GNCTR Q&A Frequent Questions

Most frequent questions from team captains

QUESTION: Hello Tim, I am in charge of designing and building our shipping crate and Tech-Ex display for GNCTR this year. I have tried to model my design after the pictures of SAIT’s crate that you have on your website, and I just have a few questions just to confirm everything will go smoothly before I begin construction.

Firstly, SAIT’s crate had a forklift base with 4×4’s on the floor, running across the width, and another layer of 4×4’s on top of those that run the length of their crate (like the first picture below). Would it cause any problems if I reversed that, and had the 4x4s running along the length on the ground, and the cross beams running the width of our crate on top (like the second picture)?

ANSWER: To compare the bases, first try to envision that your team’s plywood crate is bolted*** to the top of each of the crate bases illustrated:

If a forklift picks up the crate from the side, the forks fit nicely in the gaps under the full length 4×4’s. When a forklift picks it up, the entire floor of the crate above is evenly supported by the strength of the 3 8’ long 4×4’s running the full length underneath.

CRATE BASE #2 will cause problems. Here’s why:
The 4’ wide 4×4’s that go across on top of the 3 full length 4×4’s offer no support to the crate above at all. The 4” wide forklift forks have to pick up your heavy crate in the gaps between them and must lift the whole crate’s weight by the weak plywood bottom, forced to bypass your base completely. The 4” wide forks could easily puncture the plywood, damage your sled and separate from the base from the crate above.
the full length 4×4’s are strong, but the forks fit above them, not beneath them, so their strength isn’t used at all. They offer no support for the crate above during the lift. Your crate base must MAKE FORKLIFTS LIFT @ STURDY BASE, NOT THE WEAK PLYWOOD ON TOP OF IT.

MAKE SURE A FORKLIFT CAN PICK UP YOUR CRATE FROM ALL 4 SIDES. That’s very important, because when we pick up and deliver your sled at your university, the truck we use is a VAN (enclosed trailer, loading and unloading out the rear only). However, at TechEX and at the Race Hill, we use OPEN FLATBED TRUCKS, where forklifts must pick up crates from the trailer’s side. SO MAKE SURE A FORKLIFT CAN PICK UP YOUR CRATE FROM ALL 4 SIDES TO ACCOMMODATE 6 DIFFERENT TRUCKS AND 3 WAREHOUSE DOCKS TO GNCTR AND 3 MORE DOCKS ON THE WAY HOME.

*** Note I said bolted, because screws aren’t strong enough. Remember this: Your crate will be jiggling around inside a truck for thousands of miles. Over the course of the whole GNCTR transportation, it may be loaded and unloaded in and out of trucks and warehouses up to 11 different times, by 11 different people, by 11 different forklifts. Crates with sturdy bolts don’t come apart enroute. Screws are useless and always cause handling problems somewhere along the line.
Great question.

QUESTION: I got your shipping rate! Thank you for your quick work. What are the next steps now? Are there forms you would like me to fill out? Shall we set a date for the crate to be picked up?

ANSWER: One of the reasons the Committee selected Logistics Decisions: We do everything so you don’t have to. We know the docs have to be exactly right and we do them correctly. Having 2 sons studying Engineering taught me that Engineering students have enough to learn as it is. I’ll look after the trucking; you just focus on having fun.

Click on the other GNCTR link GNCTR Shipping Info for samples of the documents we prepare for you. I tailored that page just for GNCTR and hoped it would be understandable by shippers with or without any shipping experience.

We fill out all the shipping documents for you and we send a copy to your Team Captain to give the driver at pickup. I just need you to provide me with contact names, phone and email of your shippers at the pickup location, the alternate captain’s cell phone and yours. I’ll call the shipper and set it all up correctly and email him and cc you the bill of lading (but not till after Christmas).

Your team can just focus on making an outstanding sled and I’ll do the shipping so you can just have worry-free fun at the events.

QUESTION: Tim, we are concerned about the size of our crate. Right now, we are looking to construct an 8’x6’x5′ crate (5 foot height) instead of the suggested 8’x6’x4′ crate to accommodate our toboggan’s size.

