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Old 05-10-2017, 07:45 PM   #1
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Heavy Towing

Hi folks, I'm considering starting a bus project and have a question for you.

Do you think I would have problems with the 5 0 towing heavy things like a tractor, boat, or antique engine behind a bus registered as an RV?

The idea is a vehcile I can take to shows with a few other people, sleep in, and pull a antique engine or tractor with me. About the largest thing I can imagine wanting to pull is 6-7 ton backhoe or a medium size sailboat most loads will be smaller.

To that end I was thinking of buying a 4-7 window medium duty chassis short bus, removing enough seats to take it to 10-14 passengers, adding a fold up bed, a mini fridge, and a grill, and registering it as an RV (that should be enough in Ohio). To make it actually tow loads I intend to repower it with a Detroit 6V92TA and a road ranger I have and add a pintel hitch to the frame behind the bumper.

Looking through the Ohio laws governing RVs I can't see any legal reason I can't do this as long as I'm not hauling backhoes for a business but this would be an unusual vehicle and attract attention. What do you think?
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Old 05-10-2017, 07:54 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Stumpifier View Post
Hi folks, I'm considering starting a bus project and have a question for you.

Do you think I would have problems with the 5 0 towing heavy things like a tractor, boat, or antique engine behind a bus registered as an RV?

The idea is a vehcile I can take to shows with a few other people, sleep in, and pull a antique engine or tractor with me. About the largest thing I can imagine wanting to pull is 6-7 ton backhoe or a medium size sailboat most loads will be smaller.

To that end I was thinking of buying a 4-7 window medium duty chassis short bus, removing enough seats to take it to 10-14 passengers, adding a fold up bed, a mini fridge, and a grill, and registering it as an RV (that should be enough in Ohio). To make it actually tow loads I intend to repower it with a Detroit 6V92TA and a road ranger I have and add a pintel hitch to the frame behind the bumper.

Looking through the Ohio laws governing RVs I can't see any legal reason I can't do this as long as I'm not hauling backhoes for a business but this would be an unusual vehicle and attract attention. What do you think?
If you build a shorty with a 6v92 and RR you'll be my hero.
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Old 05-10-2017, 08:24 PM   #3
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I pulled my tractor with my gasser shorty. There weren't any weigh stations so I did fine.
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Old 05-10-2017, 08:36 PM   #4
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I pulled my tractor with my gasser shorty. There weren't any weigh stations so I did fine.
If the skoolie is officially converted into a motor home and titled as such, does it have to stop at weigh stations?
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Old 05-10-2017, 10:25 PM   #5
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No!
Your skoolie is an RV.
You don't have to stop at weigh stations​.
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Old 05-10-2017, 10:47 PM   #6
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Don't over step your CGVW and good luck stopping!
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Old 05-10-2017, 11:29 PM   #7
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If you build a shorty with a 6v92 and RR you'll be my hero.
Well I have part of the equation already.





Both came out of a dump truck that got a few hundred tons of corn dropped on it. The motor is gonna get a partial tear down and a check out. The tranny is a reman RTO12513 with 5000 miles on it. Only catch is the overdrive on that tranny isn't very low so some finagling of the final drive/tire size may be in order.

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Don't over step your CGVW and good luck stopping!
Yep I figured on getting an air brake bus and running some trailer lines for hauling the big stuff.
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Old 05-11-2017, 12:47 AM   #8
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Sounds like you've got everything covered. Anything else we can second guess you on?

Powerful shortys are often unicorns that we never seem to catch. They tow so nice, much like a single axle dump.
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Old 05-11-2017, 05:33 AM   #9
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Your biggest problem will be avoiding the weight cops.

A lot of hobbyists who purchased medium/heavy duty trucks to pull their trailers with all of their toys discovered that the weight cops like to stop them and give them the full exam. That is even when the trucks are clearly signed as not for hire private use only.

What has gotten more of them in trouble than anything else was if the trailer had a GVWR of more than 10K lbs. The other problem is if the GVWR of the tow vehicle and the GVWR of the trailer combined add up to more than 26K lbs.

I can't speak about other states because I am not familiar with the way the weight cops enforce the laws in other states. But here in WA and in OR the weight cops don't care what the tow vehicle is. If the trailer is rated for more than 10K lbs. they treat the combination as a commercial vehicle requiring USDOT numbers and a CDL driver. They also treat any combination that has a GCVWR of more than 26K lbs. a commercial vehicle requiring USDOT numbers and a CDL driver with the correct endorsements and restrictions removed.

