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Old 03-18-2011, 12:09 PM   #1
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Default TC conversion to RV titling/licensing requirements by state

I think an important issue that just came up in another thread is the wildly different requirements of motorhome licensing from state to state. I've seen a few mentions in various threads in the past, but it would be very useful to have a tread dedicated to this issue with state by state info.

On this forum most of us are starting with what was last used and licensed as a commercial truck, and are converting into some form or another of a full fledged motorhome. Obviously leaving the truck titled a commercial truck is very expensive for licensing and insurance, and is a nightmare to comply with dot regulations, cdl, scales, logbooks, etc., so it will be everybody's goal to title and license as a motorhome, rv, house vehicle, or whatever it is your particular home state.

We would all appreciate your input on what you had to go through in your particular state, any accurate information you have on the subject, and please the exact terms and phrases that your state uses. In my experience most of the DMV and courthouse staff are pretty poorly educated in this matter so going there armed with the proper terminology for your state really helps. Also if you have any driver licensing quirks in your state. Any info on the specific requirements of the motorhome title.

Lastly, any reports from your state as to how the local D.O.T. officers conduct business in your state. For example, are there fixed or portable scales, does the dot only inspect at scales, or do the do randon roadside stops and rest area inspections, etc., and I have also heard of states specifically targeting race type rigs as an easy mark who are usually out of compliance. I know many of you are legitimately full time rv use only, but a bunch of us are using a motorhome or toterhome to pull a race car or mobile business trailer and are using the "rv" tag to skirt the dot regs and make life easier, and what used to fly just a few years ago is not working so much anymore. A lot of states are automatically considering you commercial if you are towing a race car because that is a "racing business" and they don't care that you are towing with a licensed RV, they still want to force you to run full commercial and will write fines as such. Any experiences in that regard would be helpful.

Also, please distinguish between bona fide accurate information, and the "my buddy heard of a guy who..." stories, those are useful too, but should not be considered accurate enough to be relied upon on their own.

I will start the thread with Ohio information.

Thanks in advance! Dave
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Old 03-18-2011, 01:16 PM   #2
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Ohio title requirements.

Currently in Ohio, you no longer have to take the vehicle to the State Patrol barracks for an inspection prior to a title change to a motor home. Now there is a form you have to get from the county courthouse title bureau called a "affidavit conversion to motor home" and fill it out and have it notarized and returned to the courthouse. The form they gave me is "BMV 3804 5/86". I would be glad to post a copy if somebody can tell me how to get a pic to upload into the thread. At that point they will issue you a new title as a motorhome. There is a $15 fee for printing the new title and you are in business. Go to the deputy registrar with your new title and you can purchase motor home license plates.

Our Ohio form asks for 4 specific things to qualify as a motor home:
1. Facilities for cold storage of food: (specify)
ice box or refrigerator
2. Facilities for cooking of food: (specify)
range top or oven
3. Facilities for consumption of food:
table with seating
4. Facilities for sleeping
bed

They are very clear "that the equipment necessary to qualify such motor vehicle to be titled and registered as a motor home has been permanently installed and attached to the motor vehicle". That means a cooler, bbq grill, and sleeping bag do not qualify. It is an old form (1986) and has not been updated, so I am not sure if you can skate with a microwave "oven" or if you need a real built in deal. I am planning on a gas range top just to be sure.

There is also another category of licensing here in Ohio called "heavy duty non-commercial". Basically they assume here that any truck of one ton or larger is commercial and will automatically issue you a commercial plate unless you claim otherwise. So your dually pickup that you tote your boat or camper or racecar with is assumed to be commercial. By asking for the "heavy duty non-commercial" plate you can pay $84.50 for your plate (way more than the $49.50 for a 1/2 ton, but way better than the price of a commercial plate). The catch is you need to sign a form that the truck is only used for non-commercial purposes, so if they catch you with you company's bulldozer on the trailer or the like you will be in hot water, so use care with that option. I have been plating my dually that way for years with no problems. Also, when I brought my GMC 6500 chassis home from out of state they automatically wanted to issue me commercial plates to the tune of around $400+ a year, but since I only had a cab/chassis and no commercial bed, box or fifth wheel I was able to convince them to issue me a heavy duty non-commercial plate for that truck as well. When conversion is completed I can go back and apply for a motor home title and plate. If your truck you are converting is starting life as a commercial box truck or semi tractor, you may be stuck with a commercial plate until you can complete the requirements to title as a motorhome. Probably depends on the mood of the BMV clerk that day. The motorhome is cheaper at $49.50. They also list a "house vehicle", but my impression this is a camping trailer and not a truck.

Here are the licensing prices:
ODPS | BMV | Fees for Services

Here is a link to the form for license plates for a motor home:
http://publicsafety.ohio.gov/links/bmv5712.pdf

I cannot find the change of title form online, but I have a hard copy and I can post it if somebody tells me how.

