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

Saturday, November 30, 2013

First Flight videos on YouTube

OK, iPad users, the first flight videos are now on YouTube. 

You can click on the links below or just search "Candler Field Curtiss Jenny"


Candler Field Curtiss Jenny Taxi

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Candler Field Curtiss Jenny takeoff

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Candler Field Curtiss Jenny in the air

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Candler Field Curtiss Jenny Landing

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 Lastly, Andrew King sent me this picture which made my hair stand on end.

 Yea...being banked that steeply while so close to the ground must have been rather thrilling. 
More soon.  Enjoy

Friday, November 29, 2013

First Flight

The Jenny flies !!! 

We could not have asked for a better day for the first flight.  Calm winds.  Blue skies and cool temperatures. The Jenny flew great ! 

Here are a few videos taken by Nate Hammond and Brian Eberle.  This blog site uses Quick Time and I understand you can't see them using an iPad.  Sorry.  I'm not sure how to do it otherwise.   Let me post them on YouTube when I get a chance.

Anyway, here is a taxi video.  I was lucky to have an able ground crew - Bill, Nate and Clay Hammond,  Brian Eberle, Francois Devin, Ken Gulliford and others.


And here is the takeoff.

"Just passing through...just passing through"

And the landing.

Then it was Ron's turn...

Two successful test flights.

I'm sure more photos will be arriving soon as people send them to me.  I was too busy to take my own pictures, so I must rely on the generosity of others.

Because it has been a seven and a half year restoration, I wanted to take a minute and look back.  Here goes:

More soon.  Enjoy


Sunday, November 24, 2013

First taxi !!

Our museum is doing something really great.  We have started a youth mentor program whereas kids with an interest in aviation can meet at the museum two days a week and learn the art of antique aircraft restoration.  Museum volunteers show them how it's done and the kids get credit towards an A&P license.  They also have the option of working for flight time, an offer graciously donated by the Candler Field Flying Club.

Anyway, Yesterday I went to the first meeting to see what I could do. While I was there, Bill Hammond asked me when I planned on flying the Jenny.  From the picture below, you can tell my response.


The weather has not been great lately.  Low overcast skies.  And the wind was strong.
"Well, why not just taxi it around?" he asked.
"Good idea."

I was really fortunate to have six young, enthusiastic teens to help pull the Jenny out of the hangar.  Talk about a getting an introduction to aviation.  Hanging on to the wing strut of a Curtiss Jenny has to be the best experience you could ever get.

We pulled the airplane up to the runway.  Ron gave each primer cup four shots of prime.

Four lucky kids got to hold the wings as the rest watched from the side.

 Bill Hammond gave the prop a swing.  The Hisso ran on the first blade, but the guy in the back cockpit let the idle get too low (it was cold) and the engine stopped.  It took us a while, but we figured out the sequence and got it started again.

 Chocks pulled, the Jenny moved under it's own power.

 Down the runway and turned around.


Back to the starting point.

Ron was in the front seat and got his share of the taxiing.  At the top of the hill, he stopped, turned around, and yelled, "This is so cool."

I could not have agreed more.


So, we taxied down the runway again, this time getting a little more speed. 

Bill Hammond suggested this was a good time to run the engine at full power.


So, chocks were inserted and the wing holders were warned.


They were a lot colder than they looked!

"OK, we're ready."


I was pleased - the engine ran smoothly at full power!

 By now, everyone was plenty chilled, so we called it a day. 

Just waiting now for a day off work with corresponding good weather.  Then the first flight will occur.

Till then...


PS - all these photos were screen shots from a video taken by Scott Coile.  Hope to have that video posted soon.  I wasn't planning to pull the Jenny out of the hangar so I didn't even have my camera!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Engine run & cowl straps

In between trips, I met Ron and Brian at the hangar today.  We finished up the magneto timing - put the distributor caps back on, attached all the spark plug wires etc.  I'm happy to say the Hisso fired up on the first pull!

We have a small idle adjustment to make yet.  Had it not been so windy today, we would have taxied down the runway.  But that will have to wait for another day.

We also finished attaching the skid hoops.

Lastly, the leather cowl straps were fabricated.


Hey, ever wonder what happens when a wayward barnstormer lands at a big, busy metropolitan airport?

Click on this link:
Actually, this home movie was taken in the early 70's when Cole Palen flew his Jenny from Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome to the new Washington Dulles Airport. I suspect he was there for a photo shoot judging by the Jenny in front of the PanAm 747.  Anyway, it was a neat display of progress. From Jennies to Jets....

More soon.  Enjoy


Monday, November 18, 2013

Timing Hisso Magnetos

I wanted to post this for future Jenny restorers. We have learned a lot about timing Hisso magnetos and wanted to share our findings.  We ended up changing from the Champion tractor spark plugs to the more commonly used C-26 type plugs found on many Continental A-65 engines.  We tested the combination by taking a spark plug hooked up to its respective wire and touching it to the case of the mag.  With a good spin of the gear by hand, we saw good spark!

 The first step of the timing process is to get the left front cylinder piston all the way up to the top. 

You can use a Time-Rite tool, or a wire or just take a flashlight and look in the top spark plug hole to see the piston. I was amazed how good you can see inside there.

Turn the propeller until the piston is at the top and both valves are closed (compression stroke).  Mark this as zero degrees on the protractor.

According to the Hisso manual, the cylinder fires at 25 degrees before the piston reaches the top, called Top Dead Center (TDC).  Our engine is unique.  Most Hissos fire at 20 degrees but the E2 model fires earlier. Anyway, rotate the propeller back and then to eliminate gear lash, rotate it forward until 25 degreed before TDC.


 The magneto itself has to be internally timed.  The Hisso manual doesn't mention anything about this! I was able to find guidance in the Dixie 800 Magneto manual.


The manual specifically states that the mag should be set to fire at position "H" for our engine. That is about the 1 o'clock position on the magneto cap when viewed from the rear.


 Off came the cap.


 Here is the inside of the cap.  

 The timing light was hooked to the p-lead and the case.


Rotate the gear until the rotor approaches the "H"  position.


When the points will just start to open - this is exactly where you want it!

When the points open, the light goes on.

Yup, the rotor is right at the "H" position.

Now don't move the magneto!  It is set up to fire the "H" wire which correspondingly fires the front left cylinder which we conveniently set to 25 degrees before TDC.

The mag sits on a rail and cannot move.  You must gingerly put the mag in place without letting it turn. 

Below, you see a coupling with a spring and a cotter key between the mag and the engine.  Once the mag is in place, the gears must line up.  If they don't, there is an internal spring in the coupling which allows you to pull up the coupling, rotate it a little and push it down when the gears mesh.  The cotter key locks it in place.


 Above is a picture of the timed magneto in place. 

When we began timing the second magneto, a small piece of metal fell out of the back!  The clip that held the points in place had broken.  Luckily, I had another one from a spare Dixie magneto.

So, time the other magneto the same way.  When they are both installed, you can check it with the timing light.  There you go!  That is how you time a Dixie 800 magneto to the Hisso engine.

I know this is pretty dry stuff...and you are waiting for news of the first flight...but be patient.  I want to run the engine a few more times to set the idle, taxi around a bit, and when the conditions are favorable, take her up.  Stay tuned!