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How to pack and ship a record player safely

First lets get an idea of what can go wrong when shipping a record player. 

Q: What might be the types of mishaps that can happen to a package containing a turntable while in transit? 

A: It is likely that your carton will be bumped into and possibly dropped to the ground at some point during transit.  Plan for this eventuality. In very general terms the biggest hazard to deal with when the shipping carton encounters external shocking force is for the heavy parts of the turntable getting loose and bashing in to the lighter more fragile parts within the box.   A prime example is the outer platter of a two piece platter design.  I'm thinking about the Thorens TD14x/150/16x/3xx/2002, etc,  all the AR models, the Linn LP12 and all other turntables that employ the same essential design.  These models have a two-platter design with the inner platter being belt driven and with a separate outer platter that is held in place by gravity alone.  If you don't secure the loose outer platter in some way it will fly about within the box at the slightest hint of external shock.  Imagine what happens to the tonearm when a 7 pound cast zinc or aluminum outer-platter comes crashing into it!

With this in mind, the worst thing a shipper could do is to simply place the turntable loosely into a box, tape the lid shut and ship it.  In such a case damage to the turntable is guaranteed. 

The outer box needs to offer enough stiffness to keep it from being crushed by the other cartons that get stacked upon it in the truck.  UPS will ship containers weighing as much as 150 lbs.  Your container will likely weigh less than that.  It depends on the model.  With this in mind it makes sense to anticipate that your container may very well sit at the bottom of a stack of other boxes in the truck.  Let's make it stout enough to carry some outside force without being crushed.

A wise choice for a turntable owner to make is to save the original packing carton that it came in when new.  This carton has been designed for safe transit of the particular player.  If you still have this, store it clean and dry, then use it for long term storage and for shipping the unit when need be.

In the above image of the packing scheme for a Thorens TD160 we can see that the factory packing  places the heavy outer platter securely  beneath the main chassis of the turntable.  This eliminates the possibility for the heavy platter to move about freely.  The drive belt is left in place between the motor pulley and the driven inner platter.  

The tonearm is left in place out of necessity on this model, but the headshell and cartridge are stored separately.  Also note that the arm tube of the tonearm is to be tied to its tonearm park stand to prevent it from getting loose and damaging itself.  
The styro-foam upper enclosure surrounds the tonearm and prevents anything from bumping into it. Also, the styro-foam is very stiff and, once the upper and lower pieces are fitted together, prevents the box from being crushed by outside forces.
There should be a cardboard shim that is placed between the inner platter and the top plate of the turntable.  This will lift the tip of the bearing shaft off the thrust pad in the bearing housing, preventing the thrust bearing from being hammered in transit.  Typically, the shim is located to the aft side of the player and thus is out of view in this image. 
The fragile acrylic dust cover fits snug in a special pocket on top of everything else.  Nothing can scratch it except from above.
The above assembly fits snugly within a corrugated paper box (cardboard) of adequate strength to allow several other similar boxes to be stacked upon it while keeping its contents undamaged.

 

But what if we wanted to ship a TD160 like above and we don't have the original carton.???