Layout in a Shipping Container?

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by Steam Donkey, Jan 23, 2003.

  1. Steam Donkey

    Steam Donkey Member

    Has anybody created, or put any thought into, building a model railroad in a ISO shipping container?

    Seems to me that a used container (8'x20') is somewhat affordable (about $3,500 Canadian), is weathertight, secure, and transportable to boot! If one feels really adventurous, there are even longer sizes available, 40’, 53’ etc.

    Are there any problems assosiated with this? Or any other benifits?

    I have the space to plunk one of these on my property, and if I plant some tall shrubs and stick a trellis around it, my neighbours might not even complain! :D

    Any thoughts?

  2. sumpter250

    sumpter250 multiscale modelbuilder

    Sounds like a good idea to me. It would have to be insulated, and set on a solid base. Above all, you would have to be sure the zoning regulations didn't interfere, before going ahead with it.
  3. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Mobile Home

    There was a neat layout in Great Model Railroads or Model Railroad Planning 2002 that was housed in a mobile home.

    Personally, I am trying to convince my wife that a caboose in the backyard would make a great train room.

  4. charleswebb

    charleswebb New Member

    I like the idea of a caboose in the back yard:D :D :D :D

    Wonder if my landlord would mind:rolleyes: :rolleyes:

    Only problem I would have to make room for a cot. My better half would have me sleeping in it;) ;) ;) ;)
  5. rockislandmike

    rockislandmike Active Member

    Personally, I'd find the container a little claustrophobic cause there's no windows. But, that's just me.

    A bright orange Hapag-Lloyd container would look really kewl in the backyard, though !!! :D
  6. Steam Donkey

    Steam Donkey Member

    Hmmmmm........I wonder if canned layout is as good as the fresh stuff?:D
  7. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Charlie -

    My wife's only response to this has been along the lines of "won't you be cold sleeping out there" or "I'll miss you (a bit)".

  8. billk

    billk Active Member

    Just went to a train show in Central City IA last weekend - there was a club layout on display near where the show was, in a double-wide trailer.

    Question - not being real familiar with the shipping containers, I assume you would have to cut in a door, or would whatever comes with it work? (If you have to cut in a door, might as well do some windows too!)

    In addition to the insulation and solid base Sumpter250 mentioned, you also would need electricity (duh).
  9. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    Re: Mobile Home

    I saw that, and when I read this thread, I thought of it. Perhaps if a full mobile home is too much (size) a camper type trailer could be acquired of a size more suitable. Either would be set up for creature comforts and be easier to relocate. And you will need HVAC out there when she changes the locks on the house!
  10. t. alexander

    t. alexander Member

    Funny how thinking outside the box for a room solution can be solved by working in the box. :D

    Personaly would have a problem with how to deal with the steel when it came to insulation, air conditioning, heating, wireing and so on. If your handy with a torch, or your buddy is or you can hire the work out it sounds feesable. but by the time it's all said and done, it might be easier and possibly just as cost effective to build a simple wood framed structure about the same size, while being a little easier on the wifely's eye's.

    Btw, Charlie I got one of them caboose's in the back yard. It was my landlord who suggested doing it. Never know till you ask, LOL.

  11. Vic

    Vic Active Member

    Don't think that a shipping container is going to be a good idea. Before I retired I used to inspect them for several overseas marine insurance companies. They are not easily moved except by trucks with special dollys. They are extremly heavy and in order for it to be in a permanant setup most likely it would have to have a full foundation, otherwise it will settle into the ground. A dolly equipted truck will not be able to "roll" it off on to a foundation and most likely a crane would be required to set it in place. They are made of heavy gauge steel...insulating it will be a problem although insulated versions are available. Providing adequate ventilation will also be a problem since they are pratically airtight once the doors are closed. The interior will "sweat" with temperature changes....thats why things shipped in them (unless just junk) are wrapped in polyfilm. Most all used containers that might be available have been exposed to saltwater and rust has set in and can't be stopped. They're great for temporary storage purposes but really don't fill the bill for something permanant like a train layout.

