Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Thinking about a collector or custom vehicle for Christmas?

While you are shopping for the next cool vehicle, keep in mind you should look for specialty insurance to go with it. 

Custom and collector vehicle insurance is a specialty product.  It is tailored for vehicles that are not regularly driven, usually less than 5,000 miles a year. Maybe they are driven for fun, to local club events, a show or rally.  Other restrictions or limitations could include that all drivers need to be over 26 years old and you must have another vehicle that you use as your regular “daily driver”.  Company requirements vary.
Other items might include that the vehicle does need to be in a fully enclosed and locked garage, shop or building. But recently, some of the underwriters have started approving carports and other storage areas as protection.  
Dont insure your custom car or bike for a “used vehicle” value from an underwriter that doesn’t understand the value of your vehicle.   Specialty coverages are usually “agreed” values which will make sure you get what you have it insured for (minus any deductibles). You have too much time and money in your vehicles not to protect them for what they are worth.

Have more than one custom vehicle on the same policy?  With most specialty policies, you pay the liability once, for all your cars or motorcycles listed on that policy.
Have an accident?  Claims are settled by adjusters that understand custom and collector vehicles.
The basic breakout of categories for custom or collector vehicle insurance are:

Antiques (over 25 years old),
Classics (20 to 24 years old)
Collectibles (15 to 19 years old)
Customs (mechanically or cosmetically altered)
Exotic cars (less than 15 years old but appreciating)
Street rods (usually cars built before 1950 that have been and mechanically or cosmetically altered)
Kit cars (built from a package)

Each company has a different variation on their categories and what qualifies as modifications.

The vehicle usually needs to have some appreciable characteristics. If the vehicle is newer and doesn’t have any collectable or appreciable status, it’s probably not going to meet the underwriter’s guidelines.

Doesn't mean a new car can’t be on a specialty policy, it just depends what model and the market for the vehicle.

Oh, even collector boats can be insured with a specialty company. So that old Chris Craft ,in the barn, better finish the restoration and put it in the water.

Monday, December 8, 2014

SUN ‘n FUN Planning 2015 annual event

Presented by Visit Florida, the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association and Lakeland Linder Regional Airport, the 41st Annual SUN ‘n FUN International Fly-In & Expo will be held April 21-26, 2015 in Lakeland, Florida.  An anticipated crowd of 200,000 people during the event will include more than 500 credentialed media, 500 exhibitors and guests from 80 different countries. 

An International Jet Team, U.S. Military Jet Team and Warbirds will keep attendees entertained and educated.  CEO & President John R. “Lites” Leenhouts is directing staff and volunteers to design this event as one that offers exciting ‘finds’ on the grounds and in the air that have been suggested by the aviation community.  Themes used each day will combine Florida Day, World Aerobatics, Education, International Hospitality, Warbirds, Formations, Aviation Potpourri, Military, Florida Resident Day and more.  “Dinner with Legends” (a fund-raising event for year-round education programs and scholarships), will feature big names from the sporting community who are also pilots.  Lectures, workshops, continuing education credits for teachers, international food vendors, youth activities, and rides on aircraft like the Ford Tri-Motor round out the week for all attendees.

In 2015, there will be a mid-week twilight illuminated aviation airshow as well as a Saturday spectacular include fireworks.  The 40th anniversary for Air America will be celebrated in the Veterans Plaza.   Celebrating “A Brighter Future through Aviation”, there will be an unveiling of a new “Piedmont Education Experience” as the only fully-functional aircraft classroom on a high school campus in the world.  The Boeing 727 will also have a Bernie Little Memorial community meeting space.

For further information about how to become involved at SUN ‘n FUN as a volunteer, sponsor, partner, exhibitor, vendor or advertiser, visit or call 863-644-2431.


Aviation education experiences are offered year-round for students of all ages on the SUN ‘n FUN Convention Campus.  Proceeds from any event at SUN ‘n FUN, a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation, are returned to STEM-based education programs and activities.  Take time to visit Aerospace Discovery at the Florida Air Museum with your family.  

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Thursday, November 20, 2014

SEMA 2014

If you are in the automotive industry and you haven’t been to the SEMA show in Las Vegas every November, well I feel bad for you.  It is one of the greatest car shows of the year. This year, 2014 was probably one of the biggest SEMA shows I have been to in years. 

Watching the new Mustangs give rides was pretty cool.

The outside lots were filled with cars and trucks that could take most of the day to just walk through. If you stopped and spent any time at any one vehicle, well, you should be planning to go back to the event for a couple more days. There is no way that a person can see everything in a day. Even if you are selective at where you stop, it’s going to be a long show. I’m not sure how many walking miles I put on, but it was a lot. And I hate to say it, I still missed things.

So instead of talking about all the stuff I did see and the things I missed, I’m going to add a few pictures for you to review. I can say, as a freelance writer the contacts I made are great. I have a number of projects in the works that can benefit from the business connections. In fact, that’s what SEAM is really about, business connections in the automotive industry.

