How To Find, Buy, And Renovate A Titan II Missile Silo

Why would you want to live in a missile silo is the wrong question. Why wouldn’t you want to live in a missile silo is the right question. You’ll have weird, antiquated machinery hanging above your head, a great reason to change your name to ‘Zephram’, and living underground is much more ecologically sound, in any event.

For a certain class of people, the benefits of living in a missile silo are self-evident, but no one has really gone through the process of documenting all those unanswered questions. How do you buy a missile silo? How do you re-commission it and turn it into livable space? Is it even possible to get a bank to sign onto this? All these questions and more are being answered by a relatively new YouTube channel, [Death Wears Bunny Slippers].

In 2010, the creator of this channel decided to buy a missile silo. He ended up with a Titan II missile silo that was decommissioned in spring of 1986. In its prime, this missile silo held a single Titan II, pointed at a target over the pole, a three-story access tunnel, and a hardened command and control pod capable of keeping a few airmen alive after the apocalypse.

[DWBS] has been working on this project for a half-decade now, and what’s been shown so far is impressive. When this missile silo was decommissioned, the Air Force dropped a bunch of broken concrete down the access shaft, tore down the top 10 or so feet of the access tunnel, and generally made a huge mess of the place. After renting an excavator, [DWBS] was able to turn this hole filled with crap into a blank canvas.

Already, [DWBS] has been working on his missile silo home for years, and video updates are coming in at a rate of about one per week. The project is great, and a perfect example of a rare, strange, yet unbelievably interesting genre of YouTube channels: the huge, multi-year build broken up into weekly segments. If you’re looking for projects similar in scope, check out SV Seeker, the project that’s building a Chinese junk in the middle of Oklahoma, or the Camberghini, an abortion of an MX-5 designed to make you irrationally angry. Buying and refitting a missile silo is a step above any of these projects, and over the next weeks and months will make for spectacular YouTubing.

Below, you can check out the two most interesting videos to date – opening the access tunnel to the silo and draining all the water.

74 thoughts on “How To Find, Buy, And Renovate A Titan II Missile Silo

  1. is living underground really ecologically sensible?
    for these guys maybe tackling those stairs occasionally will be a benefit.
    that is if they survive long enough to complete the project which based on the video of them trying to open a blast door by the handle and then drown themselves is questionable.

      1. I would have thought it would have taken more to heat and cool initially but retained the temperature better, which is fine if you can get the balance of people right but I would expect a huge silo with one person to require a lot of heating as the ground absorbed it but hosting a rave you would struggle to get rid of the heat. of course an above ground silo sized house would have similar issues but we aren’t talking about a normal house underground we are talking about a huge silo. plus yes forced air and lighting costs would increase, probably have to pump your own waste up as well as any water that works its own way in naturally. the ideal would surely be to build into a hill or shore up an existing house with some exposed surface for natural light and greenhouse heating.

        1. No, once you get below the frost line the Earth is actualy a pretty steady and comfortable temperature. At least it is until you get deep enough that the temperature starts to rise but in most places that is pretty deep.

          For your rave scenario… I don’t know.

          1. I visited a few cold war command bunkers as a kid and remember being told that the walls ‘absorbed’ the heat meaning with few people it took a lot of energy to heat up initially but with any significant number of people there it required hefty cooling

    1. Yah, that would be one of my biggest worries. Don’t know if there’s one with your name on it, glitching away out there… NORAD be like, okay the Chinese say they had a glitch fire, and there’s only one bogie inbound, since it’s aimed at the middle of nowhere, we’re gonna take the hit so we don’t expose our defense capability….

      Though I discovered just the other year, that I spent the 70s and 80s living within 3 miles of a classified ICBM site… so much for thinking I was outside the fireball/blast/shockwave range of anywhere important. Plus there was a concept of a “limited” nuclear exchange (yeah right) at military targets only.

    2. In some ways, that would be a good thing. Better than coming out and finding that everything else has been reduced to radioactive rubble.

      But seriously, what kid WOULDN’T want to live in a missile silo? Bonus if any of the control panels are left, but I suspect they’re long gone.

