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OT - shipping a 20' container cross-country

Racer Al

Stainless
Joined
Feb 20, 2006
Location
Oakland, California, USA
This can't be rocket science. I thought all 20's have fork pockets but could be wrong.

Yes, ours does have fork pockets on the long side, but we have power lines which precludes the use of large equipment, and it's about $800 to rent. The other end, this is feasible because the storage area is free of interference.

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".

In retrospect, this would have been a superior solution for moving. However, we have used the container as a garage for our motorcycles for over a year -- this has been very valuable to me since bikes are popular to steal in this neighborhood. I don't regret owning the container, even if we can't move our home in it.

One professional trucker (friend of a friend of family) described my plan of moving and storing in the same container as "unusual and elegant". :D I just didn't think it through all the way. However, his first response was "Why not U-Haul?"

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.

I have a friend that lives in Victorville, and he's offered to store our stuff for free, indefinitely, until we can find a home that my wife and I both like. (we have a hard time agreeing on much, we're both artists, so it could be well over a year). However, we are planning to live in the San Fran area. Not to air dirty laundry, but my wife wants to live in Berkeley (yech!) or Oakland and I want to live further out, perhaps Walnut Creek or Novato. I'm not a city person.

I'm a native Marylander, and I'm definitely expecting S.F. to be a culture shock, but not as bad as L.A. We did live in Mongolia for a year on a scholarship, so maybe it won't seem so bad.

why not have the container spotted on the rack, not ground level, but you can't have everything.

When you say "spotted on the rack" -- what exactly does this mean? I was thinking (uh oh) that elevating the container (either Egyptian style with cribbing or with a steel rack and a buncha bottle jacks) so a trailer could pull under it would resolve the loading problem. Is this YET ANOTHER crazy/stupid idea?

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.

I considered buying our own container chassis and/or dry van (semi-trailer) and selling it on the other end. That ties up a lot of cash - they're $6~8k. It also means I'd need to register it, which is a bureaucratic endeavor I'm unsure about (i.e. do I need to be a Class A license holder to register, do I need to have it inspected, how to get it to the inspection station, how much is tax - which would be lost money for short term ownership, etc.). And, my wife's head exploded at the thought of spending $6k to save $2k on household movers.
 

mcassill

Cast Iron
Joined
Jun 1, 2005
Location
Iowa
I'm thinking moving it out there by rail would be the far cheaper way to go. Getting it hauled to Victorville on a flatbed semi trailer is likely to end up running about $1.50 a mile for 2550 miles or so... :eek:
Mark
 

deckeldoctor

Stainless
Joined
Apr 26, 2005
Location
Conway,South Carolina
Hello Al,

Try giving this lady Kim a call at I.M.O.K. Freight Inc 888 403 1917, I have used them for shipping machines cross country. They have a lot a different equipment available. They usually are far less than any one else they may have low boy trailers available or she may know how to help with your exact needs. Once loaded my machines stay on that trailer until delivered no transfers.

I am having 8600lbs milling machine moved from Montana to New Hampshire for $1200.00 in the next week or so in a box truck, air ride.

Its a free phone call.

Tell her Don from Sentner Machine Tool Service sent you to her she is very helpful and creative with shipping.

Good luck with the move.

regards
DD


If you were able to have your container setting on 3 inch steel pipe before you starting loading it with stuff you could use this to aid in loading on roll back or low boy. My wife and I used this method to move one of our 12x20 loaded sheds across 2 acres pulled by my 4x4 pickup and then I used the pipe cut into 5' pieces to guard the garage doors 4 of them in my shop.
 
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steel hand

Cast Iron
Joined
Dec 12, 2006
Location
Campbell CA
Some friends moved from CA to FL a few years back. After extensive research, they found the cheapest way was to have a semi trailer parked in front of their house. Did all the packing and loading themselves, then called the company when finished. The shipping company came out, walled off their stuff with plywood, and proceeded to the next customer. As I recall, they used about 2/3 of a large trailer (large 2 story house full of stuff). It was not the fastest service, taking about 6 weeks to move cross country, but by far the cheapest. Unloading was the same, did it themselves, called the company to remove the trailer. Maybe not an ideal solution for you, since you don't have a house to take it to.
 

Dave Johnson

Aluminum
Joined
Oct 17, 2007
Location
Pleasanton, CA
However, we are planning to live in the San Fran area. Not to air dirty laundry, but my wife wants to live in Berkeley (yech!) or Oakland and I want to live further out, perhaps Walnut Creek or Novato. I'm not a city person.

