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Posted: 3/3/2012 6:46:59 PM EST
There's a lot of information out there on underground bunkers. Some are just tornado shelters or root-cellars and the like. Others are for serious SHTF scenarios. I've been all over the web looking at stuff from DIY to big $$ disaster shelter specialist firms.

There's so many variations on what can be used:
- Pre-fab composite underground arch-dome-style and tank style modular systems
- The 8' steel pipe "submarine-like" bunkers that can be modular as well
- Steel plate and box-beam custom drop-on-site style

My requirements:
- Economical
- Modular
- Customizable
- Does not require a massive construction project that attracts attention
- Relative ease of DIY assembly

I've 90% decided that I can design a CBRN/EMP bunker using modified ISO standard shipping containers.

Concerns and design problems to be solved:
- The containers themselves are NOT structurally safe to bury under heavy layers of soil or gravel
(Enhancement to the containers will be needed to support the weight above and around them)
- Corrosion
- Air / Water Leaking

Let the discussion begin....
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Posted: 3/3/2012 6:50:37 PM EST
My first question is about corrosion resistance.

After the reinforced module is built using the container and structural enhancements, soda blasting and a complete coating of truck bed liner was my idea for sealing the thing.

Assuming I built a rig to rotisserie the module, do you think the truck bed liner would be simple enough and do the trick?
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Posted: 3/3/2012 8:15:15 PM EST
why do it?

Unless you get them really cheap it is much cheaper to build with concrete block.
Pour a slab, mortar up the walls, or dry stack and surface bond. Grout the cells if you need to. Pour a roof.
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Posted: 3/3/2012 8:26:14 PM EST
Building it with a cast in place concrete foundation, and roof with CMU block walls would be more economical and stronger. You could use coatings for a vapor/moisture barrier on block and concrete as well as any metal. Check home depot or lowes or if it is a super big job go big like whitecap or some other construction supplier.

You could also build cast in place vertical cylinders (envision a water tank) in a cluster with connecting passageways out of concrete culvert pipe.

Another option would be to use very large culvert style corrugated metal pipe or sections like it bolted together.

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Posted: 3/6/2012 10:39:58 AM EST
Corrosion resistance in below grade steel structures, aka pipelines, is a very heavily studied and practiced subject and quite frankly it ain't rocket science.

Coat the outside to the best of your ability, then apply a little current to the proper circuit and ta-da!

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Posted: 3/6/2012 11:54:59 AM EST
I agree with above. If you have to reinforce the shipping container anyway (and you do) and you're going to use it for protection (think if used for storm shelter), you're going to need plenty of reinforcement on top or bury it deep enough to hold weight if something big falls on it (think car or truck or house thrown by tornado).

I'd just go ahead and build it out of concrete block with a poured floor and top. Save the cost of the container and put that money into the materials. Read up on how to build one and do most of the work yourself if you can, and put that savings into the materials.
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Posted: 3/6/2012 12:22:31 PM EST
I wonder if sacrificial anodes would work for corrosion resistance. Zinc is pretty cheap. But your structural issues seem to be bigger than the corrosion issues.
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Posted: 3/6/2012 2:54:17 PM EST
Originally Posted By bloodsport2885:
I wonder if sacrificial anodes would work for corrosion resistance. Zinc is pretty cheap. But your structural issues seem to be bigger than the corrosion issues.


Exactly.

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Posted: 3/8/2012 5:57:36 PM EST
[Last Edit: 3/8/2012 5:59:42 PM EST by Wrek]
As you have already stated, the containers are not meant to hold great amount of weight across their tops and sides, the weight of other containers when stacked is distributed between the 4, raised and reinforced, corners of the box. Placing large amount of weight in the center of the top of the container would most likely cause it to collapse inward.

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Posted: 3/9/2012 12:58:11 PM EST
Its an often pondered project which illicits the same response every time- dont do it.
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Posted: 3/10/2012 8:04:08 AM EST
I've seen a modified use of a shipping container that was buryied.

The guy bought a very rough container to save some money. beat the dents and patched hole in it.......
dug a hole to place the container in.
poured a concrete floor in the bottom of the pit something like 2 foot wider and 1 foot longer on the back.
while concrete was curing, he cut holes and lines in the container
placed container on the floor and used the container as inner form walls.
braced the panel sides with timbers all over to keep it from crushing
tied in rebar
put up outer form wall
poured walls,
poured roof

once the concrete was set
removed outer wall forms, and timbers
finished cuts on inside of container so he could strip the side panel and roof out.
left the door frame, end frame, connecting tubes and the floor in it.


probably works well but alot of work just to use the doors and jamb basically
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Posted: 3/10/2012 2:14:36 PM EST
[Last Edit: 3/11/2012 1:00:20 PM EST by Still_learning]
Even if the container could handle the weight from the dirt, what happens when a bomb goes off and adds another several psi (I've seen numbers on the internet ranging from 1 to 15 psi) over pressure to the top surface?

