How to Ship Reel-to-Reel decks (how we do it!)

So you’ve purchased a reel-to-reel deck and can’t wait to get it. Regardless of whether you purchased the deck from us or not, here’s some packing guidelines:

  • We use large bubble wrap and wrap all decks in 3-4 layers. We buy bubble wrap in bulk – buying small packs from stationary stores is exceptionally expensive, so go to a packing/shipping place, and ask to buy it by the foot if you need it.
  • Most consumer decks will fit into a 20” x 20” x 12” box. Put the bubble wrapped deck into said box, and stuff with more bubble wrap. Styrofoam blocks can also fill the space, as can foam pieces.
  • DO NOT use those Styrofoam ‘peanuts’ to pack decks with, even if you put the deck into a large plastic garbage bag. Heavy items like reel to reel machines will crush the chips in transit, which will allow the deck to bounce around in the box. That’s not good! As soon as a deck can move in the box, you’re asking for problems.
  • We cut the 20 X 20 X 12 box down slightly, usually down to about 11”, as most consumer decks aren’t that deep, and 11” still gives plenty of room to protect the relatively fragile reel spindles.
  • We then line a 24 X 24 X 12” box with more bubble wrap, and put the 20 X 20 X 11 box into the larger one. Fill the empty spaces with more bubble wrap. Seal up the box. Now it’s ready to ship.
  • We will use double wall boxes for the larger outside box, which protects the deck better, especially if the deck is heavy, between 40-70 lbs.
  • We use USPS in the US, and Canada Post for shipment totals under 70 LBS rather than the couriers, and here’s why: The postal services won’t treat the package any better than the couriers, but in the rare case that there’s shipping damage, USPS will pay up. UPS and FedEx are a nightmare to deal with for insurance claims, and we’ve never gotten paid by either over the years.
  • Here’s another important point: We use only newly purchased boxes to ship reel to reels in. If you receive a box with clearly visible damage, as in a corner that is smashed in, or a hole in the box, DO NOT sign for the receipt of the box! Either insist on opening the box in front of the postal worker to ensure there’s no internal damage, or if the box is badly damaged, refuse it completely. As soon as you sign for the receipt of the unit, the post office and couriers assume you received it in good order. All insurance claims are then null and void.
  • On larger reel to reel decks and any units over 70 lbs total, we use freight companies (trucking) to ship the decks. For any deck that isn’t in a rollaround cart, we use the above boxing methods, but we strap the box to a 48 X 40 pallet. Shipping by truck is very safe, unless a forklift tine goes through the box (it’s happened to us twice in 18 years). It’s cheaper for you to pick the deck up at the truck dock, which is about $100-150 less than if the trucking company does a residential delivery. It also goes through less hands that way. Again, inspect the box for visible damage before signing the trucking waybill.
  • If we are sending to the US, we clear customs at this end, so you see the deck as a domestic shipment from Washington State. No customs charges for you!

Shipping Decks to Us

Whether you’re sending a deck in for repair, or we’ve purchased a deck from you, follow the above packing guidelines to ensure safe travels. Our website shows our Canadian address, but to prevent customs charges, we also have a Washington State ship-to address to make things easier and cheaper. We clear customs when the deck gets here, and customs agents at the border crossing that we go through with decks know that I’m this crazy Canadian that repairs vintage electronics stuff

VERY IMPORTANT! If you are sending a deck in for repair, make sure that your name, phone number and address (and email address) are in the box on top of the deck. With 20+ emails and phone calls a day regarding reel to reels, they do all become a blur, and we may not remember all the details of the phone call or email that we had 10 days earlier. Also put a copy of the email exchange that we’ve had into the box, so we know at this end what we had discussed. Call or email us for our US address, the Canadian ship-to address is on the website already.

Repair Pricing

To save everyone time, and to speed up the repair process, a general cleaning testing and setup of any 2 channel/stereo reel to reel ranges from $100-150, either in Canadian or USD. This covers:

  • Testing all machine functions
  • Cleaning all controls and switches
  • Cleaning of the tape path
  • Cleaning of the pinch roller and capstan
  • Reconditioning of any idler wheels or pulleys that may have hardened over time
  • Checking frequency response of record and playback
  • Setting the bias and eq curves for one tape type (typically Maxell USXL/Quantegy 456/RMGi911, etc.)
  • Test running the deck for at least 6 hours in play and record to make sure the deck is fully functional over the long term.
  • Basic cleaners are included in this price, any parts such as belts are not, and we will advise if we think the deck is worth repairing or not.
  • Add $50 to the basic repair price for 4 channel decks, and $100 for 8 channel decks. 16 and 24 track decks will be more expensive due to the more expensive test tapes and the amount of labor needed to run though multiple channels.

Contacting Us

We are on the West Coast, so we’re on Pacific Time, the same as Seattle or Los Angeles. We work long hours, and have no problems with early evening and weekend calls. As most of you might have guessed, I am a one man show (I hide it nicely by saying ‘we’ on the website!), and will admit that I am absolutely TERRIBLE with names and faces, but stellar with phone numbers. If you call and say ‘I talked to you last week about reel to reels’, then you’ll be about the 20th person that has done that in the past week! If you say ‘Hi, I’m Ron, I’ve got that Teac 2300 that doesn’t go into play mode, and I was going to drop it off today’, then I will most likely know exactly who you are.

Note also that Canada uses the same AC voltage as the US, so we can repair your US tape deck. We also have our shop wired for 220 volts, so we can even repair decks that are set up for European voltages!