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Old 11-15-2006, 08:01 PM   #1
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My initial desire for minimal a conversion HDT is reflected in the photos provided by member "ghillie", until I read about, and considered the benefits of a conversion that could be registered as a motor home or RV. Still, I'm not positive which way would be best for my situation, and am still trying to gather information. If "not for hire" and "RV use only" is displayed on the doors, what does that do for you from a standpoint of DOT regs? I understand the benefits of an RV classification, but what DOT regulations are still applicable for a "not for hire" unit? I've already given up asking officials any questions, they just want to pass out CDL guides. If a CDL, annual inspections, and stops at the weigh stations are the most that I'd have to put up with, I may drop back to my more simplistic earlier designs. I've seen reference to this in some other posts that I've read, but couldn't find more detail. Please note, I'm not seeking legal advice, only opinions that point me in the right direction.
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Old 11-16-2006, 05:02 AM   #2
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If I recall, IN does not have a "non-commercial" type registration for HDTs. I know some other states allow you to reg it as a large pickup truck. So if you do not go the RV route, in addition to the things you listed, you're looking at commercial insurance, log books, some campgrounds not letting you in, having to follow the split speed limits in states that have them, hours of operation restricition, etc.

Again, not to steer you away from this site, especailly as a moderator, but much more info over at skp since that is where there are a bunch of people that have gone the HDT route and are willing to share the info they have gathered.
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Old 11-16-2006, 05:30 AM   #3
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Thank for the quick response. I recently joined the SKP forum as well, and have been poking around both sites gathering information. It's easy to get sidetracked on both sites, such great information is presented & so many links that are worthy of following. When I inquired earlier at the local BMV, they seemed concerned that the weight ratings would keep it under all DOT regs, they were apparantly only considering the "not for hire" scenerio. If all you mentioned is accurate, there seems to be little benefit in going from full commercial to "not for hire". Naturally, I would prefer to avoid the higher expenses associated with either. I've got much more research to do, it would appear.
Jess
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Old 11-16-2006, 03:01 PM   #4
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Thing is though, you can be "Not For Hire" or "Private" and STILL be commercial. A very grey area and unfortunately there are no black and white answers. You can ask BMV, DOT, State Troopers, Local Cops, etc and you would get different answers from everyone. BMV is least reliable, local cops are next, state troopers, and then the DOT cops but even then you can;t be sure the next one will ahve a different opinion of the law and give you a hassle.

Being reg'd as an RV eliminates these for the most part as long as you are not trying to do commercial type hauling while reg'd as an RV...that will get you in a heap of trouble!

Good luck on your quest and let me know what you find out and decide to do.

By the way, where in IN are you?

We're in LaPorte.
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Old 11-16-2006, 04:50 PM   #5
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I tell people we're from "around" Ft. Wayne, because everyone's heard of that; actually, we're a little west, in Columbia City. I used to go through LaPorte pretty regularly when I drove for US Foodservice.
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Old 11-17-2006, 10:09 AM   #6
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HD_RIDER, You are asking several questions with different angles. Bill is correct in that you can be "not for hire" and still be commercial and under DOT regs. That's the way my DOT is set up, unless you are doing business out of your rig you don't want to go there.

You already understand the advantage of the RV classification. An RV is an RV and DOT is DOT and ne'er the twain shall meet as long as your use remains recreational.

I have a 1993 Freightliner with a 120" bunk, all the comforts of home and registered as an RV. I pull a flat bed trailer with antique tractors and have only been in the midwest. I have yet to stop at a weigh station and have never gotten a second look from the gendarmes. I don't haul for hire and only pull my own stuff. The freightliner isn't even on my DOT registration, that would be a bad thing.

So, you need to specifically consider your use and do what you are comfortable with. Obviously RV is the best financial deal.
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Old 11-17-2006, 07:23 PM   #7
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John, thank you as well for the input. As I mentioned earlier (or in a previous post), I kept my CDL & Physicals current, even though I haven't driven "professionally" for about 5 years. I was a company driver then, and only had to be concerned about the stuff that kept me legal as a driver. All the things pertaining to the actual equipment was handled by the company and beyond my control, therefore I had only a passing knowledge of the many other aspects that I now must educate myself about. Having decided that we want to spend some of our retirement in warmer climates, the 5'er seemed the best answer. A good deal came along, so I now have the toy-hauler, but still have a few years before "real" retirement can begin. Reality dictates that I re-join the workforce in the mean time to be able to accomplish said goals. One idea that came up was to buy a newer HDT, and operate as an owner-operator until I am ready to do the RV conversion. That has many arguments both pro and con; I'm not sure it would be worth all the hassels that I would encounter, nor the miles that I would have to run to make it profitable for the anticipated 5 years or so that I would be doing it. That also presents the specter of ending up with a tractor that has many more miles on it than I would prefer before I make the conversion. As it appears at this point, the best solution seems to be to take my time deciding on the truck that I want, and drive for someone else for a while to supplement the income. I've seen some pretty decent prices on '98 & '99 Volvos with 600K miles on them; should have plenty of life left for my uses, but beyond my current budget. Even if I could rush out today and buy a conversion, it would get very little use for the next five years. I just want to better understand the many things involved before I commit to a level of conversion that I would later regret. That's not to say that it won't all occur earlier than anticipated, as I didn't figure on having the camper for a couple years yet, either. A forum such as this is a great way to help sort these things out, and advice from the experienced can help prevent me from repeating someone else's mistakes..
Jess
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Old 11-20-2006, 12:49 PM   #8
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I think the IN regulations are pretty much the same as the IL regulations. You could buy a used HDT for less than a good dually make the minimal conversions and then trade up when the time came.

