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Old 04-17-2010, 09:26 AM   #1
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Hi,
I am new to the site and to HDT towing. I just purchased a 2004 Volvo 670 autoshift that is pretty much stock except for:
1. Single tires (not dually) but still has tandem axles.
2. "Trailer Saver" 5th wheel hitch installed on the truck and the commerical hitch was removed.
3. Exhaust re-routed under the chassis.

I bought this truck for 2 reasons, for the torque to pull my new 40' rear living room fifth wheel camper (2011 Cedar Creek 36RE AND to build a deck on the back to carry my Harley Screamin' Eagle along with an Arctic Cat Prowler 1000 side by side atv. The new trailer has an 'Air Ride' pin box.

The chassis has not been altered and I don't want to shorten it. I want to remove the "forward rear" axle and install a new driveshaft to go from the transmission to the 'most rear' axle. I want to re-locate the 5th wheel hitch all the way to the back of the chassis and then build a 102" wide deck to carry the bike and side by side ATV. I may have to construct a small ramp on the deck so the ATV sits angled upward (the ATV is 10' feet long). The bike is 8.5 feet long.

Our objective was to obtain the best of 'all worlds'. We considered a toyhauler fifth wheel but we would lose too much living space. We wanted our 40' feet of living space in the trailer and take both toys with us everytime.

Any and all comments are greatly appreciated!
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Old 04-17-2010, 08:36 PM   #2
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dropping the front axle is a shop required change because of drive line angles and the new drive shaft...other than that have at it...nothing else is critical except your welding beads/joints and bolts.....sounds like you have thought it out well....the only issue to me is the ATV at an angle as the seals will begin to leak[maybe]....but if it is not an issue to you-i really can't see any other problems....remember to drain you fuel tanks down so they won't slosh out when the weather gets warm....and keep a watch on seals.....battery issue may be a problem with acid slopping...maybe you will have to drop it to the deck in a separate box...safety first! ......have at it and send a pix of you can......geofkaye and the Rivercity Girlz....
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Old 02-16-2012, 10:12 AM   #3
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I have a client that purchased a toterhome, and uses it to pull a trailer that has tools, parts and racecars. When he purchased the toterhome, he was told it is classified as an RV. Earlier this month, his driver was stopped by the GA DOT and given a warning because it did not have the company name nor a DOT number. My question is, if he receives no compensation for pulling this trailer with content, is the company name and a DOT numbered required? And, does his driver need to keep logs when driving the toterhome?
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Old 02-16-2012, 12:21 PM   #4
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My understanding is that it does not matter if the driver is being paid or not, commercial status is dependent on if the vehicle is being use for commerce. If you are pulling a race car that has sponsors, or can be determined in any way to be anything but a hobby you will probably fall under the commercial DOT rules. If so then you are subject to weigh stations, commercial insurance, Commercial drivers license, etc. The list of requirements gets even more extensive if you are going to cross state lines. The DOT is going to look hard at any Toter, Motor-home, or Tractor pulling anything other than a obvious RV unit. There are several folks on this site that pull racing cars around, and they may be able to share some more insight.

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Old 02-16-2012, 12:45 PM   #5
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Sticky situation with no good answer.

Here's the deal. If he is driving the toterhome strictly as an RV, the seller was correct, no cdl or anything else is required to drive it. Same as any other RV.

When a truck like that is used for commercial purposes however, it must be licensed, insured and operated as any other commercial truck. Otherwise every semi with a stove and a toilet in the sleeper would be an "RV". That means company name (or his name, as the case may be) on the door, registered with the usdot, cdl if the truck is big enough for that, log book, medical card, scales, annual inspection stickers, the whole works.

The sticky part is "commercial purpose". For a long time racers have been skating on this, but the dot's in various states now look upon racing as a business. The theory being you are racing for a purse, have sponsors, etc., so it is a for-profit business regardless of whether you actually net a profit or loss at the end of the year. And that makes sense as most racers have to file a schedule C on their taxes as a "racing business" to offset purse money with expenses so they don't have to pay tax on the winnings. So those states that think racing is a business are going to treat that truck like any other semi.

