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"

My Photo
Location: Peachtree City, Georgia, United States

Tuesday, July 31, 2012


Ron took advantage of the nice evening tonight - one side of the stabilizer has been sprayed with Poly Brush and now is ready for silver.

We're making progress!

More soon


Monday, July 30, 2012

Fabric work

It was another nice evening in Atlanta and Ron took the opportunity to get some spraying done.  The elevators, fin and rudder now have their final coat of silver Poly Tone!

Brian Eberle worked on the stabilizer - making sure the edges of the tapes were smooth. 

And sprayed the first coat of Poly Brush.

The turtledeck got some Poly Brush too...with a brush

This is what we use to thin the paint......kidding.

Anyway, the fuselage fabric was glued to the wire frames around the wing attach points.

Here is something pretty neat - did you ever try to cut fabric with a razor blade or a scissors?  It frays really easily.  This is how you stop that from happening.

Give the fabric edge a quick coat of Poly Brush.  We are using clear Poly Brush because it is used on the fuselage.

After it has dried, make your pencil line.

Then cut with a scissors.

No fraying!  I was pretty happy with this method.

 The entire perimeter of the side fuselage fabric was trimmed this way. The next strp is to glue the edge down with Poly Tack, but this is for another day.

More soon.  Enjoy


Sunday, July 29, 2012

Side fabric

Worked this morning and got the fabric poly tacked on the sides.  Did the initial shrinking too.

Ron and Brian are doing fabric work this evening.  I couldn't join them, but there should be the last coat of silver on the tail surfaces and the first coat of Poly Brush on the turtledeck before the night is over.

Lastly, I wanted to share something really neat.  Kent Layher, of Pfafftown, NC sent me these pictures of some early JN3's  used by the military during the Pancho Villa expedition in Mexico.  I was really excited because I have only seen a few pictures from this event and here were some original photos never before published!  

 Kent wrote:
My great uncle sold Dart trucks to the military during that time and had to go along to Mexico to provide service and so came back with many photos.  I have a group of the Jenny photos framed and on a wall.  There are a lot of photos of horses and my uncle said that the horses carried supplies used to support the trucks such as fuel, tires, parts.  I thought that was ironic.

 If you have time, look up this neat piece of early aviation history.  In a nutshell:

On March 9, 1916, the Mexican revolutionary, Pancho Villa, crossed the border with more than 500 men and raided Columbus, N.M., killing 17 Americans. The next day, Brig. Gen. John J. Pershing was directed to organize a force to protect the border.  The 1st Aero Squadron was ordered to join Pershing's ground forces. This was the first time the United States had ever placed a "tactical air unit" in the field.

The 1st Aero Squadron consisted of 11 officers, 84 enlisted men and one civilian mechanic. It had eight Curtiss JN3 airplanes.

They arrived in Mexico and began making reconnaissance flights to locate Pancho Villa and his forces.

The rugged terrain and unfavorable operating conditions of northern Mexico, coupled with the limited performance of the JN3s, rapidly took their toll.  One month later, only two Jennies were left!

 I found out that there is a Pancho Villa State Park in Santa Fe NM and they have a Jenny replica in their museum. 

I gotta go there one day and see that Jenny!

Thanks for the pictures Kent!

More soon.  Enjoy


Saturday, July 28, 2012

Fuselage fabric on the belly

 The landing gear was removed yesterday. It comes apart nicely as one assembly.  I felt like I was rolling around an elaborate wheel barrow!

We are using Poly Fiber 3.16 Medium weight fabric.  The edges were glued with Poly Tack...

 Shrunk to 250/325 degrees.  Also, the gear fitting holes were cut out and glued to the wire edges.

Then the side fabric was cut to the rough shape before it got too late and I called it a night.

More soon....Enjoy


Saturday, July 21, 2012

Turtledeck covered

I thought I had the fuselage ready to cover, but I gave it one more look and found a few missing cotter keys, etc.  Now that those items are complete, the fuselage is truly ready for cover....

