Well, the State of Ohio has decided that Gracie will NOT be attending Midwest Reggae Fest this year. I am sad. Oh, so sad. (I mean, we’re still going, just without Gracie.)
Part of the process of rehabbing a vintage camper, for many vintage camper enthusiasts, is getting a clear title on a vehicle that either has never had one before or is long gone, having lived most of its life in a field as a hunting retreat. Such is Gracie’s past.
The guy I bought her from said “no title, but you can just get a replacement title at the BMV.” (What did I know? He also said she didn’t leak, as a frame of reference.) (I have a second post coming about all the “I’ll justs” when it comes to this restoration. There are no justs, by the way.)
Every state is different, and indeed in Ohio, every county is different. The titling process is one of the hotly debated item in the vintage camper circles. Oh yes, there are vintage camper circles. Many of them. Some places in the country are relatively easy to title old vehicles. Some require the blood of an ancestor. Preferably one who has owned or has some connection to your camper. The general consensus is that a camper with a free and clear title is like having the keys to the Kingdom, and I didn’t quite understand all the hubbub, until now.
Here in Ohio, when I started the inquiry as to how to obtain a title for my 1960 camper so I can use her for more than a place to store my fresh kill, I got a lot of “you want to…what?” “wait…what year is this vehicle?” “so… it’s not a car… do you drive it?” “Don’t buy anything without a title.” (Yeah, you seem to be missing my point, there, buddy.) The BMV seemed as perplexed by my dilemma as I am. Eventually I got to a person who said with some disdain in his voice “This is a nine step process and there is no guarantee that the judge will sign off on it, even if you do it all.” But at this point, what choice do I have? I own the camper. I want to use it. I need a license plate.
As an aside, I live in Franklin County. Apparently, according to one vintage camper enthusiast pursuing this same process in Clark County, it is much easier over there. I have been seriously tempted at several points to “sell” Gracie to someone in Springfield, let them title it, and then have them “sell” her back to me so I can transfer said new title back to my name. But now I’m in it for the pride. Franklin County and I are gonna do this. They are apparently unaware of my fortitude.
So here is the process for anyone pursuing a title in Franklin County, Ohio, and many other unlucky counties across the nation…
Step 1 Lien Holder Record Search– Go to the Title Office and have them run a lien search on the VIN number to get your title. Pay $5. Receive your denial notice. Explain to the person behind the counter what you are doing, endure their incredulous stare, have them explain to you again that this is a 9 step process and there is no guarantee the judge will sign off on it, pay $5, get your court-ordered title packet and the denial notice based on insufficient evidence [i.e. they can’t find a current title to reference] and hold it like it is made of gold.
Step 2 Vehicle Owner Record Search – Complete BMV form 1173 requesting a last known address for the vehicle owner of record and mail it with another $5. Fill out the form, include the check, and pray like hell while you wait the required 15 days for a response. When the results come back “No information found”, thank your lucky stars and the vintage camper gods.
Step 3 Certified Mail Notifications – If your form came back “no information found”, you are off the hook for this one. If someone’s name was associated with the VIN number of your camper, you have to send them a registered letter letting them know of your intention to title the camper in your name and wait for their response. Maybe it’s just me, but I foresee drama associated with this last part.
Step 4 Obtain OSHP Inspection Receipt – Go to the BMV and request an OSHP inspection receipt (HP105), which basically is a paper authorizing the State Highway Patrol to do a “salvage inspection” to prove that your vehicle exists and has not been stolen. Pay $54 for this piece of paper. Go to the counter. Explain what you are doing. Endure the incredulous stare. Pay the $54. Get your paper. Hold it like it is made of gold, or $54.
Step 5 OSHP Inspection – Call the inspection location to schedule your appointment. Bring your vehicle. Receive the HP106 inspection document signed by the State Highway Patrol. Call the inspection location. Explain your situation. Listen to the incredulous stare through the phone line. Get the next available inspection appointment for 2 months from now and have the crushing realization that you will not be taking Gracie to Reggae Fest in 3 weeks. Hope and pray that the inspection goes well in September.
As I am currently in the middle of Step 5, everything from here on out is speculation.
Step 6 Filing Your Petition to the Court of Common Pleas – Fill out and bring to the Common Pleas Court in triplicate your petition to the court for the title, an affidavit in support of the petition, a judgment entry and any supporting documentation, including all the documents you have accumulated thus far. Pay the $35 filing fee. Receive your court time. Fill out all the assigned paperwork, plus any other documents, including but not limited to the bill of sale, your insurance documents, photographs of the vehicle, a picture of your sad but hopeful face, your mother’s maiden name, the blood types of your children, and personal references to your character, but do not include cookies for the judge as that might be perceived as a bribe or he/she might be gluten-free. Pay the fee. Get your court time. Wait. Panic.
Step 7 Appearing Before the Judge – As listed in the paperwork, “After you file the Petition and supporting evidence you will be directed to an available judge who will consider your documents and any statement you may want to make to supplement your evidence. If the Court grants your petition the Judge will sign the Judgment Entry and direct you back to the General Division to file the entry.” I assume it will go something like this… “Please oh please oh please oh please oh please oh please oh please oh please oh please oh please…” Followed by a stern look of disapproval, the prerequisite incredulous stare, and because I am sending out this good karma in advance, a signature on that Judgment Entry.
Step 8 Filing Your Judgment Entry – Present your signed Judgment Entry to a deputy clerk for filing. Get a certified copy to present to the title office for your certificate of title. Pay $1. Do a little dance. Laugh at the incredulous stare. But seriously, what is the $1 for? Just so they can gloat one last time?
Step 9 Obtaining Certificate of Title – Present your certified copy of the Judgment Entry to any one of the 4 Title Offices. Pay all applicable taxes and fees. Receive your title. Present your paperwork. Hop up and down in anticipation. Pay your fees. When they hand you the title, try not to yell “IN YOUR FACE, FRANKLIN COUNTY.”
Of course, Step 10 is to present the title for registration and receive a license plate at the BMV, but the title office doesn’t care about that. BUT I DO.
Midwest Reggae Fest 2017, save us a spot.