I have seen some 1-ton pickups, not even dually pickups, that got red flagged because the trailer was rated at more than 10K lbs.

I am sure that somewhere there must be an exemption or exception to the rule for trailers over 10K lbs. GVWR and combinations of more than 26K lbs. GCVWR for hobbyists but I don't know what it is.

I suppose what I am saying is that before you go to all the trouble of purchasing a vehicle and making changes you need to determine for sure, and preferably in writing, what the rules will be as they apply to your combination.

Good luck.
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Old 05-11-2017, 11:20 AM   #10
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The only thing I haul is ass.

Well, not really. My shortie is pretty slow. But it sounds like you've got a solid plan for yours, and most of your potential issues will be regulatory.
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Old 05-11-2017, 11:58 AM   #11
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The only issue I see coming up with this is the immense smile you'll have on your face when you get it built and drive it!
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Old 05-11-2017, 12:05 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by cowlitzcoach View Post
I have seen some 1-ton pickups, not even dually pickups, that got red flagged because the trailer was rated at more than 10K lbs.

I am sure that somewhere there must be an exemption or exception to the rule for trailers over 10K lbs. GVWR and combinations of more than 26K lbs. GCVWR for hobbyists but I don't know what it is.
It's true. I have a 12K tandem axle trailer I tow with my 3/4 ton pickup. With the trailer over 10K I could see that either this is not commercial at all (GCVW was 12K plus 8800 for the pickup; 20800 total) or it's class A because of the trailer over 10K. Nobody I talked to in law enforcement nor in the driver license division could confidently resolve the doubt -- but the LEO did mention it happens all the time that they put guys out of service for towing a trailer of concrete forms with a 1 ton pickup and without a class A CDL. At the time I had a class B CDL from a bus driving job a few years prior. It was easy enough to upgrade to class A (with a doubles and triples endorsement just for fun) and remove all doubt, so that's what I did.

My reading of Utah's rules leads me to believe it was unnecessary for me to carry a CDL at all, even if my rig had been over 26K, if it were for personal use. I view the CDL as cheap insurance against having a debate with a LEO on the side of the road over the fine points of definition of "commercial vehicle" -- a debate which I'd surely lose, even if weeks later a judge might side with me.
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Old 05-11-2017, 01:22 PM   #13
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It's true. I have a 12K tandem axle trailer I tow with my 3/4 ton pickup. With the trailer over 10K I could see that either this is not commercial at all (GCVW was 12K plus 8800 for the pickup; 20800 total) or it's class A because of the trailer over 10K. Nobody I talked to in law enforcement nor in the driver license division could confidently resolve the doubt -- but the LEO did mention it happens all the time that they put guys out of service for towing a trailer of concrete forms with a 1 ton pickup and without a class A CDL. At the time I had a class B CDL from a bus driving job a few years prior. It was easy enough to upgrade to class A (with a doubles and triples endorsement just for fun) and remove all doubt, so that's what I did.

My reading of Utah's rules leads me to believe it was unnecessary for me to carry a CDL at all, even if my rig had been over 26K, if it were for personal use. I view the CDL as cheap insurance against having a debate with a LEO on the side of the road over the fine points of definition of "commercial vehicle" -- a debate which I'd surely lose, even if weeks later a judge might side with me.
Like I said, other states will enforce laws differently.

I think WA and OR are looking for substantial increases in revenue streams and are enforcing things a lot more stringently than other states.

Just be aware that when it comes to commercial vehicle enforcement what might pass muster in your state may not pass muster if you come to OR and/or WA.

As far as I know, here on the left coast use does not define how a vehicle is viewed. If the vehicle has a GVWR high enough to be classed as a commercial vehicle or is combined so that the GCW is more than 26,001 lbs. it will be viewed as a commercial vehicle regardless of how the tow vehicle is licensed. The only exemptions are for first responder vehicles, RV's, and farmers. And those exemptions can go out the window if the weight cop is being a butt.

My neighbor has a tandem dually Big Tex gooseneck flatbed trailer he uses to haul hay and his equipment to and from fields that are a ways away from his house. Even though he fits into the farm use exemption class and he tows with a 1-ton single rear wheel pickup he went ahead and got a USDOT so he wouldn't be hassled by the weight cops.

It would be fairly easy to pass by under the radar pulling a three axle enclosed car carrier that has a GVWR well in excess of 10K lbs. if it was being pulled by a vehicle that was obviously an RV. But a conversion pulling a flat bed with a piece of industrial equipment on it is just crying out to the weight cops, "look at me trying to skip around the CDL rules".
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