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The proper preparation of goods for transportation is a duty which the shipper owes to himself, to the customer whom he is serving, and to the carrier who is trying to serve both the shipper and the customer. Goods shipped in crates, boxes, etc.; are properly prepared for transportation only when they are securely placed in crates or containers so substantially constructed as to withstand the ordinary hazards of transportation, and so marked as to assure prompt and correct delivery. If goods are properly packed and correctly, legibly, and durably marked, much is accomplished toward expediting their movement and assuring safe delivery.


While the careless and rough handling to which freight is subjected in stations and on transfer platforms of carriers is often inexcusable, one of the most prominent causes of damage to goods in transit is the inadequacy of packages or containers, in either construction or material; and among the principal causes of loss of goods in transit is to be found improper and insecure marking. It is true that a carrier is ordinarily liable for any loss of, or damage to goods while in its possession, yet the payment of claims does not compensate for the loss of trade which is likely to result from the annoyance and dissatisfaction often caused a customer through the failure of a carrier to deliver his goods, or through his goods being in transit an unreasonable length of time or delivered in a damaged condition. Any failure to properly prepare goods for transportation may result, not alone in claims which are prosecuted at no small cost, but in great inconvenicene, trouble, and irretrievable expense to both the shipper and the customer.

Shippers who fully realize that the payment of claims is small compensation for the indirect loss their business must sustain, who appreciate the importance of so protecting their shipments that damage will not result from the ordinary treatment they must be expected to encounter, and who so secure their packages that pilfery may not easily be committed without leaving evidence of the act, have fewer claims to file and experience less difficulty in obtaining prompt settlement of those they present. Their shipping costs in material and labor may be slightly increased by the adoption of these "Safety First” principles, but their comparative freedom from the annoyances incident to loss or injury to their goods, with the possible attendant loss of customers, is ample recompense.

The failure to properly prepare shipments for transportation furnishes a large contribution to claim accounts, as well as delay, expense and dissatisfaction to the shipper and consignee. This would be greatly minimized by the exercise of care to see that material of sufficient quality and strength is used in the construction of bags, boxes, bales and other containers, and, in the case of goods shipped in straps, that the individual packages are securely held in place, having in view the weight of the contents which it is desired to protect.

Freight that is insecurely or inadequately packed or improperly marked should not be accepted for transportation by a carrier, but in the acceptance of a shipment the carrier thereupon undertakes its carriage and delivery to the consignee in the same condition as when received. If the commodity is of a fragile character, or is easily injured by contact with other freight, or if insecurely packed, special care should be taken in handling and stowing in car. In case of damage the carrier is PACKING AND MARKING



responsible, regardless of the condition in which received. If the packages or pieces are not fully marked with name of consignee and destination, and become astray or wrongly delivered, the carrier is responsible. If upon opening a case of merchandise the consignee fails to find all the articles invoiced to him, or if some article is found broken, the carrier is frequently called to account, notwithstanding the several opportunities for mistakes or accidents to occur in packing or unpacking, the occasional acts of dishonesty or carelessness on the part of truckmen or others having access to the goods before and after shipment. These are all elements which deserve consideration in determining the responsibility for loss or damage.


In packing goods for transportation there are four factors that require foremost consideration, viz.:

(a) Cost of container and materials used for packing.
(b) Dependability of the container to withstand the treatment which it must

be expected to encounter from the time it is tendered for transportation

until it is delivered to the consignee. (c) Weight of the package. (d) Whether packing, package or other specifications that may be set forth in

the tariffs of the carriers have been fulfilled.


The cost of materials used for packing deserves consideration from the standpoint of avoiding the use of expensive materials when others would satisfactorily serve all purposes and meet all requirements. The materials used in the construction of shipping containers do not necessarily have to be of the most expensive quality, but merely of such strength and durability as will insure safe transportation of goods under the customary handling and treatment which, from experience, the shipper

knows the goods must encounter in the particular service of the carriers in which OF CONTAINER they will be handled-carload or less than carload. Materials of the lightest possible

weight consistent with the strength and durability required for safe transportation should be used, as transportation charges are assessed according to weight and the weight of containers and packing materials is charged at the same transportation rate as the goods shipped.

The increasing cost of material for boxing and crating has doubtless influenced the adoption of less or lighter material than is sufficient to give adeqaute assurance of safe transportation under ordinary conditions.


