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    Amps on Planes

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    mazeeff

    Posts : 114
    Join date : 2014-01-06
    Age : 61
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    Amps on Planes

    Post by mazeeff on Mon Sep 21, 2015 5:33 am

    I am building a Dynaco ST-70 as a Christmas gift for my son. Has anyone ever carried one of these amps on a airplane, as a carry on? The thought of those trigger happy TSA agents hitting the big red button, is just about as frightening as a baggage handler tossing the amp into the cargo hold. For someone not familiar with the Dynaco's, these things must look just like a bomb, to a highly trained TSA agent! My other option is UPS, but my last amp that I shipped took quite a beating. How do you folks handle transporting your amps, as you travel the world to the various Amp-a-palooza events? Do any of you have custom travel containers, like you might use for a piece of test equipment? If I go the UPS route, does anyone have a good formula for properly double boxing, and protecting the amp for shipment?

    Thanks,

    Mike

    wildiowa

    Posts : 120
    Join date : 2012-03-19

    Re: Amps on Planes

    Post by wildiowa on Mon Sep 21, 2015 10:16 am

    I can't speak directly to your Dyna transport but this summer I took a larger guitar effects pedal to France in my carry-on luggage and it went through without a hitch. I was concerned because it was an international flight and this was obviously a weird electronic device and did not want to pack it away but all was OK. As it applies to the Dyna, first, I would not like to be the one dragging that thing around the airport.....holy crap it's hard enough without all that dead weight! Secondly, you would hope the TSA people would recognize this is older technology and realize that no self-respecting terrorist in today's world would ever assemble anything with vacuum tubes and rectifiers....but then again.......maybe they would view you as an old school or retro terrorist or something.

    I have transported my Citation II (72 lbs.) for major service twice from Iowa to Don Sachs in Vancouver BC using both USPS and UPS....costs about $70-$90 each way but that includes $3,000 of insurance....and arrived intact and safe both times. They are very good, but you are responsible for the packing. A high-test box and tons of styrofoam especially wedged around the trannys so a drop or throw won't break them loose. I think you will be OK in the airport but you might want to obtain the services of a Skycap or similar assistance to help with the heavy load! I think I would pack the crap out of it and send USPS or UPS....

    audiobill

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    Join date : 2014-03-13
    Location : Philadelphia

    Re: Amps on Planes

    Post by audiobill on Mon Sep 21, 2015 10:50 am

    The trick is to provide support so the amp can't shift around and yet cushion it at the same time.

    Using wadded newspaper, line the bottom of the box to 3", then put in a "false floor" of heavy cardboard for the amp to sit on. Wedge layers of cardboard between transformers and around all sides of the amp, and pack cardboard wedges between the binding posts and around the front panel jacks so any impact won't affect them.

    On top of the amp, install heavy duty bubble wrap, then another "false ceiling" on top of the transformers with more wadded newspaper on top of this. Important to have the false ceiling on top of the transformers so the amp can't tilt forward or back if the box is dropped.

    Then, to be extra sure, put this box in another that has at least 3" of cushioning on every side. Pack tubes separately.

    wildiowa

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    Re: Amps on Planes

    Post by wildiowa on Mon Sep 21, 2015 11:17 am

    Excellent method audiobill....just to reinforce make certain you get something solid around the trannys to support them and keep them from breaking loose from the chassis if there is a serious hit or drop. That means removing the cage etc. Inertia is a bad thang and with that weight they keep moving even if the rest of the amp stops.

    corndog71

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    Re: Amps on Planes

    Post by corndog71 on Mon Sep 21, 2015 11:27 am

    When I sold my ST70 I first wrapped the amp in bubble wrap.  I packed that into a heavy cardboard box that was just big enough to fit it.  I then put that box into a bigger box with roughly 4" of space around the small box and filled it with a combination of dense foam and more bubble wrap.  Packed tight with good packing tape used around every corner and seam.  

    UPS and Fedex have a tendency to throw boxes so it's got to be able to survive a 6 foot drop.  I also shipped tubes separately.

    sKiZo

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    Location : Michigan USA

    Re: Amps on Planes

    Post by sKiZo on Mon Sep 21, 2015 12:12 pm

    Any issues with vacuum tubes going blooie due to the lower pressure in flight? I'd think you'd definitely want to go with some sort of pressurized storage or carry on option ...

    Definitely remove and box the tubes separately. Layers of blue board cut and glued to fit tight would do the trick nicely. Same trick I use for the delicate bits of a turntable ...

