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Purveyors of Electronic, Musical and Vintage goods from then, now and in between. 
Since 1982.

PACKING STEREO TURNTABLES FOR SAFE TRANSIT

 

HELP...."How do you pack a turntable for shipping?"..."What is the best / correct way to pack a stereo turntable?"..."I bought a turntable off fleeeee_bay, it 'got damaged' and arrived in pieces"...."Help, someone just bought my turntable and I gotta' ship it. Now what do I do?"..."FedEx / UPS dropped my turntable and 'broke it"....

Believe me, we've heard it all!
We have shipped MANY turntables and originally designed a procedure that has allowed a few hundred turntables to arrive unscathed. It's not easy as it requires proper materials that can get relatively expensive and will end up in a large box. What's that you say? "I can't spend twenty to thirty bucks to pack this thing then another $25 for shipping. I only got $20 for it in the first place"...Waaaaa.
Hey, if you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen! In other words, don't be packing turntables for shipment if you're not going to do it correctly! They're not making many of them anymore and it irks me when the world looses irreplaceable vintage gear to armatures throwing units in a box with some bubble wrap, peanuts or, and this is the best,....wadded up newspapers. Geeeesh!
"How about if I take it to one of the 'professional' packer / shippers?"...Probably about the only thing that will accomplish is a smoother, less hassle 'insurance claim' payout. Many of those 'professional packers' just got their job as an 'after school' gig and were likely working at 'Taco Hut' last week. Trust me, I get all the calls with folks 'crying the blues' because their turntable, or reel to reel, or receiver, speakers or some other 'fragile high-mass' electronics unit still got damaged and it was packed by the 'professionals'.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

box_group_1.jpg (13272 bytes)     box_group_2.jpg (9516 bytes)     box_group_3.jpg (14370 bytes)

Shipments ready for pick-up...

 


Turntables are one of the more difficult audio components to pack for safe transit. Having been a dealer for many brands of tables over the past 20+ years, I know what works and what doesn’t. I have un-boxed many new tables that were packed using “factory” packing. When tables are shipped from the manufacturer, they are generally shipped with the platter and the dustcover removed and stored in recesses, that are molded into their custom made Styrofoam packing, that was designed by professionals that have researched what works and what doesn’t. If the turntables original packing materials are available it is best to use those. If the cosmetic quality of the original box is important, then that box should be put into another box. Unless the original foam packing is included with a table (and it rarely is) and is intact, custom and sufficient / appropriate packing must then be made. While every turntable presents a different packing challenge, there are some basic procedures that we repeat and so far has resulted in almost flawless success. No system is “fool-proof” (even factory packaging) and there are likely a few other variations that will work equally well, maybe better, but not following these or other appropriate procedures is likely a recipe for failure.
We typically ship large items such as turntables via Fed Ex / FedEx or UPS ground (we use USPS / Post Office / Postal Service generally for smaller items.  

Prior to the packing, the table is prepped for packing. If it is a “single play” type table, the platter is removed. The platter can weigh anywhere from a pound or two to as much as 10 or 20 lbs. As a “static” load this isn’t too bad, but when being dropped from a stack of boxes or a delivery truck, a 4 lb platter can pretty easily reach a weight in motion of 40-80 lbs. Much more weight than the plinth and spindle / bearing were ever designed to handle. Leaving the platter in place will generally result in

