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Old 11-29-2019, 11:06 AM   #1
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Getting a bus home? In California?

Hi guys, I'm in San Diego, CA, I am interested in hearing about peoples experiences getting their first bus home for conversion, especially those in California and have just a basic drivers license and how long and heavy of a bus you acquired at the time. Hearing about your experiences will be greatly appreciated in helping me prepare to eventually buy mine.
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Old 11-29-2019, 11:39 AM   #2
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If you get something over 26000 you’re going to need that “45 Foot Housecar” cert some time. IDK the solution for that other than driving it illegally or borrowing someone’s 45 foot house car.
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Old 11-29-2019, 12:10 PM   #3
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You could advertise on Craigslist for a class B driver to drive it. Drive it yourself if you feel confident (people give school buses wide berth) Have it towed if it’s not far. Have it trucked.
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Old 11-29-2019, 12:34 PM   #4
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California is probably the least Skoolie friendly state. My advice is to pack your things and take them to wherever the bus is.

But seriously, you need to know the specifics of your bus and what your license allows you to operate. My Florida license allows me to drive "Any RV" regardless of weight, but other states may not accept that if they have a specific weight class (26k+) that they require an additional stamp for.
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Old 11-29-2019, 12:40 PM   #5
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Insure it and drive it home. No one gets pulled over for driving like a sane person.
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Old 11-29-2019, 03:14 PM   #6
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I'm with Brokedown, its cheaper and easier to move out of California than get a bus in. But there's a couple of factors you need to consider in order to prepare to overcome them. Is the bus emission-compliant? California is absolutely draconian regarding diesel emissions and while there may be a few exceptions carved out in their regulations you'll need to be skilled at navigating bureaucratic loopholes. I think RVs are exempt but if it doesn't look like an RV when you arrive at one of those unconstitutional checkpoints upon entering the state then expect further scrutiny. If possible, get the original state to retitle it as an RV but often other states have requirements as well for this to happen. Even if the title says RV a quick look is going to say otherwise and plan on encountering resistance. If its still yellow and has lights and signs, plus if seats still installed kind of invalidates the RV designation and puts you in the commercial vehicle classification. They're not going to want to overlook that. O1Marc is right that (almost) no one gets pulled over for driving like a sane person but its the insanity of California that makes this proposition such a challenge. Good luck!
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Old 11-29-2019, 04:33 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Danjo View Post
If you get something over 26000 you’re going to need that “45 Foot Housecar” cert some time. IDK the solution for that other than driving it illegally or borrowing someone’s 45 foot house car.
Planning on sticking under the 26000 lb rule, to keep things simpler. Thanks.

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Originally Posted by brokedown View Post
California is probably the least Skoolie friendly state. My advice is to pack your things and take them to wherever the bus is.

But seriously, you need to know the specifics of your bus and what your license allows you to operate. My Florida license allows me to drive "Any RV" regardless of weight, but other states may not accept that if they have a specific weight class (26k+) that they require an additional stamp for.
Well unfortunately, not an option to pack my things, I'm military and stationed in San Diego, however, I have a house that I could potentially park it in back of and thank god I do not have to worry about HOAs.

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Insure it and drive it home. No one gets pulled over for driving like a sane person.
Sounds like good advise, plan is to buy one and drive it to my house and park it in back, good thing I don't have HOAs.

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Originally Posted by Sehnsucht View Post
I'm with Brokedown, its cheaper and easier to move out of California than get a bus in. But there's a couple of factors you need to consider in order to prepare to overcome them. Is the bus emission-compliant? California is absolutely draconian regarding diesel emissions and while there may be a few exceptions carved out in their regulations you'll need to be skilled at navigating bureaucratic loopholes. I think RVs are exempt but if it doesn't look like an RV when you arrive at one of those unconstitutional checkpoints upon entering the state then expect further scrutiny. If possible, get the original state to retitle it as an RV but often other states have requirements as well for this to happen. Even if the title says RV a quick look is going to say otherwise and plan on encountering resistance. If its still yellow and has lights and signs, plus if seats still installed kind of invalidates the RV designation and puts you in the commercial vehicle classification. They're not going to want to overlook that. O1Marc is right that (almost) no one gets pulled over for driving like a sane person but its the insanity of California that makes this proposition such a challenge. Good luck!
As stated before, moving out of San Diego isn't possible due to being in the military. However I did a quick search on emissions, here's what the DMV website says.