Both the shippers and the carriers have expended much time and labor on the proposition of determining proper ways of packing goods for transportation and proper methods for the construction of shipping containers; and this has led to the publication of packing and package specifications, violations of which subject to the shipper to penalties in the way of increased transportation costs.

The carriers' classifications contain numerous specifications, restrictions and

conditions relative to the preparation of freight for transportation, and shippers SPECIFICATIONS should consult and be familiar with the regulations applicable to the class of freight

to be forwarded, in order to avoid its rejection by the carrier, or its transportation at a higher rate because of not being boxed, crated, baled, wrapped, or otherwise protected, in accordance with those provisions.

It is to the advantage of all concerned that freight be rejected by the carrier when manifestly not in condition to withstand the handling and impacts that are incident to ordinary transportation, or when liable to deteriorate during regular PACKING AND MARKING


movement to destination. Package and packing specifications are based upon extensive tests as well as experience in respect to the commodities to which they apply, and should be fully observed by shippers.

Valuable scientific data on the construction and nailing of boxes and crates to secure maximum strength of package and protection to contents has been compiled

by the Forest Products Laboratory of the United States Department of Agriculture, SPECIFICATIONS and by the Freight Container Bureau of the American Railway Association. The (Con.)

construction of boxes and crates on scientific principles may not require heavier or more expensive material. On the contrary, the recommendations made by these authorities contemplate, in many cases, the use of lighter material than that usually employed, uniform sizes of packages for compact stowing in cars, nailing, etc. Shippers of merchandise should, to the advantage of all concerned, study these economical and protective measures and apply the recommendations wherever increased safety in handling and transportation will result.


Under the terms of the carriers' bills of lading, the carriers are not responsible for loss or damage caused by the act or default of the shipper, and this includes instances of improper packing or loading of carload shipments and improper interior packing or marking of less than carload shipments. Goods may be packed in a way that appears sufficient for safe transportation, but if damage occurs and the carriers can show that it was the direct result of improper packing or improper loading the carriers will disclaim liability. It is, therefore, incumbent upon the shipper to exercise care and precaution to have his goods sa packed and, when for carload shipment, so loaded as to avoid any possibility of his being charged with negligence if the goods should be damaged while in the possession of the carriers.


The correct marking of goods for less than carload transportation is very essential to the prompt movement and proper delivery of shipments. The Interstate Commerce Commission has held that, besides being expressly so provided in the rules of freight classifications, it was on broad general grounds the duty of a shipper to correctly mark packages of less than carload freight.

Marking of less than carload shipments is necessary because they are handled through the freight stations of the carriers, and the marks preserve the identity of the goods and their owners and prevent confusion with similar shipments at transfer points en route and at destination. Carload shipments are loaded by the shipper and unloaded by the consignee and are usually handled from shipping point to destination without being transferred en route.

The rules of the carriers require that the shipper shall plainly, legibly, and durably mark each and every package, bundle, or piece of a less than carload shipment, except that no marking is required under the following conditions:

(a) When a shipment occupies the visible capacity of a car.
(b) When the weight of a shipment is 24,000 pounds or more.
(c) When freight in excess of full cars amounts to 20,000 pounds or more.

In marking shipments the following rules must be observed, in order to insure acceptance of goods by the carriers and their prompt and proper delivery to consignees:

(a) The consignee's name, address, and bill of lading destination should be shown in full.




(b) Marking packages with name and address of shipper, preceded by the word "from,” is of great assistance to both the shipper and the carrier when a shipment goes astray or is unclaimed or refused by the consignee.

(c) When consigned to a place of which there are two or more of the same name in the same state, the name of the county should be shown.

(d) When consigned to a place not located on the line of a carrier, packages should be marked with name of station at which the consignee will accept delivery.

(e) If shipment is made on an "Order Bill of Lading," the words “To Order" should be shown on each package.

(f) Packages containing fragile articles or articles packed in glass or earthenware should be marked FRAGILE-HANDLE WITH CARE.

(g) Marking should be by brush, stencil, crayon or rubber stamp. When labels or tags are used they should be prepared on a typewriter and securely fastened; and in the case of pieces or bundles of metal, tags should be fastened by wire.

(h) All previous marks should be obliterated.


