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Load Characteristic of Shipping/Cargo Containers

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by <exile>, Apr 10, 2008.

  1. <exile>

    <exile> Padawan Learner

    We're looking at using a 20' shipping/cargo container as a storm shelter however I'm trying to determine how much dirt it can handle on top as well as figuring out a way to reinforce the container that will be safe. Getting load specs on them is either hard or I'm search challenged but here is what I was able to locate. Keep in mind the below numbers are for a 40'.

    The part I'm not quite clear on is what does it mean by transverse and longitudinally loading in relation to the roof. Since the load would be fairly consistent across the entire roof it would seem that using the lesser number would be safe. The issue is I want to be sure to add a lot of padding to protect against falling trees, debris, etc. Does anyone have recommendation here on reinforcing that has done it.

    I was able to muster up an old site that is no longer online but using the archive website got an old screenshot. At the bottom of the attached pdf you'll see where they put some bracing in to support more load however they don't discuss any of the engineering and how much more weight it can support with their mod.

    Attached Files:

  2. RouteClearance

    RouteClearance Monkey+++ Site Supporter

    Shipping containers are not designed to carry any loads on the roof or side walls. their load bearing points are on the corners. I have done a lot of research into doing the same thing. There was a web site that had an individual that did the same thing. The results were the walls buckled and partial roof collapse. Will try to find this site, but this was back in '04.
  3. ghrit

    ghrit Ambulatory anachronism Administrator Founding Member

    Exactly so. The roof and side walls are not designed as load bearing. To do what you have in mind requires engineering a roof structure that will bear on the corner posts, and heavily reinforce the side walls against earth pressure. The roof would really be easy using timbers and sloping it for drainage, the sides are a whole different problem, but it can be done. (It is on my list of things to do when I relocate.) I'm thinking similar to an ammo bunker arrangement with the container on grade and earth piled on it. Can't afford digging a hole for that purpose.

    Transverse loading is crossways to the axis of the container. Longitudinal is along the axis. Mentally fix the bottom so it won't move, then mentally apply a horizontal force at the corners The forces described are taken in combination in any direction, and are to withstand bumping and handling loads, that is, shock loading, not continuous loading (I think) so continuous loads have to be much less (I think) for relatively long term.

    I hate long tons, but that's me. It is simply 1000 kilograms of force (not mass.)
  4. Minuteman

    Minuteman Chaplain Moderator Founding Member

    I have offloaded many of them in the field. I have seen several that were improperly loaded or the load shifted. They buckle in the center, that is the weak spot. The only way I would put a load on the center of one is if I re-enforced it considerably first. Maybe weld some I-beam pillars and headers at intervals down the inside.
  5. monkeyman

    monkeyman Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    I have to wonder, could one be used as a form? Basicly if you were going to pour a concrete celler/shelter then you woud have to use pluwood or some such to build forms inside the hole where it was going to be poured then you would use plywood to build a roof and use dimension lumber to support it with more or less like studs of a wall every couple of feet to support it. So could you use the container in place of all that plywood, probably with LESS supports as the interior of the form? Once a concrete shell around it was dried and set then it shouldnt be any problem since the concrete isnt going to be moveing.

    Also, sincee they are made to be lifted at the corners also and they carry such large loads that the floors have to support, how would it work to put in footings to support the corner posts and turn it upside down so the floor supports the load from the other side?

    Either way it was done I would say some of the screw jacks like are used in basements with 4x4s over them to run the length of the thing down the center or better yet an I beam supported in similar fashion then most likely also welded to the top would be prudent, or if wanted to keep the center clear, a jack at each side supporting a cross piece that would support the beam running long ways.
  6. RouteClearance

    RouteClearance Monkey+++ Site Supporter

    There was an individual that I read about who dug a hole, poured a concrete foundation/slab laid two courses of cinder block, then bought a used 100 yd dumpster, welded the door shut , turned it upside down, coated it with roofing tar, picked it up and set it in the hole on the two courses of cinder block, cut a hole in the top corner, put in a hatch and vent pipe, then finaly buried the whole thing under six feet of dirt.

    I cannot rember the exact cost, but it did not excede 10,000 dollars. This was in 1999 and he did this because of the Y2K scare. Hope that this maybe a more workable idea for what you want to do.

    If I can purchase some good land before TSHTF, this is something I may well do myself.
  7. <exile>

    <exile> Padawan Learner

    Due to everyone's contributions the idea is evolving, when doing some additional research tonight I came across using a culvert pipe instead. It is round so requires a little more work on the inside but they're designed to have dirt piled on them and be stuck in the ground with water running around and through them. What do you guys/gals think?
  8. monkeyman

    monkeyman Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    I have considered pouring a floor then block walls and get some culvert pipe and cut it in half to form the roof to make one but figured I wouldnt want to use the full pipe just because of it being round and harder to make use of the space.
  9. monkeyman

    monkeyman Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    I know what I would LOVE to be able to do but its prety well a dead art that no one knows exactly how to do anymore, that would be to build or have built an arch top one. Theres one at the farm where my dad grew up and basicly its just straight walls made of stone then an arched ceiling also made of stone....the catch is theres no mortar. The stones are all shaped and laid in such a way that the more pressure thats put on them the stronger the structure is and the tighter it fits. So under several fet of dirt its super strong and water tight. The only way it got screwed up was that my uncle drove a Cat dozer into it with the blade down and pushed into the end of it such that it eleased the pressure and tore a corner apart...still hasent deteriated from there though in nearly 20 years and had been there for a LONG time before it happened.
  10. zena

    zena Monkey+++

  11. Minuteman

    Minuteman Chaplain Moderator Founding Member

    They have the best shelters that I have found for the price. But not everyone can afford one. A cheaper alternative would be great. I have heard of people who used the conex cantainers as tornado shelters. But instead of burying them they sink them down only a few feet and then pile a dirt berm up on the sides.
  12. ColtCarbine

    ColtCarbine Monkey+++ Founding Member

    It's quite common for dope growers to bury these, ask them how they go about it. [gone]

    I've thought of the same thing but haven't figured out how to do it without my neighbors knowing I did it, since I live in town. I do like the idea of using the container as the forms for a concrete encasement.

    However, I'd like to point out that wouldn't burying a container in ground need restraining like a tank would. I know when we bury tanks underground we have to restrain them from popping out of the ground like a cork because of the hydraulics of water pushing them to the surface. I guess the resident engineer might be able to answer this, just a thought.
  13. SLugomist

    SLugomist Monkey++

    Hey! there was a link on this website somewhere that had building plans for like everything. There were a few bombshelters in there. Think that might help? I forget where it is though.
  14. SLugomist

    SLugomist Monkey++

    grrr I can't find it, it was from some university, it was a great website with plans to build all sorts of buildings
  15. padkychas

    padkychas Monkey+++

    i have seen in AR that a septic tank company made tornado shelters with a man hole type hatch. it would drop them in a hole easy like a septic tank.
  16. SLugomist

    SLugomist Monkey++

    yeah I've seen those too, here in FL. a big septic tank looking thing with "hunker down under" spray painted on it, with a hatch and air vent. It look to be 5' wide, 8' high and maybe 8' long
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