 a bent spindle, warped bearing, busted plinth or a combination of these. We’ll talk about what is done with the platter and rubber mat later. Next if there are any transport screws (not as common on single play turntables as changers, but may still be used) they should be engaged, which usually means turning them counter-clockwise to there “out” position. Some single-play tables may have had transport screws, but they are usually removed for use and subsequently have been lost. Suitable replacements should be found and installed unless other ways of stabilizing the suspension are available such as the use of shims. On changer / stacker type tables or tables that need their suspension secured, and if the locking screws are not available, then 5” shrink film is used to secure the platter and / or suspension in place (done with dust cover removed). Also on stacker type tables, the long play spindle is removed. If available the “short-play” spindle will be installed prior to the shrink wrap operation as this is a great place to “store” it for shipment. The long-play spindle will be bagged and packed safely on it’s own. The tone-arm is then tied in place in it’s “locked” position with a wire tie. The counter-weight is either then removed and packed separately or held in place by foam if it is not 'practically' removable. Many styluses and dust-covers are damaged / destroyed by counter-weights flying around inside that were not secured. Next the dust-cover is reinstalled if it had been removed. If there is room between the turntable base and the dust cover (and there usually is) then thin “poly-lam” foam is placed in between the two. Next the dust-cover is VERY FIRMLY secured in place with stretch film from every direction. Once sealed down the turntable and dustcover becomes a solid unit. No motion is allowed.

Next, our tables are always, housed in a 2" sheet foam "box" (these are foam sheets made for house insulation and available at most home improvement stores), cut and assembled to fit exactly. Once the table is sealed and there are no parts inside "rattling around" to break things or scratch the dust cover, the foam 'box' is built around it. On some tables that have suspension built into the feet, small depressions need to be "dug" in to the foam where the feet are, so that the tables weight is not on the feet for shipping. The feet's own internal suspension is not sufficient for this. Any "play" or space inside the foam box, should be filled with foam or bubble wrap. Typically there is room for a sheet of 1/2" bubble wrap on the top. Then a top plate of 2", high-density foam is sealed down tight to the rest of the foam box with the stretch film. The platter and rubber mat are stretch filmed to the top of the box taking care to make sure the mat is not bent or allowed to bend / wrinkle. The best way to ensure this is to place the mat down first on the box, then cover it with the platter positioned up-side down, to hold it in place. If there are any protrusions from the back of the platter, make sure the box will be large enough to allow plenty of loose fill packing to protect the platter. This is then stretch filmed in place on the top of the foam box. Once the foam box is finish packed, it is then suspended inside the outside box, using loose fill packing (foam peanuts).

We ship about 50-60 tables a year (about 750 units total a year) and have an almost spotless track record. From the "un-scientific" survey we have done from customers calling / emailing for parts / insurance claim amounts on units shipped from amateur sellers, we see about an extremely high failure rate on electronics / tables / reel to reel machines. I have a customer who recently ordered 10 tables as an experiment
 
 (yes he has a lot of money to throw around)
mostly from all different sellers and he said of the 10, only 4 came in undamaged and given the way they were packed, they should have all been damaged.
Our philosophy is that if something gets damaged in transit, it's almost ALWAYS
due to inappropriate packaging. The worst thing about this is that the world has lost a lot of really cool vintage gear:-(

PS. For years I hear folks preaching that electronics must be 'Double Boxed'. I've even seen that listed on either the FedEx site or UPS's Site (I don't remember which).....  BS !....In all the years I worked on the retail floor, un-boxing many thousands of pieces of gear, I can count on less than one hand the number of times I've seen manufactures 'double box' anything. You could put something in ten boxes, but if it's not packed inside the first box correctly, it won't likely matter!

 

MORE INFO AND PHOTOS WILL BE POSTED

 
Arm_Tied.jpg (9738 bytes)
DUAL 500 SERIES TURNTABLE

The tone-arm is then tied in place in it’s “locked” position with a wire tie on the Dual 500 series.

 
Table_secured_1.jpg (8968 bytes)  

 
Table_arm-secured_2.jpg (9223 bytes)

...or held in place with suitable measures such as on the this B&O Beogram 3000.

 

24_Items_Tied.jpg (11725 bytes)

The smaller, lighter weight accessories can be tied to the tone arm stand / lock as long as they're limited to an ounce or two. Accessories such as cartridge containers, single play spindles, 45 adapter discs, strung style anti-skate weights (not the counter weight!) etc.
Ship_Screw_down.jpg (9943 bytes)
Photo of Dual 500 series above.

