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CANtainer Camp

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#1
Just bought a 40" high cube shipping container to use as a camp at another location. It could serve as a bugout and may be my temporary residence while I build another home there, in case I ever decide to sell the place I'm in now.

I mulled over getting an insulated container, but the foam they use in them is sub-par and begins to fail after about a decade and may be saturated with nasty foreign chemicals, or so I've read. Also there is no way to hang shelves or cabinets in them other than sheet metal screws in the thin stainless skin. The aluminum beam floors on them have to be removed and replaced with something else. Besides, they want about a grand more for them and they are very narrow inside.

Insulating the steel ones can be done on the outside or inside. I'm going with inside since the outside skin is very secure to weather, bears and vandalism. I've watched about every youtube video on shipping container homes there is and didn't like how others are doing it. Some frame 2x4 walls on the inside and then they're so narrow all you have left is a hallway. Some weld square tubing horizontally to the walls and put foam panels in between, which is better, but there would be extreme cold spots wherever the tubing is since they can't be insulated.
I had considered welding tabs to the ribs on the inside walls, but decided I didn't want to inhale burnt Chinese paint while doing it. I finally came up with an original idea (at least I think no one has done it before and bragged about it), to fasten horizontal wood 2x2's on the inside using roofing screws (or any screw with a rubber washer) from the outside to hold them in position.

So far I got one of the headers with joist hangars installed, using steel straps screwed to the square tube rails to hold them up, then used roofing screws from the outside to take the warp out and further secure them against sagging.
End walls will be framed conventional 2x4 since length is not as precious as width.
 

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EO 11110

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#2
40 inch high cube? how tall will it be (floor to ceiling)? how much does one of those sell for typically?
 

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40 inch high cube? how tall will it be (floor to ceiling)? how much does one of those sell for typically?
40 feet long high cube means 9 1/2 feet tall instead of the standard 8 1/2 feet.
Western Montana is a long way from the nearest shipping port which is Seattle so trucking has to be added to what they go for in Seattle, adding maybe $800 to the cost. If you are near Houston, you should be able to get them cheap. I bought a 45' aluminum high cube in Houston back in 1999 for $2800 IIRC, including hauling to Lexington, Tx.

Internal dimensions:
http://www.schumachercargo.com/shipping-container-sizes.html
 

ttazzman

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been thinking about doing a remote cabin myself......i was going to use blue foam board 3 inch on walls and 4 inch on ceiling ....the 4" will span the full width and be self supporting on top of the wall foam board...use a bit of glue just to make me happy....probably laminate some 3/8 sheet rock on inside face ...pre cut in outlets ....router in main wire runs with secondarys in corrigation spaces......been scratching my head on floor though.....would lose less than 7" in width total......looks like a fun project

round here 20'ers run ~2000$.....40s $2500.....high cube 40s $2800 (used)....can also get doors on both ends and side access containers..
 

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been thinking about doing a remote cabin myself......i was going to use blue foam board 3 inch on walls and 4 inch on ceiling ....the 4" will span the full width and be self supporting on top of the wall foam board...use a bit of glue just to make me happy....probably laminate some 3/8 sheet rock on inside face ...pre cut in outlets ....router in main wire runs with secondarys in corrigation spaces......been scratching my head on floor though.....would lose less than 7" in width total......looks like a fun project

round here 20'ers run ~2000$.....40s $2500.....high cube 40s $2800 (used)....can also get doors on both ends and side access containers..
Those prices are considerably lower than here. That blue foam board is much higher than the R-Tech foam panels at the big box stores. I think 3 or 4" is overkill unless your remote cabin will be in Fairbanks, Alaska. It doesn't take much to heat 300 square feet.
Using the roofing screw method, it only takes about $300 in lumber and $40 in joist hangars to frame it in. Then you have something solid to attach walls and shelves etc.

For the floors, I was going to lay 2x4 "floaters" down and 24" wide sections of foam in between, then 3/4" plywood on top.

I wasn't planning to use foam for the cieling. With the high cube I can have an 8 foot cieling inside, R23 fiberglass batts in the cieling with 2" air space on top. I was thinking that condensation could be a problem inside a heated can so the air space, with vents front and rear will let it stay dry.
There will be 2x4 cieling joists in the joist hangars and the wire can lay above that and run vertically down the walls to outlets/switches in the corrugation spaces. I will only have 1 1/2" foam wall insulation to maximize inside width. That would fit perfectly between the horizontal wall 2x4 slats.

