Lon Dienst squeezes into the 16-inch-wide cockpit.
Replicating the cockpit was a challenge because the only
photos available of the interior were from the left side.
they did find a 134-hp D4-87, almost identical to the C4, that
Menasco exported to Canada when it didn’t have enough Gipsys
for the Tiger Moths during World War II. After seeing the engine
listed for sale in Oklahoma, Lon called Al Ball at Antique Aero
Engines in Santa Paula, Texas. “He told me not to pay more than
$2,000 because every one he’d seen was rusted junk,” Lon says.
“When he opened this one up, however, he couldn’t tell it had
ever been run, and Cosmoline had totally protected it. It even had
the right spray bar or jet for that carb, which they usually don’t.
Talk about being lucky!”
With their double-tapered planform, the wings for the Jeep
were one of the more identifiable features, so Lon had to get them
right. Originally, there were two different length wings, and Lon
and Steven chose to build the longer version.
“The three-views gave us good general outlines, and the construction photos helped a lot,” Lon says. “It was obvious the wings
were very overbuilt, but we duplicated them as exactly as we
could.” The original spars were a three-ply lamination of spruce-birch-spruce, but the brothers used straight-grain maple instead
of birch. The ribs are made of 1/8-inch mahogany with routed
spruce cap strips. They didn’t cut any lightening holes because
the original didn’t have them, which is one of the reasons the airplane is so heavy for its size: It weighs 900 pounds empty and
holds 19 gallons of gas, which lasts two hours.
The fuselage has six longerons aft of the seat, and the tubing at
the wing attach points is square, forming a trapezoid from the top
of the fuselage to the bottom. “We’re not sure why the fuselage is
structured the way it is, but we followed the photos and the EAA’s
example exactly,” Lon says.
Lon says looking at EAA’s Chester Jeep also helped them fig-
ure out the construction of the tail. “Among other things, while
[Chester’s team] was fine-tuning the Jeep in the ’30s, they modi-
fied the horizontal stabilizer and moved the leading edge forward
a couple of inches,” Lon says. “They left the old leading edge and
main spar where they were and made a dummy leading edge
ahead of everything. I did it the same way, although where the
airfoiled surfaces originally had spruce fairing strips laced to the
tops of the ribs, I glued them in place.”
As for the struts, they are made of round tubing with plywood
ribs covered in fabric, like little wings, which gave the Jeep the
wide profile the designers felt was necessary for low drag.
Among the parts of the original airplane that were stored in
EAA’s hangar before the restoration was the nosebowl for the
cowling. “I pulled the profile off the original, then started beat-
ing aluminum into a beanbag,” Lon says. “It’s made out of eight
pieces gas-welded together, and I produced a lot of scrap—I
mean a lot of scrap.”
When it came to the cockpit, the men had photos of the inside,
but all were from the left, so they only knew what was on the
right side of the cockpit. “We just built it like a normal airplane
and hoped we were right,” Lon says.
In addition to the cockpit, Lon says there are still some
mysteries about the Jeep. “The photos don’t show an airspeed
indicator, and none of the dozens and dozens of photos I’ve
collected show a pitot tube. Is it possible it had no airspeed? I