In my (many) years in this business I can say I’ve seen a lot when it comes to people trying to break into our customers containers and I’m happy to say, when the customer had a good lock that properly secured the doors of their container, the strength of the container usually won.   Several years ago we had rented one of our best customers some containers and some storage trailers for a large renovation project they were doing. I forget the reason they wanted both types of storage equipment, but suffice it to say they had a reason for it, or so they thought.  Just as storage containers are retired shipping containers, storage trailers are retired over the road semitrailers.  One day we got a frantic call from the customer looking for help, it seems some thieves had made their way onto the construction site to break into the storage units and make off with the stored inventory. The enterprising thieves had actually taken a cordless sawzsall, cut an access hole in the wood floor of the semi and made off with much of the contents. On the other hand, while some of the storage containers sustained some damage from attempted break-ins, mostly to the doors the containers remained fortified and the thieves gave up.   On both the storage trailers and the storage containers the doors were properly secured making them impossible for the thieves to break into so they had to find another weakness. The exposed wood underbelly of the semi proved to be the weakness they needed, but storage containers don’t have this weakness. While container floors are fabricated from wood they are on the ground and totally un accessible.  

A simple bolt cutter is all it takes to get past most locks.

  To secure the doors and the valuable contents of both your containers and semi-trailers you need more than a shackle lock that can be cut with a simple bolt cutter, all those locks will do is slow the intruder down for about 15 seconds. The locks you use for your storage equipment needs to be manufactured from hardened steel and designed so that bolt cutters, saws, chains and types of tools do not allow then to fail yet easy to install and remove so that people don’t become complacent about using it and leaving the contents once again vulnerable. Look for a lock that secures both doors instead of just locking a single door handle like a shackle lock would, this prevents attempts at prying the doors open. There are lots of strong, innovative locks on the market today; the one we recommend is the “Enforcer.” bar. Made from 10 gauge chrome plated spring steel this unit completely conceals the shackle of the ABLOY® High Security Padlock, providing maximum security from physical attack. This lock can be keyed alike, different or to a master system and combined with any of our other ENFORCER® High Security Locks. It’s portable, requiring no permanent installation, and includes the ABLOY® padlock.  This is the lock that we originally placed on the storage unit doors that forced the thieves to cut through the semi-trailer wood floors. Most shipping containers come in very standard sizes and styles after all, that’s the nature of the beast and the beauty of shipping containers.  It’s what makes then so useful for so many things other than moving goods across the ocean as they were originally intended to do. The dimensions of containers remain uniform but, shipping containers do come in several different varieties to allow shipping of goods that wouldn’t otherwise ship in a standard conex container.
Standard 20 and 40 foot conex boxes are referred to as dry cargo containers.  Variations of the basic containers include refrigerated containers often called reefers, open tops or containers with no roof for shipping very tall items, tank containers which are nothing more than a floor with four corner posts, and top rails. A tank is positioned in the middle of this frame and now liquids can be lifted, handled and shipped uniformly on a container boat. You can find flat rack containers which are container floors with two end walls often used for shipping construction equipment. These containers all have very specific uses but they maintain the exterior dimensions of our good old basic dry cargo containers and are handled the same way. In addition to those very specific use containers we’ll look at some shipping containers that share more of the aftermarket flexibility of dry cargo containers. The most common of all the specialty containers are the “High Cubes.” These containers are 9 foot 6 inches high on the outside and 8 foot 10 inches on the inside as compared to standard dry cargo containers which are 8 foot 6 inches on the outside and 7 foot 9 inches on the inside. This extra ceiling height makes high cube containers especially desirable for container homes or businesses.  