8ft wide X 40 ft long X 144 si/sft X (1 to 15 psi) = 50,000 to 700,000 lb of force. Add that to the weight of the dirt already sitting on the top. The dirt acts as a preload that reduces the effective strength of the top.

All you've done is build yourself a metallic coffin.

Square corners are weak.

A flat roof is weak.

Do it right or don't do it at all.
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Posted: 3/10/2012 2:21:52 PM EST
If you do the 8' tube style then you can store goods under the floorboards. Just say'n.
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Posted: 3/15/2012 7:02:28 AM EST
I've been reading the responses and checking the costs and effort of reinforcing the freight containers. By the time I'm done doing all of that, it would cost nearly as much as a commercial trucked-in shelter.

So, exploring alternatives... There's a couple shelter companies that make the round corrugated pipe shelters. One even does the 10' diameter version. Yes, the floor board idea with water and food storage is great. Just wondering how thick the metal is on those pipes. Almost considering coating the pipe with either swimming pool shot-crete and rebar or box in the pipe with concrete block and filling the void with poured concrete. I don't have a lot of faith in a piece of corrugated pipe holding 8-10' of dirt above it. Yeah, "earth arching" aside, I don't want the thing to become a tomb. I also don't feel like spending $600k for one of those Discovery channel welded box dumpster bunkers. He makes a great product, but after buying that, I won't have enough to build the house over it.

Anybody messed with that 10' corrugated pipe? How thick is the steel?
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Posted: 3/15/2012 8:07:18 AM EST
Originally Posted By PropellerHead:
I've been reading the responses and checking the costs and effort of reinforcing the freight containers. By the time I'm done doing all of that, it would cost nearly as much as a commercial trucked-in shelter.

So, exploring alternatives... There's a couple shelter companies that make the round corrugated pipe shelters. One even does the 10' diameter version. Yes, the floor board idea with water and food storage is great. Just wondering how thick the metal is on those pipes. Almost considering coating the pipe with either swimming pool shot-crete and rebar or box in the pipe with concrete block and filling the void with poured concrete. I don't have a lot of faith in a piece of corrugated pipe holding 8-10' of dirt above it. Yeah, "earth arching" aside, I don't want the thing to become a tomb. I also don't feel like spending $600k for one of those Discovery channel welded box dumpster bunkers. He makes a great product, but after buying that, I won't have enough to build the house over it.

Anybody messed with that 10' corrugated pipe? How thick is the steel?


If you install the corrugated pipe the correct way you will have no problems there are miles of it under roadways. However you can not just dig a hole for the pipe and then cover it up. You must start fill with about 2 feet at a time and compact to 90 or 95 percent. Then add another two feet and repeat until you have completely back fill you unit. If you go this route I would have the manufacturer coat it in tar for you on the outside and save your self the water proofing step.
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Posted: 3/16/2012 5:09:02 AM EST
You might want to read this thread... http://www.ar15.com/forums/t_10_17/655531_DIY_underground_bunker__.html
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Posted: 3/16/2012 11:01:15 AM EST
Originally Posted By JosephTurrisi:
Originally Posted By PropellerHead:
I've been reading the responses and checking the costs and effort of reinforcing the freight containers. By the time I'm done doing all of that, it would cost nearly as much as a commercial trucked-in shelter.

So, exploring alternatives... There's a couple shelter companies that make the round corrugated pipe shelters. One even does the 10' diameter version. Yes, the floor board idea with water and food storage is great. Just wondering how thick the metal is on those pipes. Almost considering coating the pipe with either swimming pool shot-crete and rebar or box in the pipe with concrete block and filling the void with poured concrete. I don't have a lot of faith in a piece of corrugated pipe holding 8-10' of dirt above it. Yeah, "earth arching" aside, I don't want the thing to become a tomb. I also don't feel like spending $600k for one of those Discovery channel welded box dumpster bunkers. He makes a great product, but after buying that, I won't have enough to build the house over it.

Anybody messed with that 10' corrugated pipe? How thick is the steel?


If you install the corrugated pipe the correct way you will have no problems there are miles of it under roadways. However you can not just dig a hole for the pipe and then cover it up. You must start fill with about 2 feet at a time and compact to 90 or 95 percent. Then add another two feet and repeat until you have completely back fill you unit. If you go this route I would have the manufacturer coat it in tar for you on the outside and save your self the water proofing step.


I was thinking of having the manufacturer coat it with truck bed liner. It's flexible, durable, waterproof, and takes abuse (installing in pea gravel) well. Line-X has portable trailer rigs and can go to the manufacturer to coat it while it's on their lift. Currently looking at Atlas Shelter and a couple others. Atlas does 8', 10', or 12'.

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