I'm definitely expecting S.F. to be a culture shock.....

And, my wife's head exploded at the thought of spending $6k to save $2k on household movers.

I think culture shock is going to be irrelevant, when you are dealing with the sticker shock of buying a house, with enough room for a shop.

But, the weather is great. :cheers:

Dave
 

Mad Dad

Hot Rolled
Joined
Aug 1, 2002
Location
Carlsbad (San Diego), CA
Dave is right about the housing prices. Down here in Carlsbad an acre of land like I have with a modest house will set you back about $2 million. Probably more so up in the bay area.
 

77ironhead

Titanium
Joined
Jan 22, 2006
Location
maryland
racer al.....beware the 'pro' movers.....especially the 'pack' option, my best friend had ALL his dad's Masonic swords (his dad was some high mucky-muck) stolen by the movers (as well as sundry other items).....pro movers DO have some pretty specific ways of packing things to avoid breakage, but keep in mind the price quoted usually falls far short (both in amount to move, and time to load) of reality (they like to quote low to get the job)....consequently there's a LOT of pressure on the guys loading the truck to hurry-hurry-hurry, and besides, it's not like it's THEIR stuff that they're moving....document, document, document (videotape is your friend) ALL of your belongings and their condition previous to the move, and if you DO go for the 'they pack it' option, detailed inventory of WHAT you owned at the start of the day as well.....I believe I gave you my phone # awhile back via PM on an unrelated subject, so feel free to give me a call if you decide you need more specific insight on good packing options if you choose to have a pro mover move your stuff, but want to pack it yourself....I can also offer free advice on some smaller loading tips should you decide to continue on with your current plan (back in college I worked for Atlas van lines for a summer). on the 'up-side', pro movers have all the little fun thing to make moving less painful, like an abundance of packing blankets, duct tape, plastic shrink-wrap, etc....

on edit: the info I have is open to anyone with need, not trying to hide anything by going to phone with Al, but I could type all day and not convey my meaning as well, or as completely....
 
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Mud

Diamond
Joined
May 20, 2002
Location
South Central PA
I think culture shock is going to be irrelevant, when you are dealing with the sticker shock of buying a house, with enough room for a shop.

But, the weather is great. :cheers:

Dave

I was visiting a customer in Northern CA (Healdsburg) about 2002, I remember picking up a newspaper real estate section and seeing a used mobile home advertised for $275,000 :eek:. Drove through Silicon Valley and the area where Michael Moore lives and through SF on the way there. Crowded like Long Island, but without the attitude. Bunch of protesters closed down the Golden Gate bridge one day on Memorial Day weekend. Heard them the next day on the radio after being arrested - "The police made us do it!" :crazy:
 

matt_isserstedt

Diamond
Joined
Dec 15, 2003
Location
suburbs of Ann Arbor, MI, USA
Just a question...and maybe I missed reading somewhere....

But, I'd think you have to look seriously at the comparison cost of a rented 24' box truck and climate-controlled storage on the West End. I'm guessing that cubic volume is close to the same, although the truck might not have the payload capacity of a container. But, the hassle factor has got to be 90% less from what I read above other than the grunt work of simply packing and moving and driving for 3 straight days.

Those containers will get HOT in the summer sitting outdoors, like upwards of 120F inside without forced or wind-driven ventilation. Then there's the problem of dirt intrusion if they are out in the desert. If it rains, then it gets humid and things start to flash rust before the low humidity can kick back in. Strange I know but I stored some tools and project parts in a "mini-mobile" in desert AZ once and I couldn't believe how hot it was internally when opened and how poor the objects looked (rusty & dirty) when reopened, just a few months later.

Not trying to throw a wrench in your plans as I know there's literally millions of tons successfully shipped that way...but when they sit...strange things can happen.
 
In the desert southwest Victorville area 120 is near ambient, the inside of a metal container would be more like 150-160. The wind blows often and the fine dust gets everywhere. I would highly recommend sealing anything that is dust sensitive. The whole container thing sounds like it may be more trouble than its worth? Situations where both ends of the trip have the resources to handle the container make the container work well. Remove those resources and it becomes far more costly and precarious.

Steve
 

Ries

Diamond
Joined
Mar 15, 2004
Location
Edison Washington USA
I have a bit more stuff than you do- but the last time I moved, in 95, I bought a 40 foot container, and filled it myself, welding and screwing tabs to the walls, to secure the big machines.
Then, I had a guy come over with a 35 ton rough terrain crane, and he loaded it onto a 40 foot flatbed. At the other end, the crane company insisted on using a 120 ton crane- with a 4 hour minimum call. Mine only weighed about 45,000lbs, but the crane company wasnt taking any chances. Both of the locations were dirt, not paved, so it required off road cranes at both ends.
Considering prices nowadays, I dont think you could do each end for $800 unless you know somebody with a crane.

