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When You Gotta Ship It

So... you're clearing out your shop of your beloved submarine model, having sold it to some unsuspecting.. ahem, fortunate individual. Now... how the heck are you going to get it to them in one piece?

For those who hate reading, check out the video with this information on my YouTube Channel.

Here are a few simple rules to help you get the model from where it's at to where it needs to be safely:

Rule #1: Thou Shalt Not Ship It In the First Place

It's a sad fact of life that if you ship something big and relatively fragile, it will be damaged. Sub models are no exception. I've spent hours packing a model safely only to have the new owner report back that there was damage. At the end of the day, if a carrier decides to damage something, nothing you are going to be able to do will stop them.

If you have the option at all, arrange pickup by the new owner. Of course, I know this is not always possible, feasible, or advisable, but if it's an option, I'd highly recommend you take it. It saves major hassles with shipping insurance claims, 90% of which are declined due to "insufficient packaging" claims by the carrier.

Rule #2: Thou Shall Ship With Wood, Unless Cardboard Be the Only Option!

Double-walled shipping cartons are just fine to ship in, but you need a lot of buffer around your boat, resulting in larger (albeit lighter) boxes. Wooden crates are harder to manhandle and toss around and provide much sturdier protection when coupled with adequate padding inside.

Do not ship in a Home Depot moving box or the equivalent. You need the double-wall, hard shell to stop punctures and retain the shape of the box around your boat. I don't know how many boxes have arrived to me that are squashed flat and floppy as a dog's ear...

Rule #3: Thou Shall Secure It all From Moving... At All!

Even after you remove the internals from your boat, there are still loose things inside, including linkages, bulkhead clips and drive shafts. Secure them in place with tape and then wrap them in bubble wrap. Ideally, you stuff the entire interior of your boat in bubble wrap to help press ballast weight against the sides of the boat. Lots of times they'll break loose during shipping and wreak havok inside for the entire rest of the journey.

Rule #4: Thou Shall Protect Thy Delicate Parts

If it is an option, remove dive planes, rudders and sails from the model. Ideally it will have been constructed to allow you to do so, but it rarely works out that way. If you can take it apart, do it, regardless of the time it takes to do so and for the new owner to re-assemble.

Dive planes and rudders are particularly prone to damage. Cut rigid foam to shape and encapsulate the entire thing prior to shipping. Once you have a rigid foam sheath around the front and rear assemblies, wrap it all with several layers of bubble wrap and then shrink wrap the entire thing.

Also watch your sail. Putting a sheath of foam around it is never a bad idea.

Once you have that all secured, wrap your model in shrink wrap or bubble wrap to protect that ultra-realistic and time-consuming paint job from abrasion.

When packing in the crate, always ensure that you have adequate spacing between the model and the walls of the crate, space is your friend. Leave at least 2" of space and you should be okay.

Rule #5: Thou Shall Never Ship Thy WTC in Thine Model

As tempting as it is to simply keep the cylinder securely (or so you think) locked in place in the boat, NEVER ship it this way. Unless your mounting points are rock solid and reinforced with steel, odds are that they'll shear off when some dipstick carrier throws the box around. That done, you now have several pounds of watertight cylinder slamming back and forth in your boat, happily destroying delicate linkages, ballast assemblies and foam. If you're lucky, the cylinder might only be scratched. If not, look for a cracked cylinder and a few hundred dollar bill for a new unit.