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Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum
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Discussion Starter #1
I live in an area that has been hit by several small tornadoes, no where near what has happened in the Mid-west. We have a farm with a good many acres so space is not a problem. The farm house is solid 36"+ field stone walls that have stood for more than 150 years. BUT -

I have an aged mother with me and can not move fast. I want to build a tornado bunker just outside the house into the hillside. At her age and speed it's all she could make if a warning is made. I want to dig this into the side of the hill and bury a used semi-trailer.

  1. Dig the hole
  2. Put in a simple foundation
  3. Run in the trailer
  4. Hook up utilities (electric)
  5. Cover it with dirt
Voila! more or less instant BOL shelter, and it can be relocated if needed.

The trailer or just a container) can be had for as little as $5,000 - I have checked this online. Let's say that hole, utilities, foundation, etc. are another $5,000.

Here is my question, is it feasible and logical?

Here is my question, is it feasible and logical?
 

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It would take some major reinforcing to make that work. There have been several shipping containers mentioned on the forum but they have to have a lot of frame work.
Poured concrete or a heavy steel tank might work better.
The shipping container would be much stronger that a semi-trailer. Do a search on the forum, there are pictures of what other have done.
 

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Indefatigable
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I am researching building a container cabin. From everything I hear, you cannot sucessfully bury a storage container. The load bearing points of a contianer are at the corners. When they are stacked many high, the roof of one is not actually touching the floor of the one above it. The corners are holding the load. When you bury it, eventually the sides and top will start to bow in and eventually fail. I have heard it can be done, but you need engineering advice and some extra $$.
 
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who? what? me? No!!!
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maybe look into a quanset hut. I have no experience with burying one, but due to the shape and construction of them, i would say that with little reinforcement, they could be made to withstand the pressures of being backfilled with earth.
I would think that a small one, say 20 foot by 20 foot could be bought for around $5000 or less, add in a cemnet floor, reinforced cement or cinderblock end walls and you could be in business.

I may be wrong here, but these are just ideas I have thought about
 

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An idea for the penny pinchers like myself, is to get a tank from a cement mixer truck that has been discarded. It is very heavy duty, has an opening to get inside, and would be cheap. For a tornado shelter, I think it would work fine. I would get a couple of golf cart batteries with a small solar charger to keep them topped off. Also get some 12V LED lighting and a battery or 12V radio to hear weather reports. Make a rodent proof/ water proof door, add some ventilation tubes with a small 12V fan. The inside you could get as simple or fancy as you want. Don't forget to store some water, trail mix ( or similar) and a bucket for a toilet. Just an idea.
 

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storage containers will work with reinforcement inside , like every 2-3 feet weld a piece of 4" square tubing 1/4" thick on the sides and over head or bigger tubing !
 

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Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum
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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks

This is some great information and I can see some of you have thought about this as much, if not more, than I have. I never thought about the trailer not being strong enough to handle a load of dirt on top, that's a vaild point although for tornado I don't think have to bury it too deep, maybe not a foot of dirt on top. Once the grass/cover grows back that should be solid.

I like the idea of the cement mixer instead; or perhaps the container, again with reinforcement. I am not sure that Mom could get down the mixer.

Thanks for something to think about.
 

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I would not try to bury a semi trailer. They are very flimsy and have very little actual strength to them. The floor is the main strength, the walls and roof are just basically coverings. Some of the trailers have a translucent roof which is a very thin sheet plastic. While the metal roofed ones can support the weight of a man, I doubt it would take very much dirt to collapse them. Watch them rolling down the road and watch the sides flexing. I pull these for a living and would never consider burying one.
 

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Used dump truck bodies. They are made to hold 30 tons of dirt and then lift the load in the air by only two points. Footings $600 form them with 2x12s. Have the tailgate welded all the way around then a door cut with hinges with a simple 1" bar bent in a U pattern to secure with a hook latch on the inside. You could bury that body 6' under if you want with no chance of it caving in.


http://www.survivalistboards.com/showthread.php?t=148884
 

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Patient Zero of WWZ
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6 or 8 foot round concrete culverts. You know those round concrete tubes they put under roads so water can flow under.

Probably cheaper than semi trailer or shipping container.

And no need to worry about collapsing. You can get caps for them for the back end. String as many as you want end to end. Probably want to seal between them with tar or silicone. Se them in a hole lined with gravel, throw a couple layers of plastic over them and then bury it.

