My homemade aluminum panniers

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by heg283, Dec 31, 2012.

  1. heg283

    heg283 Rider

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    Hi folks,

    I just completed a project that I'm pretty proud of, my own homemade aluminum panniers! I've been longing for panniers for quite some time and I finally decided to stop my moaning and actually buy some aluminum sheet, steel tubing and pop rivets and start making something.

    First thing was welding together some sort of support for the panniers, a way to attach them to the bike. After careful consideration I finally came up with a design and started cutting and welding rectangular steel tubing. The tubing is 20x30x2mm mild steel.

    Here are some pictures of the process...

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    Now that the supports were finished it was time to design the panniers. I finally went with 1.5mm aluminum stitched together with 15x20x2mm L-profile and 5mm pop rivets at c/c 50mm. I also put some sealing glue paste between the sheet and profile. The glue is gray in color and remains soft and flexible, It's pretty messy stuff to work with but will seal very well.

    The dimensions I came up with for the side panniers are 225x440x396mm and for the topbox I decided on 480x370x300mm. The width of the bike with panniers ended up being 960mm, I think there is a rule about not exceeding 1000mm in the EU. Regardless, I don't want my bike any wider than that.

    Here are some pictures of the pannier making process...

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    As you can see by the pictures the glue is a really messy adventure. It comes off with the right solvent though so It's gonna be alright.

    I had initially planned to use 2mm aluminum sheet, but at the last moment I went with 1.5mm. I'm very glad I did because 2mm would just be silly thick. With all the rigidity from the L-profile, 1.5mm feels like bomb proof to me.

    I hope you like my pannier design, feel free to "copy and paste" to your bike.

    -Halli.
    #1
  2. kirkster70

    kirkster70 moto junkie

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    You have a right to be proud. It looks like you did a fine job to me. If I didn't see you with a stinger in your hand, I would swear those rack welds were MIG welded. Nice fitup with the mitered cuts instead of open tube as well.

    :clap
    #2
  3. realpsi

    realpsi n00b

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    Nice!


    Sent from my iPhone on an overpriced data plan
    #3
  4. trailrider383

    trailrider383 867-5309

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    Looks good! I don't thing you have to worry about any of your fabrication breaking. I would be worried about the subframe of the bike though.
    #4
  5. heg283

    heg283 Rider

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    Thanks, I think the subframe will hold fine. It is made of good old steel with beefy rectangular tubing under the tail.
    #5
  6. JimVonBaden

    JimVonBaden "Cool" Aid!

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    Looks good to me! :clap

    Jim :brow
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  7. xcflyn

    xcflyn Long timer

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    looks good to me ! like the looks of the rivets - airplane style + strong :thumb
    #7
  8. heg283

    heg283 Rider

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    I forgot to mention cost. The whole thing, including aluminum sheet, rivets, glue, hinges, latches, locks, steel tubing, welding sticks, bolts etc. came to around 47.000 in icelandic currency. That is about 370 US dollars.

    I did buy too much aluminum, I had 1/3 left of the sheet.

    Buying similar panniers and topbox from a store here in Iceland would probably have cost me 200.000 isk or about 1.560 US dollars. I still would have had to make the rack myself.
    #8
  9. RVDan

    RVDan Long timer

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    Wow that rack is never going to break!
    #9
  10. agent of orange

    agent of orange Adventurer

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    great looking panniers!! i plan on a very similar build to yours but plan on solid flush rivets. Are they as huge as they look on the bike?? i would be worried to drag the corner of them in a turn. i hope to build mine close to the size 1 gallon rotopax. so i can mount a fuel and water can on the back of them. glad to read you went with 1.5mm and think it is quite robust, i had thought that thickness also or 60 thou because we dont use the metric system completely in canada lol. DIY rocks keep up the good work
    #10
  11. heg283

    heg283 Rider

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    Yeah, I guess they do look kind of huge, but I wanted huge luggage space. I'm not worried about cornering clearance though. That being said I have yet to do a test drive with them on, I won't be taking the bike out from winter storage until mars the earliest.

    1.5mm was certainly enough, anything more would just be added weight. That asumes you're going to add some rigidity, especially in the lid and on the rim of the opening. If 1.5mm is enough for Touratech it is surely enough for me.
    #11
  12. agent of orange

    agent of orange Adventurer

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    I am an aircraft engineer so i have access to any tooling for working with metal at my place of work which is a god sent because one can only do so much at home with a drill and a hacksaw. I looked at just about every pannier racks that are sold commercially and thought about building one myself but the welding equipment i have access to is 400 km away at my families shop so i lucked out and got a set of racks from an inmate. the one thing i did notice you dont have on your racks are and cross braces at the lower part to keep the panniers from flexing in under weight of the cargo particularly in a bumpy road situation. It seems a lot of the commercially available ones have a cross bar at the lower area of the fender.
    #12
  13. preppypyro

    preppypyro Been here awhile

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    Those look great!

    How weatherproof are they being riveted together like that?

    You have inspired me to make a topcase for my own bike as well. I always figured the sides of the cases should be welded together, and my aluminum welding skills could be very much improved, so i havent bothered yet, but if the riveted sides prove to be fairly weather proof, Im so gonna copy your idea a little!

    I work at a place that distributes sheet, and I have.. oh 20 some sheets of slightly imperfect various thickness kicking around in the back of my shop waiting for something to be made out of it.
    #13
  14. heg283

    heg283 Rider

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    My original plan was to have that cross brace which is also on most if not every rack I have seen. But when I was finished welding the sides of the rack I realized that my steel tubing was so big and strong that I didn't see a big benefit in having cross braces. The sides might bend a little if I take a hard fall though.
    #14
  15. heg283

    heg283 Rider

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    They should be completely waterproof since I used plenty of glue/sealant between the L-profile and sheet. I also put plenty of glue/sealant inside the corners. The glue/sealant I used was Sikaflex 11FC, It's my favourite do-it-all glue that is also a sealant. A google search will reveal all you need to know about this magic stuff.

    When I take my bike out from winter storage I will try hosing the cases down with water to see if there are any leaks. I will be very surpriced if there are any.

    Good luck with your topcase project, I'm glad I got you inspired.
    #15
  16. preppypyro

    preppypyro Been here awhile

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    I admit I browsed rather quickly through some of your pictures, I didnt realize you used the glue/sealant everywhere!

    So awesome, i cant wait to give it a try for myself.
    #16
  17. CollinsB

    CollinsB Been here awhile

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    Nice Job! .... Thanks for sharing!
    #17
  18. heg283

    heg283 Rider

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    An update:

    I have been using the panniers for more than a month now since the weather has been unusually favourable for february/mars in Iceland.

    I made a small modification, I put a drainhole and a small drain tube in each box in case the seals malfunction. This is just for added peace of mind since if there was a leak the boxes would hold the water and potentially get very heavy.

    Usability has been really good, I don't have a car at the moment so all grocery shopping must be done with the bike as transport. I am happy to report that I get four grocery bags in the boxes, two in the top box and one in each sidepannier.

    I can also report that the rack is holding up well, I don't have much flexing / don't feel a need for more structural support.
    #18
  19. seniorasi

    seniorasi Banned

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    You can always make a tool box for when you're riding sans panniers.
    #19