Packing a Pioneer PL-630 for Safe Shipment

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pustelniakr

Silver Miner at Large
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1 - Special Considerations

The PL-630 is a very heavy, yet fragile piece of equipment. There are many ways that a shipment can go wrong, and many ways that the unit can be damaged during shipment. First, Fig 1 illustrates the kind of conditions we are packing to endure. Packages get tossed around, fall off elevated conveyor and roller systems, stepped on, dog-piled on the bottom of heavy, randomly packed loads, fall off of the top of tall stacks, etc. We are trying to survive all of that. Specifically, what we are shipping should survive a 4-5 foot drop on any edge, corner, or flat surface. That is a tall order, and we will do our best to achieve it. We definitely do not want your unit to be damaged in shipment, while the packaging shows insufficient external damage to account for the damage to the unit.

Figure 1 - Potential Shipping Conditions
UPS Truck Loading.JPG

Shippers do not sell shipping "insurance." They note and record item value. Claims of damage must show sufficient justification to be defensible. If they can support a claim of insufficient or incompetent packaging, they can simply deny your damage claim. We want to make that very hard for them to do.

Enjoy,
Rich P
 

pustelniakr

Silver Miner at Large
Staff member
2 - Preparing the Unit for Packing

The inner box will have a special location to tuck the power cord and signal cable. To fit that location, bundle that pair of cords together, with a bundle length of 6" - 7", with some un-bundled cordage for slack. Bind the bundle with a rubber band, as shown in Fig. 2.

Figure 2 - Cable Bundle
01 - Cable Bundle.JPG

Under the right conditions, the insulation on the power cord and signal cable can react with Styrofoam, causing the Styrofoam to melt and stick to the cords, which is hard to remove. To prevent this, wrap the cable bundle and loose cabling with kitchen cling wrap, as shown in Fig. 3.

Figure 3 - Wrapped Cable Bundle
02 - Wrapped Cable Bundle.JPG

Enjoy,
Rich P
 

pustelniakr

Silver Miner at Large
Staff member
3 - Securing Loose Parts

One of the biggest mistakes made when shipping these units is failing to ensure that parts do not come off in shipment and bounce around causing all kinds of damage. To prevent this, we will remove or secure any loose parts, before we do anything else. Fig. 4 shows the parts we will be dealing with: platter mat, platter, headshell and cartridge, tonearm, and tonearm counterweight.

Figure 4 - Exposed Top
03 - Exposed Top.JPG

First, open the dust cover, lift it off, and set it aside for later. We do not want to damage it, as we remove the platter.

Next, to prevent the tonearm from flopping around during shipment, secure it in its rest, using the clamp that is a part of that rest. Then, since that is not secure enough for shipment, secure the tonearm to its rest, using a long wire tie, like what you get in the produce department of your grocery store, as shown in Fig. 5. The wire tie should start at the rear of the tonearm rest, under the tonearm tube, and tie around the tonearm tube and be twisted together at the top front of the tonearm rest. Use a jeweler's screwdriver, and make sure that the tonearm rest is tightened into its mount securely.

Figure 5 - Secured Tonearm
05 - Secured Tonearm.jpg

Next, remove the rubber platter mat, tonearm counterweight, and headshell. Set them aside for later. To remove the platter, insert the thumb and middle finger of your strong side hand into the holes in the top of the platter (see Fig 6). Hold the plinth down with your other hand, then pull the platter straight up and off, with a firm, sudden motion. Use only as much force as you need, but you may need significant force. Don't worry. It will come off. Now you see why we removed the dust cover before we started this. Set the platter aside for later.

Figure 6 - Platter Exposed
06  - Platter Exposed.JPG

Install 3 shipping screws (mine are red-headed), as shown in Fig. 7. I also add obvious label tags to prompt their removal before use at the destination. If you do not have the original shipping screws, you will need a metric M5 screw that is at least 52mm long. As you tighten the shipping screws, you will be compressing the turntable suspension, by pulling the bottom plate up tight to the plinth. Don't tighten each screw all the way, but tighten each one, a little at a time, until they are all snug. There are only a few threads for each screw, in the bottom plate, so don't over-tighten, or you'll tear out those threads. Nice and snug is good enough. We don't want the screws coming out in shipping and bouncing around, either.

