Pelican Topbox w RotoPax Fuel on my R1150GSA; Build Specs and Photos

Discussion in 'Equipment' started by RetrogradE, Apr 24, 2012.

  1. RetrogradE

    RetrogradE Banned

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    Friends,

    I've had a few inmates ask me about my top-box set-up since they either saw it on my ride report to Baja or in the Oilheads section. So, I'm finally getting around to writing a thread about the build, the cost, and the parts needed.

    Here are a couple pictures of the set-up:

    This shot is on a 60+ mile stretch of dirt road from San Felipe to CoCo's corner, then to Highway 1.
    [​IMG]

    This is in my garage before I left.
    [​IMG]


    This is all I have time to write at this time since I'm busy at work, but I wanted to let a few fellas know I'm working on getting pictures and showing a detailed build job.

    This is the second Pelican topbox I've built (the first one was for my 800GS); but this one is difference since I added the RotoPax fuel container. There are Pros and Cons to my build and you'll have to judge for yourself what's important and what isn't, then modify from there.

    Pros: Cheap, Easy, Safe, Secure, Convenient, and it looks bitchin'. I get comments all over town (I keep the RotoPax on the box all the time, but there's no fuel in it. I do this so the RotoPax quick release doesn't unwind from the vibration, etc).

    Cons: The topbox is basically "fixed" to the bike so it's not quickly removable. This setup works fine for me because I NEVER take off my topbox--I use it to store my laptop and other business docs on the way to meetings, etc. It's very convenient. You CAN remove it if you were on a trip--it only takes about 4-5 minutes if you carry a screwdriver. I keep it fixed to the bike AND I put locks on the outside so no one can get into it.

    The job is super easy if you're mechanically inclined in the slightest. It's moderately easy if you have any clue about tools at all.

    IN THE MEANTIME, here is a list of parts / tools that you can start trying to find if you're interested in doing a similar build. The rest of the parts (I'll show later in picture form) will come from your local hardware store so they won't be hard to find.

    I build my topbox (including RotoPax) for <$100, but it pays to be patient. If you bought everything new, at retail prices, you could easily be around $250-300.

    PARTS:

    Pelican 1550. You can use whatever Pelican you see fit, but this is my second 1550 and it's tried and true. If you get it with the Pick & Pluck Foam, you can easily fit your laptop and other fragile items in there. The foam will have to be removed for the installation.

    Drill gun

    RotoPax 1G fuel canister. My neighbor owns / runs RotoPax and he sold me a factor second for cheap. I'll see if I can get more and sell them to you guys for no added $. You might look around fleabay for some of these, too.

    RotoPax quick release.

    Various other nuts / bolts / washers / rubber washers. I'll give more details later.

    Subscribe to the thread . . . be back to you tomorrow with more info.


    Steven


    One more picture of me at Coco's Corner in Baja:

    [​IMG]
    #1
  2. emt8q5

    emt8q5 Adventurer

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    Subscribed!

    Looking forward to setting this up myself!
    #2
  3. RetrogradE

    RetrogradE Banned

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    BTW, I just heard from my friend who runs RotoPax and it looks like he'll sell me more 1G containers. These are factory seconds but don't seem to be any different from the others.

    I'm happy to sell to fellow inmates for CHEAP. They might be ~$30/each plus shipping, but that'll save you $50. I'll ask about getting a deal on the quick releases, too.

    Keep that in mind . . .

    SKD
    #3
  4. kmroxo

    kmroxo Reno Rider

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    Subscribed! I have been waiting for this one.
    #4
  5. maxboxa

    maxboxa Adventurer

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    subscribed! I can use a pair of the rotopax too. I just mounted a 34l caribou topcase and I'm not too thrilled about the finished product. hopefully your setup will work better for me.
    #5
  6. RetrogradE

    RetrogradE Banned

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    OK, here we go.

    We start with the luggage rack, see here:

    [​IMG]


    The first thing you'll have to do (if you have a GS/A that has the handle on the back) is to remove the handle. It's about 4 bolts if I remember right.

    You can see where mine used to be in this picture:

    [​IMG]


    One of the "tricks" I used in mounting my box was using existing bolts from the luggage rack. After some fine tuning, I didn't even use the stock bolts because they weren't long enough, but I used the built-in nuts that are in the luggage rack.

    In this picture you'll see the two holes from the stock bolts:

    [​IMG]

    I found the best thing to do here is to remove the entire luggage rack so I could place the Pelican case against the rack and mark the holes I'd be drilling. Some of you might be better at measuring than me (because I suck at it) and you might save yourself a step. If you can get away with measuring, all the better because getting the luggage rack back on was a pain in the butt for some reason.

    TIP: When you're measuring for your holes, be sure to mount the Pelican a safe distance from your seat. I did NOT do that but got very lucky. I can get my seat on and off, but it's VERY tight. I'd go a little farther back than this:

    [​IMG]

    Anyway, I'm using FOUR stock holes in the luggage rack. One key to my "build" was to not drill holes in the luggage rack so I could return it to stock if I wanted to.

    Two holes are from the bolts I just removed, the other two are the slots at the tail end.