The 8 foot 10 inch interior height allows an owner who is modifying the container into a habitable building to run electrical fixtures in a ten inch cavity and still maintain a standard 8 foot finish ceiling height. High cubes are readily available in 40 foot lengths, they can be found in 20 foot lengths with a little work. Another style of container based on the dry cargo container is the “double door,” or “tunnel” container. These are containers that have a set of doors on both ends, when both sets of doors are open the container does resemble a tunnel. Very often 20’ double door containers are cut in half and transformed into two 10 foot containers. Usually you will find tunnel containers used in storage applications because you can load and unload them quickly from both ends or locate an item from both ends. If you are looking for a double door container make sure you are very specific in what you are asking for. Dry cargo containers come with double doors, on one end, if you ask for a double door container the seller may think you are asking for a standard container. To be sure you are getting what you need make sure you specify that you need doors on both ends. Today I was reminded that since I didn’t join the Boy Scouts as a boy, I was once again, not prepared. I had a meeting in the morning and afterwards the timing was right so that I would be able to catch two containers we had sold being loaded onto the delivery truck at the Depot. Since they were going to a very good customer of ours and it was the first time I had purchased from this source, I decided to head down to the Intermodal and see what we were getting. The problem was I was dressed for a meeting not the depot, so I began thinking of the “showing up at the depot must have list,” and the first thing is…
1 – Dress Right: I happened to be wearing dress shoes today, however I that didn’t stop me from walking through the Intermodal yard, in the snow and search out container numbers. Intermodals are not fancy places, they are dirty, there is lots of stuff that can damage nice clothes so dress shoes are defiantly a no go. I was fortunate; none of my clothes were damaged as I walked between stacks of containers in the snow. Other than damp socks and cold feet everything fared pretty well. When going to the Intermodal to inspect containers make sure you wear appropriate shoes, meaning shoes that you don’t mind getting dirty, or walking through snow, puddles or mud in. The same goes for the rest of your clothes and coats or Jackets. Wear work boots, jeans and a long sleeve shirt to protect your skin. But above all, wear stuff that you won’t mind if it gets dirty as likely it will and don’t forget to have pockets available for some of the other stuff you’ll need such as… 2 – A Camera: If you have many containers to look at a camera is an important tool to help you keep straight in your head what you looked at. Getting pictures of as many sides as you can and making sure you can see the container numbers will help you document the condition and protect you if the container shows up at your site with a big dent in the side that wasn’t there when you originally looked at the container. You’ll have more leverage with the depot or transportation contractor. 3 – Tools of the Trade: These probably obvious but here goes anyway, have a notebook with plenty of paper so you can jot down notes plus have a place to keep your list of container numbers. I like writing with mechanical pencils, they don’t freeze in the cold. Have pencils, markers, crayons, whatever your favorite writing tool is, but have a couple. The last tool of the trade is a small flashlight that you can keep in your pocket. As we outlined in the free e-book “Ten Items to Inspect When Buying Shipping Containers,” Flashlights are a great tool to help you inspect the inside of your container. 4 –Time The time you need to spend at the depot can go quick or it could take hours, the loader operators may not be very busy or two of them may have not shown up that day and the one guy who did is slammed, you could be walking around the yard in the rain or it can be a pleasant day, you just never know what to expect. Bring lots of time with you and don’t forget your patience too. In the minds of many, freight is as large of concern as is buying a container itself and it doesn’t need to be. In terms of hauling stuff, an empty container is fairly light. A 40 foot container weighs in at just over 8,000 lbs and an empty 20 foot container weights just under 5,000 pounds (about the weight of a 1976 Cadillac Eldorado). If you have the equipment to like a fork lift available to unload your container then the delivery piece of the transaction is even easier, your new (to you) container can be delivered on a simple flat bed or drop deck trailer. If you do not have access to a fork lift then you need to locate a heavy equipment hauler with a Landoll, or tilt deck trailer. The question becomes, “where am I going to find this kind of equipment?” The answer is “easy, with just a little digging.”