Figure 7 - Shipping Screws
07 - Shipping Screws.JPG

Enjoy,
Rich P
 

pustelniakr

Silver Miner at Large
Staff member
4 - Dust Cover Support and Headshell Stowage

Unlike most turntables of its day, the PL-630 dust cover is made of tough poly-carbonate, instead of Plexiglas. The PL-630 dust cover can endure quite a bit of pressure, without cracking or breaking, as long as the pressure is distributed properly. If heavy pressure is concentrated in the middle of the top of the dust cover, such as when someone steps/stands on the shipping box, it can break or crack the dustcover. To help prevent this, you must use a supplementary dust cover support pad. I make the pad out of closed cell polyethylene foam, rather than Styrofoam, since I also use the support pad for stowing the headshell and cartridge. This requires a bit of carving, to hollow out the required headshell stowage compartment.

The finished support pad thickness should be set, so that, when you close the dust cover upon it, it holds the dust cover open just slightly. When the packing is complete, we will tightly close the dustcover and hold it there, thus compressing the pad slightly. The length and width of the pad should be sufficient to provide good support to the central area of the dust cover

I use a combination of exacto knives and serrated kitchen knives to slice and carve the pad. Once the pad is of the correct overall dimensions, I create a hole in the underside, into which the platter spindle fits, to hold the pad in place, preventing it from shifting around during shipment. Then, I slice off a section of the top, to serve a a lid for the headshell stowage. I then carve out a space that will be a custom fit for the headshell and any cartridge. Remember, we do not want the stylus to make contact with ANYTHING except vinyl records in play, so the stowage compartment is critical. Also, the cartridge fits down inside of the compartment, and a special retaining pad keeps it in place. Once this is all created, I use aluminum ducting tape to hinge the top of the pad to the bottom, so it will hinge open, as a hinged box will do.Figures 8 - 11 illustrate the support pad construction.

Figure 8 - Exposed Headshell Hollow
08 - Exposed Headshell Hollow.JPG

Figure 9 - Headshell Stowed
09 - Headshell Stowed.JPG

Figure 10 - Headshell Retained
10 - Headshell Retained.JPG

Figure 11 - Completed Support Pad
11 - Completed Support Pad.JPG

Enjoy,
Rich P
 

pustelniakr

Silver Miner at Large
Staff member
5 - Dust Cover Installation

The dust cover is going to be pressed shut very tightly for, and during, shipment. To prevent rubbing damage to the plinth, lay a thin layer of some protective sheet on the top of the plinth. Make cut-outs in the sheet, to accommodate the support pad and tonearm support structures. The protective sheet should be made of a material that is softer than the soft aluminum of the plinth. I use polyethelene foam sheeting. The sheeting should be about the thickness of T-shirt fabric.

Lay the protective sheet in place, on the top of the plinth, as shown in Fig 12. Reinstall the dust cover and close it upon the support pad and protection sheet, as shown in Fig 13. There should be a bit of uncompressed pad, keeping the cover from closing completely. We will compress that later.

Figure 12 - Protection Sheet Installed
12 - Protection Sheet Installed.JPG

Figure 13 - Dust Cover Reinstalled
13 - Dust cover Reinstalled.JPG

To prevent the possibility of damaging the finish of the PL-630, due to rubbing against the box padding, cover the entire unit with a fiber cover, made out of interfacing fabric, which can be obtained at a local fabric store. My wife makes these covers, and they can later be used as dust covers, when the equipment is not being used. Refer to Fig 14 to see an example.

