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Old 04-16-2008, 05:23 PM   #1
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S.O.S. in PA !!

So for the past 4 months I have been obsessed with doing a bus conversion as a motorhome/tailgate vehicle. I've had my ear to the ground for about a month now about insurance and registration but didnt get serious until I finally found a bus I was willing to buy. Last night i went and looked at a 90' internation 7.9 litre on a thomas chassis and took along a friend who is a diesel mechanic. After he gave it the once over and said he couldnt find anything wrong with it I decided it was time to make the commitment. However, this is where the problems begin. When asking about insurance so that i can purchase the bus, i was told that they would have find out whether it could be insured as a non-commercial commercial vehicle, which makes tons of sense and they since they had never heard of it before that they weren't sure it was possible. So while waiting for that i decided to find out what route to take on the registration. First i called PennDOT only to have some woman tell me absolutely nothing except i register it just like a normal vehicle. Second, i took some advice and talked to AAA to see what they knew about it and I was told that it is not possible(which im sure means they have never heard of it so it cant be possible) to title a bus as a moterhome, once a bus always a bus. I was told that because the weight is over 26,000 lbs. then that was all that mattered and it could not be registered otherwise. If i were to just go ahead and keep it as a bus and get my CDL liscense, which i would have no problem with, the yearly registration is outrageous at over $400, not to mention the insurance is twice that. I want to convert my own bus but I am just not willing to pay that much a year just to keep it legal. I dont know what to do and I really want to go through with this but its becoming so much of a frustration that im losing my itch. If anyone in PA has a bus or knows how its done in PA pleaaaaase let me know!
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Old 04-17-2008, 03:19 AM   #2
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Re: S.O.S. in PA !!

move to registration is something like $27 per year.

I called progressive, and insured mine as an RV....because it is a recreational vehicle. I forget what ins is for a year...but it's a couple or few hundred bucks. This is my 2nd bus i've insured through them. I didn't mention it was a bus conversion, but i'm sure they can use the vin number tell what kind of vehicle it originally was.

GMAC insurance is more than happy to insure a bus conversion...i think that cost me about $800/yr before i switched to progressive

after you get your insurance, so to the dmv or secretary of state, or whatever your state uses to register vehicles and explain to them what you have. In michigan there is no physical inspection of the vehicle. I registered mine as a non-commercial bus.....phill registered his as a motorhome here in michigan.

i don't know how things work in pa, but almost every state allows you to register your bus as a recreational vehicle.
Quis custodiet ipsos custodes (who will watch the watchmen?)
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Old 04-17-2008, 09:40 AM   #3
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Re: S.O.S. in PA !!

Yeah apparently PA is a little stricter about the whole situation. AAA said it wont work, the DMV said it wont work, so finally i had someone stop in a private notary service for me and it helped a little. They said that to register the bus it would first have to be classified as a "truck". As soon as i remove the seats it becomes modified and that the cost is based on the weight so it would be around 300 to 400 dollars per year. I would then have that first year to meet the states qualifications for a motorhome and have it inspected by a liscensed inspector. Which kinda peeves me off because the whole idea of a bus is to do it my way and it seems like they are going to force me to add something that takes up space and takes time. Now i would plan to have the essentials, sink, toilet, AC, fridge etc but i dont need a stove or a real bed. The other kicker was that while it is registered as a truck it requires inspection twice a year which may be nothing more than an incovenience since my friend is a diesel mechanic. Im going over to the notary today to find out what the exact requirements are and what its going to cost just to make it legal. I havent even heard back from my insurance agent yet as to what they can do, which should be interesting, and i wish i had it as easy as some of you other guys who get registered as a MH right off the bat cause this whole process is making me think twice about the investment...not to mention diesel costs.
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Old 04-17-2008, 05:43 PM   #4
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Re: S.O.S. in PA !!

I can tell you that Michigan is no easy way out. I had trouble with insurance and registration. With registration, I just held my ground and said there must be something that it can be registered as. Finally, one person said that It falls in some sort of vague category, charged me thirty bucks and I was out the door with my plates. I just got my renewal and it is still thirty bucks. Insurance initially was no problem until the mother company shot back a double the cost bill because it did not meet factory standards. I started searching around and having given up almost all hope, I contacted a skoolie member in my state and contacted their insurance agent. I paid $249 for pl/pd and I was good to go for the year.

