How to Ship a turntable safely

Discussion in 'Packing & Shipping' started by jdangel38, Apr 30, 2012.

  1. jdangel38

    jdangel38 Pocket Aces

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    Location:
    Seattle WA area
    So I am guessing that many AK users have had bad experiences
    with the turntables bought on that auction site, or through various other venues. If you have been fortunate enough not to have a bad experience, you have heard the horror stories about it.

    This guide is a bit long, but it's necessary to explain TT shipping properly.
    If you want it to get there intact, it takes some time and care.

    Needing to ship some turntables myself earlier this year, I got some advice from others,
    and then came up with my own method, which has now shipped 6 turntables perfectly intact this year.


    You will need Heavy Duty Packaging tape, a measuring tape, and a Razor Knife.
    I prefer the type with the slide out break-off blades for this method,but any will work.
    You will also need Bubble wrap, Large heavy duty Cardboard box(es),
    And the main material, 1.5" thick styrofoam. The kind I get is sold as home insulation. It's usually sold in 4x8 foot wide sheets, but some stores sell it in 2x4 sheets too. It's a bit more expensive in the smaller sizes though.

    You can purchase all of this at Any major home improvement store.
    Dont go thinner to save money,
    you need foam that is strong and wont break from heavy weight being placed on top of it, which always happens in shipping. I see it happen most of the time at pack and mail places right behind the counter, so the box has to be able to withstand that.I use boxes that are 24x18x18, and these almost always work.
    (Also available at the major Home Imp. stores.) Occasionally, you will need a box that is higher or wider.
    Many pack and mail type stores as well as storage units sell boxes that are 24x24x24, and I've seen them 30x30x30 and bigger, so you can probably get any size box you need.

    You will probably spend at least 2 hours to pack each TT, since they are a little different each time. My packing costs arent too bad since I buy everything in large quantities, but it could easily cost $20-30 to do just one.
    It's worth it though, to get a nice turntable shipped in one piece.
    If you are selling a turntable, figure out the material cost beforehand so you can account for it in your sale price.

    Before you do anything else, Remove the dustcover, platter, and belt.

    You should just be able to wrap the belt around the metal underside of the platter, and that way it wont be under tension and possibly break during shipping. Set these aside till a bit later. If the Platter is not removeable,
    slip cardboard shims under all edges of it to keep it from destroying the deck.

    Then, lay bubble wrap down on the bottom of the box, one layer covering the bottom if using large bubble, or several layers if using small bubble.
    This way the turntable's weight cant break the bubbles easily, and it's more cushioning than just foam.
    Now measure and cut a piece of Styrofoam to fit the bottom of the box.
    Try to make it an exact fit so it cant slide around.
    [​IMG]

    Prior to cutting the foam sides, you need to pre-pack the turntable and measure how high the end result is.

    To pre-pack it;
    First, tie down the tone arm with one or two twist ties to the rest.
    Dont go too tight and break the rest, but make sure the tone arm cant go off the rest. I dont usually remove the cartridge since it's well immobilized, but if you wanted to,
    sandwich it sideways between two pieces of foam to protect it, then tape it together around the edges of the foam, to immobilize it. Then put this all in a ziplock bag. It's worked for me in the past.

    Next put the entire turntable inside a large trash bag, taking care not to damage the tone arm in the process. Tie off the end. This protects the inside of the turntable from getting anything inside which doesnt belong, and allows you to tape around it.
    Then, get a small and strong cardboard box, generally something in the 7x7x6 size range. Poke a small hole in the underside of the box, Then slip it over the bag and the spindle.

    IMPORTANT :Take care not to put pressure on the tone arm by inadvertantly pulling the bag tightly across it while taping the box down in the next step.

    Now use a lot of tape and secure the box down to the bag very firmly. Since you cant generally tape across the tonearm side, the other three sides will need a lot of taping around from front to back, and on the end, to ensure that nothing can move. Wrap tape from the front to back of the deck and underneath, giving you a tightly wrapped band all around, as well as to the non tonearm side.

    You do not want the box to spin slightly left or right on the spindle, and if the turntable has a internally suspended platter, tightly tape the box down until nothing can move.
    If everything is shaking around inside during shipping, you could damage the motor, suspension, or other internal parts.
    Some turntables have transit screws, but not all. If your has them, make sure to tighten them down prior to anything else.