I think the most difficult part of the conversion process is the potable water and holding tanks which you don't need with the toy hauler.

For my 2 cents worth, a generator, provsions for shore power, seperate heat and a refrigerator would be the simplest way to accomplish that.

Doing the O/O thing would be okay, and the way to do it is probably just hook up the toyhauler and head down the road knowing that you probably need to at least "pass through" the weigh stations because the tractor is a registered commercial vehicle. If you did that, the truck and associated expenses would be tax deductible so you would have a cheap tow vehicle from that aspect.
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Old 11-20-2006, 03:02 PM   #9
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Before I started asking questions, I had just assumed that a commercial fifth wheel wasn't compatible with the pin on a camper. Having learned different, I now wonder about any long-term damage that might occur to the camper as a result of doing this. Lacking the air-ride and side-to-side cushioning that I see in most conversions would likely cause a much rougher ride for the camper, wouldn't it? It just doesn't seem to me that the camper framework in that area is nearly as beefy as the commercial counterparts; or am I making uninformed assumptions again? Obviously, I still have questions that will appear from time to time. The owner-operator scenario may be a serious consideration, especially if I could link up with one of the camper-hauling outfits and be able to make even some of the conversion steps tax-deductable as well. I have more research to be done, and I really appreciate you guys being tolerant of us "less-informed"...
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Old 11-20-2006, 04:37 PM   #10
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You are probably correct about the commercial 5th wheel being hard on a camper. That would probably be pretty easy to solve with a trailsaver or similar 5er hitch.

IMPO using a full blown semi tractor to transport 5ers probably wouldn't pay too well because of the higher costs involved. Some of the smaller Class 6/7 units might work okay but that isn't the point of the discussion.

What I had in mind for the O/O setup was to have a truck that you could lease on with someone to make the truck payments, depreciation, interest, repairs, taxes and insurance. From there you would have a TV that you could use on your off days to pull the toyhauler. In the O/O case you wouldn't need to spend anything for conversion because you wouldn't need to convert. Kinda like a ROADWAY vacation if you know what I mean.
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Old 11-20-2006, 06:44 PM   #11
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All good points to be considered... Add a flatbed trailer and I could transport multiple camper units, as well. I'm still not sure that I want all the details involved in O/O, but I'll have to pay for the project somehow. Thanks for the input, all opinions are much appreciated.
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Old 03-27-2008, 06:23 PM   #12
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HD_Rider,
I'm an O/O getting ready to quit the road and convert my T-2000 to either a Troter or Home. My 53' stepdeck is for sale.
I'm starting to think of ways to make money off the troter idea.
If I decide to try and stay commercial, I may trade for a 4-5 car hauler or a something that can also load trailers.
I love the road and its hard to get it out of me.
If there's anyone that knows a way to make money off a troter, please let me know.
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Old 03-28-2008, 06:24 AM   #13
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Jim,
Having gained a little more experience and knowledge on the subject of toters since that last posting, I can offer a little better opinion now. I bought a 2001 Volvo 610 about a year ago, and made just a few changes to accommodate pulling my 5'th wheel camper with it.

First, let me point you to This site, where you'll find a wealth of information about the conversion of these trucks to toters, and several members have the T 2000's.

In my case, I have decided to leave the unit a twin screw, for now anyhow, rather than having it singled. There's arguments both ways for that discussion, but if you're planning on remaining commercial I assume you would keep both axles as well. One of the primary reasons that most units are converted in the manner they are is to qualify for non-commercial status. Some states have provisions to have them re-classified as "RV's", as Indiana does, some are "Private trucks", some are called "Motor Homes". The goal here is to be considered the same as any other self contained camper, which is not subject to all the commercial DOT requirements (no CDL, no log books, no chicken coops, RV insurance, etc.). Once this is done, nothing of a commercial nature can be done with your toter without getting cross-ways with the law. Even having advertising on the sides, or pulling race car trailers can be considered a violation. Some have skated for a while, but with more of these being converted and re-classified as non-commercial all the time, closer scrutiny is inevitable.