I read a thread on the Old Hippie | It's all good here forums a while back where the dot sat at the exit for Maple Grove raceway in PA and did a full dot inspection on every racer going to the track, pickup trucks and all, and wrote a pile of tickets for exactly those issues.

I guess what it comes down to is racers have been skating the dot rules for a long time towing with "RV"'s which are basically full-on class 8 semis, and it is just coming down to the dot is not letting it slide anymore.

I was just stopped here in OH 2 weeks ago with my pickup truck. Apparently the PUCO (Ohio dot) dropped their target enforcement from 26000 gvw down to 10000 gvw starting this year. I was towing a brand new 14x7 enclosed (motorcycle) trailer home from the factory in IN, which I just bought new that morning for my own use, and was empty. I do have a sticker in the window of my dually with the name of my shop(apparently my biggest mistake). He wrote me an arms length of violations, saying that I was commercial since I had my business name in the window, and I had bought the trailer with a company check. He wrote me for:
* driver duty status not current (log book)
* carrier name/usdot number not displayed
* no fire extinguisher
* no warning device (triangles)
* operating a cmv without periodic inspection (annual inspection)
* failure to pay UCR fees (usdot registration)
* failure to display valid license plates (non-comm plates on cmv)
* exhaust altered to amplify engine noise (flowmaster muffler, ok on personal vehicle, but you can't modify on a commercial vehicle at all)
* speeding 1-5 miles over speed limit (he clocked me at 73 in a 70, which was his "excuse" to pull me over

Now, my contention is the truck is not commercial, which is why it was not licensed commercial, and only towing a brand new trailer I bought for personal use, so I had no reason to license commercial. If I can prove that, all the rest except for the speeding goes away. Still working on it, I'll keep you posted. I can't even imagine how many thousands all those violations will cost if I can't work it out.

Add that to various other horror stories I've run across from people stopped in different states.

So anyway, be careful out there, the day's of skating the rules are running out fast.
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Old 02-16-2012, 09:40 PM   #6
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Wow Hotrod, that's too bad. You made a very informative post though. Thank you for it. I have a buddy that is a Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Officer. He has drilled all that stuff into me that you posted about. He said their criteria is if the vehicle or trailer is operated "in furtherance of a commercial venture" that makes it commercial. He said they don't have to prove anybody is paid. Put some commercial venture signage or stickering on either the truck or trailer and boom, it's commercial. 10k lbs. combined weight all the laws come into play. In other words, if you're driving a Prius down the road with a wrap full of company names on it and you're fine without any d.o.t. registration, log books, weigh stations, medical card, cdl, etc... Now, jump in your F150 (what are those rated for on the sticker inside the drivers door frame? 6400 lbs. or so?) and hook your tandem axle enclosed trailer to it with a sticker/ident tag on the frame that says it's rated for 4000 lbs. (enforcement officers don't just look at the license plate weight sticker, they check the frames/door frames, etc...and they don't have to weigh it, unless they want to do that too to see if you're over the rated capacity). Now you're over 10k total combined weight (even if the truck and trailer are empty, they're rated over the 10k). Hang a piece of paper in one window that says, "John's Muffler Shop." Now everything kicks in. Now, how about that toter home? Is it rated 26,001 lbs. or greater? Or is the trailer 10,001 lbs. or greater? Hang a piece of paper in the window "John's Muffler Shop." Boom Boom! You've now crossed into the big boy territory and more regulation than you can imagine. No wait. Don't hang any sign. Just carry your own parts, tools, and race car. No company names on anything. Race car belongs to you personally (titled to you if it's got a plate on it), tools and parts are just for your own use, you just drive the car as a hobby in events that have no money, trophy, plaques, ribbons, etc.... The toter home and trailer list to you, not a company. You drive it (don't pay some guy to drive it). RV plates on the toter. You should be good to go with nothing other than the same d.l. it takes to drive a Prius.

