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

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

To the airport

OK, its pretty bad when I dwell on a picture of a little piece of wood, but it is an important one.  This is a support piece built to keep the middle of the cowling from flopping around. Details.....sorry.

Since we are getting the Jenny ready for the great unveiling this weekend, John Gaertner sent me two  castings he made for the hoop underneath the lower wings.  The original piece is on the top.  The two copies he made are on the bottom.  John cast these out of bronze.  They are identical!

 Now for the fun part - The Jenny came out of the hangar today. 

 Richard Epton and and Caleb Stephens provided the muscle.

 The Jenny is big.  Too big for the trailer we have, so, Richard Epton arranged for a 30 ft trailer that we could use.  To get the Jenny on the trailer, a local towing company was hired.

We lifted the Jenny with the roll bed and moved it onto the big trailer.

 The Jenny fit on this trailer with room to spare.

We were fortunate to have a trailer this size.  Atlanta Air Recovery uses this trailer to retrieve airplanes all over the country.

 Once strapped down, Caleb and Richard were ready to go.

 And off they went! 

  And fifteen minutes later, arrived at the airport.

 Here is the Jenny parked in front of the museum hangar.

Everything was unstrapped and the loading process was reversed.

 Once inside the museum, the lower wings were installed.


 Followed by the upper wings.

 We installed most of the flying wires before calling it a day. To the museum volunteers who helped us - Glen Marsh, Leo Roberson and Harold Spivey.....

Brian, Ron and I say thanks!Because of their help, we are on track for the grand unveiling at the Vintage Day event this Saturday.  Ailerons have to be installed yet, a few pulleys, a few more wires.....we're getting there!

Lastly, I wanted to show you something neat. 

Joseph Duke sent me this email:

Hi Brian,
You were quite generous to share your wing strut drawings with me for this project and I thank you again.  As it turned out, I decided not to use the design which incorporated the struts and wires and went with a simple base for the conference table.  You wanted to see it after it was done and I am including a few pictures here.  Thanks again for you help. 
Joe Duke

 Isn't that a cool table?

Anyway, see you on Saturday!


Saturday, May 25, 2013

Wing hardware

 We have been working on getting all the hardware mounted on the wings.  On the left is an original wing bolt from a Jenny.  Notice the bolt head.  It is rounded underneath.  On the right is a standard AN5 bolt.  See the difference?

 Here is a typical strut hold down plate.  See the countersunk hole for the bolt? Because of the wing camber, these special bolts become self aligning.  Ever try to put a flat head bolt on a curved surface?

So you have two options when restoring a Jenny:
 - machine new bolts with the proper heads
- use spherical washers under modern bolts.

We chose the spherical washers.

You can get these washers from McMaster-Carr.  They are 18-8 Stainless Steel Self Aligning Washers, Male Half, 5/16in Screw Size ... so says the catalog. The Part Number is 91944A106.

Here is how they fit in the strut plates. The washers come too thick from McMaster Carr, so you have to machine them down a bit.

One completed plate on the wing!

We hope to have all the wing hardware installed this weekend.  The truck will arrive Tuesday night or Wednesday depending on the weather.  Then it is final assembly time!

See you June 1st



Monday, May 20, 2013

New prop hub and cowl

Just an update from the shop tonight - the newly manufactured prop hub from Rich Beinhauer arrived today!

I was blown away by the workmanship.  The hub is absolutely beautiful.

Even more so, it fit the prop perfectly.

 And the hub fit the shaft perfectly too. I just have to get some nuts for the prop bolts yet.  We also installed the back cockpit sheet metal.

 Right inside the sheet metal is a small wooden brace.  This piece of spruce is designed to strengthen the sheet metal right were the pilot puts his hands to get in and out of the cockpit.  Without this piece, the thin sheet metal would crush under the weight of even the smallest of pilots.

 The leather that surrounds the cockpit has been ordered and should be here by early next week.

 In case anyone was wondering, the Hisso uses Champion D-23 spark plugs.  I bought these at my local NAPA Auto parts store.  The guy behind the counter asked me what I was going to do with them.  I told him the plugs were for an old aeroplane and he replied "I figured it was something old. I have not sold plugs with big threads like this for a long time."


We pulled the rocker box cover to have a look at the tachometer drive.  The camshaft looked great.

 We had a clearance issue with the tach drive and I'm not sure how to solve it yet.  I believe the cork gasket is to blame.  The thick gasket causes the rocker box cover to stick up which causes an alignment issue with the tach drive shaft. I'll get back to you when we figure this one out.

Progress as of today.......



Thursday, May 16, 2013

Exhaust and stuff

 I'm happy to say the exhaust has now been ceramic coated! Long time museum supporter Leo Roberson took on this task and drove the exhaust stacks to Performance Coatings in Jonesboro, GA.

 Last night, I was busy with family stuff so Brian Eberle finished making the exhaust gaskets and installed the stacks. Oh, yea, we got the exhaust gasket material from Summit Racing.  The sell it in sheets.

 Today, I had a chance to install some of the cowlings.  Here is the front cockpit cowl with the windshield installed.  Just waiting for the upholstery shop to finish making the coaming.


Lastly, I'm always amazed when I meet nice people.  I placed an ad in barnstormers looking for a Hisso hub.  Kevin Connor was nice enough to let me borrow his hub and I wanted to make sure I could return it to him. I got a phone call from Rich Beinhauer in Elk Grove Village, Illinois. 

Did you ever just have a neat conversation with a neat person? Rich is restoring two Brunner Winkle Birds - an A model and a CK model. We chatted for a long time about old airplanes and people we knew. 

I found out Rich had made a Hisso hub for his airplane.  Better yet, he made a spare one too and was willing to let it go.

Rich is the owner of M&R Precision Machining.  From what I can tell, he certainly knows how to make prop hubs!  This was another case of good people helping others in aviation. 

The ad also introduced me to Paul Bierman who called me from his home in Alaska.  Paul tells the story of the picture below:

Here's a picture of the sad remains of a once mighty Hisso engine.  This is the engine I rescued from Valdez, Alaska where it was dumped many years ago on a vacant lot.  This engine was once owned by Owen Meals, the Alexander Eaglerock dealer for the area and was blasted by the tsunami which destroyed the town of Valdez during the 1964 Alaskan earthquake.  It's suffer a lot during it's years of exposure but I really didn't want to see it hauled off to the dump so I brought all the parts I could find back to Anchorage where they've resided in the backyard shed for many years.

Here is the only data plate on the engine.  From what I researched, Wright Martin bought an interest in the Simplex Automobile Company sometime around 1916. After a trip to France to study engines, they decided to build the Hispano-Suiza in the United States under license from the French government. Wright received a contract to build 450 Hisso's.  This engine must have been one of them.

What a neat story.  Thanks for sharing, Paul.

 I leave you with a few shots showing progress to date.  We are still shooting for a June 1st rollout.

Lastly, I am searching for four Curtiss OXX-6 cylinders !!

The OXX-6 was similar to the more commonly found OX-5 except that it had two magnetos rather than one and produced one hundred horsepower rather than ninety.

You would thing the cylinders are the same, but they are not.  TheOXX-6 cylinder is 1/4" larger in diameter and has 2 spark plugs on top.

If anyone knows where I can get four of them, I would really appreciate an email:

More soon.  Off to the Bucker fly-in