Oh and don’t tell Jeanne but there are a few personal things that I discovered and want for my own vehicles. 

Friday, November 14, 2014

Quick winter reminder - DON'T LEAVE YOUR AIRCRAFT!

You might have read this here or in one of the magazines I write for already, but i feel it is very important to remind owners to not ignore their aircraft. 

Don't stop exercising your aircraft...anytime of the year!  Winter is the hardest for the northern states.  But no use is bad anytime.   The worst thing you can do is just let it sit!    The following tips are a few basics to get you started.  Talk to your mechanic for more details and further recommendations.

Most mechanics will tell you the not to let your aircraft sit without running.  If you can't fly the aircraft at least 30 minutes to an hour a month, at least ground run it.   

But don't just run it for a couple of minutes and put it away.  You need to run it long enough to bring the oil temperature and cylinder head temperature up to the green arcs.  This will keep the upper part of the engine lubricated and free of moisture and corrosion.  It's also important to change your oil at least every six months.  Oils can develop acids and other contaminants that are hard on the engine.  Another benefit of running the aircraft is it will allow the gyros to spin up and keep the bearings from pitting.

Fuel systems need special attention.  Make sure that you keep the fuel tanks full!  If there is very little room for air, there will be less moisture and less chance of water in the fuel system.  And for those owners with bladder tanks, it helps to keep the bladders from drying out.

What happens if you have water in your tanks?  Some mechanics rule of thumb is to add about 10 ounces of isopropyl alcohol to every 20 gallons of fuel.    Don't get carried away with the alcohol.  More is not always better.  Too much alcohol will attack the rubber parts in the fuel system.  Why use isopropyl alcohol?  Methanol only mixes with the water and keeps it from freezing, while isopropyl combines with the water making it light enough to move through and out of the fuel system. 

Another thing you need to do is keep your batteries charged or remove them from the aircraft.  When a battery goes low it can freeze and break.  Not a problem if you live where it stays warm all year.  Of course, a dead battery it is still a problem, wherever you live. 

Many owners forget that the brakes and wheel bearings draw a tremendous amount of moisture.  If you leave an aircraft parked, the lowest most humid location is around the wheels.  If you have a tail wheel aircraft it is especially important to check these areas before flying.  Cleaning and repacking is essential on a regular basis.  The grease or lubrication is the only thing that is going to keep the moisture out of the bearings. 

Other areas that need to be worked and lubricated regularly are radios, doors and controls.  When you think about all the things that might need repaired or replaced because you didn't "work" your aircraft, it can get pretty expensive.  In fact, it usually ends up costing more than if you just went flying!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

More winterization tips.

Boat lifts and docks. 

Depending on your dock and lift it the winter might not mean anything but removing the slip cover and greasing and checking the cables.  If it is a floating dock it might require removing the dock from the water and storing.  Which ever you do this is the time for a little preventative maintenance.  Preventative maintenance reduces the over all cost of ownership. Repairing before breaking extends the life of the item and reduces the cost of repairs.

Inspect the dock and lift for damage and corrosion.  Lubricate any pulleys and cables with good quality water resistant (marine grade) grease. This is also a good time to spray any cables with a rust and corrosion inhibitor. 

Remove any damaged boards or surface sections and replace.  If you don’t remove and replace at this time, make a list or what’s wrong and what parts you need to order. Order them early so you don’t forget. One good reason to do the repairs now is so that you are not pressured to get the repairs done and the docks back in the water come spring time. No one likes to miss a spring day of boating because you are waiting for parts (boat, dock or lift parts).

Paint or treat any surface material to seal the moisture out. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Boat winter checklist

I might have posted this before, but you can never be too careful when putting your boat away for the winter. Even if you live in the warmer climate's where taking the boat out because of ice isn't a problem...its still good to do a number of the items regularly. 

Cleaning buildup from the pontoons.
Taking a boat out of service requires the owner to take preventative steps to prevent corrosion and damage to the boats and its systems.  In the Northern states it is often called winterization, but in reality any time the boat is in a “lay-up” situation for a number of months, the owners should take steps to protect their investment.  Most of the following items can be done on the trailer, in the slip on the lift or in a shop. If you have a larger boat that stays in the water you will also want to makes sure that your boat is protected from the lake freezing by using bubblers to prevent ice build up against the hull.

Each boat is different and the options and systems on yours might need additional items serviced.  If you are planning on doing all the work, make sure you have a copy of the boat, engine and systems service manuals.

By following a simple checklist and with a little elbow grease, you can protect your boat during lay-up. If you are uncomfortable doing any of these items, call a professional. 