    When you are done, it should look like this;
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Next, meaure how high the top of the small center box is from the table or Bench the turntable is on. Then, Cut four sides of Foam to this exact height. Make sure the are snugly fit. ( If you make the sides too high on accident,
    just cut a small piece of foam and tape it securely to the top of the small box.)
    You can also put some bubble wrap under the turntable,
    and put some on all four sides between the foam and the base of the TT.

    It should look like this;
    [​IMG]

    Now cut a Lid for this half of the interior. You will need one more at the end,
    so just cut two and save some time later.
    [​IMG]

    Next, wrap the dustcover in bubble wrap. Use a lot if you are using the small bubble wrap to give a good cushion.

    Then measure how high the wrapped Dustcover is, and cut 4 foam sides which go at least one inch higher on all sides than the dustcover. The dustcover should fit in with room to spare on all sides. Use packing peanuts or newspaper around all four edges to keep the dustcover immobile, but make sure the dustcover can move just slightly in any direction, that way it cannot get cracked easily from pressure on the side of the box.
    Make sure that you also lay it in the box upside down, so that if something large were to punch through the top of the box in shipping, the dustcover would still have a chance at survival.
    [​IMG]

    Finally, put the final foam piece over all this and seal the top of the box.
    If you have to make the box taller ( I usually have to) it will probably look like the first picture. Also, lay some more bubble wrap across the top before putting the final foam piece on. You can make it nicer, as in the second pic, if you prefer.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    The final step: "Write this side up" and "Top" at least two times each on the top in different spots. Otherwise the UPS guy has no idea and may set this on its side. Make sure the shipping label goes on top too.

    Here is a tip for estimating shipping costs quite accurately if you want to wait to pack it until it needs to be done.
    Measure your box size, then weigh your turntable. Add 7 pounds to the weight of the TT, and then use that number along with the dimensions in any shipping calculator you use. You should be right on.

    If I missed anything, I will come back and edit this. I really hope this is a helpful guide for those of you unsure how to go about shipping turntables. It has worked very well for me, and If you follow my instructions carefully it should help you too.
    Thanks!
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2012

     

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  2. jdangel38

    jdangel38 Pocket Aces

    Messages:
    174
    Location:
    Seattle WA area
    In case anyone is curious if this works well, I've shipped 8 or 9 turntables this year safely, including a 30 lb Sansui turntable to Germany, and several other turntables in the 25-30lb range.
    I keep seeing a lot of people wondering how to ship a turntable, so hopefully this will help you figure out how to best ship it.

    I have shipped Dual, Marantz, Sansui, Kenwood and Pioneer Turntables safely this way.
    I've seen other methods used, but having the foam "crate" on the inside is like quadruple boxing your turntable, not to mention far more package strength overall in case large heavy stuff is set on top of it, which happens often, I've seen it many times when dropping packages off. As well, with other methods you still have to seperately package and ship the dustcover, so this saves time and money.
     
  3. cgutz

    cgutz AK Member

    Messages:
    3,393
    Location:
    SE South Dakota
    Nice information. Acouple of thoughts:

    I notice in the picture your tonearm counterweight appears to be still attached. Shouldn't this normally be removed and shipped in separate packing. (Headshell too).

    While it is nice to write "this side up" - watching videos of UPS or USPS or Fedex movers will tell you they don't follow those instructions...

    Jdangel - love your KP500. Best car stereo I ever had stolen from my '62 Chevy in 1980...We thought it doesn't get any better than that car stereo with Jensen 6x9 Triax speakers.
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2012
  4. jdangel38

    jdangel38 Pocket Aces

    Messages:
    174
    Location:
    Seattle WA area
    Hey Cgutz,

    I usually dont remove the headshell or counterweight, I've never had a problem with it since the tone arm is immobilized. It could certainly be done as an even more precautionary move.
    I realize UPS and other shippers may not pay attention to the writing on the box, so thats partly why I put the small box inside on the spindle, that way if it gets flipped or turned sideways the record player cant move and stays stable.

    Yeah, The KP500 looks and sounds awesome. I dont have it anymore, but man, it was a Fantastic and very strong tuner. I pulled in FM stations from 250-300 miles away in the daytime on that thing, it was incredible!
     
