This article was originally written with Porsche M96 & M97 heads in mind, but the information applies to most heads.
Please read through this article before shipping your heads. It’s easy to mis-package cylinder heads. We see it all the time. If we deem a package to be unsafe for return shipping, we will supply the materials and labor to pack most heads as described in this article at a cost of $25.00/box. In the years that we’ve used this method we’ve had zero heads damaged in shipping.
The head needs to be drained of oil, but no further cleaning is required. Into each M96/97 head (and all OHC heads with cam bearing caps) bolt the cam bearing caps in position (no cams), place the lifter housing in position with a couple of bolts, bolt the cam/valve cover in place (4 bolts are enough for that) and slip each head in a heavy plastic garbage bag. We won’t need any other parts.
Use a box for each head. One box with both heads is too heavy and increases the chances of damage from mishandling. The smallest size suitable for M96/97 heads is 21″ x 16″ x 12″. This is the minimum size required to line all sides with 1 1/2″ of Styrofoam. The boxes we use measure 24″ x 18″ x 12″. HEADS POORLY BOXED OR SENT IN BOXES SMALLER THAN THE MINIMUM SIZE LISTED ABOUT WILL BE RE-BOXED AT A FEE OF 25.00/HEAD.
Lowes & Home Depot sell packages of white pre-cut insulation panels that are 3/4″ thick. These panels are easy to work with an have excellent cushioning and crush characteristics. Keep in mind that exposed studs and any sharp features can poke through the foam. A couple of layers of cardboard between exposed studs and foam are a good idea.
Click to view Home Depot Foam
Click to view Lowes Foam
These are a great, affordable way to line the top, bottom and sides of a cardboard box.
We put at least three layers of foam on the bottom, and line the sides and top with at least two more layers.
Be sure to leave a little crush room in the box for the sides to push in without damaging the head, in case the box is mishandled. If there’s no extra space in the box, then the sides can be shoved in and damage the head. A couple of inches of crush room works well. It won’t hurt the head to move around in the box if it’s well lined with foam. We put a bit more padding under the head than over it. The goal is to get the head roughly centered in the box, but having a bit more padding on the bottom of the box is good as that’s the side it’s mostly going to get dropped on.
DO NOT USE BUBBLE WRAP INSTEAD OF FOAM! The bubbles pop from the weight of the head and then you have no padding.
When you’re ready, we can e-mail you UPS return labels. Since we ship a lot we get discounts that can save you $$$ over the UPS store price. Once you have the labels on the boxes just take them to a UPS store or hand them to a driver. To do this we need your address and the e-mail addy you want the label sent to.
Here’s a properly boxed Porsche M96 head.
And here’s a pair of 912 heads. Note how centered they are in the box with a layer of foam between them.