  1. Add a fuel stabilizer to preserve both the fuel and the fuel tank for the upcoming winter and spring months.
  2. Run the engine, checking the timing and basic operations. This also distributes the fuel stabilizer through out the fuels system.
  3. Remove the boat from the water and inspect the exterior for damage.  Make and repairs or notes to remind you in the spring and give the boat a coat of wax.
  4. You will need to protect the internal passage ways of the engine from freezing. Depending on the type of engine and cooling system you may need to add antifreeze to the cooling system (partial or fully closed cooling systems).  And/or you might need to drain the water from the engine block and manifolds and refill with marine grade non toxic antifreeze.  This can be done using an inexpensive flushing adapter, garden hoses and antifreeze. 
  5. During the time you are flushing and refilling the cooling system, spray sticky “fogging” oil in the carburetor or intake while the engine is running. Fogging oil will stick to the engine internal passage ways giving the inside of the engine a protective coating against corrosion.
    Fogging spray
  6. After you have filled the cooling passages with anti freeze and fogged the engine, shut the engine off and inspect the lower unit. Remove the bottom plug in the lower unit and remove any water that might be mixed with the oil (hopefully there will not be any water or you might need more repairs in the spring).
  7. Inspect the throttle, steering and shift cables for binding and wear
  8. Apply anti corrosion grease to all fittings, linkages and steering cables
  9. Check all the belts, hoses and the general condition of the engine, drive unit and lower unit.
  10. Remove any items from the cabin that might freeze.
  11. Remove and food that would attract rodents and bugs.
  12. Place some type of anti moisture containers (like Damp Rid) through out the cabin to help reduce any moisture build up that could cause mold and mildew over the winter.  Often times it’s a good idea to place the cushions and mattresses on an edge or lifted up with small blocks so there can be airflow over more surface areas.
  13. If you have a water system, galley and head, you will need to drain the water and refill the system with non toxic marine grade anti freeze also.
  14. Last, cover the boat to keep out the elements, animals and bugs. Tarps or shrink wrap doesn’t matter.  If it’s too airtight the boat will get large amounts of condensation leading to mold and mildew. Make sure however you cover the boat it is tight but still has air flow.

Friday, October 10, 2014

One of my new favorite lines

“What day is it?", asked Winnie the Pooh

"It's today," squeaked Piglet

"My favorite day," said Pooh”

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

New Evinrude G2

While we were attending the Pontoon and Deck Boat Days at Table Rock lake, I was able to drive a New Bennington Tri-toon with a new Evinrude G2, 200 horsepower outboard.

I better back up and mention that when the Pontoon and Deck Boat  Days comes around next year, you don't want to miss the event. Where else can you get to drive 20+ new pontoons and deckboats?  Plus they gave away a pontoon (and Jeanne was only one card away from winning it).  Look out next year!

Back to the Evinrude, I didn't like the looks much in the pictures, but I don't think the pictures do the engine justice. It is very cool looking in person. The optional color panels, the power steering unit the quiet running.  I have to admit, I was almost ready to trade the Mercury (sorry Mercury) for a new one...except they didn't have one in my size.

Apparently my boats too small. So you are safe for now Mercury.

Oh and about the test drive, wow, it was great. I added to my pontoon knowledge and Jeanne and I decided that we really do have a great boat.

I always want a bigger boat with more power and more extras,  but what I have really works great for us and the dog.  The Pontoon and Deck Boat Days did give me a chance to compare what we have with our Bentley Cruise with what the other manufacturers offer (fit, finish and extras).  I don't think there is one boat that would be perfect, but I'd like to try and find it!

Oh and cup holders, you can never have enough cup holders, so we bought more from Terry Graber and Associates.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Medicals needed?

Most companies require a current medical if you are to be insured.  Does that mean you don’t have insurance if you don’t have a medical?  No!  If you are not using the aircraft in a way that needs a medical, why would you need to have a medical?

If you are unable to maintain a medical, but you still own an aircraft it could still be insured.  If you are not flying the aircraft and you have coverage while “not-in-flight” and the aircraft is damaged by a big storm, you should still be covered.

Many of the aviation insurance companies follow the guidelines of the FAA.  I even tried to find an FAR that said you had to have a medical (or a pilot’s license for that matter) to taxi or own an aircraft.  I was unable to locate anything specific to that.  (Just think, if that was the case, many of the corporate owners or the owners that hire a pilot, would not be able to have any coverage). 

For an example, say you are the aircraft owner and you don’t have a medical and you are taxiing your aircraft around the airport.  A good owner keeps the engine, tires and brakes limbered up.  And let’s assume that you have full coverage for ground and flight.  Now, what if you happen to have a minor mishap during that time, such as you hit a taxi light or drop in a hole and damage the prop, you should have coverage.  Should have coverage and the insurance company not wanting to pay are two different things.  Most aircraft insurance policies have a section that states that the operator of the aircraft has to meet the requirements of the policy.  The requirements usually include a medical.  But a medical is not required to taxi or start the aircraft only to fly the aircraft.  If you were not on the runway, not flying or haven’t been flying, should they pay?  I think so.  And will they pay?  Probably.  If the company has provided the correct coverage for the aircraft and the aircraft is not in a situation requiring a medical, they should be responsible! 

If you were out flying and the aircraft had an accident, you’d void the policy without a medical.  So just because you are on the ground doesn’t mean you don’t have to meet the policy requirements.  The earlier example is a situation, where you were not in flight and not intending to fly. 

