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Old 11-20-2017, 07:32 PM   #1
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Arizona Registration Experience

Just wanted to share our experience with getting our conversion titled as a motor home and registered in Arizona. YMMV, but hopefully this is helpful to someone.

AZ is one of those states where you can't technically get it registered as an RV until the conversion is done. We have room to work on it in our driveway, but can't keep it there all the time without risking city code complaints. So we're bringing it home on the weekends to work on, and parking it at a storage place during the week. This normally would have meant having to register it as a commercial vehicle, and needing a CDL to drive it while we carried out the conversion so we could legally move it back and forth.

We really wanted to avoid that, so we set a goal of doing a "temporary" conversion as quickly as possible so as to try and get it converted over and registered before our temporary dealer plates expired. From the research we did, there are two main AZ laws and policies that are relevant to the process of converting a school bus to a motor home. The first is AZ MVD Policy 13.2.3, which establishes "standards for the titling variations specific to a motor home." I couldn't find this posted online anywhere, so here is a scan of the copy given to us by our dealer:





The second is AZ Rev Stat § 28-902 (2015) "Repainting government vehicle"
which states:
Code:
If a motor vehicle that is painted yellow and that is owned or operated by this state, a county, city, town or political subdivision of this state, a school district or a school is sold or transferred to a private owner, the private owner shall repaint the motor vehicle a different color and obliterate all official painted insignia before the motor vehicle is driven on a public highway.
To comply with MVD policy, we decided the quickest route would be to install an "all in one" type apartment / mobile home kitchenette unit and a battery power source. We also had a bit of a head start as our dealer had removed all the seats for us already. We found this unit on Craigslist for $130 that includes a refrigerator, electric stove and sink, which I wired up to an old UPS and some deep cycle batteries I had lying around. The 1500VA UPS runs the fridge just fine, but the burners are right on the edge and even one will sometimes trip the overload and shut down, particularly on battery. Not great for real use, but hopefully good enough for our purposes.



The unit barely squeezed in through the service door, and we mounted it by just popping a couple of screws up form the heater hose cover and screwing them back threw the back frame of the unit into their original holes. In general we tried to limit any cutting or drilling on the bus as this was all going to be removed again. The sink faucet was removed and replaced with a manual pump RV faucet.



Some of these units have enough space under the sink to mount water tanks, but this one is ver limited as the compressor is in that space. So we ran the hoses for the faucet, drain and an extension cord for the power down through an existing hole from the now removed roof air conditioning hoses and into the storage box below.



The big plastic tub contains the batteries and the UPS, to contain any leakage from the batteries. The whole thing is strapped down with a heavy ratchet strap to one of the brackets that originally held the AC drain hose.

We decided to try and blow off the ARS repainting requirement, as we really didn't want to have to paint yet.

We looked up online to find MVD locations that did vehicle inspections, and went to the Tempe office. The inspector was very nice and was excited that we were doing a "partridge family" thing with our bus ;) Unfortunately both he and I were unaware that the level 1 inspection he was doing was worthless. We later found out we need a level 2 inspection, which they don't do at Tempe. But we did learn there that we needed to get a smog test before registering, so we were able to get that done before attempt #2. The other thing they did which turned out to be helpful was research the "FCP" original sale price. AZ personal registrations are based on depreciated value, while commercial vehicle registrations are based on weight, so one of the challenges of the process was coming up with an original price for our 20 year old bus so they could plug it into their formula and decide how much to charge us. I was a little concerned about what that might work out to on a $120,000 bus even after 20 years, but apparently that's long enough to be ok ;)

Our second attempt was at the Mesa office where they do level 2/3 inspections and where I had previously gone for my CDL written test (just in case). Level 2/3 inspections are carried out by armed / uniformed MVD enforcement officers, not nice guys in sweaters who like the partridge family, lol. However, they were very helpful. They looked it over, but declined to inspect it (rather than charge us and then fail us) because it still "looked like a school bus." They said remove the "School Bus" signs, remove the fold out stop sign, and maybe think about doing something about the warning lights (though they probably would have let that slide) and we'd be good to go. So while it was a bit more time wasted it was very helpful to get this guidance, and a lot less time consuming than if we had decided to preemptively paint it.

So over the next week we removed the stop sign, disconnected the power to the warning lights, spray painted over the warning light lenses, and peeled off the "School Bus" signs with a heat gun and plastic razor blades.