What you’ll need is a heavy equipment hauler, not because your containers are heavy but because they are big, especially the 40 footers, heavy equipment haulers will have the right equipment for you. If a fork lift or loader is available to unload your storage container then you should save some money because your freight contractor will simply need a flatbed to haul your container to its new home. However, if you need your transporter to place your container on the ground then the cheapest way to do this is to have your hauling contractor bring a tilt deck or Landoll trailer. A Landoll is a $40,000 – $50,000 dollar investment and a lot of ongoing maintenance for a heavy equipment hauler, versus a $10,000 investment for a simple flatbed trailer, that’s why he needs to charge more for this service. Finding these types of companies is easy, a simple Google search of “heavy haul (your city)” or “equipment hauling (your city)” should provide you with a good list of potential candidates to get started with. If you want to expand your search I always recommend that you check out the Drayage Directory. The Drayage Directory is a huge listing of truckers, freight forwarders, trains, everybody and anybody who handles transportation loads. You should have no trouble finding a source from this here, but if the people you call can’t help you make sure you ask if the can refer you to someone who can move your container. Another great source for equipment hauling is a monthly publication called “The Equipment Trader.” You’ll need a subscription to view this publication, it’s a free subscription but unless you know someone who can lend you one you’ll need to wait for your first issue to arrive before you can use it as a research tool. However, once you do lay your hands on one you will find page after page of potential freight contractors to mover your containers. You can even get an idea of the type of equipment the contractors have, what they are buying and what they are selling. You may even find some containers for sale; the Equipment Trader is a great tool and can be an ongoing resource for you. And last but not least, look around you, as you travel around town you’re sure to see shipping containers on various trailers and container chassis. The trucks will usually have a phone number where you can contact them. If you see other types of equipment being moved behind a truck make sure you contact those haulers as well. As we said earlier, they work in a tight knit community, if they can’t help you they will likely know someone who can. Good luck in your search! // // One of the questions I’m asked most often is “how much does it cost to ship a container?” Sometimes I’ll be asked this before they ask the price of the storage container, the question is short but the answer can be as long as a Hollywood awards event. You can have your container shipped several different ways, and like anything else freight fees are driven by levels of competition in the regional market where you are working. For the sake of clarity, we are not talking about overseas shipping like a shipping container from China to the United States loaded with goods. We are talking about a landed container that has been retired from overseas duty and is now doing work as a storage container or becoming a part of a home or building that is being moved empty and within the borders.
Just like real estate, the first consideration is location, location, location. If you are located in a port city like Charleston SC for example and want to ship a container within 50 miles of the container depots you may be able to move your container for around $150 – $200. On the other hand we had an inquiry the other day from Milwaukee. We could find no good containers locally so we had to bring one up from Chicago, about 100 miles and it cost the customer about $450 to make that move. The interesting thing is both cities are located on navigated waterways, albeit the Great Lakes but Milwaukee does not have a shipping depot like Chicago does so it does not have a steady stream of equipment arriving locally so we had to bring equipment in from the closest depot. The next consideration in delivery costs is how do you need to ship your container. If you have the proper equipment available to unload your container you will spend less than you will if you’ll need your container unloaded for you. To unload a container this requires equipment that can lift 7,000 lbs. for a 40 foot can and 4,200lbs. if you’re working with a 20 foot container. To unload a container, a fork lift with the proper capacity and some fork extensions or a large loader with chains will work well. Just make sure you’re ready to go when the delivery truck arrives so that you don’t get charged downtime while you’re looking for your chains. If you do not have equipment available you will need to contract with a shipper who has a tilt bed trailer like a Landoll. These trailers are made to haul heavy tools and equipment that must be slid off of the trailer. The deck is hydraulically lifted and a power winch slowly slides the container down off of the trailer an on to the ground. As you can imagine, this is an expensive piece of equipment so you will pay 30% – 50% more than delivery off of a chassis for this type of delivery. In addition you’ll need a lot of space on your site to allow the equipment to be dropped. A 40 foot container will require about 100 feet of flat open space for the truck, trailer and container and a 20 foot container will need a minimum of 75 feet to be safely unloaded. With the proper equipment, containers are relatively easy to transport. Call around to a couple different heavy haul companies in your area, provide them with the zip code where you are picking the container up and the zip code where the container will be delivered. Let them know whether or not you can unload the container and ask for a price. Remember, the cheapest isn’t always the best, do a little research on the internet and select the best resource for the task. // // If you are storing items in a standard shipping container that is placed outside and exposed to the elements your goods are susceptible to condensation occurring inside the container, usually collecting on the ceiling. The root cause of moisture damage in storage containers is the simple fact that warm air can hold more moisture than cold air just like the dewy grass in the morning after a cool summer night. A shipping container is a metal box that is quickly affected by ambient temperature changes. When the container is warm, the atmosphere inside the container can become humid. Moisture gets into the air in the container from the outside or by evaporation from the cargo. When cooled during the evening, water droplets will form, usually on the coolest place like the ceiling, when then the droplets are large they drip onto your stored items. If this is not addressed, you will get a micro rain cycle, causing water damage on your stored items.