    3. I grew up in a town of around 10,000 that was a major rail repair yard and the through point from the mid-atlantic coast to the rest of the country (and close enough to the Greenbriar that the “secret” bunker all the locals knew about could get hit too). We didn’t know for sure we were a target, until after the cold war ended. Finding out that, had it gone down, I wouldn’t have even seen the flash before being vaporized is kinda comforting.

  2. Maybe 20 years ago, the Plattsburgh, NY PBS station visited a silo. I can’t remember if it was for sale, or someone was already living in it. But it wasn’t buried. I thought there was some issue with water, not really a surprise. But the size was impressive, not all that useful, but a lot of space.

    Michael

      1. No it was below ground. My “wasn’t buried” was that it was accessible, no debris blocking the entrance. But I can’t remember if someone was already living there; if so, perhaps they’d already clered tht.

        Michael

  3. I was wondering if any toxic materials formed part of the construction. These things were built at a time when asbestos and lead paint were used just about anywhere and everywhere. You kind of have to wonder why they poured all that concrete into these things.

    1. Oh, crap. These things were built in the 50s and 60s. You can be SURE they’re full of asbestos and lead paint, because any environmental regs (and there weren’t many) would have been waived, because NATIONAL DEFENSE! Now, maybe, just maybe, they were removed before the facility was sold…or just ripped out with residue scattered all over the place.

      And think of all the maintenance solvents and stuff that were just dumped “out behind the shed”. Cape Cod’s water supply is contaminated because of that practice at Otis.

    2. They didn’t pour concrete down there, it looks like it’s predominantly debris from demolishing the above-ground structures. Basically so they don’t leave giant holes in the ground for Little Timmy to fall down.

      Crappy building materials and paint are an issue… but if it’s been under water for 30 years, you’re pretty much ripping everything out except the shell and rebuilding with modern materials anyway.

    3. I was under the impression they ran engine tests on the missiles on some kind of schedule, and I bet they just ran raw fuel and retardant out of some scuppers that basically drained into ground all around site.

    4. Because various anti-nuclear proliferation treaties demand that retired silos be rendered useless for future use. That’s why only a few of these things that were bought from the gov’t prior the treaties remained open. The rest were filled in like this.

      1. i wonder where they managed to cram in any rocket fuel with all those nacels, reactor, deflector and all that other crap you need for warp drive. i could have kerbaled something together that was less ungainly.

    1. Titan 2 will only get you ~2000kg IMLEO and Aerozine 50 / N2O2 is pretty nasty to handle. Add to that there’s probably still some old Soviet 1st strike monitoring sat programmed to watch for a launch from your tube.

  4. Years ago Popular Mechanics for Kids did a segment on reusing old silos. One was still filled with water and used as a scuba diving tank. Another had been converted into a house – I seem to recall thinking the owner of that one was a little creepy. Felt weirded out for Elisha who was touring with him…

  5. My uncle (RIP) was an Ironworker and welded up many of the blast doors during the construction phase.
    He indicated the inner welds were too difficult to do, so many were skipped. The govt. inspectors were crappy/lazy and never wanted to climb inside to inspect. Bottom line, if hit, they will not hold. Have a nice day :)

      1. That’s likely as the Sage system was handling not much in today’s quantity. Watch LightningMaps.org with station tracking turned on max during an attack by thunderstorms and see more data than Sage would have seen when Lucifer had fallen.
        Canticle For Liebowitz written in the 50’s, a post nuclear saga where monks live in subways and silos and rediscover how make it happen allover again. New Rome is near Denver…hmm.

      1. Yep! I’m a tech guy so I’ve had Wi-Fi and cell service in there for a while. Its still weird to get a phone call while inside though. :-)

        If I wanted to get off my ass I could go down and post from there. Just to say I was doing it. :-)

    1. Hey GT, have you considered doing a Defcon (how appropriate) talk on this? I think they would welcome this project and personally i would love to hear every last boring detail you can muster.

        1. They have done a few. The talks by Chris Rock come to mind. Really not security related, but excellent. Also – “Girl… Fault-Interrupted.” by Maggie Jauregui from Defcon 22 was just about blowing up GFI outlets. So it’s worth a shot, you got a ton of interest on Hackaday so thats a good sign.