Figure 14 - Fiber Dust Cover
14 - Fiber Dust Cover.JPG

Enjoy,
Rich P
 

pustelniakr

Silver Miner at Large
Staff member
6 - Dust Cover Torque Prevention

The next step is particularly critical to a safe shipment. The dust cover must not be allowed to torque, relative to the plinth, or it will crack or break, at the hinges. To prevent this, strap the dust cover to the plinth very tightly, using kitchen cling wrap (see Fig 15). Wrap cling wrap very tightly around the whole unit, from side to side, at least 5 times. Then, wrap cling wrap, very tightly around the whole unit, from front to back, at least 5 times.

You should feel that the PL-630 dust cover has closed tightly, compressing the support pad and protection sheet. Make sure that the PL-630 feet, and the cable bundle, are not bound up in the wrapping, as shown in Fig 16. The feet must be free, so they can fit into the hollows prepared for them in the inner box, bottom padding. The cable bundle must be free, so it can be tucked into the hollow prepared for it in the bottom pad.

As you can see, the unit is ready for boxing.

Figure 15 - Cling-Wrapped Unit
15 - Cling-Wrapped Unit.JPG

Figure 16 - Feet, Free from Wrap
16 - Feet Free From Wrap.JPG

Enjoy,
Rich P
 

pustelniakr

Silver Miner at Large
Staff member
7 - Inner Box Preparation

To create padding for the inner and outer boxes, you will need a selection of styrofoam insulation sheets from Lowe's or Home Depot. It comes in 4' x 8' sheets, and I keep a variety of thicknesses on hand: 1/2", 3/4", 1", and 2".

We now need to construct the inner box. I use a 20" x 20" x 20" box. It is a standard size, and works well.

First, close up the bottom and make sure it stays good and shut, with quality packing tape. Then I cut the bottom pad, to fit the box tightly, out of 2" foam, and press the pad into place. I then place the wrapped PL-630 onto the pad.

We are going to locate the PL-630 in the box, so we can cut some relief hollows in the bottom pad for the feet and for the cable bundle. To do the locating, we need to insert some small pieces (scraps) of padding in the front, rear and sides. One side will be out of 3/4" foam, and the other side will be out of 1" foam. The rear pad should be made out of 2 sheets of 1" foam (you will see why later). The front pad should then be composed of whatever thickness of sheets will take up the remaining space. The unit should now be firmly held, with no slop in the padding for moving around in shipment. Now, put firm, downward pressure on the PL-630, so the feet will make impressions in the foam pad under it.

Remove the PL-630 and side pad spacers. Remove the bottom pad and cut out a rectangular piece from the center of the rear edge. The cable bundle will fit into this hollow. Then cut out hollows around the impressions made by the feet. You want at least 1" clearance between the padding and any side of the feet, so that the feet don't get snapped off if the box gets dropped on a side. See Figure 17 for an example of completed bottom pad.

Figure 17 - Inner Box Unloaded
17 - Inner Box Unloaded.JPG

Now, reinstall the PL-630, making sure that the feet locate in their respective hollows, and the PL-630 baseplate is fully in contact with the pad. Next, cut the side pads. The length of each should be the entire side of the box, all the way into the corners. The width of each pad will be the exact distance from the bottom pad, to the top surface of the dust cover (we want a nice custom, tight fit). Then, cut two pads out of 1" foam, for the rear, exactly the same width as the side pads, and the length should be so that the ends wind up right up against the side pads. We want good foam all the way into the corners, for reinforcement against corner drops. Now, tape the two rear pads together, and cut reliefs into the inner one, to accommodate where the cables exit the PL-630, and to accommodate the dust cover hinges. See Figure 18 for what the finished rear pad should look like. Now cut padding for the remaining space in the front, with exactly the same length and width dimensions as the rear pads. Remember that we want a nice tight fit, with no slop, so the unit will not move around in the box during a rough shipment.

Take special note that, when padded correctly, the sides of the dust cover makes NO CONTACT with the padding. This is intended to keep side or corner drops from causing the dust cover to torque, relative to the plinth, which would cause cracks or breaks at the hinges.