ANSWER: Download the PDF: GNCTR-2016-crate-dimensions.pdf

The suggested dims were 8L x 4W x 6 to 8′ high, not 8x6x4’H. Don’t let the dims interfere with a winning design. After all, one sled was over dimensional that I shipped in 2012 and it turned out to be the overall winner. In 2013, another oversize crate (mostly display) was too big, however, and delayed loading and unloading for all other teams. It should have been shipped in 2 separate, more manageable crates. I loved riding down Mount Seymour in it, though. TWO SMALL 8X4X6’h CRATES ARE THE SAME COST AS 1 HUGE 16X4X6’High crate because the total dimensions inside the truck are the same as one massive crate, but two smaller crates are easier to load and unload.

There are sound reasons why I suggested those crate dimensions though. One is to reduce your team’s costs, not only for shipping, but storage and other possible ways. Here they are:

  1. Note that the hosting committee has to pay for up to 8 trucks for GNCTR local events. If 2 or 3 crates are OVERSIZED, the GNCTR hosts might have to pay for 12 or 16 trucks, which would be a bad surprise that adds thousands of unbudgeted dollars to their costs.  At the recommended dimensions, we can get 12 crates into a single truck, so only 2 trucks were required to each event.
  2. If crates are the recommended size we have the option of loading them into trailers sideways, or endways, or from the side of flatbed trucks in a slushy Ski hill parking lot if we need to.
  3. Width: If 4’wide, we can put 2 side by side in an 8 foot wide trailer. If one crate is wider than 4′, another crate can’t fit beside it in a truck, doubling the space required inside the trailer, and could possibly lead to the Committee requiring extra trucks that they didn’t budget for.
  4. Finally, storage is cheap at the recommended size, but over-length OR over-wide units would cost the Committee double for 2 spots on the warehouse floor instead of one. If one sled is both over long and WIDER THAN 4′, the Committee has to pay for twice the storage space for your sled.

So in summary, it only adds a little extra cost to ship an oversize crate for your team, but if every team did that, it would double the committee costs for warehousing and trucking to the events.

QUESTION: We won’t be going over the 1000 lb. weight restriction and our design will follow the drawings provided in the registration package.

ANSWER: Weight is not restricted to 1000 lb. that was the average weight overall last year. An 8x4x8’H crate can be as heavy as 1800 lbs. without increasing trucking or warehousing costs.

QUESTION: Could you also provide an indication of how much time will be required for a shipment from Vancouver? We’re trying to work backwards to determine our schedule for early January.


If GNCTR was hosted by Carlton or U of Ottawa for example: UBCO WHAT (UBCO) in Kelowna would go to Vancouver, then Toronto, then Ottawa.


  1. It takes one day from most Canadian cities to reach the terminals in Toronto, Calgary or Vancouver. Make that 2 days from more distant university locations, like Dartmouth or Kelowna;
  2. St. John’s however, can take 7-10 days just to get onto the ferry, to Moncton, then Toronto. 2-3 extra days from Halifax to Toronto hub
  3. It should take 7-10 business days from the first MAJOR TERMINAL, if all goes well, to reach to SECOND MAJOR TERMINAL (closest to the hosting GNCTR city).

To be safe, we WANT TO PICK UP YOUR SLED 3 WEEKS PRIOR TO GNCTR, then we add a sacrificial day or 2 to appease the FREIGHT GODS, who control weather, derailments, avalanches and human error.

EXPEDITED SPEED IS AN OPTION. If you are running out of time constructing, we have a premium service at higher cost, but we can ship faster.

QUESTION: Hey Tim! Thanks for the quick turn-around. Are taxes to be added onto these prices?ANSWER: There are taxes on shipping. Every province has a different tax percentage. What’s interesting is that you pay the tax in the province you deliver in. Therefore, if shipping from ON to BC, you pay BC tax on your shipment of 12%, but on the way home, you pay the ON tax of 13%.

See below for the HST/GST tax that you pay based on what province you’re delivering to, not where you pick up.