Build the entrance wall out of cinder blocks with of course a big heavy door.

You own perfect little man made cave. But don't forget ventilation!


Another idea I saw at an Oklahoma City flea market. Some woodworking skill needed to build your own

This guy built very heavy boxes that looked like nice furniture. Meant to be set at the foot of your bed and used as a dressing seat. He framed them with 4x4 boards and the "walls" were of 3/4 plywood. Only one end was open.

You hear a tornado coming you crawl into it. He used to back his huge dual wheel truck onto one to show how strong it was. Pretty sure a house could fall on it and you would be safe.

Not as good as a storm cellar, but way better than nothing. And who knows you might land on a witch in some very colorful place full of short people.

You dropped WHAT on my sister?
 

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Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum
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Discussion Starter #14
Best to date

6 or 8 foot round concrete culverts. You know those round concrete tubes they put under roads so water can flow under.

Probably cheaper than semi trailer or shipping container.

And no need to worry about collapsing. You can get caps for them for the back end. String as many as you want end to end. Probably want to seal between them with tar or silicone. Se them in a hole lined with gravel, throw a couple layers of plastic over them and then bury it.

Build the entrance wall out of cinder blocks with of course a big heavy door.

You own perfect little man made cave. But don't forget ventilation!


Another idea I saw at an Oklahoma City flea market. Some woodworking skill needed to build your own

This guy built very heavy boxes that looked like nice furniture. Meant to be set at the foot of your bed and used as a dressing seat. He framed them with 4x4 boards and the "walls" were of 3/4 plywood. Only one end was open.

You hear a tornado coming you crawl into it. He used to back his huge dual wheel truck onto one to show how strong it was. Pretty sure a house could fall on it and you would be safe.

Not as good as a storm cellar, but way better than nothing. And who knows you might land on a witch in some very colorful place full of short people.

You dropped WHAT on my sister?
I love it! The concrete is the best idea yet (I think!) You can probably get "T"sections to use for ventilation / or entrance and maybe laying them flat would get an off section for weapon and supply storage. -- I'm beginngin to think we have a plan.
 

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Patient Zero of WWZ
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I love it! The concrete is the best idea yet (I think!) You can probably get "T"sections to use for ventilation / or entrance and maybe laying them flat would get an off section for weapon and supply storage. -- I'm beginngin to think we have a plan.
You can get them in Ts or Ys. With enough money and dirt you could make yourself quite an underground complex.

Water encroachment would be lessened by starting out on top of the ground and just piling dirt on top. A foot of dirt on top would be fine for a tornado shelter. Several feet for a fallout shelter.

Of course you can fully bury them below grade.

I'm thinking a layer of tar then thick plastic would be all you need for water proofing except in the wettest places. This is the normal thing done to the walls of basements during home construction.

Setting it on a bed of gravel and filling the hole up to about half the height of the tube. A french drain leading downhill would help too.

You can rent a concrete saw to make holes for ventilation. Or you can do it the slow way by drilling a circle of holes with a concrete drill bit then knocking it out.

Any concrete block walls you make would best be buttered and stacked then covered with surface mortar. Buttered means a thin layer of mortar between vs the 1/2 inch seam of mortar that you normally seen. Surface mortar is a mixture of regular portland cement, a polymer "glue", and fiberglass fibers. The polymer makes it water proof. You can order it a Lowes if they don't have any in stock. Surface mortar is much better at withstanding pressure from the side. Like dirt piled against it.

And doing a little searching I find this..Square ones!
http://www.americanconcrete.com/commercial/box_culverts/box-culverts.htm

And there's nothing new under the sun.
http://www.waldeneffect.org/blog/Concrete_culvert_cabin_idea/

Also I see a lot of people using metal ones. Can be welded. But watch out for the poison gasses the galvanization gives off when heated.
 

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Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum
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Discussion Starter #16
I did a Google search on concrete pipe and found tons of stuff for designing underground systems. I am going to try and marry the concrete pipe to the FEMA shelter and see what I can get. I realize this is probably an exercise in futility or a pipe dream (take your pick) but I'm having fun.
 

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Grumpy Old Bastard
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OR.... You can head out to the Midwest and purchase one of the old Nuclear Missile Silos.. Plenty of room for a decent sized family.. Fill the missile area with water or preps and you'd never have to come out..
 
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