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What's wrong with ammo boxes?


DeepButi
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Every now and then appears a post about the nice containers ammo boxes are.

 

They are not very popular in my country, but I found ... mmm ... let's say ... mmm ... maybe 25/30 of them. I didn't make an accurate list but almost all of them had wet and soggy logbooks. They were clearly not at all water-proof.

 

Do they have some kind of special secret? Why does people like them? Provided my experience I would never choose one of them to make an outdoor reliable container :blink:.

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I have not found one (even my own) with a wet logbook. Perhaps damp, due to opening and closing allowing for humidity changes etc.

 

Writing paper has excellent water (vapor) absorbing properties. Probably as good as silica gel. 'Tis something to keep in mind.

 

I am guessing those wet ones you have found have been due to 'careless' cachers either caching in the rain or not properly closing the ammo can. It is possible too, that the neoprene seal has been compromised or missing.

Edited by Gitchee-Gummee
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Are you in a particularly wet environment? I'm in Ontario Canada and I don't recall an ammo box find with a wet logbook (I've been caching for over 10 years). But maybe in a place that gets a lot of rain, it might be a problem. Is there a container in your area that is reliably water tight? Or do all caches generally have wet logbooks?

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Yep. I've seen new geocachers not know how to close an ammo can properly. If it isn't closed properly, then it will leak.

 

I've seen material (e.g., a plastic bag) trapped in the lid when an ammo can is closed, which wicks moisture into it.

 

And some surplus dealers sell ammo cans with bad gaskets. They will never seal properly.

 

And of course, if a waterproof container is opened in the rain, then the seal will keep the water in.

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I haven't seen to many problems with ammo cans.

We found one recently at a cito that was a cache that had been muggled and moved and later archived. The can had been missing for about three years and was found mostly buried in the mud but the contents were still dry and in pretty good shape. There were a couple of suckers in the cache that were mostly dissolved so there must have been some moisture in the can, but the log book was dry.

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I wonder if you're finding the old style boxes, no gasket? one of them is pictured in the Containers Explained article

 

I've found one cache in a can similar to that, and another from the WWI era. No gasket on either. These aren't terribly useful as geocaches.

 

U.S. military issue cans from WWII and later have a very good seal, and work well as long as that seal is intact, and no one puts the lid down over some item that wicks.

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The ONLY problem I've had with ammo cans is the jerks who keep stealing them. I've had to archive two different caches. When the can is stolen I replace it ONCE. If it's stolen a second time I archive the cache.

 

I've never had one leak. I did, however, find one that someone had placed that had a lot of rust inside it. The CO didn't even bother to clean the thing up. It was nasty.

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I wish everybody would use ammo cans, but I know that isnt a realistic wish.

Ive come across several, all were in great shape.

I have 1 in the field, and 2 ready to go whenever I get around to it.

Theyre pretty expensive in comparison to other methods, so I understand why folks dont use them.

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Aside from opening in rain, and the occasional 'fouling' of the ammo box on purpose, it does presume an ammo box in good condition.

 

All of the sealing surfaces have to be clean and straight in all directions, the gasket has to be in good condition and firmly in place. I have to look for something I saw on reconditioning boxes, somewhere. The latching mechanism and hinges have to be solid but not too tight or loose. Removing the 'military' markings helps, many can be sand blasted clean and minor damage to the sheet metal can be repaired. IF you have the right tools to refurb yourself, ratty containers can be bought for much less, but you have to know what can and can't be fixed up economically. The author of the article I'm seeking took some basic write off boxes and made them actually better than new, particularily the box rubber seal, his was much better, and available to him.

 

Dang passage of time, hope it wasn't on paper!

 

Final thought... all of the above applies to all containers not just ABs. I love the Lock n Locks where people wrap them in cammo tape, but then take the ends of the tape up over the seal and sealing surfaces into the inside, thus ruining the seal as far as keeping out water... I try to trim them back if found in time. Also forcing shut can break tabs and even crack the sides as well.

Carry a toothbrush for scrubbing seals clean, it pays off. Sand,leaves and sticks all mess up seals. Don't over tighten screw seals with o rings... finger tighten to contact then no more than an 1/8 turn... tighter will distort or break the ring, especially when old.