Currently, smog inspections are required for all vehicles except diesel powered vehicles 1997 year model and older or with a Gross Vehicle Weight (GVWR) of more than 14,000 lbs, electric, natural gas powered vehicles over 14,000 lbs, motorcycles, trailers, or gasoline powered vehicles 1975 and older.

So as long as the bus is heavy enough, I shouldn't need a smog check, so for my needs, I would need a bus that weighs between 14,000 and 26,000 GVWR to avoid needing a CDL and Smog Test.
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Old 11-29-2019, 05:05 PM   #8
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I'm in Kalifornia and deal with the Crown Holocaust all the time. I have a Class A with many endorsements and still work commercially driving passengers around. Don't over think this. As a privately owned and registered non-commercial vehicle you're exempt from ALL the crap they try to get you on. Just buy what you like and get the best deal on.

Take the seats out, cover/remove the School Bus signage front and back, and especially cover/remove the red crossing lights, and the district/company commercial names on the sides, any TCP/DOT numbers too, and you're golden. As long as you're registered and have/show private plates on the thing and carry liability insurance no one has any jurisdiction over you, Period. I wouldn't even sweat the RV/MH registration thing. If you can get it registered as a simple "automobile" "bus body" like mine is you won't have any trouble or have to show/prove the 5 items installed making it an "RV". Keep it Simple.

Do it here in Kalifornia since you're already here and it's not that big a deal. Get it transferred, registered, and insured here and then when you move to another duty station it's your private vehicle and should easily be re-registered in another State as with your car, if you wish to do that. It's just another private vehicle same as your car only bigger.

All the rules are aimed at Commercial Operators. That goes for license requirements, Emissions and engine regulations, and as long as it's under 45ft long I guess they can't touch you here either. You can drive it with a clear conscience with a regular old Class C normal car drivers license. Perfectly legal. School buses aren't over 40ft long anyway.

I agree completely that if you drive it in a safe and sane matter you're mostly invisible to LE and others. Most everyone will buy a bus and drive it home with seats in and sometimes with all signs and lights still in place. Very sketchy from a legal point of view but being invisible usually helps a lot.

Anyone asking me gets the lecture to cover/de-school bus the lights/signage etc. and carry with them a one way short term trip permit/(registration) which is good from issuing State for X number of days to get it home. As well as having in hand Proof of Insurance as well as a copy of the Bill Of Sale to prove ownership should be all you need to get it home, even with seats still in place. It's a Ferry Trip and most LE will cut you slack as long as they see you just passing through their jurisdiction on the way somewhere else.

You're in Crown country and it might behoove you to look around for a clean and well maintained Crown to convert. Not that I'm biased or anything, but if you want a bus that will "go the distance" you're already close to the action and should be able to find a good one with some looking around.

One comment about anybody trying to come into Kalifornia with a "Non-Compliant" (their words not mine) bus/coach or any other vehicle needs to remember that this is all aimed at Commercial/for profit operators and NOT private individuals with whatever funky kind of private NOT for hire vehicles they may choose to wrangle down the highway and byways. They WILL try to Gestapo intimidate them but you simply need to find and carry with you the Kalifornia (DMV? maybe AQMD not sure which agency) regulation documents stating that all the rules apply ONLY to commercial operations. Find this online, print and carry with you. This is especially handy when they try to block entry due to a DD 2-stroke engine in your vehicle. Show them the regs. and invite them to get off your bus, they have no jurisdiction. I've heard of some folks getting turned around for having a perfectly fine DD powered highway coach because they didn't know of these regulations and how they don't apply to private coaches. Remember.....Knowledge IS Power against the tyrants.

