Refrigerated Vans & Trucks

3 Tips for Safely Transporting Fine Art

Joe Dickman | August 18th, 2020

Any change in a piece of fine art’s constitution during delivery can threaten its overall appearance. Whether sensitive oil paints heat up and smudge or a sculpture’s materials react in the sunlight, transport can be tricky. Precise planning helps you get one or several pieces of art from point A to B without alteration. To master every step in the process, consider these three tips for safely transporting fine art.

Pack Properly

As a rule of thumb, defer to a professional mover. That said, if you are the professional, here’s how to improve your packing.

Prepare to treat every piece differently—while paintings tend to be relatively uniform surfaces, sculptures, and other pieces range widely. For an irregular package, consider building a tailor-made container. Bolster corners of framed paintings with extra cardboard to cushion impacts. Default to hardy, double-walled, corrugated cardboard boxes, and employ bubble wrap liberally. Just make sure you don’t place bubble wrap against the surface of a painting. Instead, insert acid-free tissue paper over the painting first.

Load Smartly

The next tip for safely transporting fine art is to expedite a smart loading process. Artwork should not be in an unregulated environment for long, even if you use a loading bay. Pre-planning where you’ll place everything in your vehicle helps save time.

To avoid inadvertent damage, never stack two boxes on top of one another. To prevent accidental stacking, clearly mark each item with a Don’t Stack or a Fragile warning. When it comes time to load, work quickly, and seal your vehicle upon finishing.

Transport Safely

Though packing and loading are important, the type of vehicle you transport pieces in matters most. Though insulated vans keep environmental factors out, what your business really needs is a refrigerated delivery van.

A refrigerated vehicle specializes in removing internal humidity that could lead to mold growth or corrosion. Meanwhile, their fine-tuned temperature controls prevent melting, cracking, distortion, and any other issue that may stem from sudden temperature change.

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Questions regarding DOT requirements come up often. 10,000 lbs GVW (gross vehicle weight) and over are commercial vehicles that fall under the Department of Transportation regulatory requirements.

What is the difference between GVW and payload?

GVW or Gross Vehicle Weight is the entire weight of the vehicle including the payload. The payload weight represents the amount of cargo you are hauling.

What is a self-powered unit and a vehicle-powered unit?

A self-powered unit has its own fuel source and will run independent of the truck. This is the heaviest and most expensive option. While vehicle-powered units run off the engine via a compressor mounted on the engine. These are less expensive and lighter in weight but you must run the truck or plug the electric standby into shore power.

What does K-factor mean and why is that important?

K-factor is a term that stands for the overall insulating value of the container (truck body). Quite simply the lower the K-factor the better the truck body will be able to maintain a given temperature and require less energy to do so.

How much lighter is a Poly Van vs a US spec body?

Poly Van bodies are very light. On average we estimate we are 75-150 lbs per foot lighter than a traditional sheet and post foamed in place body. These weight savings translates to less fuel burn and less CO2 emissions, along with added payload, the most important benefit.

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