Shipping Containers

In the middle of February, 2008 we bought our first two containers from Advance Container for $1,100 each, plus delivery. They were delivered to the front of our driveway, which is about 250 feet from where they needed to be. This being a very low-budget operation, I used the Egyptian method of moving big, heavy things across terrain. I had six 4″x5″x10′ timbers which I placed like rails under the sides of the container. On top of the timbers, long heavy water pipes rolled like wheels. The container itself rolled on top of the pipes. Initially I thought I could use a come-along to move it, but these things are really, really heavy. The come-along had the force to do the job, but it was going to be extremely physically demanding and I’m just a mortal graphic designer. So I bought a Warn PullzAll electric winch. It can pull 1,000 lbs, which wouldn’t do much holding up a 5,000 pound container, but with the timbers and waterpipes, was up to the task. I’d use auto tow straps and a section of heavy chain to pull against trees, fence posts, etc.

The pulling is the easy part. The constant jacking is what really gets to you. I had two Sears low-profile floor jacks (the low profile was critical so that the jack could fit into the forklift holes on the underside of the container if it ever dropped to the ground.) I’d jack up one side of the container, position the timbers and pipes, then lower the first side. Next, I’d jack up the other end of the container and position those timbers and pipes. I found that it wasn’t a good idea to do both ends at the same time — it was too precarious and the container would fall off the jacks. This raises an important point. NEVER, EVER, even for a moment, put any part of your body under anything that is jacked up. If you have to get under there, block it up with something that won’t collapse.

It ended up taking three full working days to get each container from driveway to the slab in the back where they needed to go. The trouble is that I never had three consecutive days to do this, so the whole process took almost two months. During this time, we had some heavy rains, so sometimes I was trying to jack the thing up in a pond of water. (You can use a wide piece of steel like a flywheel, or even the blade of a shovel under the jack to help support it, but it’s somewhat less than ideal conditions for jacking up a 5,000 lb object.)

We didn’t have a camera during this whole process, but we think photos were taken and we’ll try to post them for your amusement when we can.

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