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Old 06-09-2016, 11:17 PM   #11
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Location: Johnstown, PA
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Hi Pigpen. According to what I found, in PA you need a non-commercial class B to operate a motor home in excess of 26,000 pounds. This is the site Pennsylvania DOT Requirements For Non-Commercial Class "B" Driver's License For Motorhomes Over 26,000 pounds - Laws and legislative action - FMCA Motorhome Forums. I live in Johnstown and I have a class A cdl. I would be happy to help you out if I can. Let me know. Good luck to you.
XBUNCEX same to you.
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Old 06-10-2016, 10:59 AM   #12
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Roadrunner thank you for the quick reply. I've been considering getting a CDL for several years now but my high blood pressure makes it a hassle when obtaining the required medical card.

I'm still in the research phase of a bus purchase so I'm also wondering what all it takes to do the title transfer from "bus" to "motorhome". I've read that some states are more lax than others.

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Old 06-10-2016, 12:46 PM   #13
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I'm planning on doing a full write up of everything I've learned, but I'll share the gist of it all now. For the record, I ended up going with a shortie that doesn't require any type of special license at all. We'll be starting our build thread shortly!

As far as the whole CDL thing goes, its REALLY complicated, to the point that there isn't a straight answer. CDL rules and licensing are actually based on federal standards that are enforced by each state. If you look at the actual wording of the legislation, FMCSA Standard 383, you'll see that the definition of a commercial vehicle includes three qualifications and if any are met, the vehicle counts as needing a license. Read carefully though, because the definition also states that the vehicle must be "used in commerce to transport passengers or property".

By the letter of the law, this means that as Roadrunner was pointing out, a vehicle with over a 26000 GVWR doesn't necessarily need a CDL. In PA, it technically needs a class b non-commercial license, but VERY few people actually get them. To be fully legal, you would need one though.

Heres where things get really complicated. From my understanding, a vehicles registration is basically your statement of intended use. Your options for how you can register a vehicle are connected to how it is titled. If your bus is titled as a bus when you get it, then your option for registering it seems to be as a bus and only as a bus. I'm not sure if you could get away with it being a truck or not. If you are stuck registering it as a bus, then it seems you're stating that you plan on using it as a bus (even though they forced you to choose that option). If you're registered as a bus over 26000 lbs, then you may be in a danger zone as far as what license they expect you to have if you were to be pulled over.

In order to retitle a bus as an RV (and by extension be able to register it as one as well), PA has a set of requirements you must meet. First you have to have at least 4 of the following:

• Cooking appliance

• Refrigerator

• Self-contained toilet

• Heating/Air conditioning

• Portable water supply

• Faucet and sink

• Separate 110/125 or LP gas supply

Once you have that, you have to have a special inspector come and take photographs with initials to verify everything. At that point, you would also need an enhanced vehicle inspection done at a special inspection station.

This is only to complete the RV retitling in PA. If you buy a bus already retitled, then it appears as though you are lucky and get to skip all these steps. Many states have very lax laws and if you declare an intention to use it as an RV, then that is good enough. (Side note: if you find a bus in a state that has easy title change rules, you may want to pay the owner to retitle it before you buy it. Just a thought and please verify that this will work ahead of time. Don't just rely on some random guy on the internet).

If you are buying a bus titled as a bus, then what you need to figure out is how to register it in a way that avoids special licenses. What ends up working for you will depend on who you talk to and what they are willing to do. According to my local notary/tag service, I can declare any GVWR between the one listed in the vehicle and the curb weight. The declared GVWR would become the maximum I'm allowed to use on public roadways and if caught exceeding that weight, hefty fines could ensue. This could be an interesting way to get a vehicle below the 26000 threshold until you complete the conversion and retitle as an RV.

Sorry if thats confusing. Like I said, I'll go back through and try to write a more thorough and thought out account of what I have learned. I spent several weeks discussing the matter with literally every person I could contact within PennDOT. This was essentially everyone, as I got a hold of their internal directory and just called every president, vp, and other bigwig on the list in the various departments. Most people directed me to one of a handful of people who I narrowed my focus to. They did not even know the answers and these are the people that are supposed to be making/enforcing/educating about these laws! What I laid out above is the basic account of what they shared, but when I tried to get more details or specifics it always came back to "I don't know, I'll check and call back tomorrow." Eventually they gave up and stopped calling back

Let me know if you want me to clarify anything!
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Old 07-07-2016, 12:22 PM   #14
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Thought I'd share my experience here in Pa in case it helps....

I just purchased a 72-passenger school bus from a local private school. I thought the biggest problem was going to be the insurance, but while that was a challenge, it was not the BIGGEST challenge (I got a policy through Progressive for about $900/yr). It was the registration. I called multiple tag agencies and PennDOT directly and got different answers each time! The person that actually did the transfer for me registered it as a bus, but only for the number of passengers I was ever going to have....15...rather than the full capacity of the bus (72). This made the registration fees manageable at $160/yr.

She explained that if/when I do all the conversions to qualify it as a motor home, I'd need to see her to fill out the appropriate paperwork to get a modified title & registration. I'd also have to have it inspected at an Enhanced Inspection Station. She made it sound like I didn't need to hurry with doing all of that.

As for the the license, I already have a CDL license for work, so I can't speak to that aspect very much...other than the fact that it is rather easy to get it and not very expensive. Hardest part is finding someone who has the license and will ride with you for the test. I bet if you ask around or post something on line, you could find a CDL driver who is willing to hang out with you for a bit in return for a few dollars or a case of beer.
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Old 07-09-2016, 10:29 PM   #15
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I'm buying a skoolie in a few days. I'm in Bethlehem pa. I'll be going to the dmv this monday. I'll be sure to post anything I find out here!
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Old 08-06-2016, 06:23 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by TyrantTaylor View Post
I'm buying a skoolie in a few days. I'm in Bethlehem pa. I'll be going to the dmv this monday. I'll be sure to post anything I find out here!
Any new info on PA? I get scared that this state is gonna screw me. I should drive it to an easy state.
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Old 08-06-2016, 11:22 PM   #17
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I just bought a 29FTR. It came to my mostly converted already.

Once I knew I was going to purchase it I got the VIN and called progressive commercial. Most insurance companies won't touch a converted school bus. I bought this bus for my touring band, we will probably only tour in it 1 to 3 times per year. So I basically said I'd only be using it a few times a year, and the rest of the time it would be stored in a lot. They did ask me if I'd be sleeping in it. I told them no. They ended up insuring it for about $40 a month limited liability.

When I bought it I drove it straight to an auto tag place.It was def a lot of hassle but in the end they registered it as an omni bus. My registration will be the normal $36 a year. At first they registered it by the weight which came out to over $500! I protested a bit, and thats when the questions started. What will I be using it for, is it a motor home, am I positive I won't be transporting children or senior citizens, all that jazz. I basically had to assure them I was not using it as a commercial vehicle. I also had to write a letter to Harrisburg saying that as well. They charge me $9 per seat in the bus. They came out and looked at it. Since most of the seats were already taken out I only paid for 4 seats.

So in the end it all worked out. it's def work to get things going but its worth it and a great learning experience. Next I have to get it inspected which I'm sure will be a whole new set of trouble!!!

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