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Shipping Containers?
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Shipping Containers? - October 13, 2015, 04:26 PM

Anybody here ever bought one? Know a source? A local company? Any company?

I'm trying to write-up a proposal for a project that would 're-purpose' a few for a building and I've spend a day online trying to find prices, etc.

There's so much garbage online, people trying to make money by re-directing customers to businesses that it seems impossible to find any but the biggest vendors. Total waste of the day.


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October 13, 2015, 04:47 PM

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October 14, 2015, 01:31 PM

Pricing is going to vary significantly by location. I've bought and sold many of these over different jobs, but mostly limited to New England. Proximity to ports or rail depots with container terminals and the regional freight market will dictate the total outlay.

For retail, as far as I remember, the Allied Trailer is one of the larger players in the DMV ( Allied Trailers – Storage Unit Trailers & Containers ), so I'd start by getting a quote there. The other way would be to purchase from a broker and arrange your own transportation. The latter will likely not let you examine the container(s) before purchase, so you'll be buying it based upon it fitting in a condition category, the grades of containers are more-or-less as follows in descending order of quality:

1) New / One-trip - built overseas (usually China or Korea), loaded with a shipment, emptied at the port stateside, then it's yours.
2) Late model used - was bought new, then used by an end-user or a rental company for a little while.. didn't get beat on as a shipping unit. These are more difficult to find and are usually not much less (price-wise) than a new one.
3) IICL-5 - good condition used shipping unit. They are supposed to be free of any significant rust, free of deep dents, is water tight, and (should be) less than 10 years old.
4) cargo worthy (CW) - used shipping unit that is supposed to be able to pass a marine surveyor's inspection. Expect some rust, but overall solid and water tight. Should be fine for 10+ years of storage.
5) wind & water tight (WWT) - exactly what it sounds like. It's probably not going to be too pretty, but will keep its contents dry.
6) as-is - probably needs some TLC.

Here are some of the things I'd look for when evaluating a container:

1) Are the rubber seals / gaskets on the doors flexible, or do they feel dry rotted? Pay particular attention to the bottom edge of the doors, as these tend to be the first to go.

2) Check the roof for indentations that are concave, i.e. where water can pool on top. It may not indicate a leak now, but years of water accumulation with unlimited O2 supply means oxidation. To be honest, so many shipping containers come with such dents in the roof from heavy usage in ports for years. The good news is that this can be remedied with roof tar to seal the water from further steel rot.

3) Shipping containers come in broad 2 classes. The most common are units that have been used in ocean or intermodal freight. These units have most likely seen a heavy duty cycle and will probably have the most dents and dings. The other class are ones that have been purchased new ("one-trip" is the term for a new container) and used primarily for stationary storage. The latter is usually in better condition for the comparable age. Most used containers are going to have surface rust, but this is especially prevalent with containers that have been used in international shipping. Regardless of the container's past, just check any large rust spots to make sure it's just surface and not causing significant rot. If repairs have been made, make sure that they used Corten steel and have primed/painted the repair spot. Barring any damage from equipment, the lower 1/4 of the doors is where rot usually shows up first. If those feel solid, then the rest of the container *should* be.

4) Check the seam where the ceiling line meets the roof. This area dries and cracks with age, and while it doesn't mean it's going to leak, it might show where water has entered or condensation has occurred. It's not a big deal, since most 10+ y/o containers will show some signs of this. Some Siloprene sealant doesn't hurt as an additional preventative measure for this condition.

With all that said, it's not that I would pass on a container that has any of the aforementioned issues.. just keep them in mind when comparing one container against another in terms of price. Some ratty looking containers will likely be water-tight for 10 more years of just sitting, especially if you do some simple repairs.

Overall, don't buy a container sight-unseen unless you're using them short-term. I would actually go inside the container and have someone completely shut the doors to ensure there' no light coming in. If light can't get in, water won't either. That said, if I were storing water sensitive stuff inside, like papers or upholstered furniture, I would probably throw a Home Depot special tarp over it just to be safe, barring use of an additional vent & fan.

Hope this helps. Let me know if you'd like any other advice / direction.
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October 14, 2015, 03:49 PM

Scarab that was great. I'd read some of that before but not as extensive or in as much detail. That really helps. Thank you, I'll check out Allied (and, no. They didn't show up on any of the google searches all day).


Physics always wins

. . . . so get that helmet cam! . . . . . . Because the D-K Effect is an STD .http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning...3Kruger_effect

Quote:
Originally Posted by Slider View Post
This is what happens when weak minded adults allow children to make decisions. You get stupid shit like this.
unintentional accidental

DISCLAIMER: Yes, I am socially disabled so some things do need to be explained to me.