Alberta GST 5% 5%
British Columbia GST + PST 5% 7% 12%
Manitoba GST + PST 5% 8% 13%
New Brunswick HST 15% 15%
Newfoundland and Labrador HST 15% 15%
Northwest Territories GST 5% 5%
Nova Scotia HST 15% 15%
Nunavut GST 5% 5%
Ontario HST 13% 13%
Prince Edward Island HST 15% 15%
Quebec GST + QST 5% 9.98% 14.98%
Saskatchewan GST + PST 5% 5% 10%
Yukon GST 5% 5%

Generally, GST/HST for shipments is calculated based on the destination province, and not the origin province.
Generally, QST is only applicable to shipments from and to Quebec.
Generally, PST is not applicable to shipping charges, but HST is.

QUESTION: Tim: We would likely have the 10′ crate because of our design so I’ll look into it at our end for loading and unloading. I know RRC has a dock, I’m unsure of what they’ll have at the TECHEX and Race Event Locations. Depending on what they have maybe we would have to go to 8′ and adapt the sled to suit.

ANSWER: Your team is responsible for loading the tail end of an enclosed trailer when we pick up before GNCTR, and unloading when we return your sled. THINK ABOUT THIS: you can slide a 10’ crate off a university dock and into the rear of a trailer, but most of our universities DON’T HAVE A SHIPPING DOCK. You cannot pick up a 10’long crate from the end, using 4’ long forks. Be creative, ENG students. I’ll get the truck there, but it’s up to your team to get your crate inside the truck’s tail.

At TechEx and the Race Hill, we’ll be using wide open flatbed trucks, then there will be a Tractor/forklift that can unload/load 8’ crates from the side, possibly a 10’ if the crate is strong. There is also navigating your crate THROUGH THE EXTERIOR DOORS and within the Tech Ex building, which may have freight elevator dimensions to consider. Each TechEx location is unique. We’ll work with the GNCTR committee to advise the best way for each crate to get from the shipping area to the convention floor.

QUESTION: Hi Tim, You have provided us with a quote assuming the recommended crate size (8x4x6′). Our crate will actually be a bit longer (10′ L x 4′ W x 6′ H). Could you please readjust your quote to reflect this, and it send to me?

In your GNCTR Q&A forum, you explained that it will be significantly more difficult to transport, store and handle a crate that is greater than 8′ long. What measures should we take to ensure this shipment goes smoothly? Will we actually need to get our team members to lift this crate from the van instead of a fork lift? Any insight is much appreciated.

ANSWER: The Org Committee will organize a forklift to unload at TechEx and the hill. I’ll confirm that once I have the contact info and can speak to the shipping department at each site.

If so, being 10 feet long, a forklift may be able to pull the sled out far enough that one end is still on the deck and lower the heaviest end to the ground. Your team could try to grab one end on the trailer and help lower it. It’s not safe and it risks dropping your sled (on a finger or toe too). Without a dock, these are the only 2 ways to unload.

QUESTION: Tim, We discussed when would be best to ship the tech-ex and you said that shipping it about 2-3 weeks ahead would be best. So if we were to ship it 2-3 weeks prior to the competition, will it be stored in the warehouse before the Tech-ex day? Also just to make sure, the warehouse is always near the hosting GNCTR University, right?

ANSWER: My son, Adam Quinlan, will update each captain as to a specific pick up date and time. He’ll be sending you a bill of lading that states the dates of pick up for you and all teams. Budget 3 weeks prior to TechEx. We like to deliver your crates 3-5 days before TechEx, to offer extra time, in case there are any unexpected shipping delays, so we’ll have a week window to receive all crates.

All crates are brought to the Tech-Ex and then to the Race Hill parking lot onto my flatbed, where equipment and people are organized to unload them all. From there after the races, I’ll bring them all back to the original warehouse I arranged in the Hosting city, where another truck will pick them up after Race Weekend and bring them home.

Maps to the warehouse, Tech-Ex and the Race Hill are usually posted on the GNCTR website.

QUESTION: As of right now we don’t have a dolly or wheels to move it from to the Convention floor, how does this work exactly because I thought that the shipping company would be bringing it to the convention floor for us?

ANSWER: Trucks deliver only to docks. They almost NEVER have a dolly, and if they did, they wouldn’t lend it to teams. They can’t wait around. The rest is up to your team. Some TechEX locations may lend us dollies to move our crates to the show room, or the committee has to rent some.