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Tub and Divider System for Fluid Collections


This system is designed to make maximum use of shelf space in close packing (mobile) storage while providing increased protection from mechanical damage, earthquake, fire and accidental misplacement.


James A.Cosgrove
Biological Collections Sect.
Royal British Columbia Mus.
675 Belleville Street
Victoria, B.C.
Canada V8V 1X4
Tel (604) 387-3544
Fax (604) 356-8197

Sean Wilson
Photo Services,
Royal BC Museum

Publication: 1992



This system of storage tubs and internal dividers was used on wooden shelves in close packing (mobile) shelving units. The system consists of four sizes of plastic tubs which singly, or in combination, occupy the full storage space except for 1in of space at the front and side of each shelf (Fig. 1). The tubs are easily removed and replaced but would travel only a very short distance in the event of an earthquake. The smaller tubs are used to hold heavier or larger jars and are also used for materials on upper shelves.

Figure 1. Tubs in place on mobile shelving units.

Within each tub, a series of interlocking plastic dividers is used to separate each species and to prevent undue movement of bottles within the tub (Fig. 2). This divider system provides great flexibility for dealing with bottles of varying sizes, for example, from 4oz to 1gal.

Figure 2. One tub showing dividers in use.

The tubs can be labeled with a wax pencil to identify the contents. Handles cut in each end of the tub allow the tub to be safely and easily lifted off the shelf. The largest of the tubs will hold 50lbs of weight without twisting or flexing.

The tubs are made of a high density polyethylene homopolymer and are unaffected by alcohols, formalin or water. The recommended continuous service temperature range is 30-66°C (20-150°F). Melting point for the material is 137°C (279°F).

Because the tubs are stored in the dark, a white polyethylene is used. For collections that are exposed to UV, a darkening pigment should be added to the polyethylene.

Materials Tools Supplies

  • High density polyethylene dividers
  • High density polyethylene tubs


The tubs are made by a rotary mold process. The molds remain the property of the manufacturer.

The four standard sizes are:

length width height

23in 11/4in 6in

171/2in 111/4in 6in

141/2in 111/4in 6in

111/4in 111/4in 6in

The dividers are made from 1/8in high density polyethylene. They are 3in tall and notched every 7/8in along the length. The dividers are cut from 4ft x 8ft sheets of material using a table saw (Fig. 3). A range of lengths from full inside length to 21/2in are used.

Figure 3. A selection of dividers.

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