View Full Version : Temporary Machine/Material Storage

04-25-2010, 04:18 PM
Several times I have seen where others have needed to store a machine or material outside of a building because of fire, flood, renovation, etc.

I figure it is a just a matter of time before I need to do the same..better to know now how and what works before you need it.

Assuming the neighborhood/HOA/local government allows you to, what options are available?

I have seen people use crates, tarps, cargo containers, etc. with various degrees of success.

I would be interested in hearing of your experiences both good and bad, what works, what doesn't.


04-27-2010, 08:22 PM
Not even one post?

Doesn't anyone store anything outside? ;<)


Forrest Addy
04-27-2010, 09:13 PM
Safe outside storage of machine tools and sensitive equipment starts with a thorough cleaning. Pump out warer bearng liquids, perform oil change before the equipment is de-commissioned. Seal up and protect electrical enclosures installing one or more freshly charged packets of silica gel in every space. Apply a couple of coats a stout waxy metal preservative like LPS3 to every portion of exposed bare metal. Use a preservative that complies with the appropiate MIL Specs. While the preservative is still liquid, pat out layers of cheese cloth on the horizontal finished surfaces and saturate them.

WD40, Boeshield etc light duty protectants are useless for this service.

Intall inside the packaging moisture and temparature montoring equipment as needed along with shock watches, tracking devices, etc.

Place the machine on a tarp covering a pallet or kid using wood dunnage to protect the tarps from being penetrated by the machine's sharp edges. Cover the machine and the lower tarp with an upper tarp. Protect the tarp from penetrations by padding sharp corners etc with chafing gear like clean carpet. If you have a means of heat sealing the tarps together into an impenetrable encapulation so much the better. Toss in several bags of silica gel and one or more vapor phase corrosion inhibitor cups before closing the barrier. While the encapsuaton is still open, place inside a sealed poly package of all pertinant shipping and storage documents, manuals, drawings, certs, and other documents.

Cover the protected machine with one or more layers of additonal tarp to protect the encapsulation from U/V, weather, varmints, encroaching vegetation, climbing kids, and the ravages of storage. Provide an external weather proof container for storage documents, point of contact in case of damage or fire, etc.

A machine tool thus protected will remain in good condition so long as the encapsulation is unbreached. In an unheated warehouse or shipping container the protected equipment might last forever. Regardless, the packaging should be inspected annually, opened and inspected every three years, and re-packaged every ten.

Metal stock in racks if susceptable to water corrosion should be heavily preserved. Even then they should be placed in open shelter never in the weather and kept free from vegetation. Preservative should be reapplied during annual inspection.

That do ya, Tools?

04-27-2010, 11:49 PM
We ran out of space in our factory so went out and bought 2 cargo containers set on gravel pads out back. All the old machines and unused stuff got jamed in. Once in awhile I go in there looking for something. Everything metal is rusted solid. If it was junk before it is now prime junk. I think the temp/humidity swings wreak havoc on things. If you are talking a few weeks or a month to renovate or whatever you might be okay with a coating of oil. Unless it is completely sealed or climate controlled any sort of container, crate living outside will get you rusty machines.

04-28-2010, 12:37 PM
What Forrest said.
Did a similar effort on a mill that I couldn't get into the shop before winter. LPS3 on everything, traversed the tables enough to get a film between sliding parts (however minuscule) and totally sprayed the screws. Removed the motors and brought them inside for the duration. Machine survived without major incident.

04-28-2010, 08:56 PM
I've experimented with different ways of outside storage, and storage in house trailers and semi-trailers. The best results were in a 48 foot aluminum semi type trailer , after I fixed the roof and door leaks. There's no intentional ventilation through the trailer, but I've had no problems with moisture condensation , and the trailer sits far enough off of the ground ( around 40 inches) to eliminate ground moisture problems. I did ignore some small holes in the floor, however, and mice got inside. The second best storage was inside a 60 foot house trailer. Moisture acumulation was more of a problem, however, since the house trailer has windows and doors and roof vents that tend to leak slightly. Better through ventilation would have helped prevent moisture condensation. Overall, the house trailer has poor construction, sits closer to the ground, and needs frequent maintenance . The heavy winter snows of this past season caved in part of the roof. The third best solution is to construct a plywood tent style shed over the stored items, with plywood sides and end panels. The stored items themselves ( in my case a large stack of sawmilled lumber) can support the roof plywood and sides. Make the structure drip proof, but provide lots of through ventilation. Elevate the stored items at least 8 inches off of the ground, with a plastic ground cover. The worst way to store outside items is under plastic tarps , even you provide a floor 8 inches off of the ground . Water will condense on the inside of the plastic under some weather conditions. Providing ventilation is important, and a tent like roof of any material with through ventilation will work better than trying to enclose items under plastic. Don't let the sides of your plastic tarps contact the ground, as that will encourage more condensation. Mice and snakes will be a problem. All considered, the semi trailer was the best storage method. If you're storing small items outside, the plastic bin containers with snap on tops sold at Lowes, Home Depot, etc. keep items in surprisingly good condition out in the weather, and can be placed directly on the ground. They're drip proof, but seem to breathe just enough to avoid excessive condensation. They work better than trying to seal items inside of plastic bags, which invariably end up with water condensation on the inside after a time.