No container is air tight; it will “breathe” as a result of temperature cycles. When the air inside the container cools, the pressure drops. Air and moisture moves in from the outside to equalize the pressure. The opposite happen when the air inside the container heats up, but it is easy to show how a repeating cycle of breathing can cause a buildup of moisture inside he container, especially if there is absorbing packing materials. Before you store your items in a shipping container, check the interior is dry, check that it has no holes in roof or side walls. Get someone to shut you inside, allow your eyes to adjust to the dark and slowly with one hand on a side wall, move to rear of container across and back to doors, if there are any holes they should quickly become apparent. Check to see that the container door seals are secure and weather proof. They are a dual seal, the outer flange prevents water getting in by wind or wave, the inner seal prevents any water that may have passed the first seal entering the container. Should that happen, it sends that water by drainage around the door frame to drain out of bottom, so check the top and side seals and make sure they are free and clean. Our research has discovered a product called Jet Chemical 01-1015 Dry Out Dehumidifier to help reduce the moisture content inside of storage containers; several of these should be set in the interior of your container. We recommend initially placing at least two cans  of Jet Dry Chemical Dry Out  in a 20’ container and ideally they should be placed equal distance apart in the container. If your storing for a long time you will need to check and exchange the used Jet Chemical Dry Out cans every three to four months so you should place them close to the doors.
Eterna Bond and Kool Seal, Different Products for Different Jobs // // In a previous post we reviewed an elastomeric roof coatings called Kool Seal. These types of roof coatings perform very well for preventative maintenance and to seal small pin like holes in shipping container roofs. Additionally, the light color coatings also reduce the heat island effect and the heat buildup on the inside of your container often caused by a darker painted or rusted container roof. Shipping container roofs are the weak link in the whole structure, the main purpose of a container roof is to keep the elements out. Shipping container walls are constructed from heavy duty 14 gauge weathering steel and the posts are fabricated from 7 gauge tubular steel however shipping container roofs are constructed with 16 to 18 gauge die-stamp corrugated sheet steel. These roof systems have very little load bearing capacity, any loading on containers should be distributed to the ground (or boat deck) by the four corner posts, not the roof.
Often shipping containers get a dented roof while being loaded or unloaded from cargo ships. Should the containers roof get a dent in it where water can puddle it should be repaired before it rusts through. If you do find that you have water entering the container, the best fix is to cut out the damaged section of the roof and weld in a new steel roof panel section, however in some situations this is easier said than done. If the if the proper tools and equipment are not available then you need an alternate but still a permanent repair.
White Eternabond Mobile Home RV Rubber Roof Repair 4″ x 10′ The modular building industry uses a product called Eterna Bond to permanently seal the roof seams between modular building sections. EternaBond works on both metal and EPDM surfaces and it is used over and over again to join the roof seams on rented modular buildings. Modular buildings are delivered, set up, and used in sometimes caustic areas like chemical plants for years at a time. When the rental is over the roof seam is cut, the building modules pulled apart then sent to a new location where another slightly wider layer of EternaBond tape is installed right over the top of the old tape seam because the preceding layer is to difficult and time consuming to remove. As the Modular building roofs become aged and have several layers of abandoned seam material a new EternaBond tape layer rarely failed us. EternaBond is a rubber tape product with adhesive on one side. To install it you clean the surface, brush a primer product on the surface, apply an adhesive to the surface then press on the EternaBond tape. You will immediately have a long lasting water tight roof patch. For added protection you can apply an EtrnaBond chalk to the edges of the patch. EternaBond is available in 50’ rolls starting at 2” wide going up to 48” wide so you can find an EternaBond product for almost any container roof patching need, both emergency and permanent. For a Level Playing Field, Start With Your Foundation // // Today, shipping containers are being modified into everything from homes to computer server storage units and everything in between, along the way containers are getting heavier and heavier. A dry 40 foot container weights about 6,800 pounds or about 21 pounds per square foot. Once it is modified into a small commercial store, a cabin or simply becomes a storage container or tool container the additional weight of framing materials, drywall, insulation, lighting, HVAC, plumbing, plus furnishings and fixtures and the pounds per square foot can easily increase by multiples of eight to ten times!
