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Old 01-03-2018, 12:46 PM
Old as Dirt Old as Dirt is offline
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Join Date: Feb 2014
Location: NW of Houston TX
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Default Wheels to Move Cargo Containers

I need to empty out my commercial storage ($400/mo) into something cheaper closer.

I would like to move two 40' containers onto my lot and build or buy a roof so I have a semi covered area between the containers.

Because of existing bldg. locations and hilly lot it is not possible to pull a 40' trailer in, offload and turn around to get out. I've toyed with the idea of dropping the containers in my drive then placing a 2 axel buggy under the center of the container and pulling the containers into position. Surplus mobile home axels are avail here (Houston TX). Think I could get 2 axels + 6 whls for $300. Weld all together - no springs, weld to container and pull into position with tractor. 40' are 8K lbs, 20' are 5K lbs neither is particularly heavy.

Alternative is to use (4) 20' containers, place end to end, weld repeat. Downside a 40' and 20' cost about the same, + massive mount of screwing around to join 20'ers + would require at least 2 with doors both ends.

Comments, suggestions. Can't use a crane, too many big trees.

Has anyone done anything similar?

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Old 01-03-2018, 01:01 PM
digger doug's Avatar
digger doug digger doug is offline
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Location: NW Pa
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Weld the axles to some largish angle iron, 8'6" +whatever

To slip fit on the sides (sittng underneath, the angle leg comes up the

Use this "axle assembly" to move your containers.

Simply lift one end and drag out when done, sell for a profit.
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Old 01-03-2018, 01:06 PM
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greywynd greywynd is offline
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Containers aren’t really that heavy when empty, another option is to have a ‘skid plate’ that goes under the end in direction of travel and drag them. If you have something strong/heavy enough to do so.

Never tried one with a pickup that way, but a small dozer, decent sized farm tractor, etc can do the job.

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Old 01-03-2018, 01:24 PM
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dubby dubby is offline
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We used a 4x4 Chevy 2500 to drag one off the top of a hill and down about 240 yards. It was on a solid caliche base though, so not really anything to dig into. It did well.

I'd contact some local container movers before I built anything, and see if they already had a setup like you're considering. They've probably encountered delivering into locations similar to yours if not worse.

Browse youtube as well. It doesn't look like it has to be all that complicated or heavy duty.
I've always had more time than money.

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Old 01-03-2018, 02:16 PM
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What dubby said. You'd be surprised at how agile those trucks are that they deliver containers with.
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Old 01-03-2018, 05:50 PM
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monckywrench monckywrench is offline
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Contact your container vendor(s) and provide clear pics. If you can screencap a Google Earth shot of your property that may help.

Do not buy standard height containers! High Cubes hold far more, ventilate better and make good shop space.

I moved my High Cubes into position by hand.I used railroad ties with pipe rollers for most of my movements. I place two ties towards the outboard sides of the container, winch it forward, then place two ties inboard parallel to the first pair and overlapping by a couple of feet. Containers roll happily with that arrangement. I rotated them using the same method, it will be obvious how. I dead-manned my hand winch to a couple of trees using chain and snatch blocks. I didn't use my electric winch on my most recent container because I didn't have room for the truck to get close without dropping my fence, but spooling out the cable made a nice deadman for my hand winch. (Wyeth-Scott make wonderful pullers.) A hill would make little difference.

If you want a slip axle with tires that won't bury in (reasonably) soft ground, torching the ends off a junk dually rear axle makes very nice dual-wheel stubs. I cut the stub axles for a lathe move project but haven't needed them yet. You can roll cutoff dually stub wheel flanges on whatever they'll roll on, bare rims, or inflated tires. If you fab a slip axle I suggest keeping it for other projects.

One tie under each end supports containers nicely, but if you have two extra placing one on each end parallel to the support tie makes a convenient step and ramp support.

I'm hanging shelves in my containers using the tiedown loops on the inside corners of the roof. I torch bend a U-hook out of 1/2" round and weld that to the shelves. They are "trays" of upward-facing 1 1/2" x 3/16" angle. The strap supports are 1" x 3/16" flat bar. You can always add loops. There's no reason to have shelves touch and clutter up your floor. Plenty of pics online of different variations. I like overkill. Shelves + High Cubes = MUCH more usable storage.

Pic is my recent "one trip" 40' High Cube with doors on both ends. Learn container grades. WWT can be good or shit, but "cargo worthy" or better is preferable. "One trip" is essentially brand new. I got doors on both ends so I can ride through my motorcycle garage, at least after I get the Norton frames off the floor...

