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

Friday, January 31, 2014

Trim System

 Hello again,

Nothing happening on the Jenny lately.  We had unusually cold temperatures all month and it actually snowed in Georgia this week.  Of course, that paralyzed Atlanta.  No use buying snow plows when you only get an inch of snow once every other year.  So when it snows, the place shuts down.

But, it finally warmed up and I went back to work on the trim system.

Basically, a lever was installed on the seat rail and cables ran back through the fuselage.

It is a simple lever with a cable on the top and one on the bottom.  It pivots around a welded bolt and the wing nut provides tension on a Phenolic washer. 

 The cables are guided around the elevator horn.  There are two guides - one above the horn and one below.

OK, now we have the trim housings installed in the elevators and the trim lever in the cockpit.  The only thing left is to tie them together.  More on that soon.

I was fortunate to have a visitor the other day.  Andrew King was flying an Ercoupe between Long Island and Texas and stopped by to see me.

Andrew is a long time antique airplane nut who grew up (literally) at Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome.  He specializes in rebuilding and flying old airplanes and has flown Cole Palen's Jenny and several more too.  It was great catching up with him and I wished he could have stayed longer.

Lastly, I stumbled across this video of Jimmy Stewart with Johnny Carson on the Tonight Show from several years ago.  Jimmy tells the story of his first airplane ride - with a barnstormer in the 1930's.  The funniest part was his rather's reaction. 

We all know Jimmy had a distinguished flying career, but I didn't know he was wild about airplanes as a kid.

Many of you may have received an e-mail from me with a suspicious link.  If you did, don't open it!

I just found out Yahoo had the biggest breech of computer security ever seen.  Bellsouth is owned by Yahoo so my account was hacked.  I wonder what else they got?

It always saddens me to see people put so much energy into creating viruses.  Certainly their time could be more productive to mankind.

Oh, well.  I gotta go change passwords.

More soon


Friday, January 10, 2014

Trim Tab

A little humor today - my good friend Dorian Walker send me historical documentation about how they dealt with nose heavy Jennies:

Who needs a trim tab anyway.....

Here is Dorian getting out of the cockpit of his Jenny.  You can follow the plans for his airplane at:


I stumbled across this neat picture of two Army Jennies getting fuel somewhere in Minnesota.  They are both Hisso powered Jennies and I love the gas truck!

 Here is another picture I like.  Sure, it's a Standard J1, but what a perfect barnstorming picture - a dashingly dressed aviator, his faithful dog, a tent and a Model T.  Boy, I was born too late.

Lastly, I reported that the Wichita Falls Jenny is headed inside for good. That is still going to happen, but I wanted to share this photo of David Martin about to fly the Jenny on it's last flight.

Back to work on that trim tab....


Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Trim Tab

"Do ya think it's a little nose heavy?"

"Ah! Look.  A trim tab you operate inside the cockpit."

-a conversation between Ezra Stiles and Waldo Pepper while looking over the new Skiles Skystreak.

I saw The Great Waldo Pepper in the theater when I was nine years old.  I still remember it.  I've seen it hundreds of times since.  But I never knew the true meaning of this scene.  What was the big deal about a moveable trim tab inside the cockpit?  Every airplane I flew had one. I thought it was movie fluff.

Now I understand.

During our test flights, we had to hold a lot of back pressure on the control stick. Sure, with the Hisso and the larger radiator, I figured we would be a little nose heavy.  The plane flew fine.  It just got annoying holding the stick back all the time.

We added some weight to the tail.  That helped a little.  There was talk of changing the tail incidence.  Nope.  Can't do that.  If you move the back of the stabilizer up or down, it messes up the alignment of the lower rudder hinge.  How about moving the entire wing forward? No, the cabane struts are cut with a certain angle.  Moving the wing would require cutting new angles in the struts, not to mention making a bunch of new wires.

I didn't like any of these solutions very much.  Then I thought about a trim tab?  Hey, I know it was not original but every time you change the CG (add a passenger or  change the fuel) you will have to hold pressure one way or another.

I remembered reading about another Jenny owner having a similar problem.

Skeeter Carlson had to use two hands on the stick to keep his Jenny level.  He tried all the above mentioned solutions and said the trim tab was the only thing that cured the problem. I'm glad I saved every magazine article I could find about the Jenny for the last 20 years!

So, we decided to add a trim tab.  Just imagine flying a Cessna without a trim tab.  It wouldn't be much fun either.

Now I understand The Great Waldo Pepper movie.  Those early pilots probably were tired of holding stick pressure so the thought of a moveable trim tab was a big deal!

My Bucker Jungmann has a simple and effective trim tab system so I decided to copy it. I welded some straps to small tubes about the size of the trailing edge material.

The other hinge had the arm welded to it.  It is moved by wire inside a Bowden Cable.

We made the trim tab 1 1/2 inches wide.  The hinges bolted to the wooden structure on the elevators.

 We may end up changing the tab size.  I won't know until we try it.  I want to keep the tabs small enough to be inconspicuous but large enough to do the job.  Nothing is finished yet!  We are still building.  I have not made the cockpit lever yet.

Of course, routing the Bowden Cable required access to inside the elevators!  These holes are on the bottom and will be patched later.

Stay tuned for more progress postings soon.

In the mean time, I stumbled across this interview with Bo Svenson who portrayed Axel Olssen in The Great Waldo Pepper. He tells about the time he went wing walking while they were filming the movie.

If you love the movie as much as I do, you will find the interview fascinating.