While this is still not an astronomical number in terms of construction loads it is significant enough to be concerned about the proper design and of a pad or foundation to set your building on. If the foundation or pad that you wish to set your building on is not suitable, even an empty or lightly loaded container will settle, causing the floors to be un-level and worse, doors that are very difficult to open, close and lock. Once a container (or any structure for that matter) is out of level, the condition will continue to worsen as additional dead loads (building weight) will be directed to the low point of the structure. If you are planning to construct a shipping container house in an area where building permits are required than a fully engineered foundation design will need to be a part of your submittal package. However if you are setting a storage container or a cabin or in a rural area where permitting is not required then make sure you do some prep work before taking delivery of your container. Intermodal Shipping Container Small Steel Buildings The simplest type of base or pad for your container would be a level spot, ideally excavated approximately 4 inches down to a flat, level surface, spread crushed concrete and compact it to about two inches, then spread some on 21A crushed limestone on top and compact it to about two inches as well. Both of these products have a binder in them that will help the pad stay together yet still allow the moisture to drain through. This method will allow the container to move around with the frost but it will work well for storage containers and other uses where you will not have utility connections or the container is attached to other structures. If you are going to live in the container, have utilities connected to it or connect it to another building then you should consider installing a pier foundation. This is still a fairly straight forward project and if all the proper tools are available, you should be done in a couple hours. Don’t pinch pennies here if you don’t have a post hole auger, rent one. A 12 inch bit will work but I would recommend a 16 inch or 18 inch bit if available. The less stable your soil is the larger diameter your piers should be, if you have sandy soil, wet soil, or it has been filled in the past then you should go to 18” piers. Let’s get started: First, lay out and mark the four corners of your container, don’t forget the 3, 4, 5, rule to make sure your layout is square. You’ll want to install a pier every ten feet down both sides of the container. That means you’ll have ten piers for a 40 foot shipping container and six piers for a 20 foot container. Mark each pier location. You will want the container to rest in the middle of the pier so theoretically half of the circumference of the pier will be under the container and the other half outside of the container. Auger out your holes down to the frost level in your area, you should end up with a nice smooth cylinder with a relatively flat bottom. You should try to have the concrete delivered soon after your done drilling holes. If you try to wait overnight and it rains you’ll have a mess on your hands. Fill the holes with concrete making sure you don’t leave any voids. It’s a good idea to press a round concrete form like Sonotube, the same diameter as your hole, over the top 4 to 6 inches of your concrete and level the Sonotube form. 12″ Sonotube VERY important, use a short two by four to screed the concrete level, the top of your piers must be level otherwise you will not gain the support you need. Wait at least 24 hours (preferably more), then carefully set your container on top of your piers. You will more than likely need shims, make sure you use hardwood or steel shims, soft wood shims will do you no good. The steps we’ve outlined here may seem like overkill but it’s a lot less work than emptying out your container, moving it, and then performing the steps outlined here at a later date. A good foundation will give you a solid basis for your container to provide you years of service. // // Safely Transform Your Container // // The practice of transforming used shipping containers into homes, vacation homes, cottages, hunting cabins and housing during disaster recovery efforts is very common, shipping containers have even been used as the basis for multistorycontainer-homes-shipping containers for sale apartment buildings and hotels. One group has developed a portable container hotel that can quickly be set up at a large event, rented out, then dismantled and removed upon conclusion of the event.
