Odduck

Jun 28, 201309:49 AM

Odduck: Adventures in Boat Restoration

Only in Illinois?

The Illinois Secretary of State Police Office proudly boasts they are nationally recognized as “one of the premier agencies for the enforcement of the motor vehicle theft statutes and the regulation of the automotive industry.”

As part of that, boat trailers in Illinois are considered vehicles, so must have titles.

But the trailer that came with Odduck only had a Michigan Bill of Sale, and the identification tag with the ID number and other pertinent information had faded and was unreadable. There are EZ Loader graphics on it, so I called them and found out they had not stamped ID numbers in a hidden spot.

When I registered the boat, the title agency gave me an application for titling a homemade, trailer but it clearly states the trailer “does not bear, nor has ever displayed a manufacture or state-issued identification number.”

The next step was to go back to the seller in Michigan and see what he could do. He finally figured out that for just under $200 he could probably get a Michigan title for it. Then, I still would have to pay the Illinois title and registration fees.

So, I went to a Secretary of State Driver's License facility to ask them what to do. They told me I could apply for a title with the homemade application if I included a full statement of why I was applying and providing photos of the side, front and rear of the trailer showing the tongue, safety chains, license plate bracket and lights. In addition, if the trailer is over 5,000 pounds, it had to have four brakes and pass an Illinois Department of Transportation inspection.

The nice lady at the the facility also figured out for me how much tax I needed to pay and the total amount of fees for the title and plates for the Secretary of State.

I completed all the forms, included the photos and the checks, and sent it all off. The first response I received was that I didn't owe $63 in taxes, so they returned my check. They gave no reason, but I later learned there are no taxes on used trailers in Illinois.

Then, I got a phone call from a Secretary of State Policeman who wanted to make an appointment to inspect the trailer. That, he said, was different than a DOT inspection. So, I met him at the boat and he verified the trailer had no ID numbers and that it had the required equipment including fenders. He was not concerned whether the lights or anything else actually worked.

Illinois boat trailer stamp

The trailer passed his inspection, so he proceeded to scrape off some paint on the tongue where I was experimenting with a rust treatment product called Chassis Saver and stamped a VIN into the steel. Then, he applied a pressure sensitive steel plate over that and drilled and riveted it in place. The rivets have the outline of the state on them.

Finally, he explained that messing with the rivets along with several other steps in the process, like putting incorrect information on the application, which is actually a legal affidavit, could bring felony charges.

A few days later, my license plate came in the mail and then shortly after, my title came. But so did a note from the Secretary of State saying the check I sent was too much, so they just reduced the amount on the check.

The bottom line here is that boat trailers are considered vehicles, and the Illinois Secretary of State Police are rigorous in dealing with vehicle theft. VIN numbers and title registration are a vital part of that process.

It's a good feeling to know the state of Illinois is on their toes and that my beat-up old trailer has a good chance of being recovered if it is stolen from under my boat.

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About This Blog

Follow longtime HeartLand Boating contributor Gary Kramer on his latest undertaking: rebuilding a 1987, 24-foot, aluminum Crestliner Sabre Mid-Cabin Day Cruiser from the hull up.

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