First Day Logistics in NH & ME
The day I bought a bus, getting it home was tricky. I'll share the story in case it helps or entertains anyone.
The short version:
I live in Maine, and I bought the bus from a dealer in New Hampshire who was desperate to get it off the lot. The bus isn't insured yet, so I can't legally drive it. The dealer hooked me up with a tow truck driver, who borrowed a dealer plate and drove the bus to my house. I paid him and gave him a ride back. Now we can take our time insuring and registering the bus.
The long version:
The first day I ever read skoolie.net, which was also the first day I ever really thought about buying a bus, I saw a thread about a bus that looked like a good deal.
A very small car dealership owned the bus, and they literally didn't have room for it -- it was parked next door. They had previously parked it at the bar across the street, which must have looked funny. The same landlord owned all these places, and the landlord was getting really annoyed about the bus. The dealership sold the bus twice on eBay to buyers who didn't show up. They posted on Facebook about it, and many people on Facebook said the bus wasn't real, because it looked too good to be true. The dealers had reached the point where they were willing to sell it at a loss, and they were about ready to take it to an auction.
The next morning, I told my coworkers that I was going to look at a school bus and would probably buy it. I knew I would have to act fast if I wanted this bus.
At this point, I wasn't sure if I would be allowed to drive it. The ad said the bus had a gross vehicle weight of 30,000 pounds, and I was afraid I would need a CDL for anything over 26,000 pounds. I called the Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles and asked about it. The person there spent a long time looking things up on her computer before confirming that I could drive a heavy personal vehicle without a CDL. I also asked about making the bus legal, and she explained that I would need to follow these steps:
1) Get insurance.
2) Get a transit permit.
3) Drive the bus home.
4) Create a living space in the bus. Unlike some states, Maine doesn't specifically define what consitutes living space.
5) Register the vehicle as a motor home.
I called my insurance company and asked if I could insure the bus. One person transferred me to another, who said he'd look into it and call me back. When he eventually called back, he said they definitely could not insure it.
I mentioned the situation to a coworker who lives in New Hampshire, and he told me that New Hampshire doesn't require insurance. "Great," I said, "I'll just drive it to your house and park it there until I get insurance." He was surprisingly open to that idea.
It seems like everybody likes the idea of buying a school bus. My coworker said he had thought about getting one for his band. My boss was amused and didn't seem to mind that I was having a singularly unproductive day.
I went to look at the bus, and I told the dealers I'd take it if we could figure out a way to get it to my house. They obviously wanted it off their lot (or rather, off their next-door neighbor's lot), so they were happy to help. They called the cheapest tow truck driver in town and loaned him a dealer plate.
I said I could take the driver home if it helped. The driver arranged to meet his son, who also drives a tow truck, at another dealership that's a lot closer to my house. That made my trip a lot shorter.
While I was taking the driver to meet his son, he realized that he had accidentally left the dealer plate on the bus at my house. It was about 8:00 PM, and we were most of the way to where he was meeting his son. He called one of the dealers, who said he'd be at an auction in Maine the next day. Early the next morning, I drove to the auction place and dropped off the plate.
Paying the tow truck driver wasn't cheap, especially considering that it was a really easy job for him. However, it was better than driving the bus illegally (especially for my first time ever driving a bus) or keeping it in New Hampshire until I could find insurance. It was a one-time expense that made things a lot easier and safer, and I'm glad I did it that way.