 

Doug 7rxc

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In Germany I most;y see lock and lock's, here in the USA I find mostly ammo can's for regular sized caches. Never found a wet one.

Here in the area we have too many micro caches so when you come along a ammo can this is a very rare find.

 

And if a cache would get stolen, the next time I would chain it to something.

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Yes, I'm in Spain, but I'm talking about US army ammo cans. There are not so many here, they are not easy to buy and people prefers lock-n-locks. But almost every one I find is wet inside. I cannot see any problem opening/closing them (does really people close them incorrectly? wow ... seems to me very easy) and they are correctly closed. But they are wet. Of course not all of them, but enough to make me think something is wrong.

 

"Seals" ... mmm ... I will check next one, but I cannot remember noticing there is a seal. Is it a rubber one? All along the closing upper side? Clearly visible? Can it become not noticeable if you are not looking for it? I have the impression of mostly "metalic" noise when opening/closing, but not a sensation of smooth (rubber-like) contact.

 

:blink:

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The seal on the lid of a US/NATO ammo can is a very thin, black rubber rectangle on the inside of the lid. You can miss it if you're not looking for it. The seal doesn't make the cache less noisy, as there is still pelty of metal on metal contact between the lid and the edge of the can when opening (not to mention the clanging clasp).

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Yes, I'm in Spain, but I'm talking about US army ammo cans. There are not so many here, they are not easy to buy and people prefers lock-n-locks. But almost every one I find is wet inside. I cannot see any problem opening/closing them (does really people close them incorrectly? wow ... seems to me very easy) and they are correctly closed. But they are wet. Of course not all of them, but enough to make me think something is wrong.

 

"Seals" ... mmm ... I will check next one, but I cannot remember noticing there is a seal. Is it a rubber one? All along the closing upper side? Clearly visible? Can it become not noticeable if you are not looking for it? I have the impression of mostly "metalic" noise when opening/closing, but not a sensation of smooth (rubber-like) contact.

 

:blink:

 

Yes, there should be a rubber gasket in the lid that seals to the lip of the can. Maybe some types of ammo cans don't have it....all genuine US military surplus cans do.

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Metal ammo cans are made to be dry. They have a leveraged clasp and a rubber seal on the cover that crushes against the top of the can. The rest of the container is sealed metal. Perhaps this is some misunderstanding regarding the types of ammo boxes you've found and what others might understand them to be? Do you mean an ammo can like this?

 

ammobox.gif

By ohiosiouxfan at 2012-07-09

 

Below is a closeup of the seal on the top of an ammo can:

 

ammocanseal.jpg

By ohiosiouxfan at 2012-07-09

Edited by Ohiosiouxfan
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They are not very popular in my country, but I found ... mmm ... let's say ... mmm ... maybe 25/30 of them. I didn't make an accurate list but almost all of them had wet and soggy logbooks. They were clearly not at all water-proof.

No need to make a list, simply filter by the Needs Maintenance logs that you diligently placed on each one as you found problems. :ph34r:

 

It's possible that the containers were not selected well for caching. Ideally there would be no rust, bent metal, or other defects, and the rubber seal would be pliable and in great shape. That makes a fine moisture seal -- if it has a perfect seal, any water that gets inside (due to rain or humidity) will of course remain in there.

Edited by kunarion
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Oh, I love ammo cans. You won't find a more durable cache. I had one wash away and travel 30 miles south down the river. When it was discovered many months later, it was still as dry as a bone inside. So, I decided to make it trackable, although I might re-hide it at some point. Here's a link to its tb page for those intrigued. Mobywv's Trusty Ammo Can

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I've seen about 5 or 6 damp ammo boxes out of probably three hundred or more that I either own or found. In most cases I suspect someone got a baggie caught in the seal. One was underwater, or floating in it most of the time. The other I could not explain, it was absolutely soaked. The seal was intact, it was hidden upright and sheltered by a rock and there was no baggie inside it to compromise the seal...and it was definitely water, not urine.

