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

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


More cowling work - the rest of the louvers were made.

John Kuck met me at the hangar and we started the beading process. John came up with a great modification to the guide which I will document in another post.

The beading machine at work.

Gary Shell was busy rib stitching the wings but I stole him for a minute to hold the cowl for the picture. Notice the beading. The lower beads have to be made next.

One thing we debated was the fit between the side cowl and the front cockpit cowl. Old pictures showed the cockpit cowl overlapping the side cowl. This just seemed backwards because you will remove the side cowl more often than the cockpit cowl. So, we looked to the original cowl for clues.

By the discoloration and the fretting, you can see where the cockpit cowl rubbed on the outside of the side cowl! There was our answer.

Progress as of today:

Gary was finishing up rib stitching the second wing. Two down. Two to go.

Busy at work the next few days. Expect another blog entry sometime around the middle of next week.



Louver jig drawings

A lot of people have asked me for details about the Louver Jig. Well, I have to give credit to Ken Rovie and the rest of his Minnesota builders who came up with the idea so here are details of their ingenious and well working louver maker!

Above you can see the adjustable slide. You can move one or both sides to make the exact louver length you need.

Now go and make some louvers!



Saturday, March 24, 2012


Finished pounding out the right hand side door last night.

Next step is the beading around the perimeter and fabrication of the little braces to help hold the lovers open.

Also slits in both side cowls and the right door were made with the cutoff wheel.

While I was working Thursday, Ron and Brian Eberle pre-punched the holes for the rib stitching.

OK for one side of the wing there are 479 holes. And another 479 holes on the bottom.

Let the stitching begin.

More soon


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Side Panels and Louvers

My schedule changed a bit so I met Russell Sanford at the hangar today instead of Wednesday. We attached the right side cowl door and measured the cutouts for the louvers. The Curtiss drawings are for the JN4D2 so they were not much use. We spaced the first two louvers 3 1/2 inches apart and the last two 4 inches apart.

Remember - leave room for the hinges, beading and Murphy fasteners!

I found the quickest and easiest way to cut the slits for the louvers is with a thin die grinder disk.

First, drill two holes at the end of each slit. (The drill bit should be the width of the cutout disk.) As a guide, I used a .100 piece of steel.

Nice straight cut! The edge has a little cutting slag on it, but can be easily removed with a small file.

Here is how the louvers are made: Take this louver shaped die and hammer it into a 1 1/2 inch opening in the jig. Simple and effective.

It fits like this.

Line up the slot and clamp to the jig. Hammer the die with lots of steady hits. Don't whack it. Just tap it steadily.

Tap as you slide the die across the opening.

A finished louver!

I peeled the protective masking tape from the louver to show you the results. Sorry, I didn't want to risk scratching the burnishes!

Ran out of time at this point. Hope to continue louver making later in the week.



Monday, March 19, 2012

Lower cowl & bead rolling

A momentous occasion:

The lower cowl is burnished. Because of the depth of the panel and the curve, it was the most fun. Now, the only piece left to burnish is the upper cowl.

The lower bead was drawn on the cockpit cowls today also.

This is how the beads originally looked.

The front and rear cockpit cutouts are joined with two rivets.

I left the opening to accept the wire open (you can see the "roll" sticking up at the top) so I could adjust the fit. Now that it is drilled, I can tap the metal back around the wire. It will make a nice clean fit.

More soon. Enjoy


Saturday, March 17, 2012

Bead Rolling

The other night, John Kuck met me at the hangar and we did some burnishing on the lower cowl.

We got about half way done when I got a call from the wife - kid #2 was home from school with a sore throat and she was taking him to the doctor. So I quit burnishing for the day in order to pick up kid #4 at preschool. Oh, well. It happens. We decided to finish the cowling later.

Thursday night, Ron, Brian and I met at the hangar. They put the stitching tapes on the upper and lower ribs of the second wing.

Ron continued with the wing - pre-punching all the holes for the rib lacing. Meanwhile, I decided to make the beads around the cabane strut openings on the front cockpit cowling.

I was really worried about this. We spent hours burnishing the cowls and the bead rolling around the opening had to be done by hand. I didn't want to screw it up at this point.

So, we made two practice pieces with some scrap aluminum.

With the same cutout pattern.

A 5/16 inch line was drawn with a compass. The bead roller depth was set and we tried making the first one.

Keeping the curve on the line was the tricky part.

Practice makes perfect, or so they say. The second attempt turned out alright.

Now for the real cowling - while we were practicing, Larry Enlow stopped by with some friends. Larry is an FAA inspector in Orlando and he was here flying Ron's DC3. He brought two other FAA inspectors so they could get proficient in the DC3 as well. The three visitors hung around awhile taking pictures and joining the conversations.

OK, back to the cowling. We were not dealing with little test pieces. The cowling is bigger and bulkier. Brian and I started beading when it was obvious more hands would be needed.

So, our visitors became quite useful. On the left is Steve Stewart from Anchorage, Alaska. He graciously held the light so I could follow the line.

Because if the throat depth of the tool and the size of the cowling, we made the bead in two sections. They joined right about here.

The bead turned out perfectly!

When we looked at the other side, it became apparent that the cowl would not fit the same way we made the first one. So, we had to change the dies - put the male end on the bottom and flip the cowl upright. A line was drawn on the outside...

And we rolled this way.

What an operation ! Brian Eberle slowly turned the crank, Steve Steward held the light and I made an attempt to keep the cowl on the line. Another visitor, John Boatright from Lubbock, Texas helped maintain the curve of the cowling.

I was happy with the results.

If you notice where the two beads meet, the bead is not seamless. This is how the original cowl looked.

Kid #2 is feeling better and we have a baseball tournament this weekend on the east side of Atlanta. Of course Kid #1 had a baseball game in the other direction on the same day. Some days, I feel like I need a taxi sign on the car. Meanwhile, Kid #3 is going to a friend's house. Kid #4 is going with me to the game. So I won't get anything done on the Jenny until Monday.

Expect an update then.