We still have the Constitutional right of free travel in our private vehicles, or horses for that matter....ever seen a license requirement or a plate on a Horse?? Neither have I. Any vehicle/conveyance is the same under the law but we've acceded that right over the years, to our everlasting regret. Driving is NOT a privilege, it's our right under the Constitution.
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Old 11-29-2019, 05:38 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Crown_Guy View Post
I'm in Kalifornia and deal with the Crown Holocaust all the time. I have a Class A with many endorsements and still work commercially driving passengers around. Don't over think this. As a privately owned and registered non-commercial vehicle you're exempt from ALL the crap they try to get you on. Just buy what you like and get the best deal on.

Take the seats out, cover/remove the School Bus signage front and back, and especially cover/remove the red crossing lights, and the district/company commercial names on the sides, any TCP/DOT numbers too, and you're golden. As long as you're registered and have/show private plates on the thing and carry liability insurance no one has any jurisdiction over you, Period. I wouldn't even sweat the RV/MH registration thing. If you can get it registered as a simple "automobile" "bus body" like mine is you won't have any trouble or have to show/prove the 5 items installed making it an "RV". Keep it Simple.

All the rules are aimed at Commercial Operators. That goes for license requirements, Emissions and engine regulations, and as long as it's under 45ft long I guess they can't touch you here either. You can drive it with a clear conscience with a regular old Class C normal car drivers license. Perfectly legal. School buses aren't over 40ft long anyway.

I agree completely that if you drive it in a safe and sane matter you're mostly invisible to LE and others. Most everyone will buy a bus and drive it home with seats in and sometimes with all signs and lights still in place. Very sketchy from a legal point of view but being invisible usually helps a lot.

Anyone asking me gets the lecture to cover/de-school bus the lights/signage etc. and carry with them a one way short term trip permit/(registration) which is good from issuing State for X number of days to get it home. As well as having in hand Proof of Insurance as well as a copy of the Bill Of Sale to prove ownership should be all you need to get it home, even with seats still in place. It's a Ferry Trip and most LE will cut you slack as long as they see you just passing through their jurisdiction on the way somewhere else.

You're in Crown country and it might behoove you to look around for a clean and well maintained Crown to convert. Not that I'm biased or anything, but if you want a bus that will "go the distance" you're already close to the action and should be able to find a good one with some looking around.

One comment about anybody trying to come into Kalifornia with a "Non-Compliant" (their words not mine) bus/coach or any other vehicle needs to remember that this is all aimed at Commercial/for profit operators and NOT private individuals with whatever funky kind of private NOT for hire vehicles they may choose to wrangle down the highway and byways. They WILL try to Gestapo intimidate them but you simply need to find and carry with you the Kalifornia (DMV? maybe AQMD not sure which agency) regulation documents stating that all the rules apply ONLY to commercial operations. Find this online, print and carry with you. This is especially handy when they try to block entry due to a DD 2-stroke engine in your vehicle. Show them the regs. and invite them to get off your bus, they have no jurisdiction. I've heard of some folks getting turned around for having a perfectly fine DD powered highway coach because they didn't know of these regulations and how they don't apply to private coaches. Remember.....Knowledge IS Power against the tyrants.

We still have the Constitutional right of free travel in our private vehicles, or horses for that matter....ever seen a license requirement or a plate on a Horse?? Neither have I. Any vehicle/conveyance is the same under the law but we've acceded that right over the years, to our everlasting regret. Driving is NOT a privilege, it's our right under the Constitution.
Thanks for this most valuable information you have provided. So I was looking at the Class C Licenses restrictions and I am still a little confused, even if the length limit is 40 ft, there is no way that you are going to be under 26,000 lbs.

With a Basic Class C license:
A 2-axle vehicle with a GVWR of 26,000 lbs. or less.
A 3-axle vehicle weighing 6,000 lbs. gross or less.
A motorized scooter.
Any housecar 40'or less.
A farmer or employee of a farmer may also drive:
Any combination of vehicles with a Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR) of 26,000 lbs. or less if used exclusively in agricultural operations and it is not for hire.