Of course, this is a “gray” area.  If the pilot is taxiing to the pumps for fuel to make a flight, he doesn't have to have a medical, but going down the runway he does...I just thought of something else.  Many people think they can get around this by having a friend in the aircraft that does have a medical.  Problem is if they are not qualified, listed or meeting the open pilot warranty they are not covered in the aircraft.  If the other pilot is not an instructor they can’t be “giving dual”.  Additionally, that “friend” will be the one at risk of being the pilot in command in the event of an accident or claim.  Very few people I know want to have an accident (and possibly a violation) on their pilots record for a friend who just happened not to have a medical!  Usually the friendship ends up being very short.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Pontooning video

We had a great night on the lake and ended up being followed by the seagull population apparently we were stirring up the fish in the lake.


Friday, August 29, 2014

Launching a new E-Magazine

I know...this is not really wings wheels or water...but I got involved anyway. This might not be in your realm or neighborhood but its still an exciting new venture for us. 

We are launching a new free electronic magazine called, “Enlightening Up,” with the first issue slated to release on October 1.  This will be an electronic magazine instead of printed, and it will focus on spiritually-based experiences, activities, events, providers and services in Iowa and surrounding areas.

Our website is under construction at

Each issue will have articles written by and about events focusing on our spiritual community.  In addition, we will have a free comprehensive spiritual community event calendar, Business / Service Directory and advertising space will be available.

We intend to include a “Business / Service Directory” in each issue, and we are inviting you to be included with a free listing.  In the future we may charge a nominal fee for a listing, and also may offer the possibility of purchasing a “Business Card” ad or a display ad.  But for the first several months, we are offering free listings only. 

To receive your free business listing, please contact us at

To submit entries for the community calendar, please contact us at

If you are interested in advertising, please contact us at

If you have any ideas or suggested topics for the magazine, we would love to hear your views!  We look forward to hearing from you soon!

The deadline for applying for your free listing is September 15, 2014.


Scott Sky Smith, Jeanne Westbrook Smith and Fraya Parker

Thursday, August 21, 2014

EAA Webinar Afoordable Flying

If you missed my EAA Webinar on Affordable flying, you can still catch it by going here

Thank you EAA and thanks for all the people that tuned in. 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Next SkySmith Webinar!.

EAA Webinar..

August 20, 7 p.m. CDT: Keeping Flying Affordable, Scott Sky Smith - Tips, tricks, and new ideas that pilots and owners can use to keep their aircraft flying affordably. Covering basic cost of ownership, ownership alternatives, owner-assisted annuals, insurance tips, training issues, simulators, and other ways to reduce maintenance costs.

To find out more about upcoming EAA Webinars and to register, visit the webinars page.

Miss a webinar? All webinars are recorded and loaded onto the EAA Webinars Channel within 24 hours.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014



Comment from EAA Chairman Jack Pelton:
q  “It was a tremendous week on many levels. We filled Wittman Regional Airport with aircraft for the first time in several years, with both aircraft camping and parking areas completely full at mid-week. The cooperation and support of the airport’s east side community made possible the historic first appearance of the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds at Oshkosh, which brought in many people to our event. Exhibitors reported outstanding business throughout the week, with some selling out of product. We also had a tremendous amount of aviation innovation brought to Oshkosh with new airplanes and aviation technology, and our KidVenture youth area had a record attendance year.”

Attendance: More than 500,000, with a total attendance increase of five to six percent. 
q  Comment from Pelton: “Certainly the Thunderbirds’ first performances at Oshkosh helped the attendance, as Saturday and Sunday (August 2-3) saw 20 percent attendance increases from similar days in 2013. There was another factor, too – a renewed sense of optimism that was reflected in people coming to Oshkosh to celebrate the world of flight. You could feel it among the attendees, exhibitors and our 5,400 volunteers whose work made the event possible.”
Total aircraft: More than 10,000 aircraft arriving at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh and other airports in east-central Wisconsin.
Total showplanes: 2,649 (308 more than in 2013) – including 997 homebuilt aircraft, 1,050 vintage airplanes, 303 warbirds, 122 ultralights and light-sport aircraft, 91 seaplanes, 40 rotorcraft, 38 aerobatic aircraft and 8 hot-air balloons.
Commercial exhibitors: More than 790
International visitors registered: 2,081 visitors registered from 69 nations, with Canada (505 visitors), Australia (416), and Brazil (194) the top three nations. (NOTE: This total includes only non-U.S. visitors registered at the International Visitors Tent, so the actual international contingent is undoubtedly larger.)
Media: 917 media representatives on-site, from five continents.
What’s ahead for 2015 (July 20-26)?  Comment from Pelton:
q  “We’re already planning for 2015, with more details coming as soon as we finalize them. Legendary aircraft innovator Burt Rutan indicated he would like to return to Oshkosh in 2015 to share some innovations with the aviation community. We’re eager to bring the soon-to-be-restored B-29 “Doc” here for a public showing as part of the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. And, of course, there will be plenty of other highlights that you can only see at Oshkosh.”