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The other I could not explain, it was absolutely soaked. The seal was intact, it was hidden upright and sheltered by a rock and there was no baggie inside it to compromise the seal...and it was definitely water, not urine.

Perhaps some ammo cans are just right for accumulating water. The amount of humid air getting in, the perfect temperatures. It adds a drop or two of water a day.

 

A local bucket cache seems to immediately have a gallon of water inside. I replaced the old lid with a Gamma Seal lid, no difference. If it's automagically filling with water, it would be a valuable device in remote areas. For campers. For Geocachers, not so much.

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I had an ammo can that got wet inside and the log was soaked. Went out and swapped it out. Got home and looked over the leaky can. The corner where it was wet I looked at the seal carefully. There was some dirt on the seal and it looked like that was the source of the leak. I cleaned the seal but have not had a good rain streak yet to check it, but it did pass the hose test.

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I have several ammo cans out, and only 2 have had moisture problems. One was where someone had jammed a deer antler in as swag, and actually bulged the sides of the can which compromised the seal. The other had a pinhole in one bottom corner.

I actually had one that was under water for a while during spring flooding of a local river. I really though tit would be gone, but when I went to check on it, I found that the handle had snagged on a broken branch and kept it almost in it's original place, and it was dry as a bone when I opened it.

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Are you in a particularly wet environment? I'm in Ontario Canada and I don't recall an ammo box find with a wet logbook (I've been caching for over 10 years). But maybe in a place that gets a lot of rain, it might be a problem. Is there a container in your area that is reliably water tight? Or do all caches generally have wet logbooks?

I'm pretty sure this isn't it. I'm in the Seattle area (an hour north), where it just stopped raining last week (while the rest of the country was having heat wave after heat wave) and will be nice for approximately 3 weeks before the rain returns (okay that may be a slight exaggeration but you get the idea) and nearly all of the ammo cans I find are bone dry inside. If they can stay dry here, they'll stay dry anywhere! (I'm also not sure why I used so many parentheses in this post) (see, here's more!)

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any container can be worn down if used alot, (or used wrong)

most ammo boxes are allready used when we get our hands on them,

some had a very hard life, just see the dents and bends and such signs,

a CO should inspect the container and its gasket and lit

to see if it looks and works good..

 

Also a cache visitor should repport a NM if he finds a bad or worn down container

so it can be fixed before it ends in total gross disaster,

if you do not repport NM you accept caches in bad state, and dont care..

 

I have a plan to modify a few of my ammo cans, so the lit can not be taken off,

this way it stay all the way in correct position, and this way when closed, it will always be right.

I think about welding on a little metal piece that prevent the lit from sliding out and off.

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any container can be worn down if used alot, (or used wrong)

most ammo boxes are allready used when we get our hands on them,

some had a very hard life, just see the dents and bends and such signs,

a CO should inspect the container and its gasket and lit

to see if it looks and works good..

 

Also a cache visitor should repport a NM if he finds a bad or worn down container

so it can be fixed before it ends in total gross disaster,

if you do not repport NM you accept caches in bad state, and dont care..

 

I have a plan to modify a few of my ammo cans, so the lit can not be taken off,

this way it stay all the way in correct position, and this way when closed, it will always be right.

I think about welding on a little metal piece that prevent the lit from sliding out and off.

 

Maybe your ammo cans are different -- the ones I have the lid is attached with a hinge, so it does not come off.

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any container can be worn down if used alot, (or used wrong)

most ammo boxes are allready used when we get our hands on them,

some had a very hard life, just see the dents and bends and such signs,

a CO should inspect the container and its gasket and lit

to see if it looks and works good..

 

Also a cache visitor should repport a NM if he finds a bad or worn down container

so it can be fixed before it ends in total gross disaster,

if you do not repport NM you accept caches in bad state, and dont care..

 

I have a plan to modify a few of my ammo cans, so the lit can not be taken off,

this way it stay all the way in correct position, and this way when closed, it will always be right.

I think about welding on a little metal piece that prevent the lit from sliding out and off.

 

Maybe your ammo cans are different -- the ones I have the lid is attached with a hinge, so it does not come off.