2013 Suzuki TU250XL3
2010 Triumph Bonneville - I love that fucking bike . . . . Om nom nom nom . . .-Fitz
2009 Suzuki TU250XK9 - KBC Sep 2013
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October 15, 2015, 02:36 AM

Mind sharing what average prices are too? I might need one in the close future too.


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October 15, 2015, 09:55 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Leoallafila View Post
Mind sharing what average prices are too? I might need one in the close future too.
That's a bit difficult to nail down, so let me preface with bit of history.

The container market has been in constant flux in the past decade. Prices hit a low back in 2007-2008 when trade slowed down. Recall the news stories about cargo ships with empty containers parked off China's coast because the ports were full? Container manufacturers drastically cut output and started making other products around that time. This resulted in a container shortage come 2010-2011, when world trade started picking back up. Prices for a 40' standard container were almost $1000 more per unit in 2012 than they were in 2007. Manufacturing capacity has steadily increased through 2015 to the point where we're nearing a surplus of supply again and a few factories in China are again starting to cut their output.

While I don't think that prices will swing quite so violently as in 2010, we're probably close to a low for new / one-trip containers. AFAIK, off-lease cargo container prices haven't been affected as much, since the cost-basis for many used containers lags behind the current build prices. Thus, the difference in cost to purchase a new container vs. a used one isn't quite as large as in the recent past.

Anyhow, what you'd expect to pay for used container will vary significantly depending upon location. Container dealers will probably sell a cargo worthy 20' for $1500-$1900, FOB the port/depot. A similar 40' will probably be ~$2200-$2600. You will then need to contract a truck to pick it up and bring it to your area via a local trucking company or a freight broker. If you have a heavy forklift or a crane onsite, you can pick it off the truck yourself. If not, you'll have to hire a local trucking company to deliver the container on a self-unloading trailer. Most tow companies with a flatbed car carrier can transport and unload a 20' container. For a 40', a semi with a hydraulic trailer (Landoll, Trail-Eze, etc) will be required. All told, transportation can add another $1000 to the purchase price, with some large caveats in place considering proximity to the port/depot and area of the country.

Anticipate ballpark on new / one-trip containers (plus local delivery) to be in the mid $3000s for 20' and mid $5000s for a 40'.

Again, don't have much of a clue what they go for in the DMV area or even which ports they would come out of, so I'm making some pretty broad assumptions here. For all I know, the DC area could have plenty of container supply and prices could be much cheaper than I'd expect (see Houston). The supply might be coming out of NY / NJ (approx 500 miles) or it could be coming out of Baltimore. However, some ports are more container-focused than others, so proximity to a port does not guarantee a large supply of containers.

One of the companies I work for is a member of the National Portable Storage Association, so I might be able to connect you with someone in the area who would be able to give an actual quote for your specifications & location. Google searches can be somewhat helpful, but there are typically a lot of junk results, as mentioned in the OP.

Post up here if you want me to ramble off some more answers or PM if you'd like me to suggest any resellers in your area.
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October 15, 2015, 12:56 PM

Damn Scarab, my experience with cargo containers and FOBs is a bit dated. Haven't had to deal with freight forwarders and all that jazz in about a decade.

But if I ever need to ship some kis of that pociko, I know who I'm calling.



“Any man who tries to be good all the time is bound to come to ruin among the great number who are not good. Hence a Prince who wants to keep his authority must learn how not to be good, and use that knowledge, or refrain from using it, as necessity requires”.

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October 15, 2015, 01:12 PM

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Damn Scarab . . . . if I ever need to ship some kis of that pociko, I know who I'm calling.
Right there with that. I hope I'll be PMing before spring.


Physics always wins

. . . . so get that helmet cam! . . . . . . Because the D-K Effect is an STD .http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning...3Kruger_effect

Quote:
Originally Posted by Slider View Post
This is what happens when weak minded adults allow children to make decisions. You get stupid shit like this.
unintentional accidental

DISCLAIMER: Yes, I am socially disabled so some things do need to be explained to me.

2013 Suzuki TU250XL3
2010 Triumph Bonneville - I love that fucking bike . . . . Om nom nom nom . . .-Fitz
2009 Suzuki TU250XK9 - KBC Sep 2013
2001 Honda Rebel CMX - KBC Mar 2010

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October 15, 2015, 01:40 PM

Awesome write up doode, thank you


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2004 Ducati 998s Final Edition (Current)
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October 17, 2015, 09:02 AM

Np, glad some of this accumulated experience can come in handy now and then!

I've been toying with the idea of starting a container rental & sales business in the area with my industry connections, but need to do a lot more research into the area. There appears to be plenty of commerce and construction around, but not as many individuals who own homes / land. Not to mention local competition and ordinances.