Information updates posted at

For more information: Dick Knapinski (920-426-6523 or

Monday, August 4, 2014



- Consumers invited to "SEMA Ignited" --where all-star vehicles, industry icons and media converge at the conclusion of the SEMA Show -
  • Launch of innovative consumer-awareness and media event
  • Celebration of the SEMA Show's top vehicles, personalities, and equipment
  • Additional ROI for SEMA Show exhibitors
DIAMOND BAR, CA (August 1, 2014) - The world's most unique and celebrated customized vehicles from the 2014 SEMA Show will gather and be accessible to the public on Friday, November 7, 4:00-10:00 pm, as the SEMA Cruise finds its way to a new event taking place immediately after the SEMA Show at the heart of the Las Vegas Strip. After four days behind closed doors in the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), visible only to industry professionals, hundreds of cars and trucks from the SEMA Show will roll out of the building in the SEMA Cruise and, for the first time ever, assemble at "SEMA Ignited," a celebration that will include food, music, celebrities, iconic builders and exhibitor displays.
 "SEMA Ignited is an extension of the SEMA Show that will allow exhibiting companies to gain additional media and consumer exposure for the acclaimed vehicles and innovative gear they bring to Las Vegas," said Chris Kersting, SEMA President and CEO.
 For years, auto enthusiasts would assemble at the LVCC at the conclusion of the SEMA Show simply to get a glimpse of the amazing vehicles as they exited from the trade-only event. That phenomenon eventually led to the SEMA Cruise, and now, the SEMA Cruise has a destination, as hundreds of one-of-a-kind cars and trucks will congregate at The LINQ Promenade, Las Vegas's new open-air shopping, dining and entertainment district that includes the world's tallest observation wheel, the High Roller.
 "This event will be a platform for a consumer and media blitz, featuring the best of the 2014 SEMA Show," explained Kersting.
 The event will give consumers a rare opportunity to collect and share images of hundreds of customized vehicles featuring the newest and most innovative products from the 2014 SEMA Show. The Friday night event will also serve as the backdrop for nationwide media coverage--including on-site taping for a nationally televised broadcast special--"best of show" awards and include food trucks, music, entertainment, automotive celebrities, builders and more. 
 The new event gives SEMA Show exhibitors additional reach, and an opportunity to excite consumers by showcasing the newest vehicles and equipment from this year's SEMA Show. Participation is free of charge to exhibitors by virtue of their involvement in the SEMA Show. Interested parties should e-mail for details.
 About the SEMA Show: The SEMA Show is a trade show produced by the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA), a nonprofit trade association founded in 1963. Since the first SEMA Show debuted in 1967, the annual event has served as the leading venue bringing together manufacturers and buyers within the automotive specialty equipment industry. Products featured at the SEMA Show include those that enhance the styling, functionality, comfort, convenience and safety of cars and trucks. Additional details are available at or 909-396-0289.
About The LINQ Promenade & High Roller: Caesars Entertainment is redefining the iconic Las Vegas skyline with The LINQ Promenade, an open-air shopping, dining and entertainment district, anchored by the world's tallest observation wheel, the Las Vegas High Roller. Located at the heart of the world-famous Las Vegas Strip, The LINQ Promenade features more than 30 unique retail, dining and entertainment venues and plays host to a variety of special events, festivals and more. Topping out at 550 feet, the High Roller observation wheel is the focal point of the unique urban entertainment district. The wheel's 28 glass-enclosed cabins feature an interactive experience including video and music that fade away to unveil spectacular views of the famed resort city in the 30 minutes it takes to complete one full revolution. Each cabin accommodates up to 40 people. Cabins are available for individual or group experiences. For more information, visit

Hamilton Takeoff Watch.

Need a new watch? This is a cool option. Wear it on your wrist, stick it on your dash or panel...pretty versatile!

I was at 2014 AirVenture and got an invite to a Hamilton Watch press function. Hamilton has put a big emphasis in aviation by supporting airshow pilots, aviation movies and even training high altitude rescue helicopter pilots.  I was able to meet a few of the companies leaders and I am impressed.  Glad to see them involved in aviation

The Khaki Takeoff Auto Chrono Limited Edition writes the next chapter of Hamilton’s long history of aviation

Hamilton is taking its close cooperation with Air Zermatt, the Swiss mountain rescue service, to new heights with the Khaki Takeoff Auto Chrono Limited Edition. This pilot watch, which simultaneously acts as a wrist-, cockpit- and table watch, has been created to meet the needs of the rescue team. This dynamic watch is detachable and can be placed in the dashboard of a helicopter or airplane cockpit, as indicated in the presentation box which makes aviation references with a reconstructed dashboard and texts such as “No Step” and “Pull to Open”. Synchronized with the Hamilton brand’s strong aviation heritage, dating back to 1919, the Khaki Takeoff Auto Chrono Limited Edition combines high-tech modernity with inspiration from the Hamilton elapsed time clock produced during World War II and then considered the most complicated aircraft clock. For the 1,999 wearers in possession of one of the numbered pieces, this watch is the perfect portable cockpit with a constant presence on the style radar screen.