Yeah yours are different. Every ammo can I have ever found or bought the lid can be taken off. They are designed that way so they can be put in a holder next to the gun to feed the ammo. The lid would be in the way.

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Ammo can work well in most places. The places they don't work well is at the coast. Yes, salt water does get it good and fast! I had see about 5 to 6 ammo cans all rusted out bad. Some been there for years and others been there a few years. Lock N Lock is the best for coast caches.

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Maybe your ammo cans are different -- the ones I have the lid is attached with a hinge, so it does not come off.

 

I have a good collection used as storage containers etc. (forgive me for sinning and not using for caches). YET!

 

Several Nationalities represented and calibres. All of them the hinge can slide apart, some tougher to slide than others.

 

I'm sure that some variants exist that don't, or someone modified them not to (which was the OZ2CPUs point).

 

The one I had that did not want to slide apart was simply rusty on the exposed portion to the point where it would bind and not slide sideways past that. Drop of oil and it came cleanly apart. That was a US .30 cal linked belt type with the over center cam type latch on the end. Used to be one of my Cave Rescue boxes so it was well used in rough conditions.

 

Doug 7rxc

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Ammo boxes are the best, IMO. I don't know what is the problem you are having in Spain. Maybe you are getting some that are known rejects. Here is one I found that had been run over, bent to the point I almost couldn't open it, but still nice and dry 4 years later. You may say, "well sure, it's in the Nevada desert," but they have pounding rains and flash floods there a lot. Nice and dry it was! http://coord.info/GL1G4YPF

Edited by MotorBug
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I like ammo boxes because the only one of those that I have found that was not in good shape serviced a forest fire. This was good intense fire I might add. I found one that the person finding a head of me had left open and laying in the path. I feel bad for the person placing this cache because someone inconsiderate damaged it. I always carry some forms of rplacement pieces and let the owener now what i have done. For those wanting to do ammo boxes go for it those of us that are still new like them a lot.

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Placed several ammo boxes over the years and where practical I am replacing with Lock n Locks when needed due to some of them disappearing. Can't afford to replace them since I also use them for storage and they are getting harder to find and have doubled in price when I do find them.

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Ammo can work well in most places. The places they don't work well is at the coast. Yes, salt water does get it good and fast! I had see about 5 to 6 ammo cans all rusted out bad. Some been there for years and others been there a few years. Lock N Lock is the best for coast caches.

 

Seconded. Salt water can be very bad for ammo cans.

 

cliffs2.jpg

 

So can fire.

 

3fc56331-a8db-4bbf-8281-87a9c13657c7.jpg

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Never had any problem with ammo cans doing what they were designed to do...all the ammo I've ever stored in one did just fine. Have hidden several as cache containers, too...while I dont hide caches within 300 miles of salt water, dont hide caches under water, and havent had one caught up in a fire yet, I have to say that they have performed this secondary task just fine, too. But they do apparently make fun toys for black bears...and opening/closing them properly seems to be beyond the abilities of some cachers.

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Every now and then appears a post about the nice containers ammo boxes are.

 

They are not very popular in my country, but I found ... mmm ... let's say ... mmm ... maybe 25/30 of them. I didn't make an accurate list but almost all of them had wet and soggy logbooks. They were clearly not at all water-proof.

 

Do they have some kind of special secret? Why does people like them? Provided my experience I would never choose one of them to make an outdoor reliable container :blink:.

 

I used an ammo box for my secondary cache (in a two-part multi) primarily because of the size of the box. It allows room for swag, trackables, log books, etc. And mine does have an intact seal, so as long as a seeker closes it properly, there should be no danger of soggy contents. For the most part, the caches I've found have been either small or micros, so when I see something bigger than a pill bottle, I tend to put that on my hunt list so I can move along the trackables I've picked up along the way.

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I know whats wrong with ammo cans... People like them so much that they steal them. :anibad: I just found out one of my cans in our Painted ammo cans series had been stolen. :sad: This would be my first ammo can theft and I'm sure not the last. I just hope it was a muggle and not a cacher looking for a souvenir of my art work. :laughing:

Edited by the4dirtydogs
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