          Somewhat on topic, you may like this talk from 31c3 in Germany (its in english) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sKxj-Jh9pmY What Ever Happened to Nuclear Weapons? [31c3]

  6. Were I wealthy this is exactly what I’d do, especially since that apocalypse that was mentioned might still be a possibility. Earth quakes are not the problem most people think they would be, waves break on the “shore” which for an earth quake wave is the upper surface, underground these waves have little effect which is how caves can last millions of years.

    Think of how cool and quiet it would be down there deep in the underground. I could have a large nature reserve up top not marred by any buildings, this would make the surface of my estate all “yard”, or I could have a farm to produce my own food, gardens and the like. There would be no hideously conventional mansion to offend the eye of all who pass..

    Its a mystery to me why most of the wealthy have the worlds worst taste in architecture, but then again anyone who considers it of utmost importance to impress the shallow public by showing off their capacity for indulging in overblown senseless consumption can’t possibly be an artist, only a fool would care what the superficial public thinks about their money.

    Obviously there is no shortage of fools who see to it that most of the worlds wealth is burnt off on the worlds least significant endeavors, at least we know a comfortable underground dwelling is not about impressing the neighbors but about the enjoyment of the residents.

    My only concern might be lingering toxic or radioactive wastes.

  7. There was a Titan Missile silo that went up for auction on eBay a few years ago (didn’t sell on eBay the few times it was relisted) and ended up selling for like $250,000 close to by where I live here in Tucson, AZ. I had been there a couple times as it used to be the “The Burro Inn Restaurant and Suites”. The really cool thing about this particular missile silo location is that the Access Portal, Blast Lock Area, 3-Level Command Center, and Water Treatment Facility were left intact. The missile silo was filled in, but the sale/auction documents stated that there was only 16ft of dirt fill that was still left in the silo to be removed at the time.

    1. Well they lied to you about the last part then. :-) Sure, there may only be 16 feet of dirt on top, but every one of the silos has a 60 foot by 3 foot thick concrete cap buried 25 feet below the surface. Then you have to dig out the debris out of the inner silo. That’s only 150 feet deep though. :-)

  8. Not a missile story but a bunker story.
    A while back the Alberta government was decommissioning their disaster bunker and put it up for sale. The only interested party was a company, who upon researching, was a front for the hells angels.
    They took it off the market and spent millions digging it out of the ground.

  9. Wrights Hill Fortress in New Zealand is a WW2 gun placement and bunker in the capital city wellington that is currently being restored by volunteers. They are facing similar problems to these guys. wrightshillfortress.org.nz

  10. Well if you have your own Titan II silo complex, you would want to run it properly. For that I would recommend Chuck Hansen’s “the Titan II Handbook”. Written by an enthusiast who actually works at the Titan Missile Museum, it comes complete with diagrams of all levels of the place, as well as lots of detail about the operation and launching of your missile. Well, an imaginary missile now.

    http://www.titan2handbook.com/

  11. There was one in New York which had a small building above ground with a kitchen and dining area with windows all around. The control center had been given the full treatment to make it into living space. The silo itself was never filled up and was in as-is condition. The property also came with a paved airstrip and was divided into lots facing the strip.

    Except for it being in New York, would be a dream place to live. Buy it, build rental homes with airplane hangars along the strip. Live off the rent $$$$.

  12. Hi, I’m bla bla, owner of the “No Fucks Given Camberguini Miata” *sees stupid amount of camber on wheels, ends viewing session.* Hackaday content creators: why would you link to such BS? I understand the guy owns his car and can do anything he wants to it, but it is clear to anyone that the “camber crowd” have made at least one bad decision in customizing their car, why would you think we’d be interested in the other questionable decisions they make?

  13. I’ve been browsing the web looking for a similar building in The Netherlands and what it would cost. The Netherlands does not have some bunkers from around 1815 to 1940. Depending on the size and budget one will cost €300,- (10 square meter) to a few million euro’s. They are expensive, mostly because of the (deferred) maintenance going up to €200k,- a year.

    There are more iconic landmarks for sale. Like a water tower, mill or church and weird/old/odd buildings. These are more affordable. (Between €300k and €1million) . In comparison a 60sq.meter house in a apartment building could cost €100k,- to 200k,- in the bigger cities.

    Something interesting I’ve found while researching: Not many bunkers are sold to the public, most are from the local government. Used as museum or for recreation. Many Bunkers sold are bought and used as server/data-centers…

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