    My luggage rack looks a little beat-up because I took a spill in Baja and the box ripped off. I've since beefed it up and I'm including those instructions in this build so you can have a nice sturdy box.

    Once your holes are measured and drilled (I think I used a 1/4" bit), you can start your install. Here are a few tips / tricks that I had to figure out the hard way:

    1. DON'T use the stock bolts for the holes closest to the seat. They won't be long enough. Go to the hardware store and get some machined metal bolts that are at least 2 1/4" as shown in this pic:

    [​IMG]

    While I'm thinking about it, here's a picture of all the parts I use along with a list of what they are:

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Hardware List:

    1. To "beef" up the mount, I started with an 8"x18" 22 gauge sheet of metal from Lowes. It was just under $5. I cut it in half with tin snips but you could use a jig saw with a metal blade, or you could get it cut at Lowes. You might even get something heavier if you want--dealer's choice.

    [​IMG]

    2. (4) 1" metal washers
    3. (4) 1" rubber washers
    4. (2) 2 1/4" metal bolts. I forget the thread pitch--you might take the stock ones with you and make sure you're getting the right size / pitch. I'm doing some of this by memory, that's why I don't know the exact sizes. ALSO, I bought the bolts with the philips screwdriver heads on them so I could get them out really easy--no allen or hex wrench necessary.
    5. (2) 2" bolts
    6 (2) sets of 1/4" washers and locking washers.
    7. (2) wing-nuts that will fit the bolts from #5.

    Before I go on, here's a tip:

    If you're running the stock plastic system cases (like me), you can't mount the Pelican directly against the luggage rack--you need about 1/2" or more clearance so you can get the luggage on their racks. The first time I mounted my Pelican I was very pleased with myself, but then late one night I was packing for my Baja trip and found I couldn't get my system cases on.

    So, you'll need some spacers.

    You can spend $1.50 each on these:

    [​IMG]

    Or, you can go "cheap" and buy 4 of these . . .after all, this is a "cheap" way to build a top box, but it's your choice how clean you go and how much you spend.

    These are about $.40/each. You can get whatever size you want as long as the bolts from #4 and #5 will fit through the holes. You're not using these to "receive" your bolts (you're not screwing them in); but rather, you're just using them as spacers so your bolts will just slide through them.

    [​IMG]


    Now you should have your Pelican drilled out, all of your parts laid out like so:

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    You'll take your two metal sheets (if you chose to use them), and tape one to the bottom of the Pelican so it's covering all 4 holes:

    [​IMG]

    Turn the Pelican over and mark the sheet metal with a Sharpie:

    [​IMG]

    Then drill those holes out with the same size you used before.

    TIP: since you have two mounting plates, you put one on the inside and one on the outside of the case like a sammich.

    Now, let's MOUNT this bad boy:


    I start with the holes closest to the seat. Line up the holes from your mounting plate, then thread your longer bolts with a metal and rubber washer like so:

    [​IMG]

    You'll then put the bolt through the mounting plate on the inside, then the mounting plate on the bottom, then through your spacer (whether it be the large nut or the metal spacer) then screw it into the stock nut in your luggage rack.

    The tail bolts are easier:

    [​IMG]

    Thread your bolts through both metal sheets, through the spacers, then use your wing nuts to tie them on under the luggage rack. It should look like this when you're done:

    [​IMG]

    And on the inside:

    [​IMG]


    So really, with a philips screwdriver you can remove the top box in 3-4 minutes, but I use mine so often I never take it off. Be sure and get some locks for it:

    [​IMG]

    The RotoPax is super easy to mount. Just place one of the provided mounting places on the top of your Pelican, mark the holes and drill.

    The RotoPax Pack Mounts come with two plates: one for the top that has the twist lock on it, and the other plate that goes on the back. They also come with the bolts.

    Here's a shot of the top of the mount:

    [​IMG]

    Here's a shot of the inside:

    [​IMG]

    Here's the finished product:

    [​IMG]



    OK, fellas, that's it.



    If you want RotoPax stuff, here's the price breakdown:

    1G Red Tanks for Gas, Factory Seconds (they have a slight discoloration on the INSIDE of the neck, that's all)

    $30/each (MSRP is $50)

    1 Pack Mount: $25 (same as on the site--these aren't factory seconds).
    1 Extension if you want to mount two 1G tanks with one mount: $15 (reg $20)

    1G Water tanks (white), These aren't factory seconds but I can sell them for $25 (MSRP is $30).

    Shipping will be differ for your area. If you want some of this stuff, let me know how much and I'll get you a shipping cost.

    I will also do a bulk deal if you want to buy more than 10 of any one item, but I better not see this stuff on eBay.

    You can email me at davismfg at gmail

    PayPal works, too.

    Hope my mounting instructions were good enough . . . PM or email me if you're having a hard time mounting the top box.
    #6
  7. kmroxo

    kmroxo Reno Rider

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    Have you had any water intrusion issues from the bottom or the top? I imagine the rubber washers do a good job keeping it water tight on the bottom parts, but what about the RotoPax mount on top?
    #7
  8. RetrogradE

    RetrogradE Banned

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    No water issues at all, anywhere.