Next if there are any transport screws (not as common on single play turntables as changers, but may still be used) they should be engaged, which usually means turning them counter-clockwise to their “out” position. Some single-play tables may have had transport screws, but they are usually removed for use and subsequently have been lost. Suitable replacements will need to be acquired. We have an assortment of any diameter / length we would need on hand.

 

Ship_Screw_Up.jpg (11459 bytes)


Transports screw in "locked" up position for shipping.


Occasionally on belt drive / rim drive turntables the motor will utilize it's own transport lock bolts. If so, appropriate bolts will need to be sourced and installed.
24_Platter_shims.jpg (9637 bytes)

Photo Sansui stereo turntable SR/4040

Prior to the packing, the table is prepped for packing. If it is a “single play” type table, the platter is removed. The platter can weigh anywhere from a pound or two to as much as 10 or 20 lbs. As a “static” load this may seem like an insignificant amount, but as a 'dynamic load' as in when being dropped from a stack of boxes or a delivery truck, a 4 lb platter can pretty easily reach a weight in motion of 20-80 lbs. Much more weight than the plinth and spindle / bearing were ever designed to handle. Leaving the platter in place will generally result in a bent spindle, warped bearing, busted plinth or a combination of these. A platter left in place on most turntables will result in damage to the dust cover and the tone arm assembly from 'flying around freely' inside the now damaged / ruined dust cover. I have heard of tone-arms completely busted or broken off from this. We’ll talk about what is done with the platter and rubber mat later.

(Photo shows internal & integrated platter and not the main "heavy" platter that has already been removed. In this case stabilizing shims were added to the internal platter which was not practical for user to re-install once delivered. If the smaller platter weighs much more than a half pound or so, then it too should be removed)


 

   


The counter-weight should then be removed (if practical) and packed separately. If it can't be 'practically' removed, then it should be held in place by foam. Many styluses and dust-covers are damaged / destroyed by counter-weights flying around inside that were not secured or removed. If there is absolutely no way to remove the counter weight, then it's a good idea to block / restrict it's movement by sufficient means. We have actually seen the rear tube of tone arms that have been broken due to a counter weight's mass. Again, it doesn't seem like much, but when dropped from 3-5 feet, at the right angle and it can snap the tone arm.
  foam_weight_closed.jpg (6349 bytes)

Untitled.jpg (8312 bytes)
Photo Marantz 6100 series

This was a turntable that arrived to us as a 'trade-in'. While in this case it did arrive intact, and no damage was done, the counter weight should have been removed and packed separately. There's no reason on this table not to have done that, and frankly probably would have been easier than what the person did.

 

 

24_Foam_Platter.jpg (9730 bytes)
Photo Sansui SR/4040 Stereo Turntable

Foam pad added between dust cover and integrated platter that was not 'practical to remove' for further protection.
Table_filmed_2.jpg (10093 bytes)

Next the dust-cover is VERY FIRMLY secured in place with shrink film from every direction. Once sealed down the turntable and dustcover becomes a solid unit. No motion is allowed. Most turntables will also have a sheet of 'poly lam' foam between the dust cover and the plinth to absorb shock. If this technique is utilized (and it should and usually is), care must be taken to not allow damage to cantilever in transit or during unpack from the foam sheet.



Photo Technics SL-Q2
Table_filmed_1.jpg (11331 bytes)
Photo B&O Beogram 3000 Turntable
Foam_Box_back.jpg (11616 bytes)
Photo B&O Beogram 3000

Next, our tables are always, housed in a 2" sheet foam "box" that fits exactly. Once the table is sealed and there are no parts inside "rattling around" to break things or scratch the dust cover, it is put into the foam box. On some tables that have suspension built into the feet, small depressions need to be "dug" in to the foam where the feet are, so that the tables weight is not on them for shipping. The internal suspension is not sufficient for this.

 
Foam_Box_sides.jpg (11092 bytes)

Photo B&O Beogram 3000



Photo Technics SL-Q2
 
Foam_box_insert_page_2.jpg (11109 bytes)

Photo B&O Beogram 3000


Photo Technics SL-Q2

If there's no dust cover, then foam must be stacked to protect tone arm.