    For the TSA gestapo ... might help to have some printouts of the equipment and tube specs in the box so they know it's not a ba ... a ba ... a HIT THE RED BUTTON! kinda thang.

    mazeeff

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    Re: Amps on Planes

    Post by mazeeff on Mon Sep 21, 2015 12:21 pm

    Thanks for all the great shipping ideas. My latest ST-70 project was recently shipped to me in a oversize single box, with a jumble of packing materials. Sure enough, both output trannies pulled loose from the chassis, and tore loose the speaker wires. It sure pays to pack it correctly. From a TSA perspective, the Russian caps and Chinese tubes, would certainly trigger a full body cavity search.

    Mike

    Tube Nube

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    Re: Amps on Planes

    Post by Tube Nube on Mon Sep 21, 2015 12:45 pm

    Good thing the cold war is over. Russian reproduction Genelex tubes? Don't want to be labelled as participating in THAT Russian conspiracy.

    Seriously, good on you for passing on such a great gift to the next generation!

    I recently used the double-box and bubble rap method to get my amp to the very same Don Sachs. I t hink he's just received it, and made no mention of any problems with its state upon arrival.

    I'll mention a pesky problem for cross border shipping, and that is "brokerage fees". If shipping by UPS, Fedex, etc, you get stung with these pesky charges. For some reason, if shipping by Canada Post or USPostalService, those fees don't get charged. It's really irritating to send off a broken piece of old equipment, just for repairs costing, say about $250 (I'm thinking of my Drake R7 receiver), and being dinged TWICE for brokerage fees of about $200 each way -- to repay the repair shop in sending, and to get my gear upon its return.

    evoroadster

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    Location : Honolulu, Hawaii

    Re: Amps on Planes

    Post by evoroadster on Mon Sep 21, 2015 6:20 pm

    The easiest but more costly approach is to have a UPS store insure, pack and ship the amp minus the tubes. Handcarry the tubes as carryon baggage.

    Kentley

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    Re: Amps on Planes

    Post by Kentley on Mon Sep 21, 2015 6:35 pm

    evoroadster wrote:The easiest but more costly approach is to have a UPS store insure, pack and ship the amp minus the tubes.  Handcarry the tubes as carryon baggage.

    I do not recommend using this procedure. I had a big ARC amp - 80 lbs. - shipped from Cali that was packed, shipped, and insured by UPS two years ago. It sustained heavy damage of many kinds, and collecting the total refund from UPS was a nightmare for the poor guy who shipped it to me. He thought UPS would know what they were doing for the $250 they charged. No way, Jose. Worse than an airline with a Strad.

    The shipment methods detailed here are very sound. One thing - do not ship the carton containing the tubes with the amp. The small caps exposed on the driver board are very prone to displacement. The area over the driver board should be free of anything which might impact it when shocked. I found this out the hard way, too.

    evoroadster

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    Location : Honolulu, Hawaii

    Re: Amps on Planes

    Post by evoroadster on Mon Sep 21, 2015 8:24 pm

    Unfortunate for you but any way short of hand carrying it will be fraught with risks. If it was me I would remove the tubes, wrap it in bubble wrap and then pack it into a small cooler that qualifies (size wise) as a carry on.

    PeterCapo

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    Re: Amps on Planes

    Post by PeterCapo on Mon Sep 21, 2015 10:03 pm

    It will probably alarm in checked baggage screening - the transformers alone are probably dense enough to show up as opaque objects in the x-ray which should cause them to unpack it to check it out. They might or might not repack it correctly after they are done with it. They may likely handle it roughly in the checked baggage screening area.

    Taking it through carry-on will likely result in it being called out for examination. BEFORE putting it into the x-ray, advise one of the TSA agents, or the checkpoint supervisor, that you have a valuable piece of antique electronics that you would like handled with care. If there are any issues, politely ask to speak with the supervisor or a manager. Bring a copy of some related paperwork to show that it is an amplifier. When you put it through the x-ray, put it through by itself - nothing else with it. Run the tubes through the x-ray separately.

    This should not result in additional screening of your person. That usually happens if you are randomly selected for additional screening or if you are in the airline's computers as someone who should receive additional screening - or if you give them a hard time.

    Of course, you could always pack it really well and ship it ahead of you via UPS or something.

    polarflux

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    Join date : 2010-02-12

    Re: Amps on Planes

    Post by polarflux on Tue Sep 22, 2015 2:34 am

    Seriously? Smile Here is your solution:

    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/40671-REG/Pelican_1600_000_110_1600_Case_with_Foam.html

    With room for all the tubes on one side, the amp on the other. Tell TSA its an audio demonstration device. You could also get one with wheels.

    wildiowa

    Posts : 120
    Join date : 2012-03-19

    Re: Amps on Planes

    Post by wildiowa on Tue Sep 22, 2015 4:39 am

    I think we are rapidly moving to the point here where we need to purchase the Dyna it's own seat on the airplane. We can strap him in securely before leaving the gate and perhaps the flight attendant may even let us eat his peanuts and have an additional Coke! I knew a couple of bigtime guitar players who did this for their valuable instruments....now if we could just get somebody to shag that heavy Dyna around the airport for us and get him the proper boarding pass and on the right plane....

    mazeeff

    Posts : 114
    Join date : 2014-01-06
    Age : 61
    Location : Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

    Re: Amps on Planes

    Post by mazeeff on Tue Sep 22, 2015 7:48 am

    polarflux wrote:Seriously?  Smile Here is your solution:

    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/40671-REG/Pelican_1600_000_110_1600_Case_with_Foam.html

    With room for all the tubes on one side, the amp on the other. Tell TSA its an audio demonstration device. You could also get one with wheels.

    Thanks for the really good packing ideas. I like the Pelican case, but $160 is tough to swallow. I will probably go the double box route with packing as suggested.

    Mike

    Tom

    Posts : 166
    Join date : 2011-04-04

    Re: Amps on Planes

    Post by Tom on Tue Sep 22, 2015 8:38 am

    Just one last note.
    Wadded newspaper can continue to crush when heavy boxes are handled roughly.
    This allows the inner box to rattle around in the outer one. No bueno.
    I use packing peanuts (if you're ecofriendly, use the starch ones)
    between the inner and outer boxes. No crushing.
    Smile


    mazeeff

    Posts : 114
    Join date : 2014-01-06
    Age : 61
    Location : Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

    Re: Amps on Planes

    Post by mazeeff on Tue Sep 22, 2015 11:24 am

    One last question. Where do you folks acquire your heavy duty boxes from? Also, does anyone have the specific box sizes that seem to work for a double box scenario?

    Thanks,

    Mike

    audiobill

    Posts : 271
    Join date : 2014-03-13
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    Re: Amps on Planes

    Post by audiobill on Tue Sep 22, 2015 11:30 am

    Liquor stores can be a good source for strong boxes meant for heavy, delicate items.

    The standard size inner box VTA uses are 16wx13hx13d.

    mazeeff

    Posts : 114
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    Age : 61
    Location : Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

    Re: Amps on Planes

    Post by mazeeff on Tue Sep 22, 2015 11:37 am

    Excellent. Here is what I'm thinking. Is a 85lb box times 2, heavy enough? This comes close to the VTA box, and would give me 2" of space between inner and outer boxes. I like the idea of using packing peanuts between the inner/outer boxes. The boxes are also cheap and available at my local store! I am also considering a couple of giant zip ties to cinch down the transformers, front to back.

    http://www.homedepot.com/p/The-Home-Depot-16-in-x-12-in-x-12-in-85-lb-Heavy-Duty-Small-Box-1001016/202897299

    http://www.homedepot.com/p/The-Home-Depot-18-in-x-18-in-x-16-in-80-lb-Heavy-Duty-Medium-Box-906058/202530547

    Kentley

    Posts : 295
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    Age : 64
    Location : Worcester, MA

    Re: Amps on Planes

    Post by Kentley on Tue Sep 22, 2015 1:59 pm

    Please see a thread from 2009 called "pack dynaco amps carefully...". It explains why packing peanuts are a bad idea. Personally, I believe the best ad hoc solution, barring custom-made styrofoam blocks, is bubble wrap, and lots of it, for the critical between-box protection. And for the inner box as well. I do think your idea of tying down the trannies is probably quite sound. Pun intended. tongue

    mazeeff

    Posts : 114
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    Age : 61
    Location : Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

    Re: Amps on Planes

    Post by mazeeff on Tue Sep 22, 2015 5:51 pm

    OK. Forget the peanuts! I found some 1/2" and 1" Styrofoam panels that are easy to cut. It will fill the void between inner/outer boxes nicely. I will also zip tie the transformers, and use the foam 1" pipe insulation to fill in the gaps. I'll wrap the entire amp in bubble wrap, for good measure. I will also use two additional Home Depot boxes, folded flat, to double up the floor and top. Tubes will be shipped in separate box.

    wildiowa

    Posts : 120
    Join date : 2012-03-19

    Re: Amps on Planes

    Post by wildiowa on Tue Sep 22, 2015 7:23 pm

    We've beaten this to death but one more caution...wrap the amp in a plastic bag before final pack as that styrofoam sheet will shred and pill and your kid will have a million bits of foam in the chassis....like snow....or include a can of air. You will see what I mean when you start to cut it with a knife. There is a foam sheet that is kind of pink that is denser and holds together better but the white cheap stuff turns into a blizzard!

    colin86325

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    Re: Amps on Planes

    Post by colin86325 on Thu Sep 24, 2015 12:17 pm

    Another option is place the device in a plastic bag, then use canned expanding foam to creatively make a shell to surround the device, making a top and bottom portion.

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