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Old 05-10-2012, 09:31 AM   #1
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California project trailer - fix title now?

Hi all - we have a 1970 Overlander, completely gutted with some sheet metal missing, no wiring, etc. We bought it six years ago, towed it home, and got started with a full custom remodel, but then moved on to other things, so now it is essentially outdoor storage. Eventually we'd like to bring it back to being an actual trailer, or at least a guest house, but I don't foresee that happening for another several years, and in fact we may decide to sell it for parts and buy a smaller trailer at some point.

We are revising our estate plans, and I was going over the legal titles for everything we own. I realized that the folks we bought it from hadn't registered it, or at least the DMV's website doesn't know anything about it. We have never registered it either. We do have successive signed bills of sale going back to 2003, along with a DMV notice of transfer from that time, so I am certain of our ownership for our estate, but I don't want to leave a headache for heirs.

The question is - if this beast never goes out on the road again, what is the penalty for not updating DMV and paying the hefty fees? Would there be a problem with selling it at some point if we decided to do that? I have a premonition that it will cost several hundred dollars at this point - probably beyond the value of the trailer itself. Am I wrong about that?

Thanks for all advice!
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Old 05-10-2012, 11:42 AM   #2
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LA LA Land... , California
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This link has your answer, although it's complicated.
Reporting Vehicle Status Registration vs Non-Operation FFVR 01
Scroll down to "Vehicles which cannot be placed on PNO status", which includes trailers. They also have 800#'s listed.
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Old 05-10-2012, 11:48 AM   #3
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Gotta love California: "When a California registered vehicle is purchased, the new owner (buyer) will be responsible for any past due fees and penalties when the vehicle is transferred into the new owner’s name, unless:

-- The vehicle registration is current.
-- The PNO is on file with the DMV. Fees must be paid before operation to avoid penalties."

Translating from bureaucrat to English I read that as "we're gonna get our pound of flesh eventually."
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He has all of the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire. — Sir Winston Churchill
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Old 05-10-2012, 04:27 PM   #4
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Thanks all - definitely right about the pound of flesh. It seems ludicrous to go through the pain of it when I doubt the trailer will ever be used as intended. (A previous owner bent the front frame slightly, there is sheet metal damage on both ends... and yes we got it for a song ).

I wonder what the legalities are about disassembling it and selling the parts instead? New tires, good brakes..

In any case, thanks again
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Old 05-10-2012, 04:51 PM   #5
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Dumb question, but if the trailer never leaves your property on its own wheels, will it ever enter the DMV's jurisdiction? As far as your estate is concerned, can't you just list it as "shed, converted from Airstream trailer" or something? You could take the wheels off and put it up on a concrete block foundation, or cut off the trailer tongue so it can't be hitched up anymore, then it ceases to be a trailer and the DMV can't say squat.

Yes, I know it's sacrilege to even think of mutilating an Airstream that way, but if it's genuinely going to stay put as a lawn ornament…
I thought getting old would take longer!
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Old 05-10-2012, 09:30 PM   #6
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It makes a nice chicken coop lol
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Old 05-14-2012, 10:49 AM   #7
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Love the idea of an "airstream-shaped storage shed and/or chicken coop" - I think that solves the problem entirely! thanks
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Old 05-14-2012, 11:42 AM   #8
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Click on the link to see a picture of the Sioux River falls near my home.
Eastern South Dakota is very pretty with hills, rivers, and trees.
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Old 05-14-2012, 11:51 AM   #9
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1969 27' Overlander
folsom , California
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I heard this sometime recently, and I'm hoping it was from the DMV people, that if the trailer has been mia for long enough and it is not in there system, you can re-register it as if it were new (to the system) and not have all the back fees. Best bet is to go into the DMV with the needed information and ask. You can tell them that you are looking into purchasing the trailer and you wanted to check if there were any associated fees. Hopefully he/she will tell you, "no fees due"!! I have to do the same thing, so if I find out before you, I will let you know. Please let us know how it turns out. Cheers.
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Old 06-05-2012, 04:48 PM   #10
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1964 22' Safari
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No problem with CA DMV for past fees

I recently purchased a 65 safari in LA that was restored 10 years ago but used only as an on site office. Their was no history from any prior registration. I suspect at some point in the 70s it might have been but if so it was never entered into the DMV computer system. I presented a signed bill of sale from the owner and filled out a DMV form and they just had me drive it to the DMV office where they looked it over and gave me a new title. All in all it was easier than when I tried to register my wave runner that was brought in from out of state.
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