Dave, your client might get away without anything and not get stopped. But, he might get stopped. It might cost a ton of money and he might get his rig impounded or put out of service. He'll have to decide if he wants to risk it, or get it all done to the letter of the law. Most state driver and vehicle services offices have lots of publications and such to help you with this. Might have to go higher than just a license renewal office to get the best stuff though.
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Old 02-16-2012, 09:47 PM   #7
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Hot Rod: All I can say is holy sh**! I can't believe you were able to write that with what appears to be tremendous amount of restraint.

New guy from Canada (can't remember your handle): Have you thought about weight and balance after you remove the "forward rear axle"? By removing that axle and putting the deck and your toys behind the cab, you'll be moving the center of gravity forward and putting more weight on the front axle. Do you know how close you are now to the weight limit of the front axle?

If you know the current weights on the axles and their distances, you can calculate CG pretty close. With that you can also calculate what the addition of the toys and deck will be. Every pilot (student through airline) does this before every take off. The math is the same. STarting with a tandem axle in the back complicates it a little, but it can be done.

Your desire to have the 5th wheel back as far as possible will help.
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Old 02-17-2012, 08:48 PM   #8
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My neighbor was busted with his Tahoe and Tandem axle open trailer with a pair of riding mowers, since the truck and trailer capacities were over 10,000 lbs, his nice black 2010 Tahoe, now sports DOT numbers on the bottoms of the doors.

I would love to see a non commercial HDT RV license and registration to cover horsemen, racers, crafters, and other folks that use big rigs to support their hobbys.
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Old 02-18-2012, 08:45 AM   #9
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Mr. Blizzard: Do you pull a trailer? If you do, would you be legal?

I shared all this stuff with a good friend who is a long time racer. He has a Topkick toter home and Pace stacker trailer. He said almost all the racers pulling an closed trailer with just about any race car (expect for probably a Formula V or Formula Ford without much in tools) are most likely "illegal". The rules are somewhat complicated, they are convoluted, but apparently once you go over the threshold the requirements are significant.

He told me back in the 1980's or the very early 1990's the Wisconsin DOT was sitting outside the Shawano (WI) Fairgrounds race track on a Satuday and pulled ALL the racers everyone over. They had a portable scale, weighed everyone, checked for CDL's, etc. They were pulling guys with CDL out of the grandstands to drive the haulers into the pits; very few had CDLs. Haulers sat overnight until the racers found a CDL to take the things home. He said, "You don't want to hear about the guys who were hauling fuel in their trailers!"

Your idea about non-commercial registration is a good idea. But where do you start? The airplane guys have the EAA. I suspect that the horse people have the same problems as racers and other hobbyists. What about the RV industry? How much does a big 5th wheel RV trailer weigh? More than 10,000#? Pull it with a crew cab, one ton dually and aren't you required to have a CDL?

Where does a "hobby" end and a "commercial enterprise" start? I am an amateur road racer. Club racing and track days. I've never raced for any prize money (OK ... 10 tickets to the NASCAR race in Milwaukee one year, which all the drivers got) and all we get is a trophy. But almost all the oval guys are racing for some kind of a pursue.

We can expect that in crafting something for "us", the difficulty will be in NOT creating loopholes of unintended consequences for the true commercial guys. Once that hurdle is overcome with proposed rules, then there might be a chance.

Big question. Is this really about the money? Or is this really about safety on the roads?

Another question. Its my understanding that I do NOT need a CDL or a bus license to drive my 45' Prevost motorhome that has airbrake and is probably hauling a significant amount of propane. Is that correct? I think it is. Does that make sense?

But ... it appears I need a CDL to drive my Suburban and 24' enclosed trailer with my race car.

This whole licensing issue probably could use its own dedicated thread!
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Old 03-06-2012, 09:42 PM   #10
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Yep, it's all pretty complicated to me. And it seems there are huge numbers of people pulling race cars around illegally. Lots of chatter about it on racing forums too. I'm pretty sure BlizzND has a couple of collector type cars that he trailers around a bit but I don't think he has any commercial or "furtherence of a commercial venture" aspect to them. That seems to be the big breaking point. If you're car says "Al's Muffler Shop" on it then you've crossed the line into commercial since you're now trying to further Al's muffler business. They don't have to prove you won anything, or Al paid you any money or gave you a discount on that muffler.
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