For what it's worth, I've had clients ship tapes in everything from what I'd consider pretty much
bulletproof packaging to a flimsy mailer (just got a tape from Canada that way the other day). I
would bet, the majority of the time, even the flimsy packages get thru just fine. BUT, then there's
the percentage when they don't.
Here are some tips I tell my clients about shipping magnetic media:
1. don't put too many tapes in one box. Keep weights down. Better to ship multiple lighter-weight
2. secure tapes within their boxes. wrap tape boxes in bubblewrap, taped up so the tape boxes won't
slip out. This is hopefully your first defense against mangling.
3. put tapes in a box. Nest that box in a sea of packing material within a bigger box. This step is
particularly necessary if the tapes are going cross-country.
4. use a heavy-weight outer box and be liberal with using the plastic tape. Every inch of that
cardboard you're covering with plastic tape is potentially one less water-damage spot.
5. insure for what you consider the replacement value. "Priceless" = the max amount allowed by the
shipper. Most shippers pay attention to this stuff and I betcha a red flag comes up on
heavily-insured boxes to handle with extra care. Maybe not, but I've never had a heavily-insured box
mangled in transit.
6. use the FAST method. Ground shipping cross-country is generally a Bad Idea. But, ground shipping
from NJ to NY is overnight anyway, for instance. I tell clients, I don't care if you use carrier
pigeons, just use whatever gets it here the fastest. Less time in transit = less time to get
I have one client in NYC and we ship UPS Ground back and forth. UPS is pretty notorious but we've
used the same group of main outer boxes for a couple years now (maybe 10 times back and forth). That
tells you how far an over-spec'd box full of good packing material can go. In our case, these are
two old heavy-weight computer boxes. For something that bulky, we still keep the weights down under
30lbs, which means all the packaging is very over-spec'd and unlikely to get mangled.
One man's experiences, etc.
-- Tom Fine
----- Original Message -----
From: "carlstephen koto" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Thursday, January 17, 2008 7:58 PM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Pancake horror story
> Myself and some fellow tape enthusiasts usually either double box tapes for shipment or use the
> gray, hard plastic reel containers inside of regular document shipping containers. I've gotten
> mangled outer boxes but never anything serious on the inner.
> My question is, I've heard that X-rays are used to examine even domestic shipments now. And while
> the X-ray itself may not damage the recording, the huge transformers that power them will. We've
> taken to writing " Do not X-ray, magnetic tape enclosed " on the packages in the hopes that if
> they feel the need to examine the contents they will open it. I wonder if they actually read
> this warning or if there's any way to insure against "Data Damage"?
> On Jan 17, 2008, at 3:37 PM, Tom Fine wrote:
>> Some people swear by the practice of storing reels of tape as un- flanged "pancakes" on a hub.
>> There are some well-documented benefits to this practice, from cost-saving to possibly avoiding
>> damage if the box is dropped and flange is mangled badly enough to damage the tape-pack. Well,
>> let me tell you a tale ...
>> Names deleted because this was told to me in confidence. Suffice to say, these tapes are
>> valuable and not replaceable.
>> Tapes were archived on hubs, mistakenly shipped overseas and mangled on the way back in transit.
>> Badly mangled. It will be lucky if there are not unrepairable problems in parts of tape
>> containing music. This would not have happened if the tapes were on reels, although the
>> mangling was bad enough that the reels may have been bent. The owners of the tapes correctly
>> blame the shipping company but I would argue that it's a lesson in just how brutal shippers can
>> be, especially if a communications problem of lower-level employees gets something sent overseas
>> and back.
>> My take-away was that if one is to ship tapes as boxed-pancakes, one needs to take extreme
>> measures to keep the tape-pack rigid and protected. I would even suggest rigging something up
>> using a metal film can. Certainly don't use decades-old cardboard boxes, even if they are
>> grouped in large box and surrounded by rigid packing material.
>> -- Tom Fine