Proctor Jenny by an Average Joe - RC Groups
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Jun 22, 2009, 12:09 AM
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Build Log

Proctor Jenny by an Average Joe

Thought you might enjoy coming along for the ride.

For some reason Jenny caught my heart years ago, and the first time I stood next to the skeletal framework of Old Rhinebeck's I was literally speechless and transported to another world. In my 20 years of flying full size aircraft it's still one of my most cherished memories.

There's a big difference between this and my previous Proctor Antic build/electric conversion , both in my skill level and the complexity of the kit. I've been dreaming of building this kit since I was a starving CFI, on the original kit I purchased back in 1990 I wrote "Do not open until employed full time as a professional pilot!!!!" and the model sat for years at a friend's house while I lived the life of a dreamer trying desperately to build a foundation under his castle in the sky.

I have to emphasize this is my first true scale build. For that matter it's by far the most complicated model I've ever built, and I'm trying to do it right. Previous to this I had built the Antic (which Proctor recommends as a warm up.) and before that the most complicated thing I had ever built was the standard rc slab side kits.

The quality of a Proctor kit has been known throughout the world for over 40 years even as the company has gone from Lou to others to Joe Topper, the current owner and producer of kits. Joe (and in the past Gary) have been nothing but patient and gracious whenever I've called or emailed with a dumb question. They both define "class".

So when you read my thread, please bear with my stumbling attempts to be as good a builder as the many others who have gone before me. One can read as much as he can about how to do something, but wood must be cut for a kit to be built. And for an Average Joe, that means sometimes wood must be cut, sanded, looked at, then recut the correct way.

Hayull, if you think my building is bad, you should have seen my first attempts at landing a plane when I was learning to fly!!!!

Last edited by steve crewdog; Jun 22, 2009 at 01:55 AM.
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Jun 22, 2009, 12:18 AM
Old Tyme Electric
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The great musician Carlos Santana said "My instructions for living are to be patient, gracious, and grateful." My desire for the build and the thread is to try to be patient while building, gracious about any advice given, and grateful that forums such as this are available. Please feel free to look over my shoulder and offer any suggestions or advice.

I bought the kit in the early 1990's when there was a rumor that the kit was being discontinued. I had stopped flying R/C when I went back to school and had to sell my R/C gear to finance my flying. But occasionally I'd pick up a copy of RCM or Model Airplane News and that's how I heard that the kit was being discontinued. Proctor did not have any kits available at the time but they sent me a list of their dealers, and I was able to locate a kit from Action Hobbies in Charlotte, North Carolina. The kit patiently traveled with me through several moves around the United States while I chased my career.

When I got the kit I realized that a Proctor Jenny was a loooonnngggg way from the basic Ace and Goldberg kits I had been building. Proctor recommends building an Antic first to get familiar with the build techniques of such a kit. While I started construction of my Antic in the mid-90s I did not have the time and resources to complete it until 2005 while I was recovering from major knee surgery. This was actually a fortunate delay since the advances in electric power allowed conversion of my Antic to battery power. (FLY RC Magazine, Jan 2006, page 24-28) Likewise, this Jenny will be electric powered.

First step: separate, identify, and sort the wood parts. The hardware package is a hefty couple pounds and there were several pages of Ralph Beck's plans. Not unsurprisingly I had lost a few pieces of wood over the years and I was able to replace them from Proctor.

While the instructions say to start with the fuselage, I always start my builds with the wings. Don't know why but I always have and in this situation it comes as an advantage. If I started with the fuselage I'd have to commit to a powerplant and battery pack today, but in the next year there may be motors and batteries much more powerful and cheaper than what is available today. So I'm going to do the fuselage last.

Last edited by steve crewdog; Jun 22, 2009 at 03:02 PM.
Jun 22, 2009, 12:20 AM
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First step is to stain the wood, and build a jig to capstrip the ribs.

It makes a BIG difference in the way the wood looks, and in a strange way, my attitude toward the build. It doesn't look like model airplane wood anymore, it looks more like miniature aircraft parts.

Jun 22, 2009, 12:21 AM
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To captstrip I used with the same method I used on the Antic of building a frame with small brads, tacking the strip to the rib and doing and final glue after removing it from the frame when it can't stick to the cardboard spacer.

Jun 22, 2009, 12:24 AM
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I'm not planning on duplicating a specific Jenny's scheme. Rather I'm taking the approach of a pilot who bought a $50 Jenny in a box and took it barnstorming. I like the look of the Curtis logo on the tail, and am thinking about doing it up something like this Pat Trittle/Dare Jenny I built.

Last edited by steve crewdog; Jun 22, 2009 at 01:58 AM.
Jun 22, 2009, 12:25 AM
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I know that since I'm on the West Coast I'm supposed to be Zen and "Enjoying the trip, not the destination" and everything, but capstripping ribs after a long jetlagged week on the road is just tedium to me. Almost done though.....

Jun 22, 2009, 12:26 AM
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Happiness was having a nice tax refund check and finding out Sears was having a sale on benchtop power tools. I finally was able to let myself buy a nice drill press, sander, and band saw.
Jun 22, 2009, 12:29 AM
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Even tough the wings wil be covered, I decided to use te kit to push my modeling skills. I don't have a milling machine but I figured I could put a router bit in the drill press, make a simple jig out of scrap wood and cut the lightning holes in the wing spars and longerons. When I got home I tried it out on some scrap wood and son of a gun if it didn't work. I used a 1/2" bit and made a shallow cut so it makes the 3/8" grove called for in the plans.