Figure 18 - PL-630 Inserted
18 - PL-630 Inserted.JPG

Now, cut 3 pads for the top, each out of 3/4" foam and cut to the same dimensions as the bottom pad. Fit them in place, on top of the PL-630 and side pads. Please note that the side pads should not hold the top pads off of the PL-630, but the PL-630 and side pads should all be level, for a good, tight fit.

Figure 19 - Inner Box Padding Installed
19 - Inner Box Padding Installed.JPG

Now, take a pencil and mark a line on the sides of the box, right where the top pads end. This will be where the new box flaps will bend. Then take a box cutter and cut each corner, following the corner, from the lines just marked, up to where the original box flaps begin, basically enlarging the box flaps. When done, remove the top and side pads, and the PL-630, and turn the box on one side. For each side, take a small rod, and lay it along the line drawn on that side, and tap the rod gently into the box material, making a light, linear indent. What we are making is a guide for the flap to bend accurately along that line. When all 4 flap bends have been treated, stand the box up and gently bend the new flaps over. Where they overlap, trim them so that they meet in the center, as normal flaps would.

See Figures 20 - 22, in the next post, for the results.

Enjoy,
Rich P
 

pustelniakr

Silver Miner at Large
Staff member
8 - Inner Box - Stowing the Platter, Counterweight and Top Padding

Now, reload the PL-630 and side, front and rear pads. Lay one of the top pads in place, and determine exactly where the sides, front, and rear of the dust cover are, under the pad. Mark that. Take the pad out, and mark the center of the area just determined. Lay the PL-630 platter on the pad sheet, centered on the area just determined, and mark around the platter, onto the sheet. Remove the platter and cut a custom hollow out of the sheet, to use as platter stowage. Then, similarly, cut a hollow to serve as stowage for the PL-630 counterweight. Refer to Figure 21 for the results. What we have just done, is located the platter, directly over the dust cover. This takes any concentrated, downward force applied to the box, and distributes the force to the sides of the dust cover, where such forces can be better tolerated. We have also made sure that the counterweight and platter are not still on the table, to come loose and bounce around in shipping.

Now we install the upper padding of the inner box. Install one sheet of the top padding, on top of the PL-630, as in Figure 20. Then install the sheet we just fashioned into platter stowage on top of the 1st pad. The first pad keeps the platter and counterweight from contacting the dust cover. Wrap the platter and platter mat and counterweight in cling-wrap and fit them into their hollows in the middle sheet, as seen in Figure 21. Then fit the final sheet of top padding in place, as seen in Figure 22.

Once the padding has all been installed, close the inner box, and securely tape it shut, with quality shipping tape (recommend Scotch, Heavy Duty Shipping Packaging Tape), along the seam, and across the seam (See Figure 23).

Figure 20 - Bottom Layer of Upper Pad
20 - Bottom Layer of Upper Pad.JPG

Figure 21 - Middle Layer of Upper Pad
21 - Middle Layer of Upper Pad.JPG

Figure 22 - Top Layer of Upper Pad
22 - Top Layer of Upper Pad.JPG

Figure 23 - Completed Inner Box
23 - Completed Inner Box.JPG

Enjoy,
Rich P
 

pustelniakr

Silver Miner at Large
Staff member
9 - Outer Box

Under normal shipping conditions, the inner box and padding should be enough for safe shipment. The outer box is intended to provide an extra measure of protection, in case of rough handling, or untoward shipping events (dropping, tossing, etc.).

We now need to construct the outer box. I use a 24" x 24" x 24" box. It is a standard size, and works well. Double-walled is best, but if not available, a quality, single walled box will do.

