How do I register my homemade custom built trailer in California???

Discussion in 'Trailer Tech' started by Get outside, Feb 11, 2012.

  1. Get outside

    Get outside Hit It Like You Mean It! SILVER Star

    Messages:
    337
    Location:
    Central Coast, CA
    Hi everyone, Im on the beginning phase of building an off road camping trailer and will start a build tread soon but for now I'm trying to figure out how to do with the registration part of it since i have no papers to begin with!!!

    I looked all over DMV's web page and found some things but nothing clear cut!!!

    Any past experiences will help!

    Thanks

    Paulo
  2. ntsqd

    ntsqd technerd

    Messages:
    4,806
    Location:
    Upper So. CA
    If it is a scratch-built trailer, e.g. no part of it was previously a trailer whether or not some were parts of other vehicles, then it will need a unique serial number that either you or the DMV can assign, and you'll need a stack of receipts for everything that you purchased to build the trailer with. The DMV will set the road tax (& likely the trailer's worth) based on that stack of receipts. As far as I know you could show up with a bare, rolling frame that had legal lights etc. and they will register it.

    I've registered two such trailers in KA. One was built up from a CUCV bed and an IH 3/4t truck frame, both of which were given to my partner in the trailer & I. We call it the "CUT" for "Cheep Utility Trailer". Since literally everything used except the bed and the Timken wheel bearings & seals we had laying around the total cost was about $300, including the registration. A friend with a CTD borrowed it and certified it stable to over 80 mph on a San Felipe run....
    The other was a trailer that my granddad built in 1959, but had lived it's whole previous life in OR where it wasn't ever titled or plated. On the first trailer we let the DMV assign the VIN, but based on that conversation with the DMV person I realized that so long as you're not in production you can assign pretty much any VIN that you want. It needs to be a unique VIN, there can't be another in the system with the same number. So in honor of my granddad his trailer now is known to the state by the year of mfg, his initials, and the sequence number. Being that it was his first of several trailers it is "001".
    [​IMG]

    It's since gotten a fresh coat of catalyzed industrial blue paint.
    [​IMG]
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2012
  3. Get outside

    Get outside Hit It Like You Mean It! SILVER Star

    Messages:
    337
    Location:
    Central Coast, CA
    The frame itself came from a mid 70's pop up trailer that had not been registered for the past 12 years. I got it off Craig's list from somebody cleaning out their property!
  4. Koffer

    Koffer

    Messages:
    2,216
    Location:
    Hopewell NJ 08525
    It looks like you Granddad built a battleship with wheels , should have got a HULL # :D
  5. ntsqd

    ntsqd technerd

    Messages:
    4,806
    Location:
    Upper So. CA
    Since it was registered at one time you'll want to find every number stamped in it. Odds are reasonable that it has it's VIN in two places. If it doesn't then once you have it plated etc. I'd suggest stamping the VIN in a spot where only you know that it's there. That was what I thought was very good advice from the lady who inspected the green trailer as we were registering it.

    http://forum.ih8mud.com/trailer-tech/561056-granddads-utility-camp-trailer.html#post7358308
  6. Get outside

    Get outside Hit It Like You Mean It! SILVER Star

    Messages:
    337
    Location:
    Central Coast, CA
    I guess I just didn't look in the right place before! I found the plate with the old vin #. Actually that's the only thing visible since its stamped, all the printed stuff is gone from the little plate!
  7. REZARF

    REZARF

    Messages:
    3,314
    Location:
    Broomfield, CO
    Head down to the DMV registration office and ask for a list of requirements. I'd hate for you to follow the advice here alone and end up having to redo something.

    In Colorado, it was too easy if you ask me. ;) I showed up, listed how much I spent on it, and got a vin plate and paperwork. It was a little scary, no inspection, no visual of the trailer... nothing! Wierd.
  8. ntsqd

    ntsqd technerd

    Messages:
    4,806
    Location:
    Upper So. CA
    On the first one we too expected the full court press and she didn't even check that the lights worked!
  9. skersfan

    skersfan

    Messages:
    101
    I registered mine like that. took the trailer to DMV, was very polite to the lady who did the check, had absolutely no problems. I claimed mine at 4500 dollars and just stated what I bought and all, no reciepts at all, no questions, was done in one hour. Gave me a blue stick on plate and told me to get the numbers in the frame. Attached it to the right/driver side of the trailer.
  10. Get outside

    Get outside Hit It Like You Mean It! SILVER Star

    Messages:
    337
    Location:
    Central Coast, CA
    Where are you located? CA? I bet not! These people are picky over here, I'll be heading down to their office sometime soon and try to get some concrete requirement list before getting too far ahead with the project.
  11. skersfan

    skersfan

    Messages:
    101
    Banning, California, have registered two in the last 6 months that way.

    Both of mine were fully built, in value over 15,000. No problems what so ever. There is a list of what you need, supposed to be street legal, but she never even checked to see if anything worked. Said neither looked home made. If you drag up junk you might have a problem, but if it looks safe, my guess is no problem at all.

    If you have too much trouble, bring it out here, I will get it registered for you.

  12. Get outside

    Get outside Hit It Like You Mean It! SILVER Star

    Messages:
    337
    Location:
    Central Coast, CA
    Alright!!! That sounds more like it! Thank you, no I'm not gonna drag some piece of garbage and get a load of c*ap from them!
    I just didn't want to put time and money into something and get a lot of headache to get it street legal! You know how it goes.
  13. ntsqd

    ntsqd technerd

    Messages:
    4,806
    Location:
    Upper So. CA
    That green trailer of ours didn't look any better when we registered it and other than taking a while it wasn't any trouble to get registered. I think KA has relaxed their attitude towards trailers in general. Not sure why, but I'm not complaining. I'd suggest trying AAA if you're a member, but I'm not sure that they can register trailers.
  14. Get outside

    Get outside Hit It Like You Mean It! SILVER Star

    Messages:
    337
    Location:
    Central Coast, CA
    Good idea! I'll give them a call later today! I'm a member!
    Thanks
  15. skersfan

    skersfan

    Messages:
    101
    They can, but I had problems even getting them to set an appointment. I talked with a supervisor after I was told they could not do it. I asked DMV and they said that AAA could and should be doing it.
  16. Notme2

    Notme2

    Messages:
    10
    Location:
    USA
    Put Maine trailer tags on it.
  17. Coastline

    Coastline

    Messages:
    475
    Location:
    Cucamonga
    I have built a few in California and all you need to do is make an appointment, since they will want to take a quick look at it, and have copies of the receipts for the parts and materials that you used. They keep those records in the state archives, for unknown reasons, for the next 31 years.
  18. Rubiconcruiser

    Rubiconcruiser

    Messages:
    549
    Every KA DMV office has different instructions, all are required most dont to inspect, and analyxze your receipts. lights and a frame with a DOT approved hitch seem to be all that is necessary. Look at the Harbor Freight units. Case in point.

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