Having said that, there's no reason that you can't make a few accommodations to your T-2000 to allow you to remain commercial, and still be able to pull campers for hire, as well as your own use. If you plan on pulling nothing but campers in the future, you'll want a more "RV-friendly" hitch, preferably an air-ride. While the commercial hitch will work (I still use mine), they can be brutal on the lighter weight frames of the campers. Over the road isn't the main problem, it's when you get in the rough terrain off-road, since the hitch doesn't have any sideways give. I've seen conversions that actually have both fifth wheels mounted. If you want to retain the ability to pull a commercial trailer, the only things you really have to do is add fenders or a deck of sorts to cover the tires and protect the fiberglass trailers, and a brake controller and an RV pigtail to for the electrics. You'll still have all the DOT requirement to follow, of course, but that's the only way that you can legally make money with a toter.

I know of one case in particular where an OTR driver pulls his camper south every winter, so his wife can enjoy the warmer climate while he's on the road. He stops when he's back in the area, then tows it back north for the summer.

I hope this helps you out some, and you'll find lots more discussion on the "escapees" site that I referred to.

Jess
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Old 07-30-2008, 05:27 PM   #14
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I had this question when I purchased my Pete. The answer in Alabama was determined by the weight of the truck and the IRS determined what I could register the truck as. It is a private truck with 20,000 plates and no dot or ifta required.
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Old 04-10-2009, 07:04 PM   #15
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I brought a Volvo 420 to haul my 5th Wheel and to let the scalehouses and local and state police know my truck is for Recreational use only I have placed a plate on both sides of my truck which says "Private RV, Not For Hire". and by doing so when I do stop by a scale house in a different state they see the sign and give me the green light or wave me through even before I stop. I did take a risk in NC and did not stop none of the scale houses and on our return trip I did the same and so far NO Blue lights in the mirror. I would like to know from others who use HDTs to haul their RV ever had any problems.
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Old 04-10-2009, 07:53 PM   #16
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....I don't stop at the scales-I did once and I got the red lite and had to go in and show them my paperwork-and the inside of the trailer[they were nosy that day]....off I went after that........I don't pull in anymore.....why ask for trouble anyway?....geof kaye
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Old 04-11-2009, 05:45 AM   #17
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I have a custom plate on the front that says "Private RV", but nothing at all on the sides. The only time I've pulled in is if the signs state "All vehicles over 10,000 lbs", or something similar. There are some states, I understand, that want any heavy vehicles to pull in, including campers, particularly areas with steep inclines presenting safety issues. As far as the normal commercial scales, I've yet to be chased down.
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Old 04-11-2009, 11:26 PM   #18
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I have had my 3 axle Volvo 770 registered as an RV for 5 years now and I have never stoped at the scales. Once in Canada, they waved at me when I passed by and I thought they may come and stop me, but not so.

Most of the time I tow my trailer and the car behind and I have never been stopped. Once in Arizona a state cop stopped to ask me if I needed any help and I just told him I was checking a connection, and thank him for stopping.

When I am coming back to ALaska, I only tow the car only and usually leave the trailer in Washington State.

Naturally I am quite long when everything is connected but have never been stopped. When I first started towing the car behind the fifth wheel I was a bit concerned when a police person drove by, but in the past 5 years, I have gone by hundreds of police cars.

Happy travelen.

Duane

For those of you that have not traveled the Alcan highway through Canada, Juneau is 1950 miles North of Seattle. The first 150 miles is 4 line and from Hope on it is two lane. All blacktop and very little bumpy road. Lots of wildlife along the highway in Northern BC on either side of Muncho Lake. If you have other questions, just ask.
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Old 04-12-2009, 10:22 PM   #19
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...Duane:....God Likes you!...If I towed an inch over 65' I get a stack of tickets....some have all the luck!.....I was in Alaska in '71[honeymoon and vacation] used up a 1970 International Scout and trailer on the Alcan Highway....scrapped the whole mess when we got home.....Oh well!....needed a new vehicle anyway!.....what a 3 month trip!...If I had it to do again I'd never take a wife....or get married to one for more than 6 months or so.....a guy needs to get a new rig every now and then knowwhatImean?..........geofkaye
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Old 04-15-2009, 05:34 PM   #20
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When I was pulling my 32ft trailer behind my Show Hauler I was over 83 ft long. I pulled this combo for 7 years and never got stopped or did i ever bother to go into the scales. We went all over this great land and traveled many back roads as well as many interstate highways. We never had a problem. Now we never did get into California so I can't say anything about that state, but all the others were very accomodating. Heck I drove the last Show Hauler without a license plate on it for the first year and a half. Never got looked at. Just depends on if you happen to find a trooper in a bad mood I guess.....

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