When you seal items like weatherheads for electrical power use 3M 5200. It's the goo of the gods. Forget any conventiona caulk. 5200 is a thru-hull boat sealant. Most hardware stores carry it or order online.

Do NOT use chain store roof coating, any of it but especially the expensive porous rust-trap white shit. Rustoleum red primer holds up well (I have test patches exposed over a year on my old WWT High Cubes). I'll eventually finish coating them with ponding-proof coating but that stuff isn't cheap.

Weld a piece of upward-facing channel at one end and you can place your ladder rung in it. It's great safety insurance as your ladder cannot fall. I also made a simple jib to lift sealant and paint pails. Weld vertical pipe to a corner or beam between corners, slip a larger pipe over that that's longer than the inner pipe so it won't get stuck, weld a T to the outer pipe and add a cheap boat winch and a pulley for lifting. It's much easier than carrying pails up a ladder. I'd post pics but it's dark and snowing.

I ran welder panel fittings with pigtails through my shop wall so I can connect any power source inside then run cable without opening the end doors.

Steelmaster and clones make container roof kits using containers as side walls. My Steelmaster is separate but I've owned it since ~1994 and I'd buy one again. Anti-seize all the hardware when you assemble it. It makes changes and relocation easy.

If you join two containers side-by-side, have half a 4x8 of 1/8" sheared into 2" strips. I grounded to the structure then ran my hot lead to my suitcase feeder and welded the whole joint. If your containers aren't clones there may be a slight height mismatch between the sides (corner fittings are standard for obvious reasons). Mine didn't match so I tacked then welded the high side then bent the strip downward with a hand sledge, tacked and finished. I used .035" flux core because it was handy and paid for, but when I ran out I used .045". That isn't too thick if you start your puddle on the container and flow it onto the 1/8" strip.

Don't neglect options like tow trucks for container dragging. I don't know what you've access to but depending on your situation a wrecker could be quite handy. The delivery vehicle for 40s etc will be a Landoll or similar and they have beastly winches. A 20 will fit on a F350-sized rollback (which is how mine arrived) and they of course have winches too.
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Last edited by monckywrench; 01-03-2018 at 05:59 PM.
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Old 01-03-2018, 06:23 PM
Old as Dirt Old as Dirt is offline
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Join Date: Feb 2014
Location: NW of Houston TX
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Default Container Wheels

Digger: Exactly what I envisioned. 3x or 4x ang, some oil fld pipe for cross braces and axels cut to widen if necessary and a hitch to pull.

Don't think I could drag them. Lots of pine needles soft, plus I'm going to have to back them up close to my fence line. Want to use the container as a "fence" to block off my junk from street view. No restrictions, but it's a decent location and no sense in pissing off the neighbors

Excellent suggestion on asking the container people if they have a cart. Didn't think of that.

It might be possible to get a truck in, IF I cut down a bunch of trees. I have to go out back and stretch out my tape to see if it will work. Container place close, need to send him some photos as placing the containers right off the truck is the least work.

There are multiple wheels for containers. Most are for commercial operations and cost an arm and a leg. The only DIY one I found was in Farm Show. If you google it the guy has a neat set up, BUT only for 20'ers as the 40' units don't have fork pockets.

Thanks to all for your comments
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Old 01-03-2018, 06:46 PM
monckywrench's Avatar
monckywrench monckywrench is offline
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Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Elsewhere
Posts: 4,386

What special snowflake containers lack fork pockets? I've never seen one without them and they'd make empty handling extremely dangerous with forklifts. Only CHUs and cranes could be used for vertical lifts.

Did you mean this dolly?

If so, fab one with the tallest wheels (low rolling resistance) you can get cheap and enjoy.

If ya need to attach a dolly to a sea can on a position without pockets you can weld it on then wash off the welds to remove it or fab simple brackets and bolt them to the side beams if you don't have a portable welder, or attack it in any number of ways.

Pretty, detachable, and not a slip axle. A crude and cheap version would get the job done:

The tow411 board is outstanding reading even if you don't have a wrecker. They do some ninja-level rigging and mobilzing.
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Old 01-03-2018, 06:50 PM
Old as Dirt Old as Dirt is offline
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Join Date: Feb 2014
Location: NW of Houston TX
Posts: 23


I have thought about the HiCube units, I only plan on storing stuff in the containers. Have not asked about premium $ for HiCube.

If I run electric to containers it's likely to be for lighting circuits as it's at least 500' to the main pole. I have a 12KW 1P 240/120 Onan Propane generator that I was planning on using for high current use.

Not sure if a fabric roof or a pipe truss with steel sheet is the best. The fabric can be had as a kit, have to weld up the trusses.

Thanks for your comments. I'll check out the HiCube.

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