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Old 09-06-2016, 01:19 PM   #1
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Join Date: Feb 2016
Posts: 3
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Hi all, been following a lot of you along your builds and my wife and I are excited to be hopefully moving forward with ours next Spring/Summer!

Hoping someone here has experienced the Colorado rules/regulations surrounding the drivers license for a Skoolie. From what I understand, anything over 26,500 lbs requires a CDL, is that correct? We are also wanting to have a tow vehicle, either dead pull or on a car trailer, which would add to our overall GVW too.

Does anyone know how this works in Colorado? What will they require for us to legally drive this? Does anyone have suggestions on buses that are under 26500 lbs? We want something in the 36+ passenger range b/c it's us, two kids and a dog along for longer trips so would like the space, but I wasn't sure if different manufacturers had different GVW's? Seems like they are all similar anyhow.

Thanks for the info! Love this site and love all the projects going on!
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Old 09-06-2016, 01:49 PM   #2
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Join Date: May 2016
Location: Georgia
Posts: 463
Year: 1987
Coachwork: Carpenter
Chassis: IH
Engine: IH 9 Liter
Rated Cap: 66 + driver
Hello and welcome

First, you have GVW, GVWR, GCW, and GCWR. The two ending with "R" mean manufacturer's "Ratings", meaning the maximum the manufacturer designed it for.

GVW means Gross Vehicle Weight, this is (paraphrasing) the weight on the vehicle's tires ... another way to look at this would be "the weight of the vehicle sitting on a scale".

GCW is Gross Combination Weight, which is the total weight of the vehicle and anything it is pulling (typically used for towing). Often this can be higher than the GVW, depending on engine, radiator, transmission, gearing, brakes, and other things.

Most vehicles over 26,000 GVW (**NOT** GCW!) will have air brakes. Some states may require a Class B (with Air Brake endorsement). I'm not familiar with CO, but Georgia (where I live) has a Class B non-CDL for things like this (and other Class B, private uses). You can legally pull a 9999 pound trailer behind a 25999 pound truck (both ratings, and actual weights) legally on a Class C license. The moment that truck goes to 26001 (either in rating, or actual weight), you have a problem. The rating will put you in Class B territory, regardless of actual weight, the 26001 actual on a 25999 pound rating will leave you "overweight". The same logic also applies to trailers and the 10K limit.
Since scales typically measure in 20 pound increments, you can theoretically scale 36K on a truck/trailer combo legally on a Class C license. The weight distribution would have to be perfect, though.

If you pull a trailer over 10,000 *Rated* weight, you'll probably need to move to a Class A. This is one reason you'll find some trailers rated at something like 9990, so they can keep under the 10K rule.
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Old 09-06-2016, 02:18 PM   #3
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Georgia
Posts: 463
Year: 1987
Coachwork: Carpenter
Chassis: IH
Engine: IH 9 Liter
Rated Cap: 66 + driver
As far as manufacturers and rated weights go, that's less about "what a manufacturer offers" and "what the customer orders". Let me give an example:

Let's say I run a company (or bus yard, the idea is the same). I am working with a budget of xxx. I need to buy enough buses to cover a certain territory, with a certain number of drivers, in a certain time frame each day. So let's say route 1 has 44 kids (and that number is not expected to change for several years). I can put a 44 passenger "Shorty" bus on that route, and a GVWR of 14K may be more than enough to cover 44 preschoolers and their books. When these kids hit high school, they may need a 40' full length bus (at 2 per seat, instead of 3 when they were young), and they have put on some weight. So now that 14K limit may be overweight. Foreseeing this, I choose a 40' bus with a 25,500 weight rating.

Now let's say route 2 has 44 kids, but covers a rather hilly area. Hydraulic brakes are OK, but I personally see air brakes as "better" (and they have more friction area than disk brakes) so I expect more life from the brakes. Route 2 gets a bus with air brakes.

Bus 3 will be bought for trips and will have belly storage and racks. A 26,000 limit will be overweight, especially considering this bus will be running highway speeds. So I move to something closer to the 30K weight rating.

See where I'm going with this? Manufacturers build chassis/buses to customer specs. I drove for a hatchery once, and they ran modified/custom purpose-built buses to haul the baby chicks. Options included extra headroom, paneled windows (no glass), extra vents (below the windows), multiple fans for ventilation, and square wheel arches inside (so we could stack on them), manual transmission, bigger engine and highway gearing. Buses (and big trucks) aren't exactly "mass produced" (well, they are, but ...) not in the same way cars are. They are not built as "one size fits all". They are, however, built with common options and shared components, to reduce costs. Joe's bus, with a 9,500 rear rating, Frank's bus, with a 10K rear rating, and my bus, with an 11K rear rating, could very well be riding on the exact same model of rear axle. The difference may be the brakes or springs (or no difference).
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Old 09-06-2016, 02:49 PM   #4
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Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: Colorado
Posts: 960
Year: 1993
Coachwork: bluebird
Engine: 5.9 Cummins, Allison 545
Rated Cap: 2
if you register the bus as an "rv" then your regular drivers license is fine.

here is an older thread on the same topic:

http://www.skoolie.net/forums/f13/co...ance-9091.html
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Old 09-06-2016, 05:44 PM   #5
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: Dec 2015
Location: Utah
Posts: 266
Year: 1990
Coachwork: BB
Chassis: TC2000
Engine: Cummins
Rated Cap: 25.999K
Hi. Im in utah, so im sure the laws are a little different. To give you an idea of weight, I have a 1991 Blue Bird. Its the "handy bus". Flat nose, Cummins/Alisson. I think its about 32 feet long with a wheelchair lift. GVW rating is 33k (tag above driver seat). I have it rated at 26K so I can drive it without any special license. As for a weight reference, I took it across the scales. Seats were still in, bus empty, full fuel, and 210lb ME. We came in at 16,100 pounds.
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Old 09-06-2016, 06:51 PM   #6
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Georgia
Posts: 463
Year: 1987
Coachwork: Carpenter
Chassis: IH
Engine: IH 9 Liter
Rated Cap: 66 + driver
Yeah, 16K pounds for a 32' bus sounds about right. I think the general consensus is that a 40' bus is right around the 17K mark, full fuel, with seats but otherwise empty. Haven't weighed them, but removing seats will probably shave ~1000 off that.
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