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Ammo Can Motorcycle Saddlebags

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Picture of Ammo Can Motorcycle Saddlebags


My buddy and I decided to take these ammo can saddle bags to the next level by consuming copious amounts of whiskey and making them a little flashier, but still keep that "Holy crap, are those saddle bags ammo cans?" feel.  They came out much cooler than I think either of us suspected they would.


Materials:
2 Ammo Cans
Some scrap sheet metal (steel or aluminum, something with a decent compression strength)
Grinder wheels (cut off, grinding and stripping)
Liquid paint stripper
Nuts & Bolts
Acrylic or Rust proofing spray

Tools:
Drill/Drill Press
Angle/Bench Grinder
Wrenches
Welder (optional)



These were inspired by another Instructable that can be found at http://www.instructables.com/id/Motorcycle-Saddlebags-from-Ammunition-Cases/
 
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Step 1: Get the ammo can that will work best for you

Picture of Get the ammo can that will work best for you
AmmoCan_0804.JPG
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Army surplus stores sell them if you don't have a couple already.  40mm cans were chosen for this build.  Note that 40mm ammo cans in particular have diagonal side rails to add extra rigidity to the box.  This was a blessing and a curse for this build.  The brackets we fabricated had to be made in such a way as to not infringe on the rail too much, and part of the rail on on one box had to be angle grinded away before it could be mounted flush with the motorcycle.  That being said though, the amount of rigidity these rails give the box is significant and will make the box stronger and allow for far less vibration than a box without the side rail.  We mounted these on my buddies 650cc Yamaha V-Star.
nikola5014 months ago

you can use some neodymium magnets to hold handles during ride, instead welding, because they loose functionality when are welded

GTJosh4 months ago

Once i get my 250 Vstar I'm definitely going to do this, and make my own windshield! Im happy i found this site!

I am absolutely going to be adding this to my Honda Shadow ACE!
I'm not very fond of harleys but I've got to say, the ammo cans on the sides make them look sick!
debrulerd2 years ago
Very nice. Thanks for the guide. i used 25mm ammo cans for mine. just need to paint them now.
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badpanda (author)  debrulerd2 years ago
Thanks, those look great. The one problem I considered when we discussed painting them is the sheer amount of friction where the lid brackets contact the box when taking the lid on and off ruining any sort of paint job. If you solve that post back here and let me know what you did.
Here is my final project all put together waiting to be ridden. I thought of the friction too with the lid, but its something that is just gonna happen one way or another. I DID however just use a little bit of force and try to open the wings on the lid so its not SOOO tight but still tight enough for a full seal. Besides that, just cant treat them like normal ammo cans, gotta take the lids on and off somewhat nice haha.
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badpanda (author)  debrulerd2 years ago
Very nice!
daviso362 years ago
Got it! Thanks for your time. Off I go ammo can shopping.
daviso362 years ago
Sometimes one can think they have a unique idea then behold the wonders of the internet. I wanted to add Ammo cans as saddle bags to my street bob for quite some time now. I'm glad I typed it in and saw your detail. Awesome! However, I don't understand your leveling technique with the exhaust pipes and using the bubble level. Did you use the level for a horizontal level or vertical level? I don't think I know how to ask what I want to ask but if you can detail it differently I'll try to track.

Thanks!
badpanda (author)  daviso362 years ago
It was to horizontal level, but the reason it's tricky is because we leveled it by first putting the bubble level on the mounting plate... which was not level when holding the bike vertical. It would be very hard to accurately just hold the box up to the bike and make markings on the bike that could be drilled out and be in precisely the right spot... and we wanted the tolerances to be very tight so the holes could be no bigger than the diameter of the bolts, because that would weaken the structure and leave the cans somewhat unlevel, or worse, uneven between the two sides.

So we put the bubble level on the mounting plate attached to the bike, then raised the low end of the level until it was, level. Then we measured to find the angle difference off of level. Once we new the angle off of level we were able to take the bracket back off, place it on the can using that angle to mark for holes on the box through the existing holes on the bracket.

I hope that all makes sense. The other options we considered were making one of the box holes more of a slot about an inch long so the box could be adjusted as it was being mounted. If our angle system didn't get the boxes perfectly level and even with each other this is how we would have made the correction, but we didn't want to start with that because we wanted to maintain as much structural integrity as possible. Another consideration was short pieces of cotton wick placed in the bolt holes on the bike with a bit of paint on the end so the box could be held up evenly to the bike and pressed against that to make marks... but we weren't sure how accurate that could really be. Good luck, post pictures if you do it.
jkline42 years ago
Once you've made the brackets, where on the bike are you mounting them? Thanks.
badpanda (author)  jkline42 years ago
Hi... most motorcycles have a two bolt pattern on the rear fender specifically for mounting bags. It may look like they are just there to hold the fender on, but they usually pass through the frame and are quite solid for this purpose. Hope that helps.
WidowMaker2 years ago
Chrome them dude.... Then they would be killer!!!!!!!
wolvmarine2 years ago
I love this idea. Its Manly and pretty