  5. roberttx

    roberttx Super Member

    Messages:
    1,898
    Location:
    Texas
    Very useful info, thanks!

    One minor point - I just got done packing a turntable, where removing the dustcover wasn't an option. This is also true of many Beograms - I wouldn't thank a seller who sent me the reassembly nightmare that is all those springs and hinges!

    A bit of googling led me to this page: http://www.oaktreevintage.com/turntable_packing_for_safe_transit.htm, which advocates wrapping plinth and dustcover tightly in cling film.

    I use cling film (well, the packing sort on the big rolls) a lot in shipping. Much damage comes from pieces moving relative to each other and it's a great way of eliminating that. Also, cling film plus custom cut pieces of Styrofoam is a great way of turning irregularly shaped objects into uniformly shaped ones. :thmbsp:
     
  6. jdangel38

    jdangel38 Pocket Aces

    Messages:
    174
    Location:
    Seattle WA area
    Glad it helped, I've now shipped 15-20 turntables this way.
    The packing is not something I always look forward to, but it has to be done right.

    I've never shipped a beogram TT. but your idea is great,
    The wrap would do a good job of stabilising it.
    I'm sure I will come across one eventually that needs the same thing, so thanks.
     

     

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  7. roberttx

    roberttx Super Member

    Messages:
    1,898
    Location:
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    As a follow up, I thought that those members who haven't seen a Beogram in its original packaging might like to see these pics of my RX.

    The platter fits snugly against the lid and the tonearm is held in place between the foam rubber and the lid.

    This si how it came to me, so I don't know what goes in the depression front left. I'm thinking either the cart or the counterweight, but I don't know.
     

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  8. jdangel38

    jdangel38 Pocket Aces

    Messages:
    174
    Location:
    Seattle WA area
    Roberttx,
    I recently did ship a compact turntable in much the way you advocated.
    It arrived successfully. This particular TT was smaller than normal and the top couldnt be removed, the first I've sold like that.
    It seems that most of the very compact TT's I have come across were made by B&O, but occasionally I do see other compact ones that cant be disassembled.

    I have now shipped about 20 turntables over the past year and still never had a single issue.
    I hope this guide continues to be helpful to anyone wanting to know how to ship a turntable.
     
  9. derekva

    derekva This ain't no picnic... Subscriber

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    Woodinville, WA
    Hmmm...I wonder if that method (suitably modified) would work well for tube gear?

    -D
     
  10. vincei

    vincei aka MasterControlMedia

    Messages:
    3,358
    Location:
    Montreal, Canada
    Looks good. However, the counter weight and headshell should be removed, or at minimum supported. A large G force could put stress on the arm and bearing with the added weight still attached. Just my 2c or course. :)
     
  11. classic carl

    classic carl Without Music, Life Would B FLAT. Subscriber

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    Always, always, always...
     

     

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  12. totem

    totem AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Not sure if I missed it, but if the TT has a means of locking the drive as many
    of the DD's do then it it highly recommended to do so.

    Some use screws/bolts others special brackets like the SP-10's.
     
  13. jdangel38

    jdangel38 Pocket Aces

    Messages:
    174
    Location:
    Seattle WA area
    I always secure the tonearm with multiple twist ties, otherwise it will flap around and destroy itself. I've never had a problem with that method.
    Also, when the platter is removed, the box is taped down tight enough so that nothing moves. If the suspension or internals can move freely the TT will probably sustain internal damage. The box doubles as the internal support in case the package is turned over or sideways, as I'm sure many are.
     
  14. bowtie427ss

    bowtie427ss arigato gozaimashita Subscriber

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    I should have taken a lot more pics. Here's how i packed a VPI Scout that i sold to another AKer a while back. It went coast to coast with no issues, just a happy buyer who felt he got his money's worth on a 100 dollar packing/shipping charge. The red and green X's correspond with specific instructions for safe unpacking.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  15. Khodabear

    Khodabear Super Member

    Messages:
    1,596
    Location:
    Littleton CO
    I sold a Garrard 990B on eBay. Went for opening bid 69.95 plus $42 for packing and shipping.
    I packed the crap out of it. Foam inserts - additional cardboard gussets - the works. I'd recently sent two other TT's in similar packaging ...all went well. By the time I was done with packing materials and postage I was well over the $42 but that's the way it goes.

