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OT - shipping a 20' container cross-country

Racer Al

Stainless
Joined
Feb 20, 2006
Location
Oakland, California, USA
Hello there -- My wife and I are moving from the East Coast to the West Coast in August. As you might imagine, I have some heavy stuff - tools, motorcycles, etc. in addition to the regular household stuff.

I've heard enough bad news about household moving companies, so we bought a 20' shipping container to both move and store our belongings. I made arrangements with a friend who lives in the desert outside LA to store our container until we buy a house and get settled. The best part of this deal is that he'll purchase the container when it's empty for his own use, so it's win-win.

So, we need to start looking at shipping companies. I have zero shipping experience.
* Does anyone have suggestions for shipping companies that they like, or companies to avoid?
* Anything to watch out for regarding contracts -- i.e. favorable or unfavorable clauses/terms/conditions to look out for?
* What about insurance?
* Is it important to maintain a list of everything that has been packed in the container for insurance purposes?
* Will interstate shipments need to be inspected (i.e. can the container be locked)?
* What about getting the container from our home to the port/terminal/depot?
* If I understand correctly, this is called drayage -- is this done by the shipping company, or does a separate company handle it?

I understand that there are different modes and routes - it could be shipped by truck, by rail, or by sea - with correspondingly different costs. I'm concerned about exposing **all** our belongings to the risks of sea shipping, I expect it's more possible to lose or damage everything than with other modes, but I realize this is probably cheapest/slowest. Any comments about my assessment of this risk?

Any and all comments are welcome. Thanks in advance for sharing your wisdom.
 

Timw

Stainless
Joined
Nov 8, 2005
Location
N E Florida
Check your local yellow pages for drayage company and ask them the what ifs. They should be familiar with local rail yards. Train should be cheapest because they move such volume.
You will need the container on a chassis before you load it unless you have a multi-million dollar packer or a serious forklift. You could have a hydraulic tilt flatbed company move it loaded but that can be tricky. It will need to have all markings/logos removed to prevent any confusion. You should leave a unit number but no prefix. Just paint over them, even spray can is OK.
The load should be blocked and braced as much as possible, train cars get slammed together (called humping) often. Take pics and then secure the doors. You can even install bolts and weld them in the door locks.
 

Racer Al

Stainless
Joined
Feb 20, 2006
Location
Oakland, California, USA
Ooooh, yikes, thanks for the heads up on the chassis!!!! I do believe I'd have loaded everything into the container and been really screwed for getting it out of the yard. I had assumed that the same type of truck that delivered it - the hydraulic flat bed - could pick it up.

Presumably the "unit number" will be a free-standing number on the sides and ends? The container is used, and does have markings.

Another question that occurs to me is to ask if anyone has web links to this topic.

Thanks!!
 

PackardV8

Hot Rolled
Joined
Jun 4, 2006
Location
Spokane, WA
Start with Freightquote.com - ask for Ed Booth 800.323.5441 x1710 fax: 913.319.0698 tell 'em Jack sent you. This service is the greatest convenience ever for small businesses and individuals who do one-of-a-kind shipments to out-of-the-way locations. I've gotten great service and good pricing.

thnx, jack vines
 

JL Sargent

Diamond
Joined
Feb 7, 2005
Location
Birmingham, AL
Chassis and container repair is something I do quite a bit of. We make lots of dollars because many chassis/container yards cannot take a loaded container on or off a chassis. Nor can the final destination of cargo nearly everytime.

Shipping containers are NOT meant to be slid loaded up and down rollbacks and the lift we see used for moving loaded ones on and off rail is way too big for any streets.

In your case its going to really get tough to upload and download a FULL shipping container from chassis level to ground level without it getting goofy expensive. I would not even try it with a regular forklift. Forks would go right through the floor. You see containers are strongest on the edges. The floor is 1 1/8" 19ply plywood. Thats good stuff, but not that good.:smoking:
 
Joined
Dec 26, 2006
Location
NJ
I dont know if this gonna help , but I was approached buy a guy at lowes a couple of months ago ( We have a F-650 Ford Rollback ) He wanted me to load his wood working equipment and Dodge Sprinter into a container. He was moving from Fithadelphia to Hawaii. Cost to ship was 10'gs

Jay
www.CandLMachine.com
 
Joined
Nov 18, 2004
Location
McDonald, Pennsylvania
There has gotta be a fairly cheap way to get it moved, but the Chassis thing may not help.

I get a container shipped to me from China for only about $4500. I think about $2000 of that is rail from the port in Lone Beach to Pittsburgh.

It costs $300 to get it from the rail yard across town to our warehouse, 2 hours to unload, then they take it back.

All you need to do is find how close the closest rail yard is, and find a roll back truck that can move it from your place to there. They do it in Pittsburgh here all the time to ground level. Most of the ones I see have forklift pockets in the side, and they have huge container forklifts at the rail yards.

As far as inspection, when I get shipments come in, they leave China with a seal on them and its never opened or touched unless US Customs inspects it, they cut the seal and then put their own on it. And if customs inspects it, its in Pittsburgh. They come into the country usually in California, all the way across the country, and are IN BOND with the shipper until Pittsburgh. And are never touched until Pittsburgh, if ever touched at all.
So I doubt they would open yours at all.
 

Limited660

Aluminum
Joined
Jan 20, 2008
Location
Pennsylvania
Only way they would need access to inside is if they were crossing borders, which your not so I would lock em up tight to prevent any snooping in there.
 

