Expedited Smashing...


It is the culmination of months of hard work, research, hot days in the garage and no small sacrifice of blood. Finally, it sits on the bench... a shiny new submarine, complete, tested, and ready for the owner to take command.

There is only one thing left to do, and that is get it to them.

Barring a customer actually being able to pick up a build in person, there is very little that can be done except to put the boat in the hands of a shipping company and hope like mad that it shows up undamaged. Unfortunately, there are times that this does not happen.

After fifteen years of building boats, about a decade's worth building for other people, I've had my fair share of good and bad shipping experiences. What I have determined, through trial and error, is that regardless of your intent, hard work or precautions, if a shipping company decides that they're going to bust up your boat, there isn't a darned thing that you can do to stop them.

Let's look at some examples.

I have been blessed to have been the distributor for Jim Key's beautiful Custom Replicas 66" Nautilus models for a long time, having sold many, many kits to people all over the world. Almost every time, they show up unscathed, mostly due to Jim's exceptional packaging job. A few times, however, you see some damage, usually a small crack or other wound that is typically easy to repair (particularly as you still need to go through the assembly phase).

Having said that, I've never seen blatant disregard for a shipment like this shipment of a CR66" kit that was sent out back in December of 2010 (what a wonderful Christmas present).

Yes, that is a tire mark, square across the middle of the box. I don't care how you box that up, you won't stop a 3-ton truck from busting up your boat when they drive over the box.

I've gone so far as to have custom plywood shipping crates built, and even with a professional packaging company doing that work, bracing and packing the model and selecting their preferred carrier, models have still showed up damaged.

Now before you get scared of commissioning a build from a modeler who is not located down the street from you, you need to understand that a damaged model is absolutely the exception and not the rule. By far, most of my shipments arrive unscathed with a bit of shipping rash on the cardboard box and maybe a dented corner.

Really, we're playing the odds. If FedEx, UPS, or the US Postal Service decide that my sub is to be sacrificed to the gods of destruction, there is very little that can be done to stop it. Fortunately, these sacrifices seem to appease these gods for a decent period of time, and significant damage is limited a few models here and there, from time to time.

Provided a model is properly packaged and photographs of the process and materials used are present, shipping companies will typically grudgingly concede fault and provide compensation for repair or replacement, just as they did for my recent buildup of a gorgeous OTW Upholder sub a few months ago.

I suppose what I'm really saying here is if you or a builder take proper precautions, use good shipping materials, and carefully select a good, reputable carrier, the odds of it getting damaged are low. There will be times, however, where none of your precautions really make a difference and damage will occur. Provided there is documentation of your careful preparations, you'll get compensated and life will go on.

So, ship with cautious optimism, purchase from the best, and build up your fleet! Life will happen regardless of the plans you make, so just make the best of it...

Bob

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