If you proceed with your project, please post pics here!
 

ttazzman

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hoarder..........i have some 3"/4" blue board laying around......as concerned about keeping it cool as warm also......your way would certainly be less expensive having to buy new stuff...(current project is building a barn from all repurposed/left over materials except posts) i do love project threads......

dirt to oil........cheaper.....faster.....stronger.....semi-portable....uglier.....
 
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dirt to oil

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hoarder..........i have some 3"/4" blue board laying around......as concerned about keeping it cool as warm also......your way would certainly be less expensive having to buy new stuff...(current project is building a barn from all repurposed/left over materials except posts) i do love project threads......

dirt to oil........cheaper.....faster.....stronger.....semi-portable....uglier.....

all of those but cheaper
 

ttazzman

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i would think steel would be cheaper ....might be wrong......to build log home with one man .....would require equipment or hiring help ..plus container has roof and sub- floor built in.......
 

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#10
why use steel , why not logs ? if you are talking about a remote cabin for SHTF, insulation built in
I could camp in the can while I build with logs, then get my money back out of the can afterwards.

hoarder..........i have some 3"/4" blue board laying around......as concerned about keeping it cool as warm also......your way would certainly be less expensive having to buy new stuff...(current project is building a barn from all repurposed/left over materials except posts) i do love project threads......

dirt to oil........cheaper.....faster.....stronger.....semi-portable....uglier.....
Since foam panels come in 48" wide panels, slats (girts) should be positioned with 24" gaps between so only one foam cut is needed. Two layers of your blue board should provide ample insulation for the walls, 1 1/2" being the width of the 2x2 slats.

I have framed an end wall just 16" inside the can doors. in the small unheated space will be room for propane tanks, battery bank, a small generator and a 8,000 BTU wall AC. Even up here in Montana, you don't want to be inside an un air-conditioned can when it's 90 degrees outside.
As far as insulating the roof, fiberglass is cheap and easy anyway.
 

Canadian-guerilla

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#11
buy two

bury one and set the second on top of the first
 

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#12
buy two

bury one and set the second on top of the first
Although it has been done with varying degrees of success, they are not designed for burial....side load issues. If the long walls were beefed up it should work. The roofs on these things are the weakest point, but that is not an issue as stacking weight is distributed to the corners where the strength is.
The portability of these cans is part of their value, so when you install them permanently some of the cost feasability declines.
 

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#13
I wonder how long one would stay water tight in the high humidy/heat environment of Central and South Florida? It sounds like they would be much cheaper than even the cheapest steel out building, but moisture would be a major problem I'm sure.

Those of you who have done this already or are going to please post pics for the rest of us if you can :D. Thanks for starting this thread hoarder and good luck with your project :).
 

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I wonder how long one would stay water tight in the high humidy/heat environment of Central and South Florida? It sounds like they would be much cheaper than even the cheapest steel out building, but moisture would be a major problem I'm sure.

Those of you who have done this already or are going to please post pics for the rest of us if you can :D. Thanks for starting this thread hoarder and good luck with your project :).
All the later model ocean going containers are made with cor-ten steel. It has a little nickel alloy that limits rust to just surface rust. Of course metalurgy quality control in third world countries may result in uneven alloying but the paint has high standards. Still, after a decade or more in the saltwater environment, the zinc laced marine paint gets a few nicks and there will be a few pits. Look closely at the roof as this is where salt water stands. You could also buy a "one tripper" if you're willing to pay the substantial premium.
I think if you chip and prime/paint the worst spots they would do fine in Florida. If Miami is a major port they might come cheap, too.
 

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#16
I am in South Florida, and I have been using a shipping container as a chemical storage building for five years or so. I started to get some leaks though the roof after a few years, but painted the roof with white elastomeric paint and have not had a problem since. One good thing about buying a container down here is there are plenty of ports, so plenty of cheap containers.
 

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#17
A can camp needs a woodstove. Since all the factory made stoves are way too big to heat a tin can, I'm fabricating one myself that will accept 12" wood and smoke will exaust out of a section of 4 1/2" electrical conduit. I'm building a support box to exit the cieling/roof and it will be packed with ceramic wool insulation as will the back of the woodstove (for clearance purposes).
 

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#18
Made some progress on the mini-woodstove. I used 32% muriatic acid to remove the galvanize from the steel conduit. Note the angle iron in the firebox to hold the vertical fire bricks. The firebox is designed to take 10 bricks and no cutting required. A steel coupling made for the conduit was cut down and welded on top of the firebox for the flue pipe to slide into. The smaller boxes with the 4 1/2" holes in the ends are the support box and the chimney box that goes on top of it. They are slightly different sizes so they telescope a little, keeping the rain and snow out.
 

