Entry - Creating a global resource on shipping vintage tech

I’ve decided I would like to create a global resource to help people ship vintage technology correctly and safely to avoid further damage and destruction to our already deteriorating and shrinking supply of original vintage technology.

Every week I see people post on various Facebook groups destroyed computers globally and the blame on carriers and sellers.

Many of the times sellers and carriers have their blame to take, but we cant blame the sellers who are often unaware of the struggles of shipping vintage technology with brittle plastics, extraneous air vents, heavy items, CRTs, etc.

I hope to give people a resource they can present to a seller before shipment to ensure the best possible outcomes for everyone.



I completely underestimated the amount of knowledge I have built up and innate understanding of packaging having it as a focus in my Apple collection, and paying attention in Apple Service for 2 decades.

So far, It took 3 pages for a laptop packaging description.

I need to tweak the calculations on the sizes as they can go out of bounds.

But here is a start;

Concerns with shipping vintech
A little effort goes a long way.
There are a number of challenges we face when shipping vintage technology, and this document is designed to help you (the seller or sender) ensure the safe passage of your equipment across the street, or across the globe, making sure that you receive the best compensation and the receiver gets a product that will not be returned.
You want to avoid cracks in plastic, bent metal, items wobbling lose and shattering screens, internal components and much more.
Why bother?
Don’t rush!
A purchaser or receiver will understand taking the time to package something for shipment on services like eBay. Just communicate with them what is happening and people will be very accepting.

If you rush the carriage of goods, if they are damaged, generally PayPal, eBay, purchasers and insurers will hold you personally liable. So often now it’s our first reaction to blame the carriers, however we must accept that we need to ship things appropriately with enough margin to prove to the buyer and insurers that we have taken all necessary steps to prevent damage.

What you will need;
1. A sturdy box that is at least 40% bigger than the item you are shipping. (In the case of small items, you may wish something 100-600% larger.)
2. Painters tape (Blue tape)
3. Packaging Tape
4. A Printer to print appropriate labels for the package (Fragile, Battery Warnings, etc)
5. Styrofoam, Foam, Packing noodles, Bubble Wrap, Anti-Static Bags, Anti Static Bubble Wrap plastic stretch wrap (saran/clingwrap/gladwrap), brown paper (parcel wrap), heavy cardboard.
NOT ALL of Number 5 will be required depending on what you are sending.

Preparation - Laptops (not in original packaging);
1. For a laptop, consider that the accessories (cables, chargers, documents) etc should be in a box seperate to the laptop itself, and then packed in the shipping box.
Why bother? Accessories often move and cause damage in shipment. Placing them in another box or wrapping them in the bottom of the box will prevent them moving. Documentation like manuals should be placed in the bottom of the box. This will lower the centre of gravity, and provide stability and protection if mishandled.
2. Place either a piece of thin cardboard or paper over the LCD Display and tape it in place using painters tape. The thickness of the medium used should not exert force on the screen. Be wary of the clearance. You may even need to cut out cardboard to fit into the opening of the display.
Why bother? Keyboards, trackballs and the case itself in transit can shatter LCD panels which are super delicate layers of glass. LCD panels of the 2000’s and earlier can be exceptionally prone to damage in mishandling.

  1. Tape the display “clamshell” or “lid” down using painters tape.
    Why bother? Many laptops used latching clasps to hold them shut.
    They can rattle open damaging the hinges, screen, and shattering the clips and clasps in the process. Taping the display lid down can avoid the weight of the computer forcibly opening if the packaging is dropped in transit.

  2. Inspect batteries and potentially tape over any battery terminals / tape battery in.
    Find out the relevant battery chemistry. If the battery is leaking ask the seller if they will accept the item or want it disposed. Tape over any battery terminals not installed in the machine. Use painters tape to secure batteries in place if they use a plastic latch, to prevent movement in shipping.

Why bother?
Many laptops used varying battery chemistry over the years, from Sealed Lead Acid (Heavy and generally inert/safe), Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH), Nickel Cadmium (NiCad) and an array of lithium and lithium polymer batteries.
If it important that you know the chemistry of the included battery for the carrier and report it correctly. LiPo, and all lithium variants can spontaneously combust if mishandled. It is a legal requirement that all lithium is transported by Road or special air freight. Multiple aircraft and lives have been lost in the past few decades before laws came in to protect carriers. Do not cut corners. Report the battery chemistry as required, and warn buyers before shipping leaking batteries. Some countries and most carriers will not take any batteries via Air if they are leaking no matter what the chemistry.

  1. Port covers, feet etc.
    Tape port covers closed, tape feet in place if they are retractable.
    Why bother? Port covers are often very delicate at age, and can easily rattle open, off or shatter. Feet that can be twisted, turned or dropped out should be secured.

    1. Wrap
      Bubble wrap the prepared laptop, and the bubble wrap should be at least the thickness of the device on all sides . It should encapsulate the item so it cant slide out. Do not go overboard with tape. Packaging tape can be used sparingly. You just want it held in place, and not to make it impossible to open or re-secure at the other end.
      Why bother? The majority of the weight is in the laptop. Bubble wrap is only effective when it can cushion impacts. If the laptop is 3 inches thick, there should be 3inches of bubble wrap above and below and on all sides and corners. The minimum should be 1” regardless of the thickness.
  2. Boxing
    Now you have the laptop prepared and wrapped, it needs to go into a sturdy box. The box should be at least 7 times the thickness of the device. And 100% wider than the laptop itself.
    ie. If the Laptop is 1 inch thick, and 10” wide, and 8” deep, the smallest the shipping box should be (excluding room for accessories) is 7” High, 20” Wide and 16” deep.
    In this example, this means there will be 3” above and below the laptop, and 5/4” inches on each side.
    I would recommend regardless of item size, you never have less than 3” of padding between the item and the box wall. This distance should increase to a maximum of 8” on any side for heavy or awkwardly shaped items.
    All voids should be filled with Polystyrene sheets, folded bubble wrap sheets, foam sheets. Do not use paper.
    Place in an invoice or other documentation in regards to the sale.
    Why bother? If you follow these rules, the item will get there in one piece.

    1. Shipping
      Now you have the box prepared, use packaging tape to seal the opening and edges. If there is any concerns of weather in transit, use stretch pallet wrap (or saran/glad-wrap) to wrap the box entirely to make it protected.
      Print and affix fragile / Glass labels.
      Print and affix “THIS WAY UP” labels
      Print and affix a clear label with the receivers details, along with yours.
      Why bother? Once the box leaves the post office or courier collects it, the journey is now in the hands of dozens of other people. Conveying the fragile nature, direction of the box etc is imperative. Including your return shipping and contact details is important for mis-deliveries or issues to ensure the item at least can be returned to you if there is an issue.