First, close up the bottom and make sure it stays good and shut, with quality packing tape. Then, cut the bottom pad, to fit the box tightly, out of 2" foam, and press the pad into place. I then place the finished inner package into place and cut side pads, also out of 2" foam. Length of each side pad is the full inner width of the box. the width of each side pad is the exact height of the inner box, for a nice tight fit. Then cut the front and rear pads out of 2" foam, to the same exact width of the side pads, and just long enough to contact the side pads, also for a good tight fit. Next, cut a top pad, out of 2" foam, to the same dimensions as the bottom pad, and lay it in place.

Now, take a pencil and mark a line on the sides of the box, right where the top pad ends. This will be where the new box flaps will bend. Then take a box cutter and cut each corner, following the corner, from the lines just marked, up to where the original box flaps begin, basically enlarging the box flaps. When done, remove the top and side pads, and the inner box, and turn the box on one side. For each side, take a small rod, and lay it along the line drawn on that side, and tap the rod gently into the box material, making a light, linear indent. What we are making is a guide for the flap to bend accurately along that line. When all 4 flap bends have been treated, stand the box up and gently bend the new flaps over. Where they overlap, trim them so that they meet in the center, as normal flaps would.

If the box is hard to carry, it will get kicked and tossed around. So we now cut carrying handles into the sides of the outer box. The handles are rectangular holes, 4" x 1-1/2", cut 1/3 of the way from the top and centered (see Figure 28). Mark the boundaries of the holes in the box material, onto the side padding, remove the side padding and hollow out the material to match the box holes. Then, reinstall the side padding.

Reinstall the inner box, as well as the side, front pad, and rear pads. Lay the top pad in place. Once the padding has all been installed, close the outer box, and securely tape it shut, with quality shipping tape (recommend Scotch, Heavy Duty Shipping Packaging Tape), along the seam, and across the seam, in several places. Place "Fragile" and "This Side Up" labels on every side, top and bottom, as appropriate.

Figure 24 - Outer Box No Front or Rear Pad
24 - Outer Box No Front of Rear Pad.JPG

Figure 25 - Outer Box Inner Box Installed
25 - Outer Box Inner Box Installed.JPG

Figure 26 - Outer Box Upper Pad Installed
26 - Outer Box Upper Pad Installed.JPG

Figure 27 - Completed Package
27 - Completed Package.JPG

Figure 28 - Outer Box Carrying Handles
28 - Outer Box Carrying Handles.JPG

That is about as safe as anyone can make a PL-630 for shipment.

Enjoy,
Rich P
 

pustelniakr

Silver Miner at Large
Staff member
Supplemental Note:

How many people would be willing to pay for this level of packaging for a turntable?

A fully restored PL-630 is worth $700+, without a cartridge. An investment of $35 or so is not unreasonable. I usually charge for materials and throw in the labor, as a contribution to a happy client. Shipping cross country is $85+, one way, these days. A bit more for packing properly is a no-brainer for me. I require it, or I won't take the restoration job. I gotta see your unit, in detail, and how it is packed. When we are both satisfied that we have what is necessary to support any damage claim, I then authorize shipment. If not packed adequately when it gets here, I fix the packaging before it goes back, at owner's expense. This is clearly stated on the preliminary quote.

If desired, I produce this packaging and ship it, empty, to the client for use. This is an expensive proposition, because shipping is almost the same, empty or loaded (called "dimensional weight"). But, I have had good clients purchase my packaging, rather than having to crawl around on the floor and create it themselves. I've got a PL-630 coming to me, right now, in the very packaging that you see above. That is how I had the text and pics to use to create this thread so quickly.

There are several benefits to creating a thread like this. First, and foremost, I can help all of you folks to keep your beauties safe. Second, when I purchase one of these, I can point the seller to this thread, to show how I want to have it packed (I'm willing to pay extra for it). Finally, when a client wants to send me his PL-630, for restoration, I can point him here, for instructions on how to pack it for safe shipment.

I have designs and executions of packaging for many other TOTL Pioneer models as well: RT-1020L, RT-909, RT-707, CT-FXXXX cassette decks, etc.

Enjoy,
Rich P
 
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