    Used mobile homes can be had very reasonably. Check with a company that finances them. They usually have all different styles that have been repo'd and some "super" deals can be had. They are easily moved, set up and have all of the "comforts" built in. Most have no interior load bearing walls so its easy to "gut" them to obtain the space you need. Believe that you would probably end up spending less on a mobile home than you would overall on converting a container.
  12. Clerk

    Clerk Active Member

    My wife and I live in a 24' X 60' mobile home in a senior mobile home park. I have taken over the family room (with the wifes blessing) for my train room. My layout is 8' across the south end. 11' on the west side and 9' in the east side. It is in the shape of a U. It is N scale. It is real handy when I get the urge to work on it or run some trains and I don't have to worry about weather fluctuations.
    Jokingly I made the remark about using the living room which is 24' by 17' but my wife put her foot down flat. I suddenly decided that if I wanted to continue living here I would be satisfied with the family room.
  13. interurban

    interurban Active Member

    Smart thinking Dick;)
  14. Bill Stone

    Bill Stone Member

    Seems to me that Vic knows the skinny on containers.
    If you want 8 x 20, that's a pretty common travel trailer size. Most of them that size have little or no real partitions, and would be easy to gut, are insulated, have electricity, heat, and (some even have) air conditioning. And the added plus of being able to tow them home (or to your next home) behind an ordinary car or pickup. Also, used ones are pretty cheap to buy (particularly if the interior is rough) and won't look so bad in your yard.

    I'd go for the travel trailer.

    But try to find one that doesn't leak.....

  15. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Trailer life

    I think John Armstrong's book Creative Layout Design had a layout that would occupy your spare mobile home.
  16. n-scaler-dude

    n-scaler-dude Member

    Funny, I was having the same thoughts on this subject as all you. M y parents bought an older single wide mobile home at a local auction for $150, which they use for storge for their business.

    I 'd also thought about the caboose for a trainroom. I even had an opportunity to buy one about a year ago, when they auctioned off a FRISCO caboose that had been setting at a local park, for years. Anybody could submit a sealed bid. I thought about it, until smoeone told me how much the transport could cost.

    For those who are serious about buying a caboose, there are usually a few being offered on ebay.
  17. hi-f

    hi-f New Member

    Container train room

    Build it! Put in house-type doors and windows. Be sure there are two escapes, one at each end, in case of fire. Ask your local Fire Chief for advice, and make a model railroader out of him!!! I'm can't tell a Canadian about insulation and ventilation and heat...Be sure the thing is grounded with a long ground rod against lightning. Post a pic when it's ready!!!
  18. Steam Donkey

    Steam Donkey Member

    Hi hi-f,

    Welcome to the Gauge! You'll find lots of good ideas from this group, and some odd ones (like building a layout in a can) :D

    I do actually have some experience with these container things, the company I work for manufactures a highly modified version of a container, , just wish I could afford to buy one!:(

  19. Railery

    Railery Member

    Its a neat idea and u can get them insulated. But i like the comforts of the home; fridge, stove, tv, lav, puter and i don't get locked out. :D
  20. Mike R

    Mike R Member

    Stan...Vic is right on, the container would likely cause you a lot of heartache [ and a lot of money, too, to get it in shape for a layout].

    We used containers for shipping equipment all over the world, where I used to work, and they were fine for just that.

    The odd time we would refuse to use one as supplied, and insist on a replacement, owing to obvious leaks, or signs of corrosion-caused weakness, which may have compromised the safe lifting, travel, or arrival of our products.

    We bought a couple of 40' used ones for miscellaneous UNHEATED STORAGE purposes, but they were not satisfactory at all, for pretty well all the reasons Vic stated.

    Hey...because you're in Maple Ridge, about convincing MLB superstar Larry Walker to "sponsor" a building for your railroad...??????:D :D :D [If he came from here, I'd try it]..
    good luck & regards / Mike;)

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