So are the these separate requirements? or are these requirements combined? It's not particularly clear to me.
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Old 11-29-2019, 05:47 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Crown_Guy View Post
We still have the Constitutional right of free travel in our private vehicles, or horses for that matter....ever seen a license requirement or a plate on a Horse?? Neither have I. Any vehicle/conveyance is the same under the law but we've acceded that right over the years, to our everlasting regret. Driving is NOT a privilege, it's our right under the Constitution.

I beg to differ. Driving *IS* a privilege and not a guaranteed constitutional right. Otherwise - how would *YOU* like some DUI repeat offender being in control of an 80K pound tractor trailer, greatly impaired, with no legal recourse to revoke that right/privilege from him/her? How about flying a plane, untrained and unlicensed? We have Rules Of The Road, and retain driving as a privilege for this very reason (public safety). However, you are correct that as a citizen of this country I have Right of Free Travel, I just don't have the right to do so an a manner that puts public safety at risk (back to my DUI driver example). You can walk, ride a horse, ride (not necessarily drive) a bus, train, plane, boat, raft, hot air balloon, or whatever other mode of transportation you wish to pursue. I just want some legal assurance that the operator of these vehicles has some basic knowledge of what they are doing so as to minimize risks to me.
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Old 11-29-2019, 06:17 PM   #11
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On a side note, I was taking a measurement of how much length I have to work with behind my house to store a bus, I think I could fit a 25-27 foot bus back there, maybe a 30 footer.
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Old 11-29-2019, 07:19 PM   #12
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Just to be clear, GVWR is the weight rating of the vehicle, the max weight the vehicle is designed to bear. It is not (necessarily) the vehicle weight.

If it helps, our full-size 6-window dog-nose short bus is rated at 26K GVWR, & is 24' long nose to tail. Figure about 27" additional length per window over that. So if 30' is your max for parking area, you're probably looking at 8 windows or less in a dog-nose format. Probably around 10 in a transit style.
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Old 11-29-2019, 08:36 PM   #13
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Insure it and drive it home. No one gets pulled over for driving like a sane person.
This is exactly what I've always done.
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Old 11-30-2019, 03:47 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gryffinwings View Post
On a side note, I was taking a measurement of how much length I have to work with behind my house to store a bus, I think I could fit a 25-27 foot bus back there, maybe a 30 footer.
Just contact me direct. mikemcc2k@yahoo.com
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Old 11-30-2019, 06:40 PM   #15
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Where are you buying a bus? I'm headed that way anyway
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Old 11-30-2019, 07:49 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brokedown View Post
California is probably the least Skoolie friendly state. My advice is to pack your things and take them to wherever the bus is.

But seriously, you need to know the specifics of your bus and what your license allows you to operate. My Florida license allows me to drive "Any RV" regardless of weight, but other states may not accept that if they have a specific weight class (26k+) that they require an additional stamp for.

Ca DMV guide simply states as far ad RV's go, 40' & under Class C license ok, over 40' Class b endorsement req.
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Old 12-04-2019, 10:27 PM   #17
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I live in North Cali and purchased from a dealership in WA. They made a beef about commercial license with endorsements, etc. Once they had the payment in full in their hand and I signed a WA exempt doc, I drove home. You are not required to stop at weight stations with passenger bus. No questions asked at entrance station either. Drive sane and cover ALL school and bus signage and wigwags for the trip. You will need to make 2 trips to DMV. Its best to remove all passenger seats prior to first trip. This is for out of state VIN verification. Make sure your paperwork is in order beforehand. You will have no choice but to pay full commercial regs first time around. Tgis gives you plates and ability to be legal. At time of this response, a smog cert was Not required, AKA, comml for private use. Second trip to Cali DMV is to verify its a full coach conversion. A normal DMV clerk will not give static about driving out of class. A Commercial or DOT officer performing the first one might caution you about it.
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