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Old 09-17-2016, 07:48 AM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Sep 2016
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The Infamous CDL, I know I know

Hello guys!

I know this issue has been addressed many times and I have read through the posts and forums referring to having to get a CDL or not. I believed I had a good grip on the subject until yesterday. I went to an bus dealer to look at a bus he had for sale. It was a 66 passenger 30ft 1991 Ford Thomas. While on the bus I wanted to see the GWVR that was posted. It said 26,500 and I said excitedly, "If that's the MAX capacity, then I know the bus itself is less than 26,000 and therefore I don't need a CDL. The dealer basically told me no, the DMV will go by what's posted, the 26,500 and I WOULD need a CDL because it's over 26,000. I told him I'm not using it for "school bus" purposes, definitely not driving school children or transporting anyone so I will need to get the empty weight of bus AND weigh it again once it's converted. He told me I will not be able to do this.

I'm definitely not trying to change the rating but here is my understanding,

-I know once you convert a school bus into an RV, you won't need a CDL period regardless of weight...because it is now re-titled for personal use as an RV.

-I'm not converting into an RV, I'm converting my bus for commercial or business purposes so I do have to worry about the weight if I don't want to get a CDL.

-Regardless of the posted GWVR, Once I take the seats out, take off the words school bus, and remove the "school bus paint"....It is now just a vehicle, not a "school bus", correct?

-The GWVR is the max capacity rating meaning the bus itself plus the weight of it's passengers can not surpass 26,500...I need to focus on the empty weight of the bus right? because I will not have passengers.

Here was my plan:

1. Get the bus and weigh it immediately before doing any demo.
2. Do my conversion and get the bus weighed again once everything is done.
3. Go to the DMV to register the vehicle and re-titled at this point, after everything is done.

My questions......

1. Once my bus is converted and weighed...I should not have to worry about a CDL once I have proof that the "new weight" is less than 26,000? I do understand that the bus itself, everything the bus contains, and the bodies on the bus can not exceed 26,000.

2. Vehicles with less than 16 passengers including the driver and weigh less than 26,000 does not require a CDL. When I'm getting the bus re-titled, I need to make sure I tell them the vehicle will be used for business purposes with less than 16 passengers right? It's a mobile pop up shop so I will never be transporting anyone, never.

3. Do I have this correct? I just want to completely know what I doing and know what I'm talking about before having to fight with the good ole folks at the DMV!

It is no longer a school bus once converted. It's a school bus shell but will be considered a commercial vehicle with a weight less than 26,000 right????
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Old 09-17-2016, 03:56 PM   #2
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: May 2016
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It's cut and dry. GVWR over 26K, you will need a Class B (I'm betting it has air brakes). All other factors irrelevant.

Some (most? All?) states may recognize an exemption for bus-converted RV-personal use.

Not sure about your state (SC, I'm guessing by your name), but GA offers a Class B non-CDL for non-commercial Class B use. Think - some farmer with a dump truck spreading fertilizer. I believe many other states do as well. Typically only involves a knowledge test - much of it is stuff you *REALLY* need to know when owning/driving a Skoolie anyway, esp. one with air brakes.
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Old 09-17-2016, 04:25 PM   #3
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Location: Oklahoma aka "God's blind spot"
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Coachwork: 1853FC International/Navistar
Chassis: 35' Retired Air Force Ambulance
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Rated Cap: 6 souls and a driver
You'll most likely end up with DOT# also...
Maybe even a MC#

I know in Oklahoma you'd need both, plus registered with the Oklahoma Corporation Commission (OCC) for $35 a year whether you're incorporated or not. Basically it's an entity that governs itself, polices itself, and pads the pockets of the commission board.
But, not only can they shut you down on the spot, they can and will immediately impound your vehicle, stop your business and it'll cost more in legal fees than the vehicle is worth. (And if you're carrying passengers... The party is over and they better have a plan B for getting home)

Been there, done that, hated it!
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Old 09-17-2016, 05:40 PM   #4
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad_SwiftFur View Post
It's cut and dry. GVWR over 26K, you will need a Class B (I'm betting it has air brakes). All other factors irrelevant.

Some (most? All?) states may recognize an exemption for bus-converted RV-personal use.

Not sure about your state (SC, I'm guessing by your name), but GA offers a Class B non-CDL for non-commercial Class B use. Think - some farmer with a dump truck spreading fertilizer. I believe many other states do as well. Typically only involves a knowledge test - much of it is stuff you *REALLY* need to know when owning/driving a Skoolie anyway, esp. one with air brakes.
Yeah I have come to the dreadful conclusion that I will need to get one. I just really didn't want to go through the trouble (was thinking about going to a CDL school) BUT I know I have to compromise. I want a 30ft bus for the size, I gotta get a CDL. I have read that the knowledge portion isn't too bad, and I could just buy my bus, practice with my BIL that has a class A CDL and take my bus for the road test when I'm ready. I'll get it done! Thanks
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Old 09-17-2016, 05:43 PM   #5
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by milkmania View Post
You'll most likely end up with DOT# also...
Maybe even a MC#