    I ran a similar set-up on the panniers of my 800GS and never had water get in there, either. I got caught in a downpour for two days and nothing got in.

    Here's a picture:

    [​IMG]
    #8
  9. Snowbound

    Snowbound Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    Crystola ,Colorado
    I would be interested in buying a Rotopax. I want to see if I can put one inside the right pannier hoop,
    #9
  10. RetrogradE

    RetrogradE Banned

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    Sure, no problem.

    You want a mount or no? Shipping is the same since I can fit a gas tank in a Priorty flat rate box and ship for $13 with a tracking number.

    You can paypal me as a gift or reg, either way, at davismfg at gmail.com and I'll ship it out asap. Be sure and write in the notes what you're buying so I ship the right stuff.


    Steven
    #10
  11. RobT2K

    RobT2K Adventurer

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    If I just got the 1G container and mount, could I add the extension for another 1G container later if I wanted to?

    Also, I made my top box a quick release by using door hinges on the rear edge of the bikes rack and using a removeable aluminum rod instead of the normal hinge pin. Then just used a padlock hasp on the front to secure it down with a lock. When I unlock the front, I can pivot the whole box back on the hinges and then pull the pins to remove it. When it is locked you can't remove the pins.
    #11
  12. RetrogradE

    RetrogradE Banned

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    That's a brilliant idea!

    Yes, you can add the extension piece anytime you want. It's $15 plus the ride, so ~$20 shipped Priority.

    Just PM me or email me and I'll ship it out.

    Steven
    #12
  13. YBViking

    YBViking Bedroom Adventurer

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    Wow!

    was looking for a solution for my rattling/loose Jesse top box- and that idea is the cats' ass!:clap

    And i love the roto can on top=- why didn't i think of that?:norton

    will PM and PP an order for a Gas Can and mount.

    thanks
    #13
  14. kmroxo

    kmroxo Reno Rider

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    I would love to see pictures of your removable set up.
    #14
  15. kmroxo

    kmroxo Reno Rider

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    Just as a head's up for anyone looking to do this I am into this for $213. I am in a bit of a time crunch for when I would like it to be compete so I wasn't able to shop around very long for a used RotoPax or Pelican case. But it is actually less than what RetrogradE estimated if buying everything new.

    Here are my costs:

    RotoPax (with mount and shipping from RetrogradE): $67
    Pelican Storm iM2450 (new from Adorama w/ free shipping): $103
    Mounting hardware: $43

    I chose some beefier mounts by way of 2" by 1/8" steel cut to length. Those were a bit pricier than 22 gauge sheet metal. I also took one of the bolts from the rack to the Home Despot and found it to be an M6. I was unable to find any M6 bolts with philips or flat heads in the 2" and 2 1/4" sizes so I got 10 mm flat bolt heads. This means I will need a socket to get them on and off, but I'm okay with that.
    #15
  16. RobT2K

    RobT2K Adventurer

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    Sorry, didn't see the request for pics of my setup until now. Here you go:

    This is the box folded forward to access the hinge pins for removal, stock tool kit or my registration (duct taped to the deck) or even to remove the seat easier.
    [​IMG]

    Another angle, I was going to drill small holes in the end of the pins and use hitch clips to secure them but so far I don't think I need them. I was thinking of doing that for security, so someone couldn't just pull the pins out and remove the box, but even without them you can't pull the pins unless the box is lifted like this.
    [​IMG]

    Here's the underside, you can see I put a small piece of sheet metal there in the middle to block the hitch clips I was going to use. I still could add it later, but it's fine for now.
    [​IMG]

    Here is how it looks once it is locked down, I put a bandana under the tool box to give some upward tension to the padlock hasp. I may change that to some weather stripping around the edge of my rack if the bandana becomes annoying. It keeps the hasp from rattling around, and the padlock is on my seat so it doesn't move much.
    [​IMG]
    #16
  17. Nnordsman

    Nnordsman Nnordsman

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    The door hinge idea is awesome. Thanks for sharing, the pictures help.
    #17
  18. RetrogradE

    RetrogradE Banned

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    I just wanted to let any / all interested parties know that I ran out of stock a few weeks ago (RotopaX seconds), but I'm getting more at the end of the week and can resume shipping early next.

    PM or email me (davismfg at gmail) and get your orders in if you're interested. Stock of factory seconds is spotty so let me know early if you want anything.

    Steven
    #18
  19. Ben Carufel

    Ben Carufel Boxer Addict

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    Steven, the pics no longer work -- I suspect due to the MobileMe change.

    Any chance you could re-host them? I'd like to put a Pelican on the tail of my 1150GSA and yours is the best thread I've found so far...
    #19
  20. RetrogradE

    RetrogradE Banned

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    You're exactly right...Mobile Me went tits-up. I'm on a 2k mile ride today...175 miles from Jackson Hole. I'll end up hitting 9 states as I loop all the way around ID, WY, SD,CO and meet my family in Page, AZ for a week at Powell.

    I can certainly host the pictures somewhere else but it won't be until I get back.

    I can take /email you some pics of my set-up from the road if you want. Email me at davismfg at gmail

    Steven.
    #20