While it is the duty of a carrier to furnish cars properly conditioned for loading, in the loading of carload shipments the shipper in his own interests should take the following precautions against the use of defective or unclean cars and the improper loading or use of cars:

(a) Examine interior of car for any defects of roof, sides, or floor that might afford opportunity for injury to the goods to be shipped.

(b) Remove protruding nails and cover bolt heads, if goods are liable to come in contact with, and be damaged by them.

(c) If freight is of a nature liable to injury by rain or snow and car doors cannot be tightly closed, leave vacant space between doors or place batten around them.

(e) Store freight securely, leveling and securely blocking or bracing the load to prevent it from shifting or surging in transit and damaging the goods.

(f) In placing with the carriers orders for cars to be loaded with goods that are subject to Rule 34 of the Consolidated Freight Classification, specify the particular size of car required in order to avoid paying transportation charges on dead-weightthe difference between the actual weight of goods shipped and the minimum carload weight prescribed in Rule 34 for the size of car used, when the former weight is less than the latter.


Nailed wooden boxes, reinforced with cleats and metal straps, are the containers most commonly used for export shipping throughout the world-in fact, it is safe to say that the bulk of the world's foreign commerce is carried in nailed wooden containers. The importance, therefore, of proper methods of box construction and of nailing can not be overestimated.

During recent years great progress has been made in the scientific construction of wooden shipping containers. Far-reaching improvements have come about as the result of thousands of tests made at the United States Forest Products Laboratory, Madison, Wis., in co-operation with shippers and with the box industry itself. These tests have shown conclusively that where nailing is improperly done or is insufficient, a box can not be improved by using heavier lumber. Moreover, the majority of failures in ordinary boxes is due, not to the lumber, but to the improper nailing. In many instances a better box can be constructed and with much thinner material by the use of a few more nails.

+ Reproduced from Commerce Reports No. 21, of May 26, 1924, issued by Bureau of Foreign and Domestic Commerce, Department of Commeroe, Washington, D. C.





Nails not only serve to hold the parts of a box together, but they provide rigidity. It is apparent that too few nails, or nails that are too small, do not provide strength commensurate with that of the boards, while the use of nails that are too large causes splitting when the box is subjected to stresses or strains.


The average shipper must realize that proper nailing of boxes demands the use of the right kind of nails, the right size, and the right number. Cement-coated nails which develop from 10 to 30 per cent. more resistance to pulling from the wood than do uncoated nails, should be used exclusively. The size and thickness of the nail to be used are governed by the species of wood and the thickness of boards. The woods commonly used for box-making purposes have been classed by the Forest Products Laboratory into four groups, according to the mechanical or strength properties of the woods and their ability to take and hold nails.

The groups follow:

GROUP 1.—White pine, Norway pine, aspen (popple), spruce, Western (yellow) pine, cottonwood, yellow poplar, balsam fir, chestnut, sugar pine, cypress, basswood, willow, noble fir, magnolia, buckeye, white fir, cedar, redwood, butternut, cucumber, alpine fir, lodgepole pine, jack pine.

GROUP 2.--Southern yellow pine, hemlock, North Carolina pine, Douglas fir, larch (tamarack).

GROUP 3.-Red gum, white elm, sycamore, pumpkin ash, black ash, black gum, tupelo, maple (soft).

GROUP 4.-Hard maple, beech, oak hackberry, birch, rock elm, white ash, hickory.

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Side nailing in any thickness of wood is not the best practice if the weights are exceptionally heavy. It is far safer, in such cases, to use a nailless metal strap around the girth or, better still, to reinforce the side nails with a strip.

When side nailing is done, however, the nails that hold tops and bottoms to sides are governed by the same nailing rules as above, except that the nails should not be spaced closer than 6 to 8 inches, because of the danger of splitting the board.

The following table governs:

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Except for very light weights, where the contents are packed in cartons or in excelsior or simi-, lar materials, it is not considered good practice to side nail %-inch boards.

These tables assume that the nails which hold the sides to the ends are driven into the end grain of those ends. When the grain in the ends is vertical, the number specified for the sides and the number specified for the top and bottom reverse. When the ends have four cleats and all nails are driven into the cleats, space all nails as provided for, holding top and bottom to ends. Where the ends have two cleats or where the nails are staggered into ends and cleats, use the nailing specified for holding sides to ends.

+ Reproduced from Commerce Reports No. 21, of May 26, 1924, issued by Bureau of Foreign and Domestic Commerce, Department of Com. meroe, Washington, D. C.

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