Because of the modular nature of containers they make a great building block, once reconfigured and positioned either next to, or on top of one another the basic frame work is complete. When the building is installed on a suitable foundation, all the builder needs to do is to insulate, install electrical and plumbing components, finish materials and fixtures to complete the process. Using containers allows the builder to sidestep the labor intensive rough framing process, and also has the positive environmental impact of saving raw materials by re-purposing the shipping containers. Intermodal Shipping Container Small Steel Buildings There are many articles both on line and in print that feature some amazing transformations of shipping containers into living spaces. The beauty of the process is it’s really not that hard, with basic steel cutting tools anyone can undertake the project. But I want to caution about one thing, if you’re not careful it’s very easy to unknowingly build a very sick building. As we discussed in an earlier article, shipping container manufactures must impregnate very potent insecticides into the wood used for the container flooring. Some countries have much more stringent insecticide requirements than others in order to keep foreign hitchhikers from traveling from continent to continent. Since the insecticide requirements vary from country to country it is simpler for shipping container manufactures to meet the most stringent requirements on all containers, this creates and very potent chemical cocktail within the container walls. The chemical make-up of the flooring is required to be shown on the shipping containers label. However, if the label still exists and is still readable it will not tell you what has been shipped inside of and potentially spilled on the container flooring during its overseas career. While you may learn what was purposefully put on the floor, you will never learn what the floor was accidentally exposed to. The best way to protect people from the potential hidden issues imbedded within your container is to remove and properly dispose of all of the flooring. Remember this could be a hazardous material so it shouldn’t just be tossed in the back field or land fill, it should be taken to a hazardous waste site for the proper handling. After removal of the tainted wood you’re looking at installing ten sheets of ¾” plywood flooring to replace it, hardly a deal breaker and well worth the additional work. While the flooring is out you will have the opportunity to further inspect your containers framing structure and make any further repairs you deem necessary and add some needed insulation. In addition to the piece of mind, the new sub floor will give you a much better surface to install your new finish flooring to. // // Proper Ventilation is the Key to a Healthy Living Environment // // By nature, shipping containers are sealed up very tight so that the goods shipped inside of the containers will survive the trips across the ocean in every kind of weather condition you can imagine. In addition to weather, shipping containers must protect against the corrosive saltwater and salt air always present during ocean crossings. Those who have have built or designed houses, had one re roofed or turned an attic area into a living area know that proper venting is critical to keeping maintaining a healthy, comfortable environment, this same theory applies to containers.
// //
I won’t get into the science here of how and why an improperly vented building envelope or container in this case can create ice conditions on the roof during the winter months causing roof leaks due to freeze thaw cycles or how condensation will occur on the interior creating the perfect environment for mold conditions to develop.  Some have reported so much condensation inside containers used for storage that it is actually dripping large rain like drops from the container roof onto the contents. I’ve seen articles suggesting the use of gluing foam board insulation to the inside of the roof being offered as a solution to dripping condensation but this is the worst thing you can do. The condensation will continue to develop between the steel and the foam but the foam will trap the moisture between it and the roof causing the roof to rust from the inside. In order to add insulation to the roof you need to have a vented air space between the roof and the insulation. This would take some work and unless you are trying to keep heat in the insulation is not doing anything that simply adding vents without insulation wouldn’t have cured anyway. Like a properly functioning roof system on your home, your shipping container should be vented in order to keep the interior healthy from mold and the contents dry. You can install fancy automatic vents or vents with solar powered fans or just simple vents, it doesn’t matter. In this situation, placement is more critical than style. A single vent is not going to help; you need multiple vents to create an air flow through the container in order to remove the humid air. Some have cut standard roof vents into their container roof and this works well, but I prefer to minimize future leak potentials by minimizing roof penetration so I like to place them high on the side walls. At the bare minimum, you should install four vents on the side walls about 4’ from the corners up near the roof with another set of vents on the middle of the side walls on 40’ containers. While not perfect it will move some air and limit some condensation. LOUVRE AIR VENT VENTILATION GRILLE EXTERIOR OR INTERIOR USE 100MM vent 1 storage containers for saleAs air warms, it rises so the best fix is to use this convection by installing vents on all four container sides on the side walls down by the floor and up by the roof (and an extra set on the middle of the side wall on 40’s) creating an air flow through the entire container. You can use almost any type of vent; just put some thought into the type of vent you select and how you position them so rain does not enter the container. Make sure you cut a snug hole and weld the vents in if possible, if you don’t have access to a welder then properly flash and caulk your vents, remember, in addition to moisture you want to make sure rodents and other small animals can’t take up residence in your container. Crawl space vents or foundation vents work great for this application, they mount flush are easy to install and can be painted. Once installed, the results from a properly vented container will be immediate and long lasting. Please contact me if you have any questions or need some help. // //

Request Quote