Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Shipping Container: maiden voyage

Last weekend we (the family) spent a few days in Montello to kick off the New Year. The nights were cold, but the days were amazingly warm for January. And, the scenery was amazing, but I'll let the pictures do the talking for that. This was a half work and half play trip. On the work side, a toilet, sink, and retaining wall were added to the new infrastructure list. The toilet was built around the bucket composting ideas discussed on this website: I picked the sink up used from a friend for $20 and have it temporarily plumbed to drain into a bucket under the sink. The retaining wall was started (much more to go) with four tires and was an absolute joy to build. I'm using the "earth rammed tire" concept popularized by Mike Reynolds in his earthship construction techniques...

Although ramming the tires with earth was extremely labor intensive with all the sledge hammer swinging, I kid you not when I say I thoroughly enjoyed it. I love the idea of going to the tire store and having the owner light up when you ask to haul off old tires from his inventory that he would otherwise have to pay to discard. Then, you beat the crap out of these tires in an effort to totally fill all of the voided inside area with dirt. Finally, you end up with a three hundred pound brick that functions excellently as a retaining wall. When the wall is complete, I'll likely coat the exposed tires with asphalt emulsion (extremely sticky tar like roofing compound) and then throw dirt into the stickiness to help them blend into the landscape and provide a UV barrier. Three hundred pounds in weight is just a guess, but these 32" earth rammed tires didn't budge when I tried to lift them!!!

The fireplace literally cooked us out of the space many times. When you combine eagle scout training with a touch of OCD and high “R” values, you get one hot living space! The sliding glass door was often opened to help remove the excessive heat....I consider that to be a good problem! As Curt said, this is all just one big experiment!!!

Almost forgot, the replacement sliding glass door arrived just in time to make the trip to Montello and installed flawlessly. Again, many thanks to Pella! The door was shipped on a pallet, which worked nicely as a front door kicking post to remove dirt and snow from our shoes. I'm not sure if this would be classified as being resourceful or white trash. Luckily, I'm comfortable with either label!

The play side of things began instantly for the girls. They loved playing on the bunks and watching movies as the generator hummed in the background. Shooting the rifle and going on hikes in search of animal tracks were also favorites. We followed day old antelope tracks long enough to realize we should turn around before we ran out of light.

Curt, Geoff, Ellen, and Grace all came out to visit and check things out. We enjoyed their company and look forward to getting to know them better on subsequent visits. And, what trip would be complete without a burger from the Cowboy Bar? The girls enjoyed chicken strips and fries while Jeremi and I chowed on their world famous cheese burgers. Good trip. Good trip!

enjoying the adventure from the upper deck

lounging quarters by day, adult sleeping area by night

one fantastically fab'd wood burning stove....the welds could look better, but it works very well, the price was right, and the satisfaction of building it myself lives on!

freshly rammed tires...planning to go all the way up and backfill along the way

closest neighbor building his house in the background...behind that a view that only a picture speaks for

sharpening our skills....rabbits (dinner) beware!

perhaps the best addition yet when you really, really need to take a load off

sure beats washing your hands outside in zero degree weather

helping Dad move some earth

left the truck in two wheel drive and had zero problems accessing the property

andy (and i) loves his freedom in the ropes, no chains, no limits

jeep trail to the property


  1. Great post !!!! I want to play hihi.....

  2. I'm ready for some more playing RIGHT NOW!!!

  3. Wow, awesome toilet and sink ideas. I had those too for my shed. hopefully will be there soon, as soon as i figure out some things.

  4. Hi,

    I bought 10 acres near Montello and I think your shipping container housing is awesome!

    If you do not mind me asking how much was the container with delivery?

    Thanks Bernie

  5. Hello Bernie. Sorry for the late reply. My new comment notification emails often wind up in my spam folder. I don't mind you asking the container details at all. I bought a new container, but used go for much less cash. I also started brokering containers out of SLC as a side business for extra cash and can get you all the up to date info you need. Pricing fluctuates often and has been on the decline. So I hesitate to post anything here that my disuade anyone after the data is stale. Email me at m*ntell** (*= the letter o) or call me at 435.213.1235. I look forward to communicating with you.

  6. Preston,

    After our conversation today, I just had to check out the in-ground and bucket garden ideas...Both are inspired, and combined, would address most all of your concerns....So when are you starting on it?