Rural Survival


Ocean Going Containers

An ocean going container makes a great storage space. They are weatherproof, pest proof, secure, maintenance free and virtually indestructible. It is not for urban or suburban settings since homeowners will not want that industrial rail yard look.

Container Ship
©Gabriel Robledo

Unless put under a roof, hidden or camouflaged somehow, the neighbors will not like it. The only other down side is that the summer sun beating on it will cause the interior temperature to soar.

These containers have thick unitized steel bodies that make them incredibly strong. They are built to be stacked on top of one another. They can be supported on just the four corners or placed directly in contact with ground. A 20’ container weighs about 5000 lbs and can hold up to 36,000 lbs of cargo.

I live in a rural setting so ocean going container was the way to go for me. I settled on a 20’ since they had enough volume and were manageable in size, you can pick an end up with a car jack, put rollers like logs under it and pull it around with a pick up truck. The most common are 40’ but they are too big, once set down they will take specialized heavy equipment to move.

I looked at some that were for sale in the Spokane WA area and did not like what I saw. Depending on the condition, 20’ containers were anywhere from $1500 to $3000 not including the delivery charge of $1500 for a 100 mile trip. The cheaper ones looked like they were winched up from Davy Jones’s locker. They were banged up, doors tweaked and required great strength or a sledge hammer to open and filthy inside with big rust spots on the exterior. Surprisingly the higher priced units were just marginally better than the cheapest. They appeared to be the same lower end units with rust spots spray painted over and the inside swept.

Well I did not want to spend thousands of dollars to make my place look like the beginnings of an industrial waste land. I looked for containers in better condition and to my surprise I found that I was able to buy a new 20’ container for $2500, this was in 2005. Don't bother with local dealers, go big, there are millions of containers in circulation globally. I found a company online headquartered in Houston TX called, "the worlds largest used shipping container outlet". They found a new container in Seattle WA for me and arranged the delivery for an additional $700 right to the spot I wanted it put. New in the container business means the unit has hauled something once. They are built overseas and to make the trip cost effective they haul something.

The container was as advertised, new. I really liked the tongue and groove hardwood flooring. It was even certified with a certification plate on the door, meaning I could theoretically load it up with something and ship the whole thing to anywhere in the world. The container has a weather proof vent at each corner but as mentioned earlier it gets boiling hot inside in the summer sun unless the door is left cracked opened. A better solution is to put it in the shade or have a roof over it.

Container Port
©Eerik Jaspers
Containers Stacked
©Ken Munyard
Container Truck
©Luca Ciardelli

My container was transported on a special flatbed truck built for the purpose and work in the ports. I placed four concrete filled small tires at the corners as pads to keep the unit off the ground. The truck driver backed up to about 30 feet from where I wanted it, got out a gallon jug of liquid soap and liberally applied it to the sides of the flatbed where the container would come in contact. He then gunned his engine, backed up at speed and slammed on his brakes. The inertia slid the container on that soapy deck until it was teetering on the back 8’ of the bed which was a hydraulic lift gate.

He then backed the container over the pads, tilted the gate so the container end dropped and made contact with the pads, then he gunned the truck forward, dropping the other end perfectly on their pads. I was impressed, he was obviously an expert. The whole operation took only a few minutes after he lined the truck up.

There are companies that specialize in customizing containers. They can install windows, garage type doors, regular doors, lights, heating cooling units, you name it. I will probably build my own shelves along the inside walls and set up lights and maybe a receptacle for power. one.

20' Container Open
20' Container Doors
20' Container End View
20' Container Side View
20' container used for home storage.

Container City Containers as innovative modular systems for affordable solutions to a wide range of urban needs including office space, studios and even apartments. Check out the photo gallery, a real eye opener.

Container West A list of suggested storage solutions using containers for farmers, loggers, contractors and just about anyone who need secure storage. "the worlds largest used shipping container outlet".


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