Creative Uses – U.S. Forest Service Snowmobile Storage

When the United States Forest Service approached Container Alliance with the idea of repurposing a shipping container as a storage facility for their snowmobiles, we jumped at the opportunity for another inspiring project.

Snowmobiles are a big component of the equipment needed by the USFS to maintain the Mammoth Lakes region of the INYO National Forest.  During the severe winter months, these expensive sleds needed a durable, weather tight and preferably portable place to stay out of heavy snow storms.  During the off-season summer months, the function is equally as important.

The US forest Service came to us to purchase a 40’ shipping container, we recommended the utilization of a 40’ “Super High Cube”, One Trip Container.  This particular cargo box was originally manufactured to transport cars from Asia to California.  The container is 10’ 6” tall, 8’ wide and is over-engineered with it’s intended use in mind.  This Ocean Freight container is comprised of approximately 16 gauge Corten steel throughout. The corten steel container has heavy duty locking gear and all components believed to be built with higher standards.  Inside the container is a heavy duty rack system called “Trans-Rak” that can be lowered from the ceiling of the container to the floor, pull cars into place, and raise them – providing the ability to store and transport up to four cars.  A newly manufactured container with the additional height were the primary reason to use the Super High Cube for this job, however, the Trans-Rak TM system soon became an integral part of the concept.

A New Idea: The Project

We proposed the idea of welding platforms on the racks so that snowmobiles could be stored in the container, potentially 4 up and 4 or 6 down, depending on size.  We installed a 36” steel corrugated personnel door and a 24” x 36” dual pane window with a sliding steel cover to protect from snow pressure.

One of the primary requirements of the Forest Service was that they have access at both ends of the container so that the snowmobiles can be pulled in one end and out the other.  Some sleds do not have the capability of reversing, so this was crucial.  We decided on the installation of two, heavy duty steel, 7’ wide roll up doors installed in both ends of the steel cargo container.

A full electrical package was also installed including fluorescent lighting, outlets, 3-channel breaker and a switch.  Large, diamond plated steel was used as the upper level storage platforms for the Trans-Rak system.  A custom color was chosen, and we opted on an Elastomeric roof covering to further insulate and protect the container from the elements of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range.

The Finished Product

Anytime we embark on new ideas for creative uses with shipping containers, the end result is never a guaranteed success. However, at the completion of this particular project, we felt confident that our hard work wasn’t in vain.  The delivery of the container took place one day before one of the first snow storms of the season, and the container was immediately put to use.  We received a call from the Forest Service supervisor saying the container was exactly what they had wished for and that the snowmobiles were being safely stored already.  They were very pleased with the quality of our workmanship and the function seemed to be ideal.  The INYO County Forest Service was a pleasure to work with, and Container Alliance is looking forward to building similar containers like this, as well as other creative use projects that might come up in the future.