What’s wrong with this second hand 40ft container? (It’s hiding a secret)

Second hand 40ft container for sale

 

This is a true story…

I’m going to share a valuable experience I recently had of buying a second hand 40ft container, this real-life story will hopefully help you avoid a hidden danger when purchasing used shipping containers yourself…

Last week I took a call from a business in Suffolk that wanted to sell some containers to Adaptainer.

The business owner had called Adaptainer to say he was closing his company due to retirement, and that he had 3 x 20ft containers and 1 x 40ft container in his yard that were no longer needed.

He asked me if I would be interested in buying them from him.

I said sure, and asked him to email me some photos of the containers so I could get an idea of the condition.

The photos arrived and my first impressions were that the containers didn’t look too bad.

But it’s hard to tell from just photos if the boxes are completely structurally sound of course.

The business was not far from one of our offices so I called the owner back and made an appointment to look at them in person.

When we met he showed me the 4 different containers.

Again they looked ok.

But I explained to the owner that I wouldn’t know for sure if the containers were structurally sound until they had been lifted off the ground and the underside inspected.

You see although a container may look ok on first appearance it could be hiding a rotten underneath which makes the container worth far less than it would be otherwise.

The owner didn’t have the ability to lift the containers off the ground at his site for me to check the underneath.

Luckily his business was located very close to one of our depots in Suffolk so it would be possible for me to have them properly inspected there instead.

If after inspection the underneath of the boxes were ok then I would pay the agreed higher price.

However, if the underside of any of the boxes were rotten we agreed that I would instead pay the scrap value (since it would have meant the box would have to be scrapped by him anyway) but I would also be left to pay the haulage costs too, so it was a risk on my part.

This is what happened.

Once the containers had arrived at our depot they were lifted off the ground and placed on a stand.

The 3 x 20ft containers were fine – no problems at all. But the second hand 40ft container had a different outcome.

The second hand 40ft container inspection

Watch this video to see what happened when we lifted the second hand 40ft container off the floor.

As you can see the cross members which hold the floor up have advanced stage rust.

The floor was actually disintegrating in the hands of the inspector as he touched the underside.

Second hand 40ft container sale inspection

Advanced rust to the underside meant the container had to be scrapped.

 

Second hand 40ft container cross member inspection

Just gentle touching to the underside resulted in the steel disintegrating.

 

This meant that the 40ft container was only suitable for scrap.

So how can you avoid buying a container that looks ok in photos – but is in fact worth nothing much more than scrap value?

First, I would always suggest buying from a reputable container dealer that has the proper depot facilities and staff to inspect your container before it’s released to you.

If on the other hand you want to take a gamble at an auction for example then try to find out the age of the container, where it has been kept (containers placed directly on grass are much more likely to have rotten undersides).

Also check what type of guarantees you have if something goes wrong with your purchase – is there a return fee you would have to pay?

One of the advantages of buying from a reputable dealer is that containers used for cargo shipping have to pass certain quality tests to ensure that they are suitable for international transport use.

So purchasing a container that has been used for shipping cargo recently rather than storage in a field for example is a much safer bet, as you will at least have some idea of the structural quality in principle.

Shipping containers are built to last many years but hopefully this has helped you to avoid a potential hidden pitfall that could prove expensive.

And of course…

A better quality second hand 40ft container will last longer and also have a higher re-sale value, in case you want to sell it yourself in the future. Win-win.

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