I know in Oklahoma you'd need both, plus registered with the Oklahoma Corporation Commission (OCC) for $35 a year whether you're incorporated or not. Basically it's an entity that governs itself, polices itself, and pads the pockets of the commission board.
But, not only can they shut you down on the spot, they can and will immediately impound your vehicle, stop your business and it'll cost more in legal fees than the vehicle is worth. (And if you're carrying passengers... The party is over and they better have a plan B for getting home)

Been there, done that, hated it!
What's a MC #? I'm sorry, IDK that abbreviation lol. I'm definitely not playing around with that! I will not be transporting anyone and I'm gonna do what I have to do to ensure my business is completely legal. It looks like I'll be getting a CDL lol
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Old 09-17-2016, 05:43 PM   #6
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Location: Oklahoma aka "God's blind spot"
Posts: 2,177
Year: 1989
Coachwork: 1853FC International/Navistar
Chassis: 35' Retired Air Force Ambulance
Engine: DT466, MT643
Rated Cap: 6 souls and a driver
Quote:
Originally Posted by SadieHawkinsSC View Post
Yeah I have come to the dreadful conclusion that I will need to get one. I just really didn't want to go through the trouble (was thinking about going to a CDL school) BUT I know I have to compromise. I want a 30ft bus for the size, I gotta get a CDL. I have read that the knowledge portion isn't too bad, and I could just buy my bus, practice with my BIL that has a class A CDL and take my bus for the road test when I'm ready. I'll get it done! Thanks
My local school district offered to pay for everything involved to getting a CDL, if I'd substitute drive for them a few times a year...

Something to think about
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Old 09-17-2016, 06:22 PM   #7
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The simplest solution is to simply buy a bus 26K or under (mine is a 40' Carpenter/IH) ...

Mine is legal on a Class C license, as far as weight ratings go ... not so much as far as passengers, but once it's de-seated ...

I actually would like to move to a shorter wheelbase, air-brake bus, if anyone wanted to work a trade ..........
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Old 09-17-2016, 06:34 PM   #8
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it should be easy to find a 30'er, under 26,000lbs.

my bus is 30'. the front axle is rated for 12,000 lbs and the rear is rated at 19,000lbs. even though the combined rating is over 26,001, the gvw stamped on the plate is only 25,500lbs. i think the manufacturer can down rate their vehicles to keep the licensing easier.
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Old 09-17-2016, 06:41 PM   #9
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: May 2016
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Chassis: IH
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Rated Cap: 66 + driver
DOT and MC numbers:

For transportation companies (trucking and passenger) they need "Operating Authority" to do business, typically making sure they have insurance, maintain driver logs, inspections and maintenance, and all that. Once everything is in place, they can get their "DOT" numbers. If they plan to run *IN ONE STATE ONLY* they usually get DOT numbers beginning with the state abbreviation, such as (for example) GA DOT 9999999 ... if they run multiple states, it usually has the format US DOT 9999999 ...

MC is short for Motor Carrier and might be required depending on what you plan to do (and I'm too tired to look it up right now); if you're not hauling cargo/passengers for money, it probably won't apply to you.

You'll save a lot on insurance and registration and DOT headaches when you make sure to tell them you are *NOT FOR HIRE*, you do *NOT* carry passengers or cargo for compensation (they will treat you like a trucking company if you do). You want to register this bus the exact same way a plumbing company or building contractor or food truck register their vehicles. The *ONLY* folks riding in it would be company employees. They may still give you DOT numbers, which may need to be put on the sides of the bus, and they may even require "Not For Hire" to go with it.

20+ years in the trucking business. You may even want a copy of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (little green book, I have some extra copies if you want one). It will contain pretty much *ALL* the federal regulations that will apply to us.
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Old 09-17-2016, 07:00 PM   #10
Bus Nut
 
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Rated Cap: 66 + driver
Now, keep in mind I am in GA, but let's say I planned to set up my bus as a food truck (your business may differ, but might still follow the same thing I will). When I am ready to begin business, I will secure the necessary business license, most likely from my home county. Health inspection (and all the other food safety and handling measures) will need to be done. The necessary insurance will need to be in place. For my purposes, a basic commercial policy with something like 100K, 300K, 100K limits will meet state minimums. I should *NOT* need a "filing" (which is required for motor carriers). After the insurance is in place, I can get my tag. Here I can register for various weights, but if I am staying under 26K, it's (I think) the bottom classification. (This is mostly for heavier trucks; more weight = more wear & tear on roads = more tax). Thus, you could theoretically have a large truck or bus *Rated* for (say) 40,000 pounds, but *Registered* for under 26,000 (saving some $$$ on taxes); however, if you get weighed and end up over the 26,000 (even though the vehicle is rated for more), you didn't pay the road tax for that extra weight, and will be deemed overweight.

I would have to look up and see if I would need a DOT or MC number as a food truck in GA ... but with the aforementioned items in place (mostly the insurance), it should be a fairly straightforward process.
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