For further information:

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

What happens when you make an engine change?

So you’re thinking of making a change.  Many modifications are available for your aircraft, but one of the most expensive (and some claim “most valuable”) is a new larger engine!

Before you run out and borrow the money for that fantastic conversion, check with your aviation insurance agent and see what will happen to your insurance rates.  Typically, they will probably say “I don’t know!”   Engine conversions have not always been a regular thing.  Conversions were always popular with homebuilders, but not with certified aircraft.  Today, more and more people are adding a different sized engine to their aircraft, hoping to increase the performance.

The first and most important question to consider is “is there an STC or will my aircraft be listed as an experimental.  If you are putting an engine in your aircraft that has not been certified or has not went through the FAA supplemental type certification (STC) process you’re asking for an increase in premiums, sometimes substantial.  In my experience, the premiums have increased anywhere from 10 to 25 percent. 

Examples?  There have been a number of companies that have put automotive engines into certified aircraft.  V-8 Chevy engines in a Skymaster, Subaru engines in 150’s and even the Camair engine in a Piper Arrow.  None of these conversions used certified aircraft engines and had their airworthiness certificates modified.  They were reclassified in the experimental category. 

In other cases where the aircraft was using certified aircraft engine and the aircraft was listed in the experimental category, the rate again increased between 10 - 25%.

But what happens if you decide to put a new, bigger engine in your aircraft by way of the STC program?  Numerous companies have engine conversions available that provide increased horsepower without making the aircraft an experimental.  I contacted a few underwriters, in those cases, most said that the premiums would probably not change significantly if at all.  The key here is “as long as it was an FAA approved STC conversion”.

If there were changes, what would they change?  The open pilot warranty might be more restrictive. The deductibles might be higher.  And definitely the value would be different!  But other than that...not much would change.  Of course all of this hinges on the insurance company and underwriter. 

What will you need to do, insurance wise, if you make the conversion?  Whether you convert to a bigger engine or just install a new engine, you need to re-evaluate the aircraft value on your policy.  Most companies will increase the value of your aircraft IF they can prove the higher value based on the aircraft value guides.

So what does this all mean?   Simply, if you decide to change the engine in your aircraft, whether it is the same or different horsepower, the insurance rates should not change if the conversion is done using an FAA approved STC.  The value of the aircraft will change, which in turn will increase the premium you pay.  Besides that, go for it!  The performance should be worth it. 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Airport insurance requirements

This is just a quick comment about airports being added to your policy as an additional insured. 

There are few states that require a person to buy aviation insurance.  But the local community can require coverage. 

Not surprisingly there is an increase in the airport requirements that are being asked for.  These requirements use to be just to have the airport listed as an additional insured.   The local community was worried about being protected if someone thought you were liable for something. The airport wants a little extra protection from your policy.  But lately the requests have been expanded to include request for additional named insured, higher limits and even requirements for hull coverage.

Plus now there are management companies that want to be protected too. So not only do you have the city or county but the FBO and property managers. Each time you get asked to add another person to your policy you are basically diluting your coverage. Now you are protecting all those additional insured. No, it’s not the best thing, but its also the way the business works.  You can’t get by without it.

Anyway, these requirements have made the insurance companies start rethinking their premiums.  Each time they add or change the policy they incur some cost.  Some companies add a premium for an additional insured that is not a municipality or governmental agency.  For example, naming the FBO will probably cost you.

And if more and more requests are made for additional insureds, it would not be a surprise to see the rates increase to cover these cost. 

And if they ask for a Waiver of Subrogation… well that’s another story.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Mercury Marine unveils new lineup of FourStroke outboards

But I just bought a Mercury four stroke!!!!

Doesn't look much different except its bigger ;-)

Jun 19, 2014
Mercury Marine is proud to introduce its new 75, 90 and 115hp FourStroke outboards, which offer the ultimate combination of power and thrust, unsurpassed fuel economy, extreme reliability and smooth, quiet operation – all in a lightweight, compact package. These engines are the new best choice for bass, deep-vee, runabout and offshore boats as well as pontoons and saltwater skiffs.

Despite their low profile and low weight – they’re 20 pounds lighter than the closest four-stroke competition – the new engines feature a 2.1-liter, four-cylinder, eight-valve, single-overhead-cam design that delivers more torque and horsepower than competing engines. The result is unmatched performance, reliability, handling and efficiency.

Mercury Marine

Thursday, June 19, 2014

New Cigars...

Ordered new cigars from Cigar International. Going to try a small quick smoke called Bandidos.  In the past I have ordered Cheroots from Thompson Cigars but these Bandidos from Cigar International was too good of a deal to pass up.

