Another reason to ship by the fastest way possible is that the
recordings (tape, disk, whatever) will not spend 4 days on either an
unheated loading dock being rained or snowed on, and in the summer won't
sit in 100+ degree 95% humidity degree sunshine waiting for shipment any
more than they have to....

I'd also second the notion that keeping the weight down makes handling
more likely to be gentle. My own experience is not to use peanuts as
packing material, even in the box within a box situation. Using heavy
bubble wrap with no real space for things to shift works best for me.
Otherwise the box in the center with the recordings in it acts like a
pendulum inside the outer box every time it is dropped. Peanuts just
allow too much movement, settle, and have static electricity problems.

Years ago I worked for Sony in QA, and in packaging drop tests for new
products it became clear that contrary to what would seem to be common
sense, making the packed object and the packaging seem like one mass by
holding it securely centered in the packaging with very little give
produced much lower gee forces than allowing 'soft' packaging. The key
was both fairly rigid packing materials that kept the shape of what was
packed, allowed as little shifting as possible, and allowed enough space
around the centrally packed item to protect from damage from outside
protrusion. Bubble wrapping in both the inner and outer boxes fits the
bill nicely for most things.

Just my 1.75 cents.... :>)

-----Original Message-----
From: Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List
[mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Tom Fine
Sent: Friday, January 18, 2008 8:44 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Pancake horror story

Hi Malcolm:

The mastering engineer advised the parties to consider the shipment a
"write-off" because the tapes were so mangled as to be unfixable.  He
said the tapes were packed in this sloppy manner -- pancakes tapes
between pieces of cardboard with the edges of the cardboard clamped
tight and taped together (which causes edge damage from the get-go). The
boxes were so violently handled in shipping that the cardboard worked
loose in transit, spilling tapes from the hub in most cases and mangling
edges and tape-pack in all cases. Some tapes were packed horizontal,
some verticle, none wrapped in a protective bubblewrap, all in a
large/heavy box that was obviously dropped hard or slammed around en
route overseas and back. The engineer lays blame squarely on the major
copyright holder, saying he doubts a box packed that way would make it
cross-country intact, much less overseas and back. The engineer states
that he can't believe someone would ship master tapes without boxes and
as un-flanged pancakes.

I would theorize that ANY tapes packaged this way in too-bulky/too-heavy
a box would suffer the same damage just being loaded and unloaded from a
ground-shipping truck. I further theorize the major damage came either
in a shipping depot or when cargo shifted during a rough airplane
landing on the way to or from overseas. The point is, if you pack
something too massive, damage is almost inevitable due to simple
physics/gravity, which is why I advise clients to keep boxes small to
medium and weight per box down and wrap everything in bubble wrap. I
forgot to mention last night that I also advise clients to wrap grooved
disks and tapes in a plastic bag during most seasons so as to avoid
damage if the box is dunked in a puddle or slush in the gutter or left
out in the rain. 
The nesting a box within a box can be very helpful if there is a sea of
packing material to absorb blunt force.

If I didn't know and trust the people who told me this story, and if
they weren't directly involved, I'd never believe this could have
happened with master tapes owned by a major company. These companies
have been so cored out by "restructuring" and mega-glomeration that they
no longer have any knowledgable folks minding the store! I agree with
the engineer, the ultimate blame in this is on the person who chose to
pack valuable intellectual property in such a sloppy manner. I would
suggest the shipper behaved like a typical shipper -- these guys are not
in the "careful" business.

My takeaway is never ship pancakes, always have reels in boxes, tape
boxes shut and wrap in bubble-wrap (none of this taping and wrapping
tight enough to squish the reel or tape-pack, by the way), pack tapes
either horizontally or vertically but not both, use medium-sized boxes
and nest the box within a larger box in a sea of force-absorbing
material. Perhaps also wrap the nested box in plastic so it is
water-tight. Keep your total weight of tapes vastly under-spec'd to your
boxes, so simple physics is your ally instead of your enemy. And ship
via the fastest way you can afford so the tapes do not stay long in
transit. And insure to full value which might, just might, catch a
shipper's attention before they heave your box off a 2-story drop. Oh,
and of course communicate clearly enough that you know exactly where to
send the tapes!

-- Tom Fine

----- Original Message -----
From: "Malcolm Davidson" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Friday, January 18, 2008 8:59 AM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Pancake horror story

> Tom,
> "Names deleted because this was told to me in confidence. Suffice to
> these tapes are valuable
> and not replaceable."
> This is the statement that caught my attention!  Surely anyone making
such a
> decision to send originals needs educating, and rather quickly. I
> there is anyone on this list who would willingly send original content
> anywhere by shipping company.  It shows that, in this case, the
company had
> scant regard for the inherent value of the original analog tapes.  (If
> must send them go with a courier)
> Unfortunately it's the same mind set that many people often have when
> comes to file back up.  A hard disk crash wipes out files that were
> backed up, now what?  In the above case, at least we hope there were
> copies of the files.
> Malcolm Davidson
> ----- Original Message ----- 
> From: "Tom Fine" <[log in to unmask]>
> To: <[log in to unmask]>
> Sent: Thursday, January 17, 2008 6:37 PM
> Subject: [ARSCLIST] Pancake horror story
>> Some people swear by the practice of storing reels of tape as
> "pancakes" on a hub. There
>> are some well-documented benefits to this practice, from cost-saving
> 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
> these tapes are valuable
>> and not replaceable.
>> Tapes were archived on hubs, mistakenly shipped overseas and mangled
> 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,
> the mangling was bad enough
>> that the reels may have been bent. The owners of the tapes correctly
> 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
>> My take-away was that if one is to ship tapes as boxed-pancakes, one
> to take extreme measures
>> to keep the tape-pack rigid and protected. I would even suggest
> something up using a metal
>> film can. Certainly don't use decades-old cardboard boxes, even if
> are grouped in large box and
>> surrounded by rigid packing material.
>> -- Tom Fine