Keep looking until you find the people who will do it right.
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Old 06-13-2008, 02:29 PM   #5
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Re: S.O.S. in PA !!

go to the local and state police stations and request copy of the law what is considered(legal description) of a motorhome, be polite and persistant, they are the powers that enforce the laws, they have to have knowledgeand acess to the state statues. I know that PA used to have some pretty strict vehicle laws but if you know what the rules are it's just a matter of playing by the rules.

ps it's fun to put them on the spot and watch them squirm and try to find the answers
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Old 07-10-2008, 02:56 PM   #6
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Re: S.O.S. in PA !!

Has there been any update to this situation? We purchased a 1990 International with a DTA360 and are in the process of trying to get it registered in PA. What I've come across (on is that you can register it as a motorhome if it has either a permanent bed, kitchen, and/or desk. Registration for a full year is $81 and for seasonal is $6.75/month. That said, we haven't completed the process yet, so who knows if I'm going to have PennDOT calling in the next week or two saying that we're insane for believing we can pull one over on them. The gentleman who sold us the bus implied that all we needed to do was take a picture of the interior with all the seats out and send it to Harrisburg and viola! No more school bus. We were able to get insurance on it, but at this point they are calling it a truck--which costs an obscene amount. We just need to get the damn thing out of the state, so it seems ridiculous to register it for a month. Keep us posted.
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Old 11-24-2008, 12:32 PM   #7
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Re: S.O.S. in PA !!

I'm not sure if this thread is still of any value or not, but LandPirate and PAtoNM, I agree with everyone else who has posted, you just need to get those buses the hell out of PA!!! LandPirate, how old is the bus you are interested in? If it's older than 25 years, you should give some consideration to simply registering it as a historical vehicle. I have a 1961 located in Ohio, and mine is registered historically. It costs me 30 bucks and the registration is good for life. It's insured as a motorhome through Progressive - great service by the way , and I'm paying right around 4oo a year for it.

Good Luck!!
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Old 06-07-2009, 10:28 AM   #8
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Re: S.O.S. in PA !!

Does your bus have air brakes? If it does you may need a class B with Airbrake endorsement. I would't think you'd need a CDL. I guess I got lucky I have a CDL so my reg/ins was easy even here in NJ.
The farther you look into the past the further ahead you'll see- George Washinton
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Old 08-25-2009, 08:57 AM   #9
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Re: S.O.S. in PA !!

PA allows a change of title type, using the form mv-426b. To qualify as a motor home, there is a list of 7 items. Your bus must have 4 of them. An 'enhanced inspection station' that deals with trucks can then inspect it, take pictures of the stuff you installed, verify that it is your vehicle, and that it passes the normal safety inspection, also. They fill out the mv426b, your notary sends it in, then you wait for title and tags. Sent mine in over 6 weeks ago- its not fast.
My gvw is 28080, my insurance, already in effect, is $225 per year. No CDL needed for any motor home, regardless of weight or brake type. I talked to a woman who drove a Kenworth tractor motor home conversion with no CDL.
Be careful about the notary you go to, this process isn't that common, and too many of them would rather say "you can't do that" than admit they don't know, or even that they'll look into it.
Oh, the 7 items are: 1) cooking appliance. 2) refrigerator. 3) self contained toilet. 4) heating / air conditioning. 5) portable water supply. 6) faucet and sink. 7) separate 110/125 or LP gas supply.
Any 4 will suffice. google pa code to look it up. I thinks its PACODE.COM
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Old 09-06-2009, 08:14 AM   #10
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Re: S.O.S. in PA !!

Motor home plate and title received yesterday, so it does work. It took just under two months and many phone calls to penndot and to my state rep. It was initially rejected because the 'school bus' flashing light lenses were still there, even though they were painted black, and the bulbs, wiring and flasher were removed. I asked exactly what law prohibited this, and they could not say. I found a law prohibiting operation of such lights, but not prohibiting the installation of them, although in my case, there were no lights, just black painted plastic covering the holes. Anyway, they accepted a notarized statement by me that there were no operating flashing lights on the vehicle, and issued the motor home tags. funny- I always intended to remove them and cover with metal, which is already done, but don't like desk driving bureaucrats making up rules as they please. It may exist, but it would be helpful if they could quote the law they want me to conform to.
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