04-29-2010, 12:01 AM
I left this Shizouka outside for almost a year with no ill effects.
Living in the desert has some benefits.

04-29-2010, 09:47 AM
Apparently, submerging objects in a peat bog preserves them remarkably
well even over lengthy periods of time.

Reportedly, such was the case for a Soviet-built T34/76A tank retrieved
in 2000 from a lake in Estonia. The tale and photos appear in the link
below (google "WWII Tank Found" for other sources besides
EnglishRussia.com, if preferred.)

Russian Tank Recovered from the Lake After 50 Years Been There (http://englishrussia.com/index.php/2006/09/17/russian-tank-recovered-from-the-lake-after-50-years-been-there/)



04-29-2010, 10:10 AM
On a more relevant note to the OP, I second Bill736's remarks about
elevation, ventilation and condensation forming within enclosures.

I have used ShelterLogic 10 x 20 garage enclosures for storage and
have observed the tendency of condensation to form, despite free
flow ventilation at the ends of these enclosures. It is not enough
for air to move under the bottoms of the ends, optional vents need
to be added to the gables. (Anchoring these structures is also
essential be cause winds will lift them.)

While they are probably too small for the OP, it is interesting to
contrast the condensation performance of garden sheds like those
manufactured by Royal Outdoor Products which are constructed
from corrogated panels with 1" air gaps between the inner/outer walls.
In conditions where the interior of the SL enclosure is dripping with
moisture, the garden shed's interior surfaces are dry.


04-30-2010, 05:16 PM
Thanks for the responses so far.

How about the rest of you??

Have you never put a machine outside under a tarp? ;<)


04-30-2010, 05:27 PM
With moisture being such a problem in container storage, has nobody considered just buying a $200 ($100 if you find one on super sale) dehumidifyer and running it in the container? in a sealed container, they would only need to deal with the incomming moisture so power usage would be low unless you open the door 10 times a day. Small power outages would likey be no problem.

Theres also some weird large scale 'gel' style dryers you could put into a container and just recook them once a month to dry em out.

04-30-2010, 06:09 PM
In the shop we make up the odd canvas tarp. Stuff we use has a "grid" spaced about 0.5 inch apart weaved into it. Here in OZ its called Superstop (rip stop). Very strong and if it gets a tear it can only goto the next grid. The boss has 2 Staffy terriors and they have trouble tearing it. I hav'nt subjected this stuff to months of snow, so I cant comment on side of things.

We use it all of the time for ute canopies because the condensation factor underneith is much less than a PVC material. It is able to "breathe", where as PVC works more like a plastic bag in this instance. We have customers sleep in the back, put pets in etc...

Ok its not machinery, but I dont need to tell u how much condensation warm blooded critters can generate overnite.

Some of the trailers I see coming into the shop are lined with marine carpet. Seems to help wrt to condensation build up at nite.

05-05-2010, 10:46 PM
Thanks again for the responses.

Anyone else?

I would have thought this would have been a more popular topic.

An example...the Southeast just had some serious flooding...and when the waters drop there will be many people using temporary storage as they clean up their shops.


05-06-2010, 10:52 AM
Maybe an enterprising plastics manufacturer just needs to weld together a few giant size "As seen on TV Space Bags" for machine storage. Move you machine inside, toss in a few desiccant packs, seal it and vacuum out the air.

05-06-2010, 02:25 PM
mmmm, Vacuum packed bridgeport freshness.

If you could keep it in a good vacuum, the water would all boil off, And the oxygen would be.. well, No longer present!

Or maybe just a nitrogen backfill after the vacuum.

Theres an idea.. Nitrogen tank attacked to sealed container to keep it posative pressure :)