Winter Project - Custom One-off Panniers

Discussion in 'GS Boxers' started by Potato, Dec 7, 2015.

  1. Potato

    Potato Been here awhile

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    I can't leave well-enough alone. I don't know what's wrong (or right, as I prefer to think about it) with me. I always need to "fix" something. This winter, it'll be my panniers.

    I own an '01 R1150GS and the previous owner put a matching 3-piece set of Happy Trails boxes on the bike. I like 'em. They have served me well. But I can't stand all of the missing storage on the exhaust side of the bike. So I decided that I'd lower the exhaust and get a full size box for the left side. Then I got to thinking some more (this is dangerous for me) and decided, "what the hell? why not build my own 3-piece set and make it exactly what I want it to be?"

    I figured I'd share my little adventure here. Maybe someone learns something from it. Maybe someone teaches me instead. Maybe y'all get a little chuckle out of it. At any rate, I'll be posting as I go. Follow along if you like.

    Please feel free to pitch in with any suggestions, ideas, tips or tricks that you might have!

    One last thing:

    this is not likely to be your typical home-build. I do custom sheet metal work for a living and will likely end up making things as complex as possible and as hard to pull off as possible (see above: can't leave well enough alone comment). I intend to beef up the mounts just a hair, thicken the wall of the box a little and alter the tail bag size so that I can fit my helmet inside of it in addition to having it serve as a back rest for the wife.
    #1
    gecko990 and MrTwister1 like this.
  2. JimVonBaden

    JimVonBaden "Cool" Aid! Supporter

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    I had some made for me, to my design:

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    Just food for thought.
    #2
  3. BMWRich

    BMWRich Sout'side Scooter Jock

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    :lurk
    #3
  4. Potato

    Potato Been here awhile

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    Right off the bat, fantastic info! thanks!

    I really like the size and outer profile of the boxes i have, so I plan to pirate off of them. Yours look similar (minus the lid). The lid was one thing i wasn't terribly fond of with the Happy Trails. I may have to pirate your design a little.
    #4
  5. Potato

    Potato Been here awhile

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    To All:

    It is my intent to fully design my boxes in solidworks. When they're done, i'll be more than happy to make my model and drawing files available to anyone that's interested.
    #5
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  6. Potato

    Potato Been here awhile

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    Step One: completely space getting full blown "before" pics. oh well. so much for that idea.

    In addition to custom sheetmetal work, I do a lot of piping and ductwork. One problem I had with most of the kits I could find is that they seemed to come with a fairly sharp-radius elbow for lowering the can. I know how bad that is for air and water flow... why should exhaust be any different? I'll eventually get the bike a full dyno tune, and I don't want to shoot myself in the foot right out of the gate. I looked around online but I didn't see anything I REALLY liked. So I made one. Well, I made the hanger anyway. The PO of my bike had deleted the cat and installed a y-pipe in its place. He opted to give me the old cat though. I cut one of the elbows off of that, cut a few inches off of the Y-pipe and then cussed like hell when it didn't just fall together. Damn impromptu semi-drunk jump-head-first approaches to projects.

    The reason it wouldn't fit is that the Y-pipe was just a tad small. A really small tad. I ended up going down to the parts store and getting an exhaust pipe spreader. I didn't think it'd work, but what the hell did I have to lose. Turns out it worked perfectly! Bonus, the spreader was a rent-a-tool, so I returned it and got all of my money back!

    Here's a few pics I did remember to take.

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    I'm going to remake the hanger with shop tools (as opposed to a bench vise and a big hammer). Okay... I tell myself that I'll replace it later but it's likely that it'll end up staying there forever and it'll always be a "some day" project.

    For now, the hanger is made from 1/4" x 3/4" stainless flat bar. I realize now that I have 0 pics that show it well. I'll snap a couple more when I get home!

    -Chris
    #6
  7. RoundTrip

    RoundTrip Unintentional deerslayer Supporter

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    Nice job! I always wonder though, why bother. If you run the 1150's with the cat, you can completely eliminate the can. They sound virtually no louder and no worries about mechanical damage to the valves. Might be a bit different with the cat off for noise.

    -jeff
    #7
  8. Potato

    Potato Been here awhile

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    Hmm... Coming from the Harley world, loud exhaust has never been a turn off for me. I suppose there could be other options down the road. I will have to look into that at another time. I intended to leave it sans cat for potential performance gains in the future when I get it tuned. Never thought to leave it without the can as well. I suppose I could just remove the pipe later if need be. I will discuss options with the guy that will be doing the tune and see what he recommends from a performance/reliability standpoint with the cat removed. thanks for the tip!
    #8
  9. JimVonBaden

    JimVonBaden "Cool" Aid! Supporter

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    My builder had some great ideas that he incorporated into the final design. These panniers are very strong!
    #9
  10. JimVonBaden

