PACKING ELECTRONIC EQUIPMENT TO SURVIVE SHIPPING.
PACKING ELECTRONIC EQUIPMENT TO SURVIVE SHIPPING latest updates and corrections 2-1-2012 Small heavy objects such as a 1541 disk drive require special treatment when it comes to packing them up for shipping. Here are a few tips to prevent damage to your equipment when you decide to ship something for repairs or if you're moving. I'll use the 1541 as an example, but the same ideas work for most equipment. Foam chips or plastic "popcorn" can be used for cushioning -only- if you put those chips in sealed bags to keep them from migrating around in the package. A heavy object packed in nothing but foam chips will sink to the bottom of the box and suffer case damage if the container is dropped. Crushed newspaper is almost useless for protecting heavy objects. If unprotected, your drive will almost certainly arrive with a broken case. One special precaution when you ship a 1571 drive is to insert a transit card or a scrap disk in the drive. That protects the delicate upper head mount from damage due to physical shock. The 1541 is not as sensitive since it doesn't have two heads, so a transit protection card or disk is not really necessary but is still a good idea. I always tell people to pack equipment well enough to survive a six foot drop onto concrete. Foam padding (the kind that deforms and springs back when you release it) is a good lightweight cushion for all types of equipment. Don't be tempted to reuse old Styrofoam blocks that were originally used as packing material for a TV set, VCR or other equipment. Those blocks are usually form fitted to the device they protected and are worse than useless for your gear. Plastic "bubble wrap" is a good protective packing material, but don't depend on it alone for heavy objects. It works best as the first line of protection for such light things as keyboards and circuit boards. However, one precaution if you're packing any circuit or mother board: use a few thicknesses of newspaper to cover the board before you use the plastic bubble wrap. The reason is that most plastics generate static electrical charges strong enough to damage ICs and other board components. The slight bit of moisture in newspaper is enough to dampen any static charge buildup and protect the board from damage. So, wrap the board in newspaper first, then in a few layers of bubble wrap and finally in a good strong box. Shipping companies charge for the weight and the size of a container. Lots of cardboard inside the box will add quite a bit of unnecessary weight and may not protect equipment the way you expect. I use cardboard sheets to separate one heavy device from another if shipping more than one unit, for reinforcing the container itself, and for covering a small heavy object such as a disk drive to protect the fragile case. Whatever you use, make sure the contents do not "rattle" when the final package is shaken. Looseness means the device inside can move around in the packing material and could suffer damage in transit from vibration or sudden drops. I prefer to pack computer monitors face down on a two inch thick foam pad over a reinforced bottom in the container. The CRT neck board can break the tube if the monitor is shipped upright and it is set down hard. Since most of the weight of a monitor is in the glass picture tube, it makes sense to ship it face down. Don't be tempted to use Styrofoam chunks or chips on the box bottom... they will not protect the monitor. Chips tend to migrate around in a box and a heavy device will sink to the bottom and therefore be subject to shock and vibration in transit. FYI: the control door on the bottom front of the cabinet is the first thing to get damaged by rough handling. You'll often find that door missing on a used monitor. The monitor packing box should allow a space of at least two inches on all sides, and that space packed tight with whatever protective material you use. Surround the monitor in the box with foam or foam chips secured in bags so the chips can't migrate. You want the final package to be tight and not allow the contents to rattle around inside the box. Lastly, the case rear should be packed -around- the block of plastic that sticks out. The tube neck is just inside that block. If anything hits the cabinet there, it could break the tube. After tight packing, put another stiff chunk of cardboard over the top to strengthen the box top, then seal it up. Visualize what would happen inside if you were to sit on a box after packing it or if you were to drop it. It may end up as the bottom box in a stack on the truck, so it must be able to withstand that kind of force. The sides must be stiff enough to withstand extra weight on it, so a beefy box is required... or a box within a box. Put "this side up" with arrows all around the sides of the container and "fragile" & "glass" in big letters on it in several places. Tell the shipper it's a glass tube computer monitor. I have a few words to say about shipping charges. The Post office offers the best rate for regular mail. Don't be fooled by their TV commercials about their Priority boxes. They charge a flat rate but it's higher than it needs to be for most items, and Priority mailing doesn't really get there any faster than regular mail in most cases. Also, there is no guarantee against loss unless you add insurance. Tracking is available for a minimal charge and you'll also pay extra for faster delivery and/or deliver confirmation. For expensive items, things that can't be replaced, and some repair jobs, I always use UPS. Their base rate (UPS Ground) includes tracking and insurance of $100 unless you add more. Expect to pay more for guaranteed faster service. Lastly, if shipping out of the country, consider the cheapest Post Office rate first. I tried shipping a repaired C64 motherboard from the USA to Japan and UPS wanted $125! The PO wanted less than $20. Since that board could be replaced easily if lost in transit (which, in truth, is not likely), it didn't make sense to spend more than it was worth to ship it. If in doubt, ask! Ray