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Thread: Building a portable storm shelter

  1. #1
    Associate Engineer
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    Building a portable storm shelter

    We need to design a portable storm shelter for use at new solar field installations.
    We have 20' x 8'6" x 8'6" steel shipping containers that have been retofitted with a 34" door and reinforced windows.
    The container weighs 5500 lbs. and has (4) 3200 lb concrete freeway barriers, one centered at each corner, attached by chain to the upper corner of the shipping container.The containers are located in freshly tilled, loamy soil.
    How much force would need to be applied at 4'3" above ground on the 20' long face to lift the container?

    Thanks for the help!!

    Terry the Electrician.

  2. #2
    Technical Fellow jboggs's Avatar
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    Considering the fact that the answer to your question involves human safety, I would recommend that you pay for the services of a professional engineer rather than relying on an answer from someone you never met on an online forum. Just imagine how that defense would sound from the witness stand in court.

  3. #3
    Administrator Kelly Bramble's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tliska View Post
    We need to design a portable storm shelter for use at new solar field installations.
    We have 20' x 8'6" x 8'6" steel shipping containers that have been retofitted with a 34" door and reinforced windows.
    The container weighs 5500 lbs. and has (4) 3200 lb concrete freeway barriers, one centered at each corner, attached by chain to the upper corner of the shipping container.The containers are located in freshly tilled, loamy soil.
    How much force would need to be applied at 4'3" above ground on the 20' long face to lift the container?
    5,500 lbs + (4 x 3,200lbs) + misc = 18,300 lbs minimum force.

    Are you sure this is what your looking for? I suspect that your real question is how much soil surface area is required to support a 18,300 lbs container plus lifting equipment plus misc. so that we don't sink into the soil and get stuck.

    This would require a soil test, and a civil engineer familiar with the local conditions and some sort of heavy hydraulic or mechanical equipment that we have zero idea on what it looks like. See jboggs for more insight on your requirements.
    Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.

  4. #4
    Lead Engineer Cake of Doom's Avatar
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    Freshly tilled (disturbed) soil is relatively worthless unless you only need an extremely low bearing pressure say, ~15 - 20 kPa. To achieve higher pressures you'll need to start digging. I'd employ a local, reputable Geotechnical/Civil Engineer to perform a soil survey, and help you work out the required (and to code) bearing pressures and how far down you'll need to go for a firm footing.

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