We went back to the MVD office this morning, met the same officers, and they went right to it checking the VIN and chassis numbers, measuring the length and width and gave us our inspection pass! With that it was just a matter of waiting in another hour or two worth of lines to get our title transferred, and our new registration and plates!



All said and done it was $20 for the 2 year smog test, $20 for the inspection, and $73 for a one year registration.

Rob
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Old 11-20-2017, 08:14 PM   #2
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Congrats on getting it registered right away. I still need to do the minimal required mods for Ohio to get mine changed from a bus to a motor home.
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Old 02-10-2018, 01:21 PM   #3
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Smile Awesome!

I am about to start a conversion in Phoenix so this is super helpful!
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Old 06-05-2018, 08:28 AM   #4
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getting bus home

This site is great..Im in texas possibly buying a bus but actually live in Salome AZ..My question is what do I need to get it home to convert.. travel pass wise, can I get a trip permit from Texas to drive back and then convert to RV in AZ or? any help is great!

Also without looking at bus how do you know if how etc they run?
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Old 06-05-2018, 08:30 AM   #5
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Me too! where you buy your bus and what is it? Im trying to get one in Texas where Im working then figure out hOW to get it my truck and fifth wheel back Lol
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Old 06-05-2018, 08:32 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by frodo2222 View Post
This site is great..Im in texas possibly buying a bus but actually live in Salome AZ..My question is what do I need to get it home to convert.. travel pass wise, can I get a trip permit from Texas to drive back and then convert to RV in AZ or? any help is great!

Also without looking at bus how do you know if how etc they run?
Out of state buyers can buy a temporary tag online. Buying in TX is easy. Got my last bus outside of Houston. I printed out the temporary tag, sent a friend and his wife and a few days later I had a bus!
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Old 06-05-2018, 08:35 AM   #7
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Smile getting bus home

Quote:
Originally Posted by miscrms View Post
Just wanted to share our experience with getting our conversion titled as a motor home and registered in Arizona. YMMV, but hopefully this is helpful to someone.

AZ is one of those states where you can't technically get it registered as an RV until the conversion is done. We have room to work on it in our driveway, but can't keep it there all the time without risking city code complaints. So we're bringing it home on the weekends to work on, and parking it at a storage place during the week. This normally would have meant having to register it as a commercial vehicle, and needing a CDL to drive it while we carried out the conversion so we could legally move it back and forth.

We really wanted to avoid that, so we set a goal of doing a "temporary" conversion as quickly as possible so as to try and get it converted over and registered before our temporary dealer plates expired. From the research we did, there are two main AZ laws and policies that are relevant to the process of converting a school bus to a motor home. The first is AZ MVD Policy 13.2.3, which establishes "standards for the titling variations specific to a motor home." I couldn't find this posted online anywhere, so here is a scan of the copy given to us by our dealer:





The second is AZ Rev Stat § 28-902 (2015) "Repainting government vehicle"
which states:
Code:
If a motor vehicle that is painted yellow and that is owned or operated by this state, a county, city, town or political subdivision of this state, a school district or a school is sold or transferred to a private owner, the private owner shall repaint the motor vehicle a different color and obliterate all official painted insignia before the motor vehicle is driven on a public highway.
To comply with MVD policy, we decided the quickest route would be to install an "all in one" type apartment / mobile home kitchenette unit and a battery power source. We also had a bit of a head start as our dealer had removed all the seats for us already. We found this unit on Craigslist for $130 that includes a refrigerator, electric stove and sink, which I wired up to an old UPS and some deep cycle batteries I had lying around. The 1500VA UPS runs the fridge just fine, but the burners are right on the edge and even one will sometimes trip the overload and shut down, particularly on battery. Not great for real use, but hopefully good enough for our purposes.



The unit barely squeezed in through the service door, and we mounted it by just popping a couple of screws up form the heater hose cover and screwing them back threw the back frame of the unit into their original holes. In general we tried to limit any cutting or drilling on the bus as this was all going to be removed again. The sink faucet was removed and replaced with a manual pump RV faucet.



Some of these units have enough space under the sink to mount water tanks, but this one is ver limited as the compressor is in that space. So we ran the hoses for the faucet, drain and an extension cord for the power down through an existing hole from the now removed roof air conditioning hoses and into the storage box below.