Here in Ohio the D.O.T. troopers are numerous and active. They are the PUCO (Public Utilities Commision of Ohio) cars. They have their own division, fleet of cars, and operate the scalehouses. They do stops at the scales, rest areas, and random roadside stops if they think you are commercial. They are not known for leniency, and are known for writing big fines for violations. In the past however they are known more for targeting semis, and do not have a reputation for hassling "regegade" type rigs or race cars as is happening in some states. I have been hauling a 40' gooseneck trailer for a decade and never had a problem and do not stop at scales, but that may or may not be luck. This may be changing, as Ohio is supposed to begin enforcement on lighter vehicles as low as 10000# gvw, which may change all that. I will post the article when I find it.

That's about it for Ohio, who's next?
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Old 03-19-2011, 12:14 AM   #3
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I moved to Oregon from California three years ago and I don't miss the Calif. DMV at all. I have registered several home built trailers and boats in Calif. and it seems as if the DMV employes must be reading from different books. When I got to Oregon I registered 8 vehicles within a few weeks and found that DMV employes are helpful and seemed to understand the rules. The Oregon DMV definition of a motor home is as follows "A vehicle that has been designed, reconstructed, or permanently altered to provide facilities for human habitation, ie., permenent sleeping and cooking facilities. This includes permenently mounted campers on pickup trucks or other truck frames." That was stright from their web page and simple. When I bought my Peterbilt the seller and I went to the DMV in Dallas Or. I took pictures of my truck and of a motor home built on a truck so they would understand what I was doing. I was not able to regerster it as a motor home. I told the DMV guy what I planed to do as far as building my own motor home and he said I did'nt need to pay any fees until it was a motor home. I asked how I could drive it during the 12 to 18 month building time and was told that I need to get a trip permit $43.00 good for 10 days. He also date stamped the title and signed it saying that I would not need to pay non operational or late fees. Oregon charges motor home fees by the foot. 6-14' $54.00 15' $163.50 20' $201.00 25' $238.50 30' $276.00 35' $313.50 40' $351 and 45' $388.50 45' is the max length allowed. They have fees for any length but you get the idea. Also the registration is good for two years. I asked if an air matress in the over cab sleeping area was good and he smiled and said yes. I asked about the cooking and he said not a camp stove but a drop in two burner propane cooktop was good to go. I have been doing mechanical repairs and upgrades for five months and next week I will go back to DMV for a trip permit so I can drive the truck to a shop for an overhead service. I hope that I won't need another trip permit before I finish the build. As far as a drivers license to operate my truck a CDL is required until it is a motor home even with the 5th wheel and front drive axle removed. This point is importaint to me because I lost my CDL 18 years ago when I started taking insulin for my diabetes. I look forward to the day I can drive it as a motorhome. I hope this helps in you search for state requirements.
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Old 03-19-2011, 12:34 AM   #4
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Hot Rod I found direction for uploading pictures at "Forum 101 - posting, accounts, basics I am doing what Janet H said on page 3 "how to add photos to a post I have had mixed success so far but keep trying. Good luck and I will try to add a few pics.
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Old 03-20-2011, 01:29 AM   #5
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intresting fact Kenn, as i too am a insulin depedant diabetic, and ironically, im going though this same registation ordeal here in ND, althought to my understanding the RV registration is a bit vague here, according to our highway patrol, "ANY" truck can be registered as a RV , according to he fedral DOT Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration under rules and regulations section 390.3 sub F exceptions "occational transportation" is my golden rule to my understanding , Ive been a bit briefly educated on the guidelineds at hand, im purchaseing a truck from another state which requires much needed information and restrctive guidlines than my state of residence, IMO the vehical is driven nationwide, im under the inpression state funded highways cause the ill interpretation of ones motive, On the health note, again this is JMO, im diabetic , i can NEVER obtain a CDL, although i currently work as a licensed Electrician in a state where requirements are pretty strict as compaired to other states in our union, last week i worked on the transfer switch for a local hospital, the generator for a local broadcasting company for emergency alerts, AND , a life support system for ICU patiance while they were being monitered and (lack of better terms? ) umm simply , on life support venilators! . BUT, I cannot obtain a CDL while the local 1000lb couch potatoe hops behind the wheel of a 18 wheeler and drinks a case of beer when his route is over, just my beef, Ill keep all notified on my experiance here locally on my quest to convert a commercial vehical into a RV , im expecting to register within the next year ..
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Old 04-08-2011, 11:59 AM   #6
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Smile Oregon DMV

