Different Options for Shipping Container Hinge Maintenance

Maintaining the Moving Parts

There are two parts to a shipping container turned storage container that actually get used, those are the hinges and the cam locks. Since these two parts get moved and operated, any problems become apparent quickly and they get more frustrating as the ability to use them deteriorates. I decided to do a little internet research to see what people were doing to maintain the hinges on their storage containers and I was surprised to find there seems to be no sure formula.  Instead this research turned up a potpourri of suggestions, concoctions and philosophy’s on container hinge maintenance.  Frankly the best suggestion I heard was the most straight forward but we’ll get to that later.

The things that need to occur in hinge maintenance are twofold; the first one is to get the crud out. The crud build up is what binds the door and makes it difficult to move.  The second thing needed is to lubricate the two hinge surfaces to maintain smooth operation and to keep crud from building up again.  If both of these items occur you will have a smooth operating door.  I found a forum thread indicating people have used muriatic acid and liquid soap, paint thinner and brake fluid,  diesel fuel and motor oil,  three parts WD40 and one part automatic transmission fluid, automatic transmission fluid and acetone  to name a few. I’m not sure which of these worked better than the others but each of these had one thing in common, one of the mixture parts broke down or forced out the gunk and the other part of the mixture offered some form of lubrication to the hinge.


Two products that people have had success with are “Fluid Film” which is available at Grainger Suppy and “Rust Check,” Rust Check is available in Canada however I don’t believe we can get it in the States. From reading product literature these products cleaned out the crud and provided some lubrication as well.

The straight forward plan I spoke of earlier would be to clean out the hinges with penetrating fluid or paint thinner then drill a hole, tap it and install a zerk fitting in each hinge and fill them with grease once or twice a year. The grease will both lubricate for smooth action and will keep crud for entering back into the hinge and causing the door to bind up once again.

This topic seems to be one of those with many different solutions instead of one or two methods. Most of us have some combination of these items on the shelf somewhere so instead of running to the auto parts store for transmission fluid and the gas station for diesel fuel just go to the kitchen for some liquid soap and out to the container for some paint thinner, mix it up try it on the hinges and let us know how it works.


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