So, fabric was draped over the turtledeck and here we go!  Since the turtledeck is kind of flimsy on its own, I wanted to cover it in place.  

The front and back edges were glued in place with some Poly Tack and the iron (set to 250 degrees) shrunk the fabric around the curve.  The excess fabric was trimmed and glued to the front of the baggage compartment. Then the sides were glued in place.

 Then the entire turtledeck was shrunk to 250 degrees.  This took out any visible waviness.

 Perimeter glued in place - first shrink complete. 

Then the turtledeck was removed.  Using the iron, the excess was shrunk around the edges. 

Then the fabric was Poly Tack'ed to the bottom.

 And trimmed with a blade.

To ensure everything fit perfectly, I put the turtledeck back on the fuselage and made the final shrink at 350 degrees.

Looks great!  

 Here is the front side.

Side view.

Yesterday, David Harwell (owner of Barnstormers Workshop) found a Johnson Airspeed Indicator for me!  This will attach to one of the wing struts.  It is nice to have nice friends.  Thanks, Dave!

Paint scheme - still dreaming about it.  But I did find this picture from Microsoft Flight Simulator - looks familiar!  How did they know we were going to paint the Jenny this way?

Also found this picture.  Those FlightSim guys are all right.

More soon



Sunday, July 15, 2012

Covering and curved tapes

Tonight turned out to be a beautiful evening for fabric work - low humidity and warm temperatures. So, Ron, Brian and I wet sanded the tail surfaces with 320 grit sandpaper.  It did not take much sanding.  Just enough to smooth the edges of the tapes.


 Then, two cross coats were sprayed on the surfaces.  Yea, go ahead and make fun of my painting suit. I don't care.  It works for me.

In my youth, when I learned fabric work, I was taught to use bias tapes around curved edges.  All you had to do was pull on the tape and it flexed around the curve without much fuss.  Quick and easy.  The only bad part about a biased tape was when it shrunk around the curve, the tape width got thinner.  So if you were laying a 2 inch tape, it would shrink to 1 3/4 in.  Oh well.  That's the way it was....

But Ron showed me a better way tonight. 

He took a regular tape and glued the center line with  some Poly Tack.

When the Poly Tack was dry,  the tape was shrunk around the curve. 

Start shrinking at the 250 degree mark, then final shrink at 320.  Put a piece of thin cardboard under the tape to act as a heat sink.

Hey, wait a minute.  Shrinking the tape at the curve.  Doesn't that make it smaller?  Might as well use bias tape, right?

No!  Ron had us shrink the straight pieces too. Now the curve and the straight tape are all shrunk the same amount.  The tapes are even.  Pretty neat trick and much more professional looking.

No more bias tape for me.

After everything was shrunk, the tapes were Poly Brushed to the fabric.

Lastly, we pulled the Hisso out of the fuselage and removed the turtledeck.  Just about ready to apply fuselage fabric.

More soon.  Enjoy


Saturday, July 14, 2012

rear windshield and disassembly

 Well the elevators, rudder and fin are now silver!

This is three cross coats of silver Poly Spray.  It is used for UV protection and also builds up the weave and makes it smooth.  Next step is wet sanding and another three coats.

The rear windshield was riveted today.

 That was the last thing I needed to do.  Now, it is time to cover the fuselage!

So, everything came off - cowling, radiator, cabane struts, center section, seats, instrument looks kinda weird this way.  I got used to seeing it all together.  Tomorrow we will pull the engine out of the beds.  Then the gear comes off. And the fabric goes on.

Pretty exciting.

I wanted to share with you pictures sent to me by model builder Anthony Hixson.  He writes:

Hi Brian,
  I am attaching a few pics of Randy Charles's scratch built 1/3 Jenny. He flew it at my R/C clubs Father's Day Fly-in. The Jenny flew very scale and looked great in the air. The American Flags on the struts are a nice touch.
 Enjoy the pics.

Thanks, Anthony.  I like the flags on the struts too.  Wonder what that would look like on a full scale Jenny? Anyone know where I could find one.....