At the same time, on the same move, we also called up Schneider National, and had em drop off a 53' trailer (I told you I have more stuff) and I loaded that up with a forklift and hired help. Then Schneider came and picked it up, drove it to my new place (1500 miles) and left it for a week while I unloaded it.

In both cases, I was the only user of the truck, and the load went straight from my place to my place- both, in my opinion, very good things- it means less chance of theft, minimum chance of yard damage.
With common carriers or regular moving companies, other people move your stuff around while you arent there.
 

Racer Al

Stainless
Joined
Feb 20, 2006
Location
Oakland, California, USA
I'm thinking moving it out there by rail would be the far cheaper way to go. Getting it hauled to Victorville on a flatbed semi trailer is likely to end up running about $1.50 a mile for 2550 miles or so... :eek:
Mark

That's still significantly cheaper than a pro mover -- the lowest quote we had was for $6600, and as high as $10k.

The reason cost is so important is that the move is "personal", not work-related, and therefore no company sponsoring the cost of the move.

Hello Al, Try giving this lady Kim a call at I.M.O.K. Freight Inc

Will do -- creative is good! We have spoken to a couple freight brokers today, and the consensus is that LTL freight companies generally don't like to deal with household belongings -- too much liability -- even if they're all boxed, palletized, and wrapped, or crated.

Some friends moved from CA to FL a few years back. After extensive research, they found the cheapest way was to have a semi trailer parked in front of their house. Did all the packing and loading themselves, then called the company when finished. The shipping company came out, walled off their stuff with plywood, and proceeded to the next customer.

This sounds like a good plan, I'll ask about this process. Presumably this service is offered through a truck shipping company, NOT a pro mover, right? The 6-week time frame may work in our favor by offering essentially a month+ of free storage.

... you are dealing with the sticker shock of buying a house, with enough room for a shop.

... in Carlsbad an acre of land like I have with a modest house will set you back about $2 million. Probably more so up in the bay area.

The both of you, don't get me started. Especially since our home here is freshly renovated and PAID FOR. :angry::angry::angry::angry::angry: You may safely assume that moving isn't my idea. Damnit, where's the "drinking warm gin at 9 in the morning" emoticon?

racer al.....beware the 'pro' movers.....

Yeah, my feelings exactly. I don't trust ordinary people, much less people that can't get a better job than humping boxes all day long. Sorry if that sounds "elitist". If we do decide to go with a pro mover, everything will be boxed or crated to my satisfaction except big furniture, which will be blanketed.

Our plan is to photograph everything and have an Excel database of every item we need to move. Of course, as the days tick by, that plan may never get implemented.

Mudflap - Michael Moore is a friend, and we've visited several times (being near to my wife's family certainly facilitates that) and he used to travel to Baltimore for business each year. So, yes, we are familiar with the Real Estate section that has listings that read "1100 sq. ft. starter home, needs work, $650k."

I'd think you have to look seriously at the comparison cost of a rented 24' box truck and climate-controlled storage on the West End. I'm guessing that cubic volume is close to the same, although the truck might not have the payload capacity of a container. But, the hassle factor has got to be 90% less from what I read above other than the grunt work of simply packing and moving and driving for 3 straight days.

Those containers will get HOT in the summer sitting outdoors,

Matt, I believe you are absolutely correct, although part of the issue is our time, the move comes at the beginning of a seasonal peak in my business. I think that true to form, I dove into the container idea thinking that it looked smart, but in fact, isn't the 100% solution I'd believed it was. I visited the U-Haul site again, and suddenly $2200 for rental, $1900 for gas and $460 for an automobile trailer is looking pretty good. At the start of the moving process, those figures were shocking.

I planned to install a pair of roof vents (the whirling-pumpkin type) into the container upon arrival. Victorville is HOT. Like don't pack **anything** plastic hot. Last time I visited was in early June, it was 109* at 9am. Yeah, dry heat my ass -- at least in humid weather my nose doesn't bleed. :willy_nilly:

As Steve in SoCal points out, yes, HOT. Regarding the dust, I had explicitly planned on not packing any electronics, but I suppose that your cautionary words could apply to books, artwork, etc.

Ries, wow... you have some stuff. :cheers: I'll have to tell my wife that I'm a hack, and need to acquire more machinery, ASAP.

