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

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Mag switch

Good Jenny evening the other day.  I showed Ron how to solder wires. 

 And Brian Eberle started cotter keying the tail surfaces.

One of the things I learned from talking to Jack Kearbey is that my Curtiss style mag switch will not work with the Hisso. 

The Curtiss switch was designed for the OX-5 engine, which has one magneto.  Basically, it is an on/off switch. Original ones are very hard to find, so I used a similar switch from a Fleet.  

It is a very similar looking switch.  One difference is the buttons - each button grounds out one magneto. I figured this would work out fine with a two mag Hisso like ours.

But, Jack said that you start a Hisso on the right magneto (grounding out the left) because that mag has the shower of sparks attached causing the spark plugs to fire early.

So, to start his engine, you would have to hold down the left mag button with one hand, spin the starting mag handle with the other, maybe grab the throttle if needed and hold the stick back in your lap....wait....I'm out of hands.

A decision was made to remove the Fleet mag switch and go with a 1920's Scintilla switch.

More this weekend. Enjoy


Sunday, November 25, 2012


More work on the tail group last night.  Got the stabilizer braces installed on the bottom and fin brace wires on the top.  Still working on a paint scheme to dress things up.......

 I had to remake that back wire. I was not happy with the fit of the first one.

On another note - you model guys never cease to amaze me. 

Tyler Gault, of Beaufort, SC sent me pictures of the Jenny model his is building.

He even built his own turnbuckles!

More soon.  Enjoy


Saturday, November 24, 2012

Tail is on!

I felt like doing something other than soldering wires yesterday, so I cut a piece of one inch aluminum stock...

....and put it in a lathe. I turned down the shank enough to fit inside a 1 in. tube.

Then the center was drilled.

And tapped for a 5/8 in 18NPT fitting. 

It fit s into the tube nicely.

 Why am I doing this?  Well, the water pump outlet is 1 1/2 inches and the radiator outlet is 1 inch.  I need a reducer somewhere in the line.  I also needed a place to insert a water temperature bulb. So, I combined everything into one.  Off to the tig welder!

I also began installing the tail feathers.

These hinges are original Canuck fittings.  They are different than the JN4D, but I had a complete set, they were original, and I liked them.  Notice the reinforcing plates are held in place by small #2 brass screws.

More soon.  Enjoy


Tuesday, November 20, 2012


 I had some time last evening to show Brian Eberle how to solder the wrapped wires.  He picked it up rather quickly and was soldering like a pro in no time.

We got most of the center section wires soldered.It's a pretty stinky process, but the end result is a strong wire.  We have about a hundred more ends to go!

During my last trip, I had a Washington DC layover.  While visiting the NASAM Udvar-Hazy museum, I noticed that they moved the Jenny from the downtown location to here.

More tomorrow....Enjoy


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Visit with Jack

In my absence, Ron got the last coat of polytone on the wings.  Everything is now painted !!!

One of the bad things about working a lot is that progress on the Jenny slows down.  However, one of the good things about working a lot is you get layovers in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  It was there that fellow Jenny restorer Kevin Connor introduced me to his neighbor - Jack Kearbey

Jack had built a Hisso powered SE5 and flew it over 100 hours.  Armed with a list of questions, I spent the day with Jack and he patiently answered each one.

One if the questions I had for Jack was how the prop hub was kept from turning once torqued in place. Our E2 Hisso prop hub was different than all the "A" models and "I" models, and I could not figure out how they locked it in place.  Jack showed me how they did it back in 1918:

 He also showed me the wrenches he built to tighten the two prop hub nuts. I gotta build these when I get home.

Jack has sold his SE5 recently to a man in Germany.  But his time is not wasted.  Jack is close to finishing a Sopwith Pup.  He only needs a rotary engine to complete it.

I can not thank Jack enough for sharing his knowledge.  He answered all the questions on my sheet of paper but in the process, created a few hundred more!  I'm sure as I proceed with our Hisso installation, I will call Jack on a regular basis. 