 


Photo Technics SL-Q2

 


Photo Technics SL-Q2

 
24_Foam_shim.jpg (10092 bytes)
Photo Sansui SR/4040 stereo turntable

Any "play" or space inside the foam box, will be filled with foam or bubble wrap.
 

 

Foam_box_insert_page.jpg (10813 bytes)
Photo B&O Beogram 3000

A sheet with specific un-packing / re-assembly instructions included with every table.
Foam_Box_bubble.jpg (9002 bytes)

Photo B&O Beogram 3000



Photo Technics SL-Q2
 
Foam_Box_lid_skewed.jpg (7700 bytes)

Then a top plate of 2", high-density “pink” foam is sealed tight to the rest of the foam box with the stretch film. Prior to that if there's any space between the top of the dustcover and the foam "lid" that should is also filled to eliminate up / down movement. We generally use a small sheet of 1/2" bubble wrap to do that.
Foam_Box_unsealed.jpg (9019 bytes) Platter_on_Top.jpg (7388 bytes)
Photo B&O Stereo Turntable Beogram 3000

The platter and rubber mat are stretch filmed to the top of the box taking care to make sure the mat is not bent or allowed to bend / wrinkle. The best way to ensure this is to place the mat down first on the box, then cover it with the platter positioned up-side down, to hold it in place. This is then stretch filmed in place on the top of the foam box.

 


Photo Technics SL-Q2 Stereo Turntable

The platter and rubber mat are stretch filmed to the top of foam box / housing. Also present is the counterweight 'dug' into a recess and a sheet containing all instructions for unpacking, set-up, adjustment and our contact info for assistance.



 
   
MVC-005F.jpg (19485 bytes)
Table_in_box_2.jpg (8904 bytes)

Once the foam box is finish packed, it is then suspended inside the outer box, using loose fill (foam peanuts).
Photo prior to covering the top and sealing the box.


Ready to Ship!

We ship about 50-60 tables a year (about 750 electronic units total a year) and have a virtually spotless track record.  On an interesting side note; I have a customer / collector who recently ordered 10 tables (mostly from all different sellers) and he said 6 came in damaged due to inappropriate packaging. 2 had damage that appeared to be from lack of packing, but could have existed prior to shipping. 2 fared decently, but by only luck as NONE were packed appropriately. The worst thing about this is that the world has lost a lot of really cool vintage gear:-(
 

 

 

 
MORE TO COME
 
 



Yes, we should all know by now that 'stuff' happens. FedEx or UPS or the Postman  or 'Joes delivery service' will 'drop' packages. There is simply not enough time to 'coddle' every package with 'kid gloves' and accidents happen. They'll fall off conveyer belts, have other packages fall on them, get 'drop kicked', be used as soccer balls, fall off the hand truck, fall out of the back of the truck, be involved in 'thermo-nuclear war', etc. They need to be packed so all of that and more can happen, and still arrive intact and unscathed! If you can't pack items to that degree, then you probably shouldn't be packing / shipping them. Sorry, but the world is loosing too much irreplaceable gear and too many units due to amateurs. If I've offended anyone then that probably means you.

What qualifies me to to 'be the expert'?
 Having unpacked thousands of electronic units for store displays, demo's, unpacked and re-packed for tent sales, events, RTV, customer inspections, etc, not to mention my own use for the past 29 years of doing this has shown me how the manufacturers do it.
Having shipped ~16,000 units over the past 15 years, most of which had to have packaging re-designed / fabricated from scratch, with only 1 or 2 minor damage issues (no, I'm not kidding) pretty much makes me an expert and the one you should probably be listening to.
"Wow, you sound really arrogant!"
Ok.
Sorry, but vintage audio gear, damaged due to inappropriate, inadequate, unprofessional packing is my biggest 'pet peeve'.

 

 

 

- - -

 


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AND PRICING SUBJECT TO CHANGE  AT ANYTIME  AND
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