In order to register a vehicle in the UK as a Motor Caravan (a special form of M1 Passenger Vehicle) you need to pass the Individual Vehicle Approval (IVA) test, since a US School Bus does not have "Type Approval". DVSA is the Agency that issues IVA and you need to meet the specifications in the IVA Manual. You have to convert it to a Motorhome (which has a specific definition) before you can submit for the IVA test. DVSA will test "as presented" so if you leave it as a bus, it will fail immediately since it deposits passengers on the wrong side of the road.
Before buying the bus DVSA said that a US School Bus had previously passed IVA (I think it was this one,
http://www.yellowbusevents.co.uk/american-school-bus-hire/ but I'm not sure. When I phoned them up the owner said that some third party had handled registration. Anyway there was a significant risk that I would buy the bus, import it, convert it to a Motorhome and it would still fail and I would be left with a lump of scrap!
All I can say is that it is possible to meet 2015 regulations and get a standard US School Bus through IVA as an M1 Motor Caravan.
A US School bus has US FMVSS approval and Bluebird sent me a document to confirm this, but after some discussion between various DVSA inspectors it was not deemed relevant. However during the IVA test I think I was given some leeway on the basis that the vehicle clearly met US regulations and was basically safe.
Here are some of the key things I learned about passing the IVA
- As soon as it arrived in UK I put it in for an MOT - I used Renault Trucks in Reading - most ordinary MOT stations can't lift more than 5 tonnes or don't have a pit - It passed the MOT on the 2nd attempt after swapping around some light covers. The MOT includes an emissions test. The limit is 3.0 (somethings - can't recall if it was CO2 or particulates!) and mine was 0.3 - so plenty of margin. Apparently the US is stricter than EU on emissions. Also I passed the MOT break test. That gave me some more confidence.
- You need a engine immobilizer and you need to get an approved installer to fit it.
- UK regulations require a 3 point seat belt for the driver, in the US only a lapbelt is required.
- The things that you will fail on are lights (wrong height, colour, brightness, direction etc) and sharp edges - but these are all fixable. Follow the manual to the letter! Assume you will get the lights wrong first time around!
- Use the right strength of bolts for seat anchorages
- When they asked me to take of the steering wheel covers to see if it was collapsible I thought I was dead in the water, but it was OK
- M1 assumes hydraulic brakes, but I have air brakes. The inspector could have technically failed me, but he did a calculation to show it would have passed.
- If you can take it to the DVSA in Gillingham Kent then Laurence Williams is the tester who now knows about US School buses
- They check the markings on the safety glass - probably Guardian Glass
- DVSA deem me to be the 3rd stage manufacturer - I could choose the Design Weight (as long as greater than actual kerb weight) - choose 7.49 tonnes if you can
- You need to wire in a foglamp and it has quite a complex relay setup - has to be off after ignition switched off. I used an Autoelectrician!
|I thought that the US equivalent to Type Approval would help (called FMVSS and Bluebird sent me a document to confirm that my VIN met FMVSS approval, but it turned out (after some discussion between DVSA inspectors) that FMVSS was not relevant.
This door opening mechanism was not allowed by DVSA. I had to fit a bolt and buzzer