Racer Al

Stainless
Joined
Feb 20, 2006
Location
Oakland, California, USA
Good advice so far. JL Sargent, you're right - I googled "crane truck" and not only is it a huge machine that requires a Class A license to use, but we have power lines on the two sides of our property which abut a street, which precludes the use of such a big machine. Never mind that it's around $800 to rent it -- which we'd need on each end.

My wife is concerned about the "humping" :eek: - I read somewhere that this procedure can result in as much as a 30g loading. I don't think I can pack our dishes or picture frames well enough to resist that much shock, so it looks like we're going to get estimates for truck shipping.

An idea I had was to get the container transferred (empty) onto a chassis, then returned to our yard. It could then be loaded and trucked directly. Is this viable? I assume that a 20' container would be LTL - you normally see either 2 20's or a 40' on a truck.

I'm starting to wonder if it might be more cost effective to use a "normal" moving company and pay for storage since manipulating the loaded container on each end is horrendously expensive.
 

Toolbert

Stainless
Joined
Nov 29, 2003
Location
Vashon Island, WA
This can't be rocket science. I thought all 20's have fork pockets but could be wrong.

An interesting itinerant metalworker character passed through here some time back. He kept his shop in several 20' containers. He owned a truck, trailers and forklift capable of lifting and hauling one container at a time. He towed the forklift on a pup trailer made from a converted WW2 bomb trailer.

When parked, he used the containers as structure to create a work area, supporting a portable roof structure that was part of his kit. He was set up here on Vashon for several years, with his shop set up on the asphalt tennis court of a rented house. One laid-back (or absentee/oblivious) landlord.

20's are regularly moved on lowboy trailers. I don't know about winching/dragging - I'd prefer a 4-corner level lift.

I once used the service of a boom truck, an ordinary 10 wheel heavy truck flatbed w/ 30,000 lb knuckle boom. An easy way to transfer a 20' container from the ground to a trailer, or in the case of this guy, he could simply pick up (4-corner lift) a 20' and move it on his own bed.
 

Doug S.

Cast Iron
Joined
Apr 1, 2007
Location
West Michigan
I'm not sure if this is the answer you are looking for, but my folks moved a few years back, lots o stuff. My dad just went out and bought a 48' used "semi-trailer". I guess the refer unit had died so he got it cheap. When he was done with it he sold it. Of course, this is not a simple as the 4 sentences I made it into, but it wasn't bad either.

FWIW, I just moved and it was painful. Only 10 miles and I'm still coming to grips with putting things back into a usable order. One thing I did verify is that I'm a pack rat, no shame either, just lots 'o work to move that stuff. It will be interesting for who ever settle my estate some day. =)


Doug S.
 

joecr

Hot Rolled
Joined
Jan 10, 2007
Location
Texas
My wife is concerned about the "humping" :eek: - I read somewhere that this procedure can result in as much as a 30g loading.

resist the temptation...resist...

When I was in that business, we designed classification yard control systems that normally were set to a few mph impact speed where the car finally met up with its string. A lot like a mail sorting system.

Tolerance from the operator's target speed was 1/4 mph, and that was a tough spec (weight, wind speed, distance, track rolling resistance, on & on). The only control (aside of switch gear) was a single retarder section (big honking brake) so there was only one shot to get it right. If the cars couple too hard, knuckles break, and too soft they don't latch on and then it costs big bucks to wait on yard engines to push the cars together.

I would expect about as much or more shock from moving the load at the endpoints, truck or rail, than from the hump yard.
 

Mad Dad

Hot Rolled
Joined
Aug 1, 2002
Location
Carlsbad (San Diego), CA
Hey Racer Al,

Off topic, but I moved from Rockville, MD to LA over 18 years ago. You're in for some serious culture shock, not to mention the dramatic temp's (snow in winter, 120's plus in the summer) you will see in the desert area.

Are you ging to stay in the high desert area (I'm presuming Palmdale or Lancaster) or are you going to move into the LA area? PM me for some advise on where NOT to live in LA. I lived there for 7 years before I moved to San Diego.
 

Timw

Stainless
Joined
Nov 8, 2005
Location
N E Florida
I have watched loads come through the rear doors on semi trailers while being humped. They release the coupler and the engine shoves the train car and lets go. BAMM!!! Containers are tougher but I have seen their doors fail also. I had to reload one container of 55 gal barrels of olives. Another had machined pipes that go in Ford rear axle housings. They were banded together in bundles of about 100 (before the hump!!)
I've repaired or replaced many hundreds of doors damaged from humping during 30 years in and around the intermodal systems.
An empty 20'er can be moved on a rollback but not a loaded one. I've moved loaded 20'ers with a 48' Landall but it needs to be accessable. A straight shot to it and front on blocks to get it started up the bed.
Buying a semi trailer might be a better option. I would make a guess that a roadworthy trailer could be bought for under $1500. That would make it hook and drop for an independant trucker to move it accross the country. With the container you would either have to buy or rent a chassis to get it there by road.
 

JL Sargent

Diamond
Joined
Feb 7, 2005
Location
Birmingham, AL
General basic specs. for a 20' shipping container:

Tare 5K lbs.
Payload Max. 42,600 lbs.
Total, lets call it 50K lbs.

Toolbert asked about pockets. Yes, there are forklift pockets in most 20'ers. I have never seen em used on a loaded one, but if it was being tried I would certainly stop what I was doing to watch. :willy_nilly:
 

Limited660

Aluminum
Joined
Jan 20, 2008
Location
Pennsylvania
Have you thought about getting it trucked out to LA instead of train, that way you could just buy the trailer also and leave container on the trailer.
 








 
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