from the engine, I noticed that one of the ears in the drive gear was broken!

The broken part went to the machine shop and a new one was made.

The new gear was pinned to the internal drive...

And inserted into the right cylinder bank.

Now...about that tach cable. Hope to order one this week.

I got to the shop early the other day and while I was waiting for John Kuck to arrive, I started laying out the 1 1/4 inch square lines on the left side cowl.

But John arrived and we began burnishing...and burnishing...and burnishing.

The area below the main access door has a flange which sits on the lower longeron. Because of this flange, we could not burnish the area with the drill press. So, we reverted to the "manual method".

A 2 inch hole was cut into a piece of plywood and we used the air drill to spin the abrasive disks.

We were able to burnish the hard to reach areas. There are only a few more rows to go.

After the productive day with John, I returned to the shop and began bending the wire around the front cockpit.

First, the 3/16 in aluminum rod was given a gentle curve. Nothing special - this was bent by hand.

I used a pair of vice grips to hold a section of the rod.

I flipped the cowling over and used a deep wooden block to help hold it against the sheet metal.

Using the hammer, the sheet metal was bend down nearly 90 degrees. Then, the pliers were moved down and the next area was hammered down. Eventually, the metal was worked around the rod.

Here is the new edge.

That was enough for one afternoon. I had to run home and pick up the kids at the school bus.

On Facebook, my friend and editor of World War I Aero magazine Tom Polapink mentioned that the 1927 movie Wings had been digitally remastered and released on BluRay. I had bought a DVD copy a few years ago, so one rainy night I decided to watch it.

Interestingly, when Buddy Rogers and Richard Arlen were learning to fly, there were some great Jenny scenes. Notice the two Jenny tails in the background.

These are Hisso powered Jennies with four ailerons. Guess that makes them JN6H versions.

Remember I said I had two different Jenny cockpit cowling prints and an original Canuck pattern? Well, if you notice the movie Jenny, it had the larger cutout!

What I like about these two pictures is the method the instructors used to enter the front cockpit. The top guy stood up in the center section cutout. The instructor below entered by leaning across the cockpit and settling in that way.

After we made our sheet metal, Brian and I debated how to get in the front cockpit. We tried it a few times and came to the conclusion that one must be a bit of a contortionist! Actually, it is not that bad.

Anyway, I enjoyed seeing the movie again.

More soon