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Tips & FAQ’s

Useful tips on containers
There are One Trip (usually called “New”) and Used Containers available on the sea can market in Canada. The difference is quite substantial.
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Even though 20’ and 40’ ft containers are the most popular for both shipping and storage, there is a much larger variety of sizes to choose from.
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Shipping containers are for shipping goods, aren’t they? But not only that. We have a list of more than 20 applications, and it keeps growing.
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General Questions
Would like to know what letters & numbers on your container mean? Did you catch your container smelling bad and want it to stop? We have answers.
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New (One Trip) Containers
What does "one trip" mean?

“One Trip” literally means the container has made one overseas trip full of freight. Sometimes called “One Time Use” (OTU) or One-Trippers. All containers are manufactured overseas and need to be shipped to North America.

Is "one trip" the same as "new"?

a. Not quite. Although newly manufactured, one trips have made one overseas trip with freight loaded inside. This means the containers have been loaded onto a truck and transported to the Port where they are lifted up by some pretty cool equipment and placed on board ship, then are lifted off by more cool equipment at the destination Port, transported by truck (and possibly by rail) to their final destination and unloaded. The container is then transported empty to our depot and lifted off the truck again.

b. What does all this mean? Well it means that despite our best efforts one trip containers are expected to incur a bit of wear and tear.

What is the lifespan of a one trip container?

Containers are built from steel (except for the floor which is made of wood) – They could last up to 30, even 40 years or possibly longer depending on the climate they reside in. If treated properly the container might serve not only you, but generations to come!

What condition can I expect a one trip container to be in when I receive it?

Your one trip unit will be structurally sound and weatherproof – it’s important to remember that containers can get knocked around but are built tough. For one trip units, cosmetic issues can be expected but the bones and structure will be sound.

Used Containers
How does a Used container differ from a One Trip container?

Shipping Lines and Leasing Companies own and maintain their own fleets of containers, as well as using one-time lease (one trip) containers. Generally speaking they keep the containers in their fleets for about 10 – 15 years. After which containers are no longer considered ‘seaworthy’ (no longer usable for overseas shipping) and they sell off their older containers to make room for newer equipment. That’s where we come in, Coast is able to purchase large batches of used containers from these shipping lines and leasing companies.

So, does that mean a used container is full of rust holes and damages?

NOT AT ALL!! The shipping lines & leasing companies usually have an age cut-off for their fleets and will sell all units past that age regardless of the condition. When we purchase the containers, we have them inspected for damages. Unless you are buying “as is” containers from us, your used container is guaranteed to be Wind & Water Tight (weatherproof) at the time of purchase.

What does Wind & Watertight mean?

Exactly what it says! The door seals are intact, the doors function properly, the floor is intact and there are no holes in the container… basically anything that would prevent wind or water getting into your container.

So, if I buy a used container, I can’t use it for overseas shipping?

Actually you can – provided the container has been surveyed by a certified inspector and declared seaworthy. Coast can assist in getting your container surveyed if needed.

Do I need a survey if I am using my container to transport goods domestically (via rail or road)?

A survey is not required but if you are going to use a container to transport your goods you may want to have it done to ensure the container is in good condition and able to protect your freight. Better safe…

What sizes do containers come in?

Standard shipping containers come in the following lengths/types:
20’ STD
20’ STD
40’ STD
40’ HC
45’ HC
48’ HC
53’ HC (53’ foot containers are half a foot wider than other sizes)

What do STD and HC stand for?

They identify the height of the container. STD is standard height (8’6”) and HC is High Cube (9’6” or one foot taller than a STD container)

Are there any other sizes/types?

Absolutely! There are a variety of specialty containers including mini containers (6’, 7’, 8’, 9’ or 10’ length), open side containers (doors done one side), open top containers (with a tarp), insulated, refrigerated, and heated containers.

What can I use my container for?

The uses of shipping containers are numerous and growing every day. Aside from their original purpose – shipping goods from point A to point B, here are some common (and not-so-common) uses:
– Storage
– Alternative to moving trucks or vans (load your container with all your household goods, have it picked up and meet it at your new home!)
– Swimming pools
– Tiny Homes
– Large Homes
– Apartment Complexes
– Hotels
– Affordable / Relief Housing
– Hospitals/Clinics
– Transporting live animals (video!)
– Schools
– Movie and TV set props (have you seen The A-Team movie?)
– Gardens
– Playhouses
– Workshops
– Offices
– Dormitories/Student Housing
– Shops/Stores/Malls
– Food Trucks
– Bridges
– Send us your ideas!

General Questions
Why does my container have an odour?

Containers are used to transport a wide variety of goods and some of those goods may have their own special smell (unfortunately) while others have no smell at all. Once loaded at the origin location and sealed, the container doors can stay closed for up to 6 months so it could just be stale air. Containers do have vents (the number of vents varies depending on the size, type and age of manufacture) but some smells can really linger.

So, if I get a smelly container, what can I do?

It’s surprisingly simple to get rid of odours in containers. Here are the most common methods:
– Air out the container – leave the doors wide open and let it breathe for 24 – 48 hours.
– Zip down to the dollar store or grocery store and buy a large can of the cheapest coffee grounds available. Simply sprinkle the dried coffee over the floor of the container and close the doors. Wait 24 – 48 hrs depending on the strength of the odour, then open the doors and sweep the coffee grounds out of the container.
– Invest in a large bottle of Febreeze or another favourite odour-negating product (eg. Nilodor) and spray the floor of the container.
– Purchase an odour eliminator, there are several available and a quick Google search will lead you to the best options and how to use them for maximum efficiency.

Why are the doors on my container difficult to open/close?

There are a few possibilities:
– Is your container sitting level? Container doors can be difficult to open if the container is sitting on an angle or slope. It’s important to ensure you have your container placed on level ground – or if level ground is not an option (like in BC!) then you can use cinder blocks, garden ties or any other wooden, brick, concrete or solid blocks to ensure the container is sitting level. The blocks should be placed so the corners of the container are sitting flush on them.
– If it’s a used container the doors may be stiff due to exposure to salt air. WD-40 or a similar lubricant can be used on the hinges, locking rods and bars (the door mechanisms) to free them up.
– Is anything obstructing the doors from closing properly? Make sure your goods are far enough back from the doors to prevent them impeding the doors from closing properly.

What do the letters & numbers on my container mean?

Container numbers are essentially serial numbers, each one is unique and tells shipping lines, rail lines and other industry participants who owns the container (or who originally owned it). The numbers are alpha-numeric (4 letters and 7 numbers). The 4 letters identify the original owner/manufacturer and the first 6 numbers are sequential, indicating the batch, size, type and sometimes even colour of the container. The 7th digit is called the “check digit” and it is not sequential – it is calculated using an algorithm and ensures the uniqueness of the serial number.

What is a TEU?

TEU stands for Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit. It is a measure of volume in units of 20-foot containers. Shipping lines express the volume of containers they can carry in TEU’s – for example 18,000 TEUs means they can hold 18,000 x 20’ containers or 9,000 x 40’ containers (a 40-foot container being 2 x TEU’s)

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