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#19
Insulating the steel ones can be done on the outside or inside. I'm going with inside since the outside skin is very secure to weather, bears and vandalism.
I will point out that as long as you are 'onsight' your security is almost a non-issue.

IF you leave this project ALONE for more than a week or so, EVERYTHING inside will be subjecto VANDALISM AND THEFT.

I've read way too many accounts that starts with 'no one but me' knows where this can is (buried, hidden, whatever) and the OP always is confident that their stuff is 'safe'.

Sorry, there are lots of people who 'roam' every area in the US and other parts of this planet.

If you will be there ALL the time, great. If you place your faith in security from no one knowing what's there. When you do come back you will be very upset that someone has cut into your stash of stuff.

I keep reading these exact scenario's over and over again. EVERYONE thinks THEIR LOCATION is unknown.

GOOD LUCK WITH THAT

At the very least the trucker who delivered that can KNOWS where it is. The guy who dispatched the driver KNOWS where that can is. The guy who OWNS THE TRANSPORTATION COMPANY knows where that can is. And that says nothing about the local 'ne're do wells' in your area. Talk to the local sheriff about WHOM I am talking about. I'll give you a dollar if he says there is no one in HIS county that is like that. But he won't. Plus then the SHERIFF knows where your can is.

OTOH, if you are living there, especially 24x7x365, I personally recommend either a large flock of geese (MALE GOOSES) or several really large dogs.

OH, and a large cache of firearms and the ability and will to use them.

And btw, you have someone to spell you when you sleep, right?

GOOD LUCK.
 

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#20
There are absolutes.....and everything in between.
 

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#21
I added a slanted galvanized roof to my 40' insulated, took out the end that had the refrigeration unit and put in a steel door with a padlock. Inside that I framed in a standard storm door that works with a key. I put down a full length plywood floor, plywood walls and framed in a wall about 1/3rd the way in and hung lights and cabinets. That we use as our tack room. On the other side of the wall I have a full length plywood floor that goes to the original container door. That room also has lights, gorilla racks (Costco) and shelving. I shot it accidentally once with a 45 ACP. I penetrated the outer wall but did not go all the way through. When I had it dropped I planted a hedge that has grown quite nicely around it with water running off roof to occasionally water it. I would post pictures but haven't been able to figure out how on here.
 

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#22
I shot it accidentally once with a 45 ACP.
Damn! I'd have figured a .45 would go through one side and out the other wall, unless you shot it from 150 yards away.
 

Merkin

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#23
Nope, I'd say about 30 yards. I was surprised too because I thought it would go through both walls as well. Maybe that old insulation has solidified.
 

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#24
I built some window frames out of 14 guage 1x3 rectangular tubing. Normally would have mitered them but my current chop saw is a wobbly Chinese unit and I took a shortcut. Window covers are for added security. They are 12 guage steel. I chiseled an "X" pattern in them to mitigate warpage when I weld the inner framework and latches.

Made some progress on the woodstove. It will hang from beefed up cieling joists.
 

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ttazzman

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#25
ur a hell of a trooper to chizel in that X and it looks good in the pictures.........curious to see the stove finished and in place to see if what i picture is what the finished product looks like.....

i would probably have made the window frames from angle and coped the corners .....a inner frame and a outer frame and set the glass on the outer frame.........tubing will look great if you get your hole cut real nice......if not that is what caulking is for......damn tubing had to be expensive....
 

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ur a hell of a trooper to chizel in that X and it looks good in the pictures.........curious to see the stove finished and in place to see if what i picture is what the finished product looks like.....

i would probably have made the window frames from angle and coped the corners .....a inner frame and a outer frame and set the glass on the outer frame.........tubing will look great if you get your hole cut real nice......if not that is what caulking is for......damn tubing had to be expensive....
The tubing was $2.20 a foot. Seems quicker and easier than angle. I don't look forward to cutting those openings and filling the gaps. Since it's corrugated, the sides could be hammered against the tubes to fill gaps. I figure weld from outside and caulk from inside.
First time I did the chisel job on sheet steel. I saw the chisel marks on truck bodies before and guessed that's how real fabricators did it. The 12 guage took two passes with a 4 pound sledge and a 1" wide chisel. I laid it on a foam pad. Lotta noise and lotta sweat but it was over in no time. I figure if it warps now, I'll just selectively chisel a little more to hide it.
 

ttazzman

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My first trade was a metal fabricator........we did those Xs with 2 hits on a press brake.......doing by hand on 12ga my hats off to you man....

FWIW.....a trick we used to minimize wharpage on something like that was to do short 1/4ish welds or tacks....and while it was still cherry red whack the weld with a hammer to relive the stress in the metal..
 