It gives a very nice effect and I'm thinking about not restaining the routed areas to make them stand out. But I probably should.
Jun 22, 2009, 12:31 AM
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The upper wing spars-like the fuselage longerons-get spliced together.

Even though I used minimal epoxy some still leaked and had to be carefully sanded away. Of course I did sand into the wood, which had to be restained. The area that was sanded away is apparent in some of the areas, so if you build a Jenny I you might want to do the splice first, then stain the wood.

This will also be the case for the fuselage but in that case the splice is actually scale, it's where the real Jennys longerons were spliced together. And the splice is covered with thread as on the real Jenny.
Last edited by steve crewdog; Jun 22, 2009 at 12:38 AM.
Jun 22, 2009, 12:43 AM
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Today was a big day as I finally started making sticks look like a Jenny.

One thing to mention is that my version of the Jenny kit is about 16 years old. There may have been some changes in the kit since I bought it in 1990(?) though I wonder how the quality can be improved. I've lost some of the parts during my travels and some of the preformed bamboo parts have lost their shape and will need to be replaced. Proctor is going to be using my credit card a lot, I'm afraid.

I decided to start with a lower wing since it was the simplest to build. First thing is to mount the wing spar attachment plates. In Mr. Beck's plans he instructs you to pre-fit the plates but don't insert until final assembly. But mounting these plates is the first thing called for in the manual. I decided to mount the plates to the wing spars now rather than later. Note that there is one rib in between the bolts so don't forget to insert the rib before you insert the outside bolts. I dabbed a bit of lock-tite on the nuts after the plates were tightened down.

You have to modify two of the solid ribs to fit the wing strut mount blocks. I measured twice, cut once, and was still off a little but within an acceptable amount. During the initial assembly I left the bottom blocks off so the other ribs would provide alignment. I'll glue the bottom of the strut mount blocks on later.

In addition to the two main wing spars there are two 1/8 dowel auxiliary spars. I sharpened the tip and twisted it as I was pushing it through, which got progressively harder as I went. I then put the end of the spar in my drill and gently spun it as I advanced the spar. No problem, just don't rush.

The rest of the wing went together easily. But it's starting to look like a Jenny wing, if you squint.

Jun 22, 2009, 12:49 AM
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Check this out, Jenny fans.....

Curtiss Jenny Restoration

Welcome! We hope you enjoy following the restoration process of a 1918 Curtiss JN4D Jenny. Once completed, the aeroplane will be 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"
Jun 22, 2009, 01:05 AM
Old Tyme Electric
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First thing was to trim down the strut mounting blocks. I traced the pieces I had cut out, then sanded them down.

The LE is shaped. One day Ill get good at doing leading edges. I use a piece of PVC pipe with a piece of 150 grit sandpaper to round it out then fine tune it. But I still end up with some waviness in my leading edges. Frustrating.

Next you trim the capstrips back to fit the LE sheeting.

The LE sheeting is attached.

Detail of the wingtip. A piece of scrap forms a handhold on the lower wingtip.
Jun 22, 2009, 01:18 AM
Old Tyme Electric
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By this point it had been almost 2 years since I started work on the Jenny. I had to take a couple breaks while I was busy with work, had a medical problem, and a girl got in the way.

During one of the periods I was grounded I gutted my workshop, throwing out all the old, broken work benches, painting the walls and adding massive amounts of lighting. (new workbench is by Grizzly Tools)

Anyways, it's time to go back to battling those leading edges again...

Got a reminder lesson about working on the girl while jetlagged. Luckily I only broke 2 of the dowel spars before packing it in and did no damage to the wing, finally felt good enough to do them correctly last night. So tonight I was able to start on another leading edge, but this time I had a breakthrough.

As I've beat to death on the thread, leading edges are my Achilles's Heel. I HAD been trying to hold the wing in my lap and sand with my hands on a 48" sandstick or piece of PVC, making for an awkward and frustrating effort. For some reason I finally had my Ah-Ha! moment and after roughing out the LE with the planer I stuck the sanding bar in my vise.

What an incredible difference!!!!! Now I can put both hands on the wing, and gently move the entire unit smoothly back and forth evenly.

Turns out the new method is not perfect either, if you press too hard that pressure point tends to be sanded more than other areas. But it's the best way I've found so far.
Last edited by steve crewdog; Jun 22, 2009 at 01:30 AM.
Jun 22, 2009, 01:35 AM
Old Tyme Electric
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On a more humorous note. While I envy so many of you that have found an amiable companion, there are benefits to being single. Like being able to make copies of all 3 sheets of plans and hang them in the office for easy reference.

Jun 22, 2009, 01:37 AM
Old Tyme Electric
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It's also funny the things that get you going. I deliberately started with the lower wings because they were the most basic construction of the airplane, and the other wings built on them. I started on an upper wing tonight, and figuring out how to build it and cut out the aileron got my juices going.

I've got everything laid out and have rehearsed building it a couple times, finding the differences between the plans and the manual, and figuring out what goes where.

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