OK, I'm calling off the dogs for actually shipping the container. We'll use it as a "staging area" when we get the U-Haul or Dry Van drop-off, then sell the container. Climate controlled, dust-free storage is $300 per month... I figure we can pay for 4~6 months of storage for what it would cost *just* to load and unload the container. It will also be conveniently located near our future home, instead of 6+ hours away.

Thank you all very much for your input, it's been educational to say the least.
 

Ries

Diamond
Joined
Mar 15, 2004
Location
Edison Washington USA
That was 13 years ago- It would take at least 3 times that amount of room to move the stuff I have now...

But I am not moving again- the kids can deal with the heap after I am gone.

I think you are wise to change your plan- we used the container as storage for a year in California, and then for about 5 years or more up here, and one thing I learned- rodents love containers.
They move right in- in fact, I am pretty sure some came along for the ride.
So you would not want to leave good clothes or grandma's handmade quilt in a container in Victorville for a year- you run the risk of unpacking em shredded.

Whereas ministorage places have regular contracts with pest control guys.
 

Michael Moore

Titanium
Joined
Jun 4, 2004
Location
San Francisco, CA
Alan, the house next door is closing at the end of the month. The owner started off at a mere $565K, and it is the same 1100 sq foot house as we've got. When you recall that the house on the other side of us sold Feb 2007 for about $700K it looks like you may have missed out on a bargain.

It would have been so convenient to have you and Zina next door. :) We don't yet know what kind of new neighbors we're getting.

cheers,
Michael
 

Racer Al

Stainless
Joined
Feb 20, 2006
Location
Oakland, California, USA
Yes, Michael -- that would have been terribly convenient. I wouldn't have to worry about moving those pesky machine tools. I'd just use yours, which are significantly better than mine, anyway. :skep:

Heck, I could have just run an ethernet cable over to your Tree. :toetap:




Just kidding, of course. I am truly looking forward to spending some quality gearhead hanging out time. Maybe we can get that TLR of yours running and head out for a pleasant street ride.

You're right - new neighbors are definitely a crap shoot. Hopefully, you'll be lucky and get agreeable ones.
 

mobile_bob

Stainless
Joined
Oct 23, 2005
Location
tacoma washington
i have been watching this thread with great interest, i need to move maybe two 20 foot containers or a 48 foot trailer from tacoma to central kansas pretty soon.

i would like to do it with two containers because i can set them maybe 20ft apart and roof over them for a machine shed, kinda ghetto i know, but no one but me will be able to see the results anyway.

this issue of loading and unloading a loaded container is a real problem, so i might have to go with the chassis so that they can be towed from the rail yards on each end?

guess i will keep following this thread?

bob g
 

Ries

Diamond
Joined
Mar 15, 2004
Location
Edison Washington USA
It would be a lot easier if the USA had adopted the Swinglift style of container truck that Bob mentioned earlier- which are ubiquitous in NZ and Australia, and pretty common in Europe as well- but they are very rare here. I have never seen one in the flesh in the USA- although they are nominally for sale, nobody much uses em.

We unload containers at the port with giant cranes or straddle lifts, pop em directly on a chassis, and basically never take em of except to put on a train or another ship.

That means that if you want to move full containers, like mobile bob does, you pretty much have to hire a crane at both ends. Which aint cheap.
For a single move, with relatively poorly packed stuff (that is, it doesnt have custom foam packing material molded to each piece, like a container of TV's would) I sure wouldnt ship by train- as I said earlier, I would use a freight broker to arrange an independent trucker to take my 2 20 footers directly from my place to my new place- the amount you save on shipping isnt gonna be much, by using train, and the potential for damage is great.
 

Racer Al

Stainless
Joined
Feb 20, 2006
Location
Oakland, California, USA
If I were doing this over, I would outright buy a container chassis. Then, I'd hire a tractor to tow the chassis to the place I'd purchase the container, and have THEM load it onto the chassis... if they want to make the sale.

In your case, Bob, put them on the chassis with the doors facing the front and rear. You can build a ramp or steps up to the container. If you need to use a forklift, be sure the containers are near the ends so you can get the forks in.

Tow to the new location, unload, drag the containers off the chassis, and sell the chassis when you're done. The only lost money is tax and registration on the trailer.

BTW, I like the idea of a covered work area between the containers. You could even have a trolley, or several, if you used some I-beam as roof supports. As I mentioned, I've been using mine as a garage, which has been tremendously convenient, and very secure for storing my bikes.
 








 
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