Always liked Cheroots, which to me are kind of the back to basic cigar. Not fancy in looks or price, but easy to smoke.

Hope these Bandidos smoke and taste good!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Aircraft annuals and the insurance company

Thinking of flying your freshly “out of annual” aircraft to the mechanic for the annual?  Check your insurance coverage first!  Many insurance companies will not provide coverage for the aircraft if it is not in a current airworthiness status.

But wait!  It is licensed; it does have a current airworthiness...well not quite!  If the aircraft is out of annual and the owner gets a ferry permit, some people feel that makes it legal to fly.   Sort of.  Yes it is legal, by the FAA, to fly under the restricted permit.  All you have to do is follow the rules. 

BUT...the insurance company doesn't always agree.  You could have the correct paperwork in the aircraft, the approved pilot and still not be covered.  The insurance policy often has a clause that will not provide coverage for the aircraft if it is not within current airworthiness.  In many peoples opinion this is a gray area of the airworthiness.  Airworthy means different things to the insurance company than to the pilot. 

What can you do?  Call the agent and get a little information.  Ask a few questions.  Check to see if the policy has any language about FAR’s.  Many companies have an exclusion in the policy that will not provide any coverage for any situation where the insured is found in non-compliance with the FAR’s.  We have found a few companies that don’t have any language pertaining to FAR’s (but they do have language that excludes out of annual aircraft).

With an aircraft that runs out of annual during a trip (poor planning for whatever reason) the coverage will probably be null and void.   Don’t put yourself into this type of situation.  The aircraft needs to have a ferry permit issued by the appropriate FAA Flight Standards District Office.  To do that requires that the aircraft have an entry in the logbooks from a mechanic stating that the aircraft is airworthy for a ferry flight.  Most of the time this means it does not have any outstanding AD’s that could jeopardize the flight, the flight has to be “Day VFR” and that only the required crew be on board.  In that situation having your friend fly along is not required.  Getting dual in the aircraft because you have never flown it before might be required for you, but not for the operation of the aircraft. 

If you want to fly and be insured with an aircraft that is out of annual the underwriter can put a note in the insurance company file and you’ll be okay.  Don’t be surprised if they charge you extra for this little bit of service.  If the aircraft has been out of annual for a long time, say over a month; make sure that you have a good relationship with the agent and the underwriter.  It might take a little work for the agent to get the underwriter to provide coverage.  Underwriters don’t like to cover aircraft that have been out of annual for a long time.  The risk is too high for failure and claims. 

If you bought an aircraft that was out of annual, you might not be able to get coverage at all.  Many insurance companies have decided that they will not take on a new risk that is not ready to fly.  That means the aircraft might be a good deal as is, out of annual, but you can’t bring it home insured.  If you want to buy an aircraft in this situation, call the agent first and let him know what the situation is.  We have been able to get coverage in a limited number of cases provided the aircraft has not been out of annual very long and the pilot was qualified to fly the aircraft. 

Whatever the situation, make sure you check you policy before you fly an aircraft that is out of annual… or hundred hour inspection, but that’s a different story.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Pontoon Gazebo

We are looking for ways to expand the usability of our new Bentley Cruise 200 pontoon.  One thing we wanted was more shade to hide under on those really hot summer Iowa days.  Being a 20 foot ‘toon doesn’t really offer enough space for another full size front mounted bimini (maybe it would, but I also was being cheap and wanted to save a few bucks), so after shopping around for new ideas (umbrellas, Bimini’s, tarps, etc.) I bought a Taylormade Gazebo for the pontoon. 
I have a bad habit of not wanting to drill holes in my boats so I started a search for alternate ways to mount the brackets that the gazebo poles fit into.   And what if I want to trade the ‘toon for a bigger and faster ‘toon… then I have to buy the brackets again.  But if I had a clamp system it could just move the gazebo to whatever boat I needed it on.  Don’t worry Jeanne; I am not thinking of trading!

So instead I bought four “quick clamps” from The Bimini Buddy ( Okay, I could have bought the Bimini Buddy and skipped the Gazebo, but I was trying to cut costs this time around and Overtones ( had a great deal on the Gazebo. If you haven’t shopped Overton’s they have great prices, quick service and free shipping! 

I bought four “Quick Clamps” from The Bimini Buddy and used them for the install.  I may have to buy a few more, these clamps are great. They are designed to fit over the 1 ¼ railing and tighten with a flip of the lever.  They are a very cool clamp, good quality and fast shipping.  

Anyway, I spent Sunday afternoon working on different attachment methods for the fittings to the clamps. After three or four trips to the hardware store, I finally ended up installing them in the simplest way possible by just screwing the bracket directly to the quick clamp. Duh!

Should have tried that first and saved me all the time, but if you have ever tried to make a special bracket, you know you have to go through the difficult trial and error process and exhaust a few ideas before the easy solution shows up.

Now I need some time and good weather to install the clamps and Taylormade Gazebo and see if it all works as advertised. If so, I will have shade for the front of the ‘toon, for less than 200 bucks. That is a pretty good deal.  