Wednesday, November 07, 2012


Today, the top of the lower wings were wet sanded.  Hopefully, the weather will warm up sufficiently so we can spray the final coat of silver Polytone on Sunday.

This is the last of the spraying!  Everything will be painted then.

Dorian Walker sent me pictures of his Jenny project. They had just installed the radiator shell.

Lastly, I got a nice email from Russ Felt, who included these pictures.  Russ said:

I am enjoying following your progress on the Jenny.  My father entered WWI and was sent to Kelly Field (where he took these pictures). Mother later flew in a barnstorming Jenny and she would never fly again after that.  You have reminded me of part of my Dad’s life.  Thanks -  Russ Felt

 Picture of Russ Felt's father during WWI

I add the following from a biography I wrote about my Father based upon his recollections of his military experience.  I don’t know why he never ended up flying but he probably didn’t qualify and he never told me.
On Aug 10, 1917, with three friends...Charlie enlisted in the Army...ending up in the Army Air Corps.  He was sent to Kelly Air Field in San Antonio , Texas .  Pilots were trained in Curtiss Jenny (JN-4) biplanes.  The airfield was just a big pasture with hangars around it.  Planes took off in every direction.   

He talked about a centrifuge that would spin a pilot candidate in circles at high speed to see if he could handle the forces of gravity and getting dizzy.  He laughed at those who vomited as they spun in circles, spraying everything and everyone.  

 He saw a JN-4 crash land upside down and the pilot survived.  On another occasion a JN-4 landed safely on a ranch away from the airfield. By the time a truck got there to tow the plane to the airfield, cattle had eaten the Irish Linen (40-40 thread) from the wings.  The glue on the linen must have tasted good.  Another JN-4 crashed straight down into the ground, the pilot crawled out alive but with broken legs. 

Dad never said why he did not fly.  The troops lived in tent cities and Dad reported much gambling and music.  He said the latrines were six feet long and six feet wide, open holes in the ground.  Several troops returned home one night drunk.  They had just gone into their tents when a fire broke out.  At the first yell of ‘fire’, everyone ran and one trooper fell into the latrine up to his neck.  He was pulled out, put in a shower, and forever after was referred to as the ‘shitty’ MP.

Charlie saw Eddie Stinson, famed WWI ace and aviator fly at ground level, then up and over hangars,  providing a great show for the troops.  One of those hangars is still at Kelly and is a museum with a Jenny and an ambulance on display.  45 days after arriving at Kelly, Dad was sent to Austin , Texas for flight training but never completed it.   

The photo of Dad in uniform was taken at Austin .  He was then transferred to Americus , Georgia where he was a warehouseman and he worked with the Lewis machine gun.  He was about to receive orders to France when the war ended and he was ‘mustered’ out 27 March 1919.

   Looks like a Handley Page 400 to me -  BK

He brought home the hub and part of one blade of the propeller blade and a friend painted a Jenny on it.

I hope you enjoyed the story.  Thanks, Russ for sharing it.

More soon. Enjoy


Thursday, November 01, 2012

Progress up front

 There is a bit more to report:

 Brian Eberle sanded the front instrument panel and gave it a last coat of varnish.

Then we worked on installing the oil tank.

There are three AN3 bolts which pass through the bearer support.  Notice the cutout - this is for the U-bolt brackets that secure the right engine bearer.

 The bottom of the oil tank is screwed to the firewall by three AN3bolts and nuts.

 A view from the front.

 The last thing we did that night was to put the Hisso back in its rightful place!

Now comes the fun part - hooking up all the fuel, oil and coolant hoses.

On Thursday night, while I was away (work), Brian and Christy Eberle sanded the lower wings.  They are now ready for the first coat of Poly Tone!  Ron is planning on spraying them this weekend...if the weather cooperates.