    Sent USPS Insured. A week later the buyer asks if I sent it in two boxes because he received one carton with dust cover, cartridge, counter weight, platter mat and so forth but no TT and Base. Said there's a sticker that advised the package had been "Re-Wrapped" in Denver. Well they had punched a hole the size of a volleyball in one side of the carton. The sticker advised that they had "sent damaged contents to Atlanta" and gave a form number to file to find out what happened.

    What a load of crap. They slammed the box so hard they shattered the cardboard then they beamed the evidence into deep space... wide dispersal. I filed a claim - but I'll bet real money they never pay. I would have been better off financially if I'd taken the turntable into the garage and gone at it with a hammer.

    BTW - I'm finding the "tracking " numbers they're issuing as part of the fee for Standard Post to be useless. They're Delivery Confirmation. When I go to use them I get verbiage advising that I can get delivery confirmation at my post office. I asked today at the counter if I could buy real tracking like I used to get with Parcel Post. Nope. All they have now are the numbers that do not provide station to station tracking.
     
  16. dosley01

    dosley01 Active Member

    Messages:
    102
    Location:
    Boston, MA
    USPS has destroyed two turntables on me, I will only ship UPS or Fedex and would not purchase a TT or other delicate item from a seller sending USPS due to my past experiences.

    I just spent over $100 on enough charcoal shipping foam to package up two turntables to sell after seeing the custom shipping foam my Marantz TT15 came in. I'll take some pictures when I get everything put together. I figure I'll pass some of the cost onto the prospective buyer but I'll eat some of it too just to make sure they arrive safely and I have no hassles.
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2013

     

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  17. sKiZo

    sKiZo Hates received: 8642 Subscriber

    One more vote for removing the counterweight and headshell. The extension it mounts to can have a fairly fragile connection at the pivot point depending on the table design. The friction ring that holds it in place could also fail with the right shock. Even a fairly lightweight headshell/cartridge combo packs a lot of inertia. Once it's loose ... abandon all hope ...

    [​IMG]

    Once both the headshell and counterweight are removed (and again packed OUTSIDE the dustcover, a simple garbage bag tie around the arm and support should be plenty - we're not talking a lot of weight at that point. Blue foam is your friend here ... you're already using it to protect the table - just cut some holes here and there to stash the headshell, weight, spindle adapters, and any other removable components you don't want breaking loose.

    Also, read the book. If there are any shipping screws or locks built in, definitely make sure those are set properly, AND that the buyer knows how to defeat those once it arrives.

    I also cut a few heavy cardboard strips and notch them together inside the dustcover to provide additional support. You can stagger the slots to avoid any of the fiddlybits on the deck. Think beer bottle crate ... simple enough, no real weight, and they keep the lid from collapsing if it takes a hit in the center ...

    Also ... make VERY sure you're on the same page with a shipper. If you ask them to ship the platter outside of the turntable, make sure they know the difference between a platter and a mat ...
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2013
  18. dosley01

    dosley01 Active Member

    Messages:
    102
    Location:
    Boston, MA
    I just had a very successful shipment of a Music Hall MMF-5. After recently purchasing a Marantz TT15-S1 and seeing how it was packaged from the factory, I figured why couldn't I do something similar. It wasn't cheap but after $50 in charcoal shipping foam, a can of spray adhesive and a heavy duty box from a Dell computer, viola.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  19. guscjr

    guscjr Active Member

    Messages:
    474
    Location:
    Balch Springs, Tx
    Now...THAT'S more like the way I pack and ship except I use 20x20x13 or 24x12x12 boxes from my premium box supplier and bubble wrap instead of foam - a lot cheaper but time consuming in the layers required. Platter, counterweight, headshell, dust cover removed and separately wrapped apart from the plinth/base which like most have said requires extra care in protecting the tonearm while keeping any pressure away from it. I'll add pics next time I ship one. Really creative stuff in this post.
     
  20. kirk57

    kirk57 Some guy on the Internet Subscriber

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    USPS did exactly the same thing to a Dual 1229 I shipped. Half was shipped back to me, and the other pieces went to the buyer. Anyway, they paid the insurance, no problem, and the buyer kept the table.
     

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