Composing a visual 'Container Buyer's Guide' is on my list of things to do for one of my jobs in New England, so when I get that completed, I'll post it up here.
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October 17, 2015, 01:19 PM

Quote:
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Np, glad some of this accumulated experience can come in handy now and then!

I've been toying with the idea of starting a container rental & sales business in the area with my industry connections, but need to do a lot more research into the area. There appears to be plenty of commerce and construction around, but not as many individuals who own homes / land. Not to mention local competition and ordinances.

Composing a visual 'Container Buyer's Guide' is on my list of things to do for one of my jobs in New England, so when I get that completed, I'll post it up here.
I have family in the Caribbean and Africa. The current hustle is the "blue barrel" freight forwarding business. From what I'm told, its a fairly brisk business.

I can imagine someone with access to entire intermodal cargo container would be a great asset.



“Any man who tries to be good all the time is bound to come to ruin among the great number who are not good. Hence a Prince who wants to keep his authority must learn how not to be good, and use that knowledge, or refrain from using it, as necessity requires”.

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October 21, 2015, 11:46 AM

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I have family in the Caribbean and Africa. The current hustle is the "blue barrel" freight forwarding business. From what I'm told, its a fairly brisk business.

I can imagine someone with access to entire intermodal cargo container would be a great asset.
Blue barrel as in those plastic/poly drums? If that's the case, I've seen them, but am not familiar with their use. What kind of material ships inside of those?

Freight forwarding is an interesting business, from my limited exposure. Do your relatives warehouse materials until enough accumulates for shipment? Are they on the US side too?

Logistics in a less developed country is fascinating. The amount of insider knowledge required to make things work is so considerable, I can't help but wonder how much of a hindrance it places on the country's development overall. My only experience in this realm is for Central America.
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Blue barrel as in those plastic/poly drums? If that's the case, I've seen them, but am not familiar with their use. What kind of material ships inside of those?
Anything. Clearly you can't pack explosives or certain banned cargo - well not legally of course - but the model is much like the PODS model. Someone comes in a van and drops off how ever many barrels you want, you pack them full of your cargo (the hustle lately for barrels headed to Africa are items like canned tuna fish, home health / hygiene items, premium cell phones, and laundry detergent where they resell the products for 500-1000% markup).

Families obviously will send clothes and whatnot.

Quote:
Freight forwarding is an interesting business, from my limited exposure. Do your relatives warehouse materials until enough accumulates for shipment? Are they on the US side too?
Yes.

Quote:
Logistics in a less developed country is fascinating. The amount of insider knowledge required to make things work is so considerable, I can't help but wonder how much of a hindrance it places on the country's development overall. My only experience in this realm is for Central America.
Totally a grey market business, but significantly less friction than dealing with development markets. It obviously makes clear how much market inefficiency and friction is introduced by government regulation.



“Any man who tries to be good all the time is bound to come to ruin among the great number who are not good. Hence a Prince who wants to keep his authority must learn how not to be good, and use that knowledge, or refrain from using it, as necessity requires”.

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October 21, 2015, 02:21 PM

Good write up, interesting.

Also, you really can buy everything on ebay....
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October 23, 2015, 12:54 PM

Craigslist is probably a better (marginally?) option because there's a better chance of finding a local seller who will let you inspect the container beforehand. Most of the eBay sellers or people who put similar ads on Craigslist are brokers essentially trying to flip containers without taking possession of the product. Nothing inherently wrong with that, but you're probably going to get a grab-bag container that is sold upon fitting into a loose rating category, as described in one of my posts above.

For example, many of those listings will be for a "wind and water tight" (WWT) container, and that may differ from a customer's expectations side from the literal wind and water tight part. I.e. it might be a rust bucket with significant dents and bent door bars that require a strongman contestant to open. I wouldn't necessarily dissuade someone from buying a container from a broker, since I've done plenty of that. Just understand the risks involved when you're buying from that part of the supply chain.

Aside from a couple situations of desperation, I haven't bought containers from a broker sight-unseen. A couple of those were worthwhile, but I've also received some junkers. My typical course of action would be to drive to the depot / port, look at all of the broker's inventory, and only buy what I'd deem to be serviceable. Some places will require you to have a TWIC (Transportation Worker Identification Credential) to enter, but I'd ask before you show up at a terminal to view containers. Then, pick a certain unit, buy it from the broker, and arrange shipping. I'd also be very wary of a broker that doesn't want to provide an inventory list of specific units. Again, YMMV with the eBay and Craigslist route. I've had a few work out fine, others didn't meet expectations.. caveat emptor.
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