Pro's & Con's when Buying
Generally used containers being offered today , that are out fleeted by shipping lines are manufactured to a very similar specification . They will be on average 15 to 17 years old and will be manufactured with ‘Tokyo ‘ or ‘ Lazy Panel ‘ corrugated sides which are geometrically trapezoidal shaped, this facilitates a slide off surface when a pallet collides with the internal container side wall when being loaded. In the past the corrugations where too sharp an angle and the pallet or fork truck blade distorted or punctured the panel. The steel used in the manufacture of shipping containers even at 17 years of age was predominantly Cor-Ten ( see info on Corten steel ).
This rust prohibiting steel has greatly increased the life span of shipping containers and the old used containers that leaked like a sieve are almost long gone.
Doors structure’s have changed very little, except they are no longer manufactured with Hollow Section frames to top and bottom and although this has not prevented fair wear and tear it has saved us from the shock of finding the bottom of the door has rusted away and the door seal is actually not attached .
The container floor, still timber and most often whole 8’ x 4’ x 27mm ply panels, is also very reliable and the de-lamination of the ply usually only occurs when subjected to surface impact damage or abrasion.
This floor however will often hold a large volume of moisture which may not be apparent on only visual inspection, in fact it can appear quite dry and will only manifest its moisture on a warm day when it turns into a vapour and condenses on the ceiling or walls of the container. It’s from this unseen entrapment that the cause of most condensation problems comes from.
So when viewing to buy a used container, don’t forget check the floor and if you have a requirement for storing moisture sensitive objects or materials, take precautions like using disposable dehumidifiers or using a barrier foil across the entire floor, neither are expensive and may save you a lot of heart ache and expense.
Other areas to look at are the doors and seals, get yourself locked inside facing the doors for a while and as your eyes adjust to the dark, check around the door peripheries for daylight…there should be none .Whilst you are locked in, if you are confident enough, walk along one side wall looking at the opposite side and ceiling when you reach the blank end walk across to the opposite wall and walk back to the doors checking the side you have just walked up, there should be no light at all except occasionally where large hole vents are fitted ,they can throw up some light.
Door seals have been greatly improved over the years mostly due to the massive development of Neoprene, Butyl Rubber and PVC technologies, they now reliably last almost as long as the containers themselves
and only usually need a tidy up and clean out of the drain channel to continue providing a good water tight seal. Check the top door seals some times they fill with corrosion shale from the header and it will prevent a good tight seal. Have any corrosion of the header in the door seal area removed and re-primed and painted.
Low profile shallow denting is going to be almost inevitable in used containers, these are not of concern it’s the deep impact sharp edged dents most particularly on the roof that need attention , they may not pose any obvious problem initially but they can develop into a problem at a later date even though Corten Steel is the base material. The impact will hold water and the stressed crystalline structure of the steel, which has stretched through impact will over time erode allowing water to ingress through the plate.
The Door Locking Gear, Poles, Handles and Cams, may have minor distortion, but should all function well. Check the outside door frame pillars for corrosion around the hinges.
The underside of containers, are usually constructed of 4mm ‘C’ section cross-bearers and two fork pocket tunnels, all primer painted and bitumen covered and will often show some degree of minor latitudinal deformation and a degree of corrosion, this will should not be of any significance to the static storage user providing the floor is not affected.
If you require a container for using as a unit for the transport of goods, whether just on road or more importantly by Sea, it must have a Current CSC plate and certificate. You must for your own security tell the supplier that is what you want it for, if you do not and an accident occurs which was caused by the container failure, you will be 100% liable. A Container to be used for static storage, that is transported empty, does not require a CSC plate.
Most Container suppliers will be able to offer a Refurbished Used Container, which usually entails any scale or rust patches will be removed and re-primer painted, with a rust prohibiting zinc based paint and the whole unit re-sprayed, and can often be re-sprayed to your own colour choice.