Here is a summary of rules experts recommend for safe shipping of fragile optics and electronic equipment.
- Pack your item to survive a fall of 10 feet, not just to a flat surface, but onto a cinderblock smaller than the box.
- Peanuts (foam or starch) are only useful for small, low-density items weighing less than 2 lbs. Dense, massive items literally sink through peanuts and aren’t protected by them.
- Packaging must fit snugly around the scope and allow no play when shaken, so save the foam inserts that came with your new scope.
- Use double boxing with the outside box at least 2 in bigger than the inner box and foam-lined to survive a 2-in penetration.
- If it’s a return for repair, ship only what you have to. It’s common sense to remove any items that aren’t needed, such as finderscopes, visual backs, and aftermarket accessories to reduce the chance of their getting broken or lost.
IMPORTANT NOTE: For SCTs, it is especially important to remove the visual back and to properly protect the corrector plate. If left in pace, visual backs concentrate pressures from a back-end drop and can actually cookie-cut holes right through boxes. This can transmit shock through the tube, possibly shattering the corrector plate. Add extra foam in front of the corrector plate and make sure the tube cap is in place over the corrector to protect the glass from front-end drops. Cap the hole in the tube left by the removal of the visual back with either a plastic cap or cardboard to keep dust and debris out of the tube. Double-boxing will greatly help in protecting the corrector plate from breakage.
- Either remove items that can come loose during shipping or use Loctite Blue (removable) to secure them. No rattling loose allowed!
- Remove all batteries from mount bases, etc. to prevent accidentally turning on electronics and leakage.
- Enclose an extra label with both addresses on it. If the outer one is scraped off or mutilated, the shipper can still deliver the package.
- If you are recycling a box, completely remove or cover any old barcodes and labels to prevent the box from going to the wrong destination.
- Sharp-ended or protruding parts (tripod legs, counterweight shafts) need extra packaging at the ends to prevent their holing out of the shipping container.
Remember, the FRAGILE and HANDLE WITH CARE labels are for psychological purposes only. Package handling machines don’t read them and they won’t help protect your box.