The big plastic tub contains the batteries and the UPS, to contain any leakage from the batteries. The whole thing is strapped down with a heavy ratchet strap to one of the brackets that originally held the AC drain hose.

We decided to try and blow off the ARS repainting requirement, as we really didn't want to have to paint yet.

We looked up online to find MVD locations that did vehicle inspections, and went to the Tempe office. The inspector was very nice and was excited that we were doing a "partridge family" thing with our bus ;) Unfortunately both he and I were unaware that the level 1 inspection he was doing was worthless. We later found out we need a level 2 inspection, which they don't do at Tempe. But we did learn there that we needed to get a smog test before registering, so we were able to get that done before attempt #2. The other thing they did which turned out to be helpful was research the "FCP" original sale price. AZ personal registrations are based on depreciated value, while commercial vehicle registrations are based on weight, so one of the challenges of the process was coming up with an original price for our 20 year old bus so they could plug it into their formula and decide how much to charge us. I was a little concerned about what that might work out to on a $120,000 bus even after 20 years, but apparently that's long enough to be ok ;)

Our second attempt was at the Mesa office where they do level 2/3 inspections and where I had previously gone for my CDL written test (just in case). Level 2/3 inspections are carried out by armed / uniformed MVD enforcement officers, not nice guys in sweaters who like the partridge family, lol. However, they were very helpful. They looked it over, but declined to inspect it (rather than charge us and then fail us) because it still "looked like a school bus." They said remove the "School Bus" signs, remove the fold out stop sign, and maybe think about doing something about the warning lights (though they probably would have let that slide) and we'd be good to go. So while it was a bit more time wasted it was very helpful to get this guidance, and a lot less time consuming than if we had decided to preemptively paint it.

So over the next week we removed the stop sign, disconnected the power to the warning lights, spray painted over the warning light lenses, and peeled off the "School Bus" signs with a heat gun and plastic razor blades.





We went back to the MVD office this morning, met the same officers, and they went right to it checking the VIN and chassis numbers, measuring the length and width and gave us our inspection pass! With that it was just a matter of waiting in another hour or two worth of lines to get our title transferred, and our new registration and plates!



All said and done it was $20 for the 2 year smog test, $20 for the inspection, and $73 for a one year registration.

Rob
YOUR POST IS GREAT!! Im in hte process of buying one in Texas and trying to figure out how to get it home and do the RV conversion and t was real helpful to read your...But why did you need a smog test for the diesel? I'm curious as my dodge diesel did not need one..is there some special thing with busses?
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Old 07-12-2018, 05:08 PM   #8
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Great information, I drove a school bus for a few years and have been dreaming of turning one into a motor home for the family ever since. I ma in Mesa and have a few questions about the Bulletin A requirements. I did not see any mention in your post about the toilet or exterior evacuation requirements. Also heater or air conditioning not powered by the vehicle engine. I suppose a propane camp heater could suffice for this requirement. Did the inspectors pay much attention to the retrofit you did do. Do you expect you would have run in to any trouble had you done less or no conversion?


I would probably want to leave in a few seats for the family to sit in while driving, I did not see anything in that list that stated the maximum number of seats allowed, I assume since there are 15 passenger vans that are noncommercial vehicles that up to that number of seating could be possible?



Questions about driving the bus before the re registration. I presume you can get a temporary tag like you can for a normal vehicle, does this still require a CDL to drive? I surrendered my CDL years ago because it was to much haste to keep up when I was not using it.



How has your experience been finding insurance for the now RV?


Thanks
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Old 08-02-2018, 07:47 PM   #9
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Just got our bus registered as a motor home in Tucson today. Followed the same route the OP did, going with a minimal temporary conversion.
Our experience was a little different. We were told to do a type 1 inspection, which can be done at most MVD locations. The one sticking point that got us was the 110V electrical system. I had a shore power hookup running to a breaker system and to a couple outlets. The inspector wanted to see a “standalone” system that could provide 110V without shore power. The guidelines that the OP posted does not specify this, so beware that these items on the checklist are subject to inspector interpretation. Luckily I had an inverter and battery from my old pop up trailer, so once I installed that, we passed our inspection and got our motor home registration.
Just wanted to let any other AZ skoolie operators that YMMV!
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Old 08-03-2018, 06:25 AM   #10
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Fantastic post Rob! Excellent FACTS! Congrats on getting it registered!
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