Many clients wonder how we are able to ship these delicate pieces of equipment safely. Well... it's not easy. But we feel we have come close to mastering this art.
Sure - every once in a while UPS or FedEx will do something to a package that even an armored box could not survive. But these instances are few and far between, probably less than 0.5 percent. And we fully insure 100% of our packages and have also become good at processing claims should the need arise.
The most difficult equipment to ship is pretty much anything made by McIntosh. This is due to the fact that they use glass in many of their faceplates and their pieces tend be be super heavy. Luckily, McIntosh still makes boxes for just about anything they have made, and they sure know how to design and build a box! The heavier pieces actually come with a piece of plywood that items are securely bolted onto, keeping them from banging around in transit. They use the heaviest grade double-ply cardboard and also double box their pieces, with thick foam spacers between the two boxes. Since we have a nice supply of surplus McIntosh boxes we offer to use them to ship other heavy or delicate pieces from our collections. If we don't have the proper box we will order one new for your purchase.
All of our items are shrink-wrapped first to protect against moisture and abrasions. Pieces under 30 lbs will not usually need to be double boxed if done properly. We use several pieces of Instapack expanding foam packaging to nestle these pieces in a double-ply heavy-duty cardboard box, capable of holding at least twice the listed weight rating. Boxes are then sealed on all sides with water activated paper tape lined with a fabric reinforcement. We’ve had some plastic clear tape fail in moist or hot environments, so this is a great solution. Sure the material costs quickly add up - but to us it's worth the extra expense and effort considering the precious cargo inside.
Heavier pieces in the 30-80 lb range are double boxed in double-corrugated heavy-duty boxes, with corner foam separating the two boxes like McIntosh uses in all of their packaging. The 2” of cushioning between the two boxes allows the inner box to sort of float in place and absorb most impacts. It also provides a nice protection gap in case the outer box is punctured.
Items over 80 pounds, if we don’t have the original packaging, are safest traveling via freight. This is the same for speakers that are too large to box and ship safely. After shrink-wrap we begin protecting the item with heavy cardboard and Instapak expanding foam. We then strap the box to the pallet using strapping cord with crimped fasteners. Some items, such as speakers that have the proper holes, will actually be screwed down into a plywood sheet attached to the pallet providing extra strength.
We've had great success using freight services from several different carriers including Ward. Since the item sits on a pallet and is not tossed around, they tend to travel much safer than using a common carrier (UPS/FedEx) and we rarely have any damage. The only risk is being punctured by fork lift blade, but this is super rare and the heavy cardboard we use provides excellent protection.
Turntables are also tricky to ship safely, but we have really sorted out the process. After our final in-house test and calibration, we provide markings on the tonearm, counter weights, and anti-skate knobs so our clients can quickly get everything dialed back into the right settings without complication or guessing. With our signature in-house customizable vintage tables, we will provide a detailed video on final unpacking and assembly so you can easily follow along. Turntable platters and tonearms are usually removed and packed separately, often in a separate box or all together if the plinth is on the heavier side. Everything is secured with shrink-wrap to ensure it all says in place. We then use double corrugated boxes and Instapak expanding foam to make sure all pieces are snug and secured. While a bit of a pain to unwrap your purchase at the receiving end, we feel you'll agree that it’s worth the extra effort.