Unwillingness to ship enlargers!?

Discussion in 'Film and Processing' started by dan_stoicheff|3, Jul 26, 2017.

  1. Have located several enlargers via Craigslist, however sellers live in castles, surrounded by a moat full of dragons, and furthermore they, apparently, lack electricity, running water, television, and the internet. They are unfamiliar with the firms called UPS and FedEx.

    If I have something to sell to a buyer some distance from me, I make a point to obtain a clean, New box, bubble wrap etc. Years ago I successfully shipped a NEXT computer to a collector in Japan.

    Enlarger owners are a breed apart, if the buyer can not pick up in person, they are SOL, simply put of luck. Sad, but true.

    Sent from State College, Pennsylvania 16803
  2. I now have three enlargers, all given away free. I often see them at Goodwill, and after some weeks, there is a day where each color tag goes for $0.99, but I suspect even then they don't sell. I have even seen nice color enlargers with built-in filters.

    How much were you thinking of paying someone to ship one?

    You might try freecycle, which is where I got some darkroom equipment (for free).
  3. PapaTango

    PapaTango Itinerant Philosopher

    Craigslist is not a sale by shipment venue. Those who sell there are looking for someone to pick up the item from them. If they wanted to be troubled by the work of shipping large things--they would use eBay and likely shoot for a higher price in a much larger national/international audience.

    That said, shipping an enlarger is not an easy task. Something like a Beseler 45MX is a substantial process--and generally requires 2-3 boxes. Pole/column systems have to be broken down as well--again time, work, and packing skills. Add to this that with the exception of small, franchised drop off points--smaller communities usually don't have a UPS or FedEx center. Some do not have drop-off locations--and those that do may limit the size of the things they take.

    This leaves the USPS and their limitations. I sell quite often--and in the rural place I live it is all I have--anything else is a 30-40 mile drive away. I suspect for you being in such proximity to Penn State, things are much more diverse... :cool:
    Hector Javkin likes this.
  4. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    Pickups can easily be arranged with UPS even in the rural area where I live, and possibly with FedEx as well. Packing is the issue. Shipping large, awkward, fragile items is always difficult, risky, and usually costly. Have done it more than a few times and try to avoid it.
  5. I understand your frustration but I agree with the others. I can almost always get more for an item by selling it eBay. One of the main reasons I'd chose to list something on craigslist instead is to avoid the hassles of packing and risks of damage during shipping.
  6. PapaTango

    PapaTango Itinerant Philosopher

    @Sandy Vongries Indeed Sandy--they will do that where I am at too--much easier UPS than FedEx. It is still a humongous hassle--and that is why many choose a venue like Craigslist or other to sell.

    My second Beseler was bought for a song on eBay. The shipping cost more than the enlarger--a 45MXT with the computerized dichroic head--and all totaled was under $100. It shipped in three boxes direct from the Miami-Dade Sheriff's Office to Gawdawful Nowhere (aka Pine Knot) Kentucky in three boxes--one each for the frame and struts, head with bellows & stage, and the board. I was mortified when it arrived--rods were poking out of the cardboard, one end of the frame bottom was pushed through and slightly bent, and the bag of screws left the room somewhere south of Atlanta. Vise grips fixed the bend and a trip to the hardware store bought new screws & bolts, but jeebus... o_O

    I sold a Durst Laborator 1200 once on FleaBay. Listed it as local pickup only, and the buyer drove 80 miles to come get it with $1100 in hand. That enlarger is a big, heavy monstrous affair. I have had the same experiences with vintage ham radio gear--big heavy 60+ pound vacuum tube transmitters, receivers, and amplifiers. People will drive--few will ship something at that weight and fragility.

    Too, I have sold woodworking machinery on Craigslist. I like it because the buyer shows up, pays cash, loads it up then goes away--never to be heard from again--and no risk of damage claims. Absolutely perfect! :)
    Hector Javkin likes this.
  7. The difficulties in packing an enlarger for shipping creates another problem for a seller--the possibility of damage, and the risk that the buyer will complain and/or demand their money back. Not every buyer will deal with a damaged shipment the way PapaTango did, and repair what they bought.