I went to the Oregon DMV last week to get a trip permit. I was in and out in less than ten minutes with permit in hand. It cost $43.00 and is good for ten days. The next day I drove the truck to the shop and had the overhead service done. The engine is fine and I now feel better. The engine shop shares the building with an alingment shop so I had it alingned while I was there. I think I am done driving the truck to shops. The next time I will need a permit is when I finish the motor home and take it to the DMV for the license. I have made a habit of taking notes of what is said when dealing with DMV and others because details have a way of getting fuzzy as time passes. It seams so clear when I am told what to do, then six weeks go by and ah ah????. It works for me. I found that having a date stamp on the paperwork helps. My DMV dealings lead me to belive that you can get better service from DMV offices that have a lower volume of customers.
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Old 04-08-2011, 12:04 PM   #7
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pictures of truck at shop
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Old 04-08-2011, 07:22 PM   #8
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Kenn: Are you going to build a truck to pull the race car in a trailer? or were you thinking of a garage on the truck for the race car? Thanks! Dick
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Old 04-08-2011, 11:19 PM   #9
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My plan is to build a motor home on the truck and use it to pull the race trailer. It will be overkill for sure. The trailer is 20' and is rated at 10K but weighs around 7K fully loaded. My race car is under 1,000 lbs and the rest is tools and spares. My old motor home does a good job of pulling it after upgrades to the frame and springs. The T/C will be just under 30' total and the trailer is 24' with the tung so a total of about 54'. The main idea is for me to be able to drive a big truck again, I so miss driving trucks. I will try to put up pictures of the race trailer and the old motor home and a model of what the T/C should look like.
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Old 04-11-2011, 06:45 PM   #10
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Since you asked, this is for a California House Car...

The Stealth Camper is now registered as a California House Car, or at least I assume it is…. The registration document certainly reads differently, but the guy at the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) had no idea what a California House Car was, and I can’t figure out how to read all the codes on the registration. Here is a summary of the codes, what they were and what they are now. If anyone wants to enlighten me, or confirm that I am now registered correctly I would be grateful.

Old Data Entry Field
VLF Class DF
TypeVeh 32Y
Type LIC 31
Body Type Model TB
MP (Motive Power?) D (Diesel?)
MO QP
AX (Axels?) 2
WC (Weight Class?) A
Unladen/G/CGW 15000
Type Vehicle Use Commercial



New Data Entry Field
VLF Class DF
TypeVeh 12J
Type LIC 11
Body Type Model MH (Motor Home?)
MP (Motive Power?) D (Diesel?)
MO RX
AX (Axels?) No Such Field
WC (Weight Class?) No Such Field
Unladen/G/CGW No Such Field
Type Vehicle Use Automobile


So here is the story. I made a standard appointment to discuss registration issues with my local DMV office in Santa Clara, CA. I arrived a few minutes early, took my number at the front counter and waited for about 15 minutes. The man at the window was intelligent and professional but obviously hadn’t done anything like this before. I told him what I wanted and gave him my paperwork, and he immediately ran off to talk to his supervisor. A couple of minutes later he was back and ready to move forward with no hassle.

I had provided him with a CA DMV “Statement of Facts” form, with the key part being section G., where it says, “I the undersigned state:”

“My personal, privately held vehicle, VIN XXXXXXXXXXXX, Mitsubishi Fuso FE650, has been converted to a California House Car per VC Section 362. It is permanently altered, and equipped for human habitation. It includes sleeping quarters for 2 people, and permanently installed facilities including: fresh water supply, toilet, microwave, stove, oven, heater, and air conditioning.”

I did not sign the CA DMV “Statement of Facts” form ahead of time, but waited to sign it in his presence. (I don’t think he cared.)

I also provided him with pictures of the inside of the living quarters showing the toilet, sink, beds, etc. (I don’t think he cared about that either.)

I also gave him my then current registration.

He asked me if I had a picture of the outside of the truck, which caught me off guard as I didn’t happen to have one. He said he just wanted to know what kind of a truck it was so he could classify it. I told him it was a “box truck” but that didn’t seem to mean much to him. He asked me if it was a “flat bed” and I told him that it was fully enclosed and showed him the pictures of the interior again. I also told him repeatedly that it needed to be classified as a “California House Car” and I was trying to avoid the use of the words “RV” as some folks had suggested in various posts on this and various other forums. The term “California House Car” didn’t seem to mean anything to him, so he asked me if it was a “mobile home”. I said yes, but not the type that just sits there (still trying to avoid saying RV). He seemed to understand that it was a fully mobile vehicle and was happy at that point.

I offered him my recent weight certificate but he said that it no longer mattered.

He gave me a form (I don’t remember what) and asked me to fill out name and address and then sign it. He also asked for $31 which I gave him. He then gave me the new registration with the new stickers for the license plates and sent me to a different window to pick up the new plates. I still have to install the new plates, and drop the old ones back at the DMV, but other than that it appears I am done. Hopefully it is done correctly… The whole process took maybe 10 minutes, plus the 15 minute wait.

Now I assume I can remove the weight stickers from the sides of the cab and I should never have to stop at a weigh station.

The next step is to get the truck insured as an RV, and hopefully start saving some money. That brings up a whole bunch of new issues I will have to work through, like how do they value this thing, can I (should I) insure it for replacement value, can I get liability insurance (like homeowners insurance) for people who slip and fall off my back bumper etc. There is also the issue of making sure they don’t refuse to pay when they discover that I am living in the truck full time (which I am not just yet.)

More recent update.... I have long since removed the weight stickers on the side of the truck. It is also now insurred as an RV, not a commercial vehicle. It didn't save me all that much but it is probably not a fair comparison considering the different levels of coverage. I will say that insuring an RV that you made yourself (not commercially made) is not a trivial matter and your choices are very limited.
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