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

My new GoPro Hero 3

As a gadget nut I usually try to get in on the start of new trends, but when it came to action video and cameras, I stuck with my Canon or iPhone. Well I wasn't able to hold off anymore.  With encouragement from my kids, I started looking into buying an action adventure camera such as the GoPro.  In the back of my mind I think all they wanted was a way to get incriminating video of their parents for some future use (or to win the prize money on the Funniest Home Videos Show), but whatever the reason, it worked. 

I finally ordered a GoPro Hero 3.  Part of me said I didn't need one and the other parts of me wanted to be able to film my activities. Not like I’m BASE jumping or mountain climbing, but I do motorcycle, boat, drive and fly. And in my mind, any of those activities should make it a worthy investment.

After researching what was available I actually bought a refurbished unit directly from GoPro.  I felt it was a great deal. It is in like new shape and I was very pleased with the price and the speed that I got it. And buying the camera itself is the small price, all the mounts and extras are what really add up. 

I must say that all those years of watching YouTube videos made with GoPro and looking at the GoPro cameras at the SEMA show, I never understood how small it really is and how high of quality the videos are.

I haven’t really used the unit yet, played with it in my recliner, like that’s an action shot.  But I can’t wait to get it set up on the ‘toon or motorcycle and start using it. 

Next on my “to do” list is “Extreme ‘tooning”…wait until you see those videos on YouTube.

Stay tuned for more "action" shots from SkySmith GoPro...I promise to get out of the recliner.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Monday, May 12, 2014

The 2014 SEMA Show will be held November 4–November 7.

The 2014 SEMA Show will be held November 4–November 7.

If you are in the business you should attend this event. It’s a great way to contact most if not all the manufacturers and vendors you will ever need all in one place. One really big place!   I have been using my contacts at the SEMA show for books, columns and seminars for years. You might not think that they have the information that you can use, but my experience is different. I am in the aircraft; marine, automotive and motorcycle and insurance industries and I always find something for all of those markets.

The SEMA Show is the premier automotive specialty products trade event in the world (PLEASE NOTE: THE SEMA SHOW IS NOT OPEN TO THE GENERAL PUBLIC). It draws the industry’s brightest minds and hottest products to one place, the Las Vegas Convention Center. As part of the AAIW, the SEMA Show attracts more than 100,000 industry leaders from more than 100 countries for unlimited profit opportunities in the automotive, truck and SUV, powersports, and RV markets. SEMA Show 2013 drew more than 60,000 domestic and international buyers...

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Now that I own a Mercury 60 HP four stroke Bigfoot outboard...

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                        
May 7, 2014

Mercury Marine introduces oil change kits
(FOND DU LAC, Wis.) - Changing oil in a Mercury outboard is one of the most important steps to keep an engine running at its peak. Mercury has developed four new convenient oil change kits that contain all the components needed to change the oil in your outboard engine.
Each kit includes:
Mercury 25W-40 marine engine oil featuring Flagship Protection
OEM Mercury oil filter
Drain plug seal
Drip tray (if required)
Complete instructions (printed right on the box)
Mercury oil change kits contain industry-leading Mercury 25W-40 engine oil. Over five years of engineering and development went in to the exclusive Flagship Protection formula which features a high-tech, advanced set of anti-wear additives that provide up to 33 percent better camshaft wear protection and the highest levels of corrosion and oxidation protection. Designed to maintain engine reliability and performance, Mercury 25W-40 mineral oil has been proven to hold its viscosity ratings longer in industry wear testing than other oils on the market. Mercury oils in combination with a genuine Mercury filter team up to provide the No. 1 protection on the water.
Exclusive new Flagship Protection formula provides:
Shear Stable Formula - Proven stronger in shear and viscosity testing
The ultimate in corrosion protection
The No. 1 recommended brand in the Industry
Mercury Oil Change Kits:
15/ 20 HP CARB Oil Change Kit - 8M0081914
25/30 HP EFI Oil Change Kit – 8M0081915
40/50/60 HP EFI Oil Change Kit – 8M0081916
75/90/115 HP EFI Oil Change Kit - 8M0081917
Kits will be available to order with the spring 2014 program.

About Mercury Marine
Headquartered in Fond du Lac, Wis., Mercury Marine is the world’s leading manufacturer of recreational marine propulsion engines. A $2 billion division of Brunswick Corporation (NYSE: BC), Mercury provides engines, boats, services and parts for recreational, commercial and government marine applications, empowering boaters with products that are easy to use, extremely reliable and backed by the most dedicated customer support in the world. Mercury’s industry-leading brand portfolio includes Mercury and Mariner outboard engines; Mercury MerCruiser sterndrive and inboard packages; MotorGuide trolling motors; Mercury propellers; Mercury inflatable boats; Mercury SmartCraft electronics; Attwood marine parts; Land ‘N Sea marine parts distribution; and Mercury and Quicksilver parts and oils. More information is available at

Lucas Lauderback
Mercury Marine Media Relations