    As written above, CL is oriented toward local, face-to-face sales. Note that CL, in its "avoiding scams" page strongly advises against selling or buying that requires something to be shipped.

    Finally, no matter how honest you are, if the way you describe sellers of enlargers in any way reflects how you communicate with sellers reluctant to ship, it is certain to set off red flags for anyone who has read the CL scam page.
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2017
  8. I am also a computer collector, and for a piece I really wanted have often been able to work out a "Just take it to the UPS store and let me know how much it was."

    With that said, enlargers really are a problem. If I were selling one, I wouldn't want to ship it at all. They can even be difficult to move in a car. Remember that an enlarger has a long and sturdy center column attached to a large and heavy base board. Those two things alone-enlarger "guts" aside-can make transport difficult.

    I bought my Beseler 23C from a local shop, and made the mistake of driving my MG the day I bought it. We couldn't figure out a way to make it fit-top up or top down-aside from sitting it upright on the seat or leaning it over the windshield frame-neither of which I was particularly keen on. I ended up going back the next day in my other car, a Lincoln LS, and it was still a bit of a snug fit with the baseboard in the back seat.
  9. Dan, with a lot of respect: Obtaining boxes is a challenge of it's own kind. - Yes, I know where they get made and still: I appreciated having a bike with side cases back when I picked up the ordinary boxes used to move houses. For serious professional long distance shipping of heavy goods like Durst Laborators I'd fancy bolting them on pallets and building a box around them. I am an ordinary person in a normal home don't own no fork lift and would maybe need to arrange a day of to wait for a shipping company to pick up a pallet and might also have to find a special one where the driver gives me a 30 minutes warning to haul the pallet to a road side.
    So what would shipping an enlarger mean? 1 weekend spoiled with trips to home depot, sawing, bolting another day in total to spot a shipping company and a considerable amount of money spent on the way. will I fetch enough to make the sale worth it? - Who knows.
    I walked a Krokus 3 home. - That beast was already inconveniently heavy. - Others were lighter and easier to handle and the heaviest I got so far was a wall mountable Chromega 5x7. My motorbike handled it sufficiently gracefully.
    Some folks are into arranging shipments because they are able to haul their goods to work and maybe have a chance to ask a co-worker whom to contact to arrange having them picked up.
    Others never done such a thing before and resort to Craigslist and similar to keep things that way.
  10. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    Actually, jochen, there are small cross country shippers who do that sort of thing. You arrive with a carload of stuff, it is inventoried and packed on pallets. Pallets unloaded at the other end. Shipped a couple of pallets of stuff cross country to one of my kids that way. Pretty quick and easy, but not cheap.
  11. The enlarger I use now I got free, either from Craigslist or Freecycle. It came without a baseboard.

    I have a small darkroom in the corner of the basement, built by the previous house owner. The spot where
    it seems an enlarger should go is made of 3/4 inch plywood. Four holes, screws, and nuts, and the enlarger
    is firmly attached down without a baseboard. This is an Omega B22 with the XL (longer than usual) post.

    The post is pretty long. When shipping, I suspect that one should take the head off the post,
    but not everyone will know how to do that. Also, take out the condenser lenses (they will shake
    around, likely break, or otherwise not survive). I suspect even UPS packing doesn't know about
    doing that.

    For dichroic heads, there are probably other things to do to get the head ready for shipping,
    such that parts don't shake around inside.
  12. I just tried Freecycle. You have to install/download software to use their website. Why is that? Is it safe?
  13. How much do you think UPS would charge to ship an enlarger?
  14. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    It would depend on weight, size and distance to destination. When my Mom passed I shipped a lot of stuff back to Montana via UPS. They were good but expensive. I did not know about the small trucking companies then. I might have had to wait a bit longer to get the load on a truck coming this way, but I'd have likely saved a couple of hundred dollars.
  15. SCL


    I was pleasantly shocked two years ago, when I had a Leica Fotomat enlarger on Craigslist in Chicago for sale at a good price ($500), and a professional photographer from California contacted me and said she wanted it. I told her I thought shipping costs might be pretty stiff, given its weight, but she said to get a quote she'd send me the money. It was $98 and she didn't blink...got the $ and sent it off. She sent me a note of thanks shortly after it arrived....she had wanted one for years and had been unable to locate one locally.
  16. Dan,
    You are looking at the problem only from YOUR side.