    JimVonBaden "Cool" Aid! Supporter

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    Jeff is right. The sound is slightly more mellow, but not louder! Plus, you lose at least 15 pounds!
    #10
  11. Potato

    Potato Been here awhile

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    I'll have to give it some consideration over the winter. I'm sure i'll have questions on the matter, but that's for another thread. Good info to know, though! The beast is heavy enough as it is... saving 15-20# would be great!
    #11
  12. Potato

    Potato Been here awhile

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    Pic of the hangers:

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    I knew the bushing was cockeyed when I glanced at it after removing it. But, until seeing it from this angle, I didn't realize how bad it is! That'll need to be addressed.
    #12
  13. MotoBoss

    MotoBoss Old Dog

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    Progress?
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  14. Potato

    Potato Been here awhile

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    With the holidays as close as they are and being super busy at work, progress will be slow for a bit. I've got extended weekends coming up soon and hopefully I'll be able to get some work done on this.
    #14
  15. Potato

    Potato Been here awhile

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    Got everything removed today, including my auxiliary lights and stand for the tail bag. I'm going to take the pannier mounts to work to measure/model up so I can get underway with designing the new ones.

    Original setup (for posterity):

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    This is a little better view of the risers I made for the tail bag. These will hopefully be going away in favor of a deeper tail bag that I can fit my helmet in.

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    Looks like the PO had an off on the right-hand side that hit a bit harder than I'd have liked. The mount on that side was quite a bit out of square (but not bent)...

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    And the pannier was coming apart at the seam...

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    All in all, dis-assembly went about as smoothly as could be expected and no catastrophic surprises were found. I am a little concerned that the Happy Trails box split at the seam like that though. There isn't much in the way of markings on the box that would be indicative of a massive impact and the general consensus is that they make a quality product. Perhaps it was just a lemon... a finished-Friday-at-quitting-time version or something like that. It does make me a bit more satisfied with my decision to make my own though, that's for sure.

    The original plan was to make my own boxes and purchase new hardware for them. That would allow me to sell the HT stuff. Now I wonder if I'd be better off to scavenge off of the boxes and just sell the mounts since they're in good shape. I could just straighten up the box and weld it shut I suppose. Oh well... that's a decision for another day.

    The bike sure looks strange with a bare backside...

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    One challenge I will have is making a support frame/mount that doesn't way a ton. I'm notorious for over building the CRAP out of pretty much anything I touch. Knowing this, I weighed the existing frame. 6.2#. That will be a tough number for me to stick to. Well, when I already have a 600 pound bike, what's another 5 :D

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    #15
  16. Potato

    Potato Been here awhile

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    One thing I would like to put some extra thought into is the lid design. I like to make things as multi-purpose as possible and having a lid just function as a lid seems, well, wasteful.

    The first thing that comes to mind is to have it open such that it functions like a little table. Somewhere you could set something while you went digging in the pannier for another item. Perhaps I could even have a couple flaps that would fold out once the lid was all the way open? Or perhaps the lid can serve as a little extra storage cubby. I've seen the Jesse bags where the lid was fairly deep. I could make a compartment out of it and that could be a good spot to store visor-cleaning towels or a partial roll of TP or something like that.

    What do y'all think?
    What has been something that you would've liked to be have handy that perhaps the lid of your pannier could've been used for? Like I said in the beginning... I'm probably going to attempt to over-complicate the mess out of this project. Why not contribute to the cause?!
    #16
  17. Potato

    Potato Been here awhile

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    Another thing I will need to give some more thought to is an organizational system of some sort. I generally have one pannier for my "oh crap" stuff... a bag of basic meds, tp, tire plug kit, liners for my gear that I never seem to be able to remember until it's too late, etc. That's enough larger items that I don't know that I'm too concerned with creating an organizer for it. The other pannier, however, carries some straps, visor cleaner, food, drink, etc.

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    That just seems like a lot of small items for them to just be dumped into a large space. I have yet to google "pannier organizers", but I assume some of y'all have some interesting setups. Anyone want to share an idea or pic or anything?

    -Chris
    #17
  18. pietervn

    pietervn Been here awhile

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    G'Day,

    I am with Jim on the exhaust. I dumped my end can and fitted a stubby pipe. Lost 5,5kg's in the process and only a slight increase in sound. Hardly noticeable. The pannier will also stay nice and cool.

    Pete

    Attached Files:

    #18
  19. cds247

    cds247 Long timer

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    Fun project. If I were to design a set, they'd look and work exactly like Jesse safari cases. Lol. You're kinda reinventing the wheel.
    #19
  20. Potato

    Potato Been here awhile

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    yes, i am reinventing the wheel. but I'm doing so for a much lower cost than buying the existing copyrighted wheel and, in the end, i get exactly what I want and nothing i don't. :D

    Plus, it keeps me out of trouble. for a little while. :clap

    In the meantime, I'll look into the Jesse Safari cases and see what I can glean from them. thanks for the tip!

    -Chris
    #20