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My first trade was a metal fabricator........we did those Xs with 2 hits on a press brake.......doing by hand on 12ga my hats off to you man....

FWIW.....a trick we used to minimize wharpage on something like that was to do short 1/4ish welds or tacks....and while it was still cherry red whack the weld with a hammer to relive the stress in the metal..
Thanks for the tip. I'll have to try it and see if I can make that work without putting dents in the sheet steel. Back in the early eighties I used to weld cracks in cast iron pump housings with stainless rod (after preheating the housing), then tap the weld with a chipping hammer as it cooled. I thought that the tapping on the hot weld kept it from pulling away from the cast as it cooled. It seemed to work most of the time, but then I was not a real welder, just following instructions. Sometimes I did the same thing with oxy-acet and brass rod in which case it was easier to control the heat up/cool down of the casting. I was a novice for sure and sometimes the cracks got bigger.
 

ttazzman

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LOL....early 80s thats about my time span on that also.....i am/was a good fabricator and a fair welder......really good welders are rare to find.....
 

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I'm pretty fair at hiding my welds, grinding them down and daubing primer on them. I'm not a real welder, fitter or real carpenter. I just have fun pretending I'm both. Take my advice at your own peril.:D
 

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The door end of this can was a little distorted and it was hard to operate the door latches. I had noticed a little right hand twist to the can when I leveled it. Here you see the timber with the bottle jack positioned diagonally to bend it back the way it's supposed to be. I had to pump the jack 10 times beyond the adjustment I needed and leave it there a while to overcome the springyness of the metal.
 

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The main point of this thread was to get the back-screw idea out there. I think this is the easiest and best way to frame the walls.
Drilling holes and attaching inside horizontal 2x2's from the outside. This would have been easier if I had a helper. This should be especially handy for people who don't weld. The bottom horizontal is a 2x4 so I will have some deadwood after I install the sleeper floor.
4'x 8' foam panels split lengthwise 24" will friction fit the above wall spaces. The lower will take 40" This will minimize cutting foam. I intend to cover the walls in vertical 1x6 tongue in groove knotty pine which only costs about a buck a square foot around here. If I were covering the walls with paneling or plywood, It would require one or two more horizontal boards to keep the edges lined up.
 

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GOLDZILLA

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#33
I always thought that if I had gotten one of these I would bury it on a hill so it stays dry but is invisible to any interlopers.
 

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#34
I always thought that if I had gotten one of these I would bury it on a hill so it stays dry but is invisible to any interlopers.
The roof is just barely strong enough for a couple fat men to walk and unhook slings (But a whole lot stronger than an RV roof). I heard of one in heavy snow country that colapsed.
 

ttazzman

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#35
that is a heck of a slick way of doing the framing...

did the twist stay out?....i guess if not with the ceiling framing you have enough room to put in a couple of gussets in the upper corners to help it ...
 

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#36
that is a heck of a slick way of doing the framing...

did the twist stay out?....i guess if not with the ceiling framing you have enough room to put in a couple of gussets in the upper corners to help it ...
The twist has improved. I'll just have to jack it again and leave it for a few hours next time I'm over there. I've seen guys who sell these cans grind metal away from the latches, making them looser and easier, but I prefer to correct the problem instead of the symptom myself.
 

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#37
Nope, I'd say about 30 yards. I was surprised too because I thought it would go through both walls as well. Maybe that old insulation has solidified.

The gift of Corten steel........and don't try and weld the stuff without breathing apparatus

SH
 

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#38
For holding those horizontals you could use some construction adhesive to hold them in place (while you go around to the outside to install the screws). Or another idea would be to use a couple of those expanding truck load holders to press across and hold them up. Just thinking out loud.
 

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i saw a tv show on a guy that lives in them full time, hooked 6 or 8 together by cutting doorways on the sides of the container
 

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For holding those horizontals you could use some construction adhesive to hold them in place (while you go around to the outside to install the screws). Or another idea would be to use a couple of those expanding truck load holders to press across and hold them up. Just thinking out loud.
Unless you buy a new container, the ribs will vary as much as 3/4" due to clumsy forklift operators. When screwing from the outside I noticed I was re-aligning them about half that amount and in many cases the ribs did not touch the 2x2. If you look at where the wall ribs meet the floor channel, you can see they were off by 1/4" or more right from the factory. But there is some merit in your idea, even if the glue came loose after the inside is sheathed, the walls (if stiff enough) would hold up the cieling. My thinking was that I would hang kitchen cabinets and shelves on the walls so I wanted something beefy enough that would not buckle or sag. Also consider that the can may be moved to another location and the framing should be strong enough to survive the rough handling.