There are two parts to a shipping container, turned into a storage container, that actually touch and move, these are the hinges and the cam locks. Because these two parts move and operate, any problems quickly become apparent and become more frustrating as the ability to use them diminishes. Doing some research to see what people do to maintain their storage bin hinges, I was surprised to find that there doesn’t seem to be a safe formula. Rather, this research resulted in a potpourri of ideas, concoctions, and philosophy on container hinge maintenance. Honestly, the most effective idea I learned was the most direct, but more on that later.
The things that should happen in the maintenance of the hinges are two; the first is to remove the crap. Dirt buildup is what binds the door together and makes it difficult to move. The second thing you need is to lubricate the two surfaces of the hinges that rub against each other to maintain smooth operation and prevent dirt buildup. If both of these things happen, you will have a door that works smoothly. I found a discussion thread stating that people have used mixes of; Muriatic acid and liquid soap, diesel fuel and motor oil, paint thinner and brake fluid, three parts penetrating oil and one part automatic transmission fluid, and automatic transmission fluid and acetone, to name a few. I’m not sure which one worked better than the others but each of these had one thing in common, one part of the mix broke or forced dirt and the other part of the mix offered some type of oil to the hinge .
Two over the counter products that people have had success with are “Fluid Film” which is available from Grainger Supply and “Rust Check” Rust Check is available in Canada however I don’t think it can be found in the States Joined. Reading the product documentation, these products removed dirt from the hinge and offered some lubrication.
The straightforward plan I talked about above would be to clean the bin hinges with penetrating fluid or paint thinner, then drill a hole, tap it, and install a zerk fitting on each hinge and fill them with grease once or twice a year. The grease will lubricate for ease of action and prevent dirt from getting into the hinge and causing the door to stick again.
This issue of shipping container hinge maintenance seems to be one of those with several different solutions rather than one or two techniques. Many of us have a combination of these products on the shelf somewhere, so instead of running to the auto parts retailer for transmission fluid and the gas station for diesel fuel, just head to the kitchen for some washing up liquid. and to the container for some paint thinner, mix it up, try it on the hinges, and let us know how it works.