Build a Solid Steel Cabin on Steroids that you can HAUL to your site!

20 May

There are “boxes” and then… there are “BOXES”.

We’ve all seen the “soft-sided” pop out boxes that are getting plastered everywhere from “Fresno to Facebook”. It’s a large RV “towable” that folds out to form a big “hardened tent”.

Accordian Cabin Concept for ISBU Conversion

Here at RR (and over at CHC – our business site) We’ve done similar things with 20′ ISBUs for guys who wanted to drop boxes on the beach or in the mountains for three-season holiday tours. They were  never meant to be used in difficult (hard winter) environments.

But what do you do when you need a “FOUR Season” solution?

Canvas or plastic just doesn’t cut it.

IN the ISBU realm, there are boxes called “Rapid Deployment” modules. These are used to create habitable areas that can be transported by truck and then dropped and popped… open.

Some of these boxes actually SLIDE open, allowing more space to be created in a fashion similar to those RVs we see passing us on the highway, hellbent for the nearest Good Sam’s Campground.

Using this “expansion method”, you could turn a 20′ High Cube single width box into a 24’x20’x8’6″ cabin shelter.

The Military uses similar boxes to build structures. There are a lot of reasons WHY they do it;

It’s an easily transported structure.

It’s light enough to be maneuvered into position using farm equipment.

It’s not “rocket science”. You can actually use simple diagrams to show how it all unfolds. This is particularly useful when you’re dealing with “natives” who don’t speak your language.

It sets up in MOMENTS. You deliver it to your site, drop it onto some kind of foundation (be it blocks, pilings, or a slab) and then you level it out and pop it open. About a half hour later (if you’ve NEVER done it before)… You’re ready to start moving furniture and people into that new “Corten Clad” space.

In “our” world, many families and groups want units that they can truck to site, set up and inhabit in a matter of hours. When they leave, they want to be able to secure those units from “Mother Nature or miscreant”. In most cases, these boxes are intended to be transported up into the mountains or someplace “rural” where they’ll stand against whatever comes.

And, they want to be able to “MOVE them to another location” if need be or danger arises”.

In most applications, these boxes are meant for arid or tropical deployment.

You can see by the video that the fold-out walls are quite “thin”. Even if you insulated them with SPF, you’d  only get an R-value of about R15 (not inclusive of any openings you cut in the walls, which would further reduce “R-values”).

We can do better. And, we can do it without having to somehow find these “Rapid Deployment” boxes sitting on Craigslist. Folks, that’s not going to happen.

We need something with a little bit more performance. We need to be able to deploy boxes that can travel from “Atlanta to Antarctica” without encroachment.

Okay, we’re not really going to build boxes (or box systems) that will stand up to “Antarctic” weather, but we’ll easily meet and exceed the requirements for structures dropped into places like Northern Montana or “upper Canada”.

Here at RR/CHC, we’re working on a new “addition” to some of our boxes. We’re building a “side frame” that welds onto each long side, that incorporates the bi-folds required to duplicate this in “harsh weather”.

We even incorporate the twistlocks to tie this system together.

An integral winch system will allow you to move the top and bottom segments out safely, with the push of a button. Think “truck winch and a PV charged deep cycle truck battery.”

In our view, the system has to be deployable by anyone in your party capable of  being tasked with this responsibility. I’m talking a pair of men, women or teenaged children.

Because all of your “mech and tech” (bath/galley/etc) are already installed in the interior of the existing (uncompromised) ISBU -shipping container, all you’ll do is drop the sides and then move the stacked furniture out into the created open areas to set up house! Heck, it’s easier than making a “Butterbar” look like an imbecile! 🙂

You can see how simple this is.

The trick is keeping the boxes narrow enough to allow them to be trailered to your Cabin or BOL (Bug Out Location) site behind a truck. There IS a way to do that. No, we’re not going to describe it. We have to keep some of this to ourselves… LOL!

Add a PV array to the roof for power and a reinforced area built into that roof for water bladders for domestic hot water (gravity assisted, no less) and you’re off-grid in style.

Add a pop-up to the top of the original High Cube ISBU and you have a “Penthouse” sleeping area above the din of the road…

Drop this unit onto a heavy chassis equipped with twistlocks (like maybe a modified Unimog chassis), add some leveler legs with ground plates to it  and you have the ultimate BOV.

Think “M-934ish 5 Ton Expando Vans”… 😉


OR… drop one of these incredible units on TOP of another 20′ High Cube and you have a “High Ground Home” with a place to park your BOV underneath!

(Yes, it’s do-able. You can stack a pair of 20′ High Cube boxes with a pair of bucket tractors. It’s tricky, but we do it all the time.) 🙂

We’ve got some really cool things in store. Watch and learn, Pilgrims.

Stay tuned.

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This is such a great idea that we’ve already paid patent atty’s and copyright guys to protect it. So, no funny business, folks! 🙂


4 Responses to “Build a Solid Steel Cabin on Steroids that you can HAUL to your site!”

  1. sailor305 May 21, 2013 at 7:49 pm #

    Hi Ronin, I am thinking about these expandable shelters quite a while.
    The military versions are quite expensive and out of the reach for most of
    tiny house people.
    I have not been capable to find somebody who is willing to build such a structure
    for less.
    The folding out mechanism is as you said quite simple. However, to get the expanded box water tight seems to me more difficult. The other issue is the weight especially if
    you would like to be self sustainable. The military 20′ shelters are around 10,000 lbs.
    ISBU are designed to carry much more heavy loads (especially the floor) than the ones of a home. Basically some of the floor stringers and at least one layer of the heavy plywood floor could be removed. I’m not an engineer, is it worth the efforts?
    When you like to ship it overseas – as I would like to do – you have to think about placing all your stuff inside. Even when using folding furniture, airbed to name a few only its going to be tough.because you have to put all utilities like LPG tanks, batteries, hot water heater, air con, back up generator preferably into a separate place at the end of the box
    at one end,, bathroom, kitchen and with the space for your foldout walls which make the usable space more narrow there isn’t much room left.
    It would be very interesting to learn more about your secrets and to get some estimates about a Ronin designed 20′ expandable shelter.

    • Renaissance Ronin May 22, 2013 at 8:55 am #

      Hi Michael,

      Stay tuned for more details. I think you’re going to be quite pleased about where this path leads.


      • sailor305 May 22, 2013 at 4:33 pm #

        Hi Ronin,
        thanks for replying. I am looking forward to learn more about this features because I have never seen a military 3:1 in a surplus sale.


        • Renaissance Ronin May 22, 2013 at 10:14 pm #

          Hi Michael,
          I’m betting you never will, either. 😉
          However, there’s another way… now. 🙂

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