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

Sunday, September 29, 2013

"We are going to run the engine today"

Late last evening I came home from work and pulled the rattan poles out of the PVC pipe.  They had been soaking for 24 hours in water and a little fabric softener.  With little effort, the rattan slid easily around the jig.  I have this jig mislabeled - it should say wing skid bow jig but...hey...I was on a roll.

Jack and I put the logo on the left side of the airplane on Saturday.

 Jack also put safety wire on a few turnbuckles.

 "We are going to run the engine on Sunday", I said, telling all in earshot.

Jim Friedline graciously brought over his pressure pot so we could pre-oil the Hisso.

We put 40 PSI of oil pressure into the oil pressure line and pulled the prop through many rotations.  After running three quarts into the system, I was satisfied the bearings were coated with fresh oil.

 We pulled the airplane outside.  Engine noises were inevitable.  Ron filled the radiator with water.

And we sprung a leak!  We tried tightening the nut, but a crows foot wrench was needed and mine was back at the house.  Besides, I think the gasket might be bad.  The leak was still not enough to thwart our efforts at running the engine.  

 So, we added a few gallons of gas......and found a much worse leak at the bottom of the gas tank!  This really surprised me because I leak tested the tank before we installed it and it was dry as a bone outside.  Somehow, the lower soldered fitting must have shifted and a leak developed.

 Water leak...fuel was no longer a good time to run the engine.  So, we drained the fuel and opened the drain on the radiator.

 So much for the first engine run.


Am I disappointed?  Yes, but this is part of restoring an old airplane.  We pulled the Jenny back in the hangar.  The first engine run will have to wait till another day.

Good news from Kentucky.  Dorian Walker and crew taxied their Jenny up and down the runway.

They are "this close" to being ready to fly.  I know what you mean, Dorian.



Monday, September 23, 2013

Wires, bow jig and more

The wing tip skid jig was begun using some 1/2 in plywood and the Curtiss drawing.  The proper radius was drawn...

 ...and cut out with the jig saw.  I added about 10% more curve for the spring back.  This equaled to moving the line inside about an inch on each end.

Two pieces were cut to get the 1 inch needed to bend a 1 inch wooden dowel.  Then another plywood piece was screwed to the back side to act as a guide.  Holes were drilled for the clamps.

Here is the jig.

 I ordered some Rattan poles from Franks Cane and Rush Supply in California. They sell the poles in 9 ft lengths either with or without skin.  I got the latter.

Using a PVC pipe, the wood is soaked in water with a splash of fabric softener.

The wood is still soaking and needs to stay there for 24 hours.  When the time is right, we will bend it around the jig.  Maybe next post......

Anyway, the time was right to make the ignition leads.  Here is the diagram out of the Hisso book.  We had to be careful.  There were several diagrams and the E-2 is wired differently than the A, E or I .  This diagram is the one for our engine.


From the Brillman Co, some 7MM wire was purchased. First step is to strip a little of the insulation away.


Then split the strands and bend them outwards.


Using a needle nosed pliers, bend each strand back around over itself.


This gives you a nice, flat, wide surface.


With a hot iron, dab the end into some molten solder.


You want a little solder on the end.  Not too much, but just enough to cover the bent wire,


The right magneto fires the inside plugs.


The plug end was made with a soldered eye.


 The wires fit into slots in the distributor cap where a pointed set screw holds them firmly in place.


 It looks like a jungle, but we will organize and wrap them later.


Both the ignition switch and the booster magneto have a ground.  This is where we attached it.


This is the right magneto.  The yellow wire is the P-lead.  The black wire is the line from the booster (starting) magneto located in the cockpit.


 A bunch of people told me to "lap" the prop shaft before installing the prop hub.  I never did this before, but I was told the principal is the same as lapping a valve. That I know how to do. You want the hub to fit as smoothly as possible.

First, the key had to be removed from the prop shaft.

This is the compound we used.

Apply some compound to the shaft.

Put the hub in place.

Rotate left......

...Then rotate right.

That back and forth motion for several minutes smooths the shaft.

Wipe it off and clean the gritty residue with MEK or Laquer thinner.

Next, we reinstalled the key.  I noticed that there was some anti-sieze lubricant underneath the key when we removed it.  That sounded like a good idea, so we did the same thing when we put the key back on.

The prop bolts came back from the machine shop yesterday - drilled and ready to install.


 How many mechanics does it take to install prop bolts...?


 The prop and hub were then installed on the nice, polished prop shaft!

During one of my frequent layovers lately, I read though the Dixe 800 Magneto manual.  There was a paragraph which caught my attention. These old magnetos need to be frequently oiled.

The manual said to fill the "A" cup twice before the first run.

It also mentioned putting 10 drops in the "B" cup located right above the drive shaft.  This will have to be done every 25 hours.

 The breaker cover was removed and light oil placed in a small hole here too!

The manual also referred to "cottering the coupler".  These couplers slide up and down - that's how you make small timing adjustments. The cotter key prevents that from happening.  Once inserted, the ends of the cotter key are bent outwards.

We also had time to install the Johnson Air Speed Indicator on the left wing.  Unfortunately, I made the clips too big for the wires.  New ones will have to be made.

 We also put the N-Number on the rudder.

Whew.   That was a productive night. 

My friend John Morak sent me an update about the restoration of Ben Eilson's Jenny in Alaska.

John said:

We finally all got together the other night to have a look at our finished Jenny.  Now we are waiting for the airport to install some extra supports on the ceiling so we can hang it up.  It looks really nice and there are a large group of volunteers who have been working on it for several years and are glad to be finished with it.  It rigged up pretty easily and things were right on thanks to your help with the cabane struts. Too bad we can't fly it.  I was ready to climb in it and give it a spin. At least it will be viewed by thousands as they pass through the Fairbanks airport in the coming years.  This airplane is really a piece of Fairbanks history and it will be good to have it on display.


That's it for now.  More next week.  Enjoy