    Think about if from the seller side.
    HOW would they (or you) pack and ship the enlarger?
    99.9% of the time they do not have the original packing box(es). So they have to make/buy new boxes. For something the size, shape and weight of an enlarger this is not a trivial problem. Boxing a square computer is easy compared to the long odd shape of an enlarger, especially the column.

    How do they pack it? They may not remember how the enlarger was packed. What has to be removed from and what can stay attached to the head. Does the head have to be removed from the column? Commercial shippers don't know how to disassemble an enlarger. And you do NOT want to ship the enlarger assembled, too much stress on the column/baseboard junction. It has to be properly disassembled.
    How to stabilize the parts of the enlarger in the box? The original packing was custom made for the enlarger, with separation and support where it was needed. Most UPS stores and similar will just dump in a bunch of styrofoam peanuts into the box. Peanuts might be fine for something light, but it will not stabilize anything HEAVY. I learned this the hard way several times, when receiving heavy stuff that had shifted around through the peanuts as if the peanuts were not there. Just because it seems stable in the shop does not mean it will stay stable when being moved, rolled, tossed and dropped in shipping.
    Bulky heavy stuff need professional packing, not UPS store peanuts.

    Are there professional shippers that will properly pack and ship. Yes, but you still have to properly disassemble the enlarger first.
    Then either you take the disassembled enlarger to their site, or they come pick it up. $$$

    It is for this packing/shipping reason that most people selling enlargers want YOU to pick it up.
    The shipping cost will be more than the cost of the enlarger.

    When I bought my two 4x5 enlargers (via Craigs List), I drove to the seller's homes and I disassembled the enlargers and packed it in my car.
    In one case, the seller did not know how to properly disassemble the enlarger. As he forgot how he assembled it, decades ago.
    And neither had any of the original boxes or packing material. I used several moving blankets to stabilize the major parts of the enlarger in my car.

    If I were to ship one of my 4x5 enlargers, I would have it done via a commercial shipper to pack and ship for me.
    In reality, as with others, I would NOT ship the enlargers. You want it, you come get it. You deal with how to transport it to your house.

    IF you REALLY want the enlarger, YOU have to do the leg work to find a commercial shipping company that will PROPERLY pack and ship the enlarger for the seller. And hope that the seller knows how to disassemble the enlarger into its major parts and separate the parts that need to be packed separately. And know that as Sandy said, this will be expensive.

    My advice, look on Craig's list and similar, for an enlarger within driving distance of you, and go pick it up yourself, in a station-wagon, or similar that can handle the bulky enlarger.
    Download the assembly instruction, so you know how to disassemble the enlarger. Bring tools to disassemble the enlarger, and moving blankets to pad and stabilize the major components, and boxes for the smaller parts.
    Be patient, and they will show up. It took me a LOT of waiting and watching before I found mine.

    gud luk in finding an enlarger
  17. Gary +1
    In my experience, it's not only the difficulty of packing, but also the cost of shipping.
  18. @sandy: Yes, you can unload a pallet into a car or maybe even vice versa. Remaining problems: You 'd need a car. - I have none. How do you get the nastier breeds of enlargers into a car? - 2 strong men? - Who has them?
    I think a company bulk shipping boxes cross country will offer wrapping foil for a pallet they provide. - Is that and 2 steel strips really proper handling for an average enlarger?
    I'm no way saying "it can't be done", I am just stating why I am not eager to do it.
  19. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    The pallet dropped at your house or business (or friend's business) -- most things can be broken down into manageable chunks. I do have a fork lift for the tractor, but once to the house, the issue is the same as it is for you -- upstairs or downstairs by hand or with a two wheeler (which can be rented, though not costly to buy). In the country, you pretty much have to do it yourself. I have had a lot of stuff delivered by trucks on pallets -- all have the capability and requirement to unload, Works quite well for larger stuff. UPS is the best for everything else.
  20. BTW, the same packing/shipping problem exists when you want to buy a 16x20 archival print washer from someone in another state.
    Odds are he does not have the original box and packing material.
    And that washer is big, bulky, and fragile.

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