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 11-27-2007, 18:21 Post: 148777
kleinchris



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 Building a trailer II

If I were to build myself a trailer from plans- how would I go about getting DOT to sign off on it? VIN? Do welds need to be certified? Determining value? Does it need brake lights?

I know I can't do this cheaper than buying one new, but it would be a fun project and I would be able to get it exactly as I want it. However, I don't want to do it if DOT is going to say I cant use it on their highways.

Oh, I'm in Texas in case any of you local boys have any experience with TexDOT.

Just kidding about the brake lights.






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 11-27-2007, 21:14 Post: 148781
candoarms



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 Building a trailer II

Kleinchris,

Northern Tool offers build-it-yourself plans for trailers of all types and sizes. The plans, if followed, are already approved by DOT.

Click on the following link.

Joel






Link:   Northern Tool Trailer Plans 

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 11-27-2007, 21:50 Post: 148783
kleinchris



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Thats where I saw the plans I was going to buy. (I'm looking at a 14'x 76"Wink yeah right I guess my question has more to do with making it official. Everybody as there own horror story about showing up at the DMV with out the proper... whatever. Well, imagine showing up with nothing! No VIN, no reciept,... and how can your insurance company cover it without a VIN?






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 11-27-2007, 22:01 Post: 148784
earthwrks

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Chris you might want to just stop in at your local DOT and talk to them. Be forewarned though you will get 5 different answers from 4 people. You'll likely end up talking to someone at the state administration level.

As far as brake lights, there is one locality near me that doesn't require brake lights on a trailer less than 4 wide. It used to be that you didn't need a license plate on specialized equipment such as towable cement mixers or trailers made for a specailized purpose. So then guys started driving 100-ton cranes down the roads to get away without plates. State boys put an end to that and now charge "use tax".

My eyes were opened by the MDOT when I wanted to know if I could haul a 10x10 wooden shed down a 4-lane Federal highway. I was told that I could after I paid a $250 permit fee and then the guy asked where where it was going so I told him. He asked how wide my trailer is and I told him 8'-6" which is the legal limit.He say "Oh you can't legally do that because you will be on a County road and they only allow 8'" GREAT, so now what? He said he "could only tell me what the law was", basically telling me if you do it you can't say you haven't been warned. Then he went on to say that 90% of the RV's, motorhomes and the like are not leagal but they don't enforce it! (Then chaage the freakin'laws!!!)

Around here, the DOT won't (or can't???) enforce US or MDOT regs that are applicable to commercial vehicles to non-commercial use. But if they feel it's "unsafe", then you can get a ticket by any ol' cop.

As far as certified welds, that encompasses a lot from an inspection point of view IMHO which means x-raying the welds, and that is costly--if you can find someone to do it. What you may be needing is a "certified welder" which is vastly different. I get calls from people who want something welded, usually commercial guys on equipment. I tell them not only am I not certified, I'm not insured for it. They pass, as do I. I mentioned in another post about my buddy who was sued for nearly a million on a trailer he worked on. He's a BS'er so I have no reason to doubt him but he said in the course of defending himself he found out that at least in Michigan whoever build the trailer---commercially or not is liable for it for 25 years! Many things can happen during that time! But taht was all he needed to hear and promptly shut down all plans to build a manufacturing facility.






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 11-27-2007, 22:37 Post: 148785
kthompson



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 Building a trailer II

I suspect all states have a system to assign a vin number for such a trailer. Second I suspect your DOT has regs on trailers on their web site. I have not looked but believe you will find them there. kt






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 11-27-2007, 23:24 Post: 148788
candoarms



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Kleinchris,

Here's the story I got from the North Dakota Department of Transportation, regarding a shop-built trailer I purchased about 2 years ago.

____________________________________

Joel,

The first thing you will need to do is to contact your local Highway Patrol to have them inspect the trailer.

Once they inspect the trailer you will need to contact our office with the VIN number of the trailer in order for us to do a title search to see if there is a record of this being titled in ND or the surrounding states. If there is a record, we have a procedure you will need to follow to title and register in your name.

If there is no record we have a different procedure you will need to follow to title and register in your name.

Thank You,
ND Motor Vehicle Division
608 E Boulevard Ave
Bismarck, ND 58505
701-328-2725

_____________________________________________

I suspect there is a similar process to follow in your State, but be aware of the fact that this is only one response, and from only one State employee. I've yet to approach any of the other four employees to gather my five different responses. hehehe.

Before you build a trailer from a set of DOT approved plans, make sure you have something in writing from the DOT people in your State as to how to go about licensing the danged thing.

Joel






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 11-28-2007, 05:53 Post: 148792
earthwrks

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I'm curious about the "DOT-Approved Plans". To my knowledge the DOT doesn't "approve" plans but does approve the final product through testing or other verification. Otherwise, that would put the liablilty and engineering responsibility on the DOT and I just don't see that happening. What I do see happening is some guy making a trailer, getting it "inspected" or "approved" by a DOT officer, then making drawings and selling them as "DOT Approved".

To me it's sort of like when you see a health product on TV being "doctor approved". Buuuut they fail to tell you it is the doctor's own product he's selling---that he approved.

KT, if someone has a "VIN number" does that mean they have a "Vehicle Indentification Number number"? KnowhadImean Vern?

And did you take delivery of that new Volvo excavator yet? Reminds of when my not-so-smart female boss years ago said to us in a departmental meeting that "our company got the new Vulva (not Volvo) Truck Sleeper Design account". Being the "classy lady" she was, she had no clue what a vulva was even when the girls in the meeting took her aside and told her NOT to say that. But then again she was also the same one that came to me and a coworker and asked how to turn on the new PC's. His response was "you rub up against it". If looks could kill. Too funny. Ahhhh the mammories...






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 11-28-2007, 10:24 Post: 148797
Murf



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In a former life I owned a fabricating company that manufactured trailers and truck bodies for a number of years.

We ran into this on a pretty regular basis, people would come to us with a store bought set of plans and ask for a quote to build a (from mildly to wildly) customized version of it. The plans were always held out as "DOT approved", on more than one occasion I asked about that, in all cases I was told that meant the trailer, if built according to the plans, would meet or exceed the minimums set out by the DOT.

Most people don't realize that DOT spec's even include such things as minimum & maximum height of lights (including markers) and amount of reflective surfaces and a lot of detail most people would never even think of.

Also, in every jurisdiction I've seen there is a way of registering (usually including a self-declaration that it meets DOT standards) it as "self-built" and getting a VIN and title to it.

The big problem comes when you go to sell it. You legally go from being a handyman to being a trailer manufacturer.

You can however, if you really want to be careful, have a licensed engineer sign off on the plans and construction, and then have the welds inspected & signed off on too.

As an engineer & fabricator, I usually advise people to limit their handyman skills to things that won't leave their own property.

Best of luck.






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 11-28-2007, 10:51 Post: 148802
mobilus



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Looks like I'm the first Texan to chime in with an answer to your question.

I know that TX has some of the easiest requirements for trailers...that is a good thing. If you're in a rural county, the process is cake. All you need to show the county tax assessor/collector's office is the bill for materials, if they even ask.

If you have a farm, or anything that can be considered a farm, register it as a farm trailer...it's something like $5.00 a year. But if it is for commercial purposes, don't do it because if you're ever pulled over with "farm" plates and you've got "JoeBob's Business" signs on your vehicle, you'll get a ticket for it...so they say.

You don't have to title trailers in TX...just register them, i.e. get plates. No inspections are necessary, either...at least not in my county.

Get with your local Sheriff's office to get an ID number to stamp on the tongue. Back in the old days, people would stamp their SSN on equipment like that...back in the old days, before identity theft.

If you build a trailer and put it behind your vehicle, well, hopefully your skills are up to the test. I will build them for myself, but not for anyone else...besides any liability issues that might arise, there's no money in it. An individual can't compete with big companies (like BigTex)in most cases.

Bottom line is: Don't make it any harder than necessary. Just tell the county tax assessor/collector clerk that you want to register a homebuilt trailer. They'll want dimensions and weights, empty and loaded capacity. That's about it, from my experience.

Good luck,
Mark






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 11-28-2007, 14:52 Post: 148808
earthwrks

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Man it's times like this that I wished I lived in Tay-has--not really Smile but about 25 years ago long before things got really legalistic 'round here I made a small utility trailer. Took it to the Secretary of State to get plates and they wanted me to declare the value of the trailer on top of what I had into it. I told them I had already paid taxes on the parts--but that wasn't good enough. I had to pay sales tax all over again on the parts plus the retail value of the finished product. And the value was based on the woman behind the counter coming outside to look at it. Like she had credentials to valuate something!

And those Big Tex trailers, which I saw plenty of down south had decals on the tongues that said "Made in Mexico". Tell me it ain't so!






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