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Old 04-05-2019, 12:52 PM   #1
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2000 GMC Savana project

Hi everyone, i am new to the forum. We have decided to undertake a project using a retired short bus as our foundation. My company runs mobile Tactical Laser Tag events. we want to use the bus to become our mobile command center. This will involve a repurposing of the interior (not quite to the level that some of you have done...i am seriously considering getting a second bus for a larger project.

This bus has 142k miles, and we picked it up at auction for about $1500.

I have spent a couple of days going through the forums, and there is SO MUCH info.

Some things we are working out the kinks on
Insurance in NY
Registration in NY
We want to be sure we register it as a passenger vehicle so we can travel on Parkways

Any advice you folks may have as we undertake this very NEW type of project is absolutely welcome. I look forward to posting pics as we move forward with this project!
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Old 04-06-2019, 09:08 AM   #2
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hey there. I live in WNY and had been contemplating a skoolie conversion for a few years. I decided to pull the trigger and was about to purchase a full size bus. I figured I'd get the vin and try to get insurance before I actually purchased the bus as I knew there may be issues. A friend of mine is an insurance broker who claimed it wouldn't be an issue. After two weeks she told me she couldn't find anybody to insure it. change of plans. I went to a local bus garage and got the vin off of an e350 short bus. I called my insurance company for a quote and had no issues. Now I knew I needed a 3500 or e350 cutaway. I eventually found a Corbeil Chevy Express based bus. I Called my insurance company and gave them the vin. They asked how many doors....I said 3. I had insurance. Went to the bus company to pay and pick up the bus. They gave me all the paperwork and I was off to the dmv 5 minutes away. I told the dmv employee I needed to register this truck I just bought. She looked at the title and said"It's a bus". I said "yep, I'm converting it into an RV". She didn't know what to register it as so she called Albany. after 5 minutes on the phone she says "im going to title it as "house on wheels". That was it! I went back to the bus company, put the plates on and drove 2 hours home. So the bottom line is give your insurance only what they ask for. I thought the DMV would be a disaster but the only real issue is the woman there didn't know what to classify it as. Everything in NY state seems to be a big fiasco nowadays. In the end it went smoothly. I still wish I could figure out how to get a full size bus on the road in NY though.
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Old 04-06-2019, 12:12 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by nixon186 View Post
hey there. I live in WNY and had been contemplating a skoolie conversion for a few years. I decided to pull the trigger and was about to purchase a full size bus. I figured I'd get the vin and try to get insurance before I actually purchased the bus as I knew there may be issues. A friend of mine is an insurance broker who claimed it wouldn't be an issue. After two weeks she told me she couldn't find anybody to insure it. change of plans. I went to a local bus garage and got the vin off of an e350 short bus. I called my insurance company for a quote and had no issues. Now I knew I needed a 3500 or e350 cutaway. I eventually found a Corbeil Chevy Express based bus. I Called my insurance company and gave them the vin. They asked how many doors....I said 3. I had insurance. Went to the bus company to pay and pick up the bus. They gave me all the paperwork and I was off to the dmv 5 minutes away. I told the dmv employee I needed to register this truck I just bought. She looked at the title and said"It's a bus". I said "yep, I'm converting it into an RV". She didn't know what to register it as so she called Albany. after 5 minutes on the phone she says "im going to title it as "house on wheels". That was it! I went back to the bus company, put the plates on and drove 2 hours home. So the bottom line is give your insurance only what they ask for. I thought the DMV would be a disaster but the only real issue is the woman there didn't know what to classify it as. Everything in NY state seems to be a big fiasco nowadays. In the end it went smoothly. I still wish I could figure out how to get a full size bus on the road in NY though.
What kind of policy did you get? Here is another case where I think DMV is not doing their job correctly. If I say I'm turning my bus into a Corvette, can I change the title and registration to reflect that? You have registration for a "house on wheels" and when the insurance looks at it and says this isn't a house on wheels, it's an empty bus . Your policy may not cover you.
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Old 04-06-2019, 01:39 PM   #4
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Its not empty. I converted it. you can go to NYS dmv's website and it'll show you the requirements for it to be an RV. I was sure to meet those. A friend is an insurance adjuster and I asked him about it. He told me if I was involved in an accident the amenities may not be covered( ie. if my grill breaks they won't reimburse me). hopefully I won't ever have to be in that situation. I've seen a few skoolies in NY that were titled as "SUBN".
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Old 04-06-2019, 01:57 PM   #5
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That's another challenge for me...since we aren't converting our skoolie into a RV, but more into a mobile office. I'm not sure what I would want to register it as.

I had another friend who bought a bus in NY and advised trying to get it registered as a Suburban.

This process is very new to me so I'm trying to avoid any issues with some cop, somewhere down the line saying "hey, this isn't a suburban...step out of the bus" LOL
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Old 04-06-2019, 02:18 PM   #6
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I hear what you're saying. I would explain to the dmv what you are doing and im pretty sure they'd title it as "subn". go to the nys dmv website and there is a section that explains how many seats you need(or don't need) to make it "not a school bus". it was weird...like you had to have one seat behind the driver or something. I ended up with a small dinette that I built behind the drivers seat. I also have a fold down jump seat by the stairwell. As the other guy said though... who knows what would happen in an accident as far as insurance goes.
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Old 04-06-2019, 03:18 PM   #7
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I have been looking for the info on the NYS DMV site. I can't find it anywhere. Any chance you have a link to the info you are referencing?
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Old 04-06-2019, 03:29 PM   #8
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What is "subn"?
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Old 04-06-2019, 03:29 PM   #9
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I found some information about "van" modification. Since the foundation vehicle is a GMC Savana...is it possible to register it as a van?
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Old 04-06-2019, 06:32 PM   #10
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If I remember correctly the woman at the dmv that day was considering it. it seems like she had the power to categorize it as whatever she wanted right then and there. I asked her if she would could just make it subn only because I didn't know if id drive it all before the conversion was done and didn't want to get hassled by cops. she insisted she call Albany and that's when they said it should be house on wheels. I told her i was driving it home and asked if there would be any issues if I got pulled over and it was still a bus with all the seats. she said no. I have a few custom motorcycles and cars that I built and have never had a cop give many any issues when getting pulled over. these vehicles are heavily modified but registered as"no modifications". cops are always asking about the vehicles and really cool. I've driven by a ton of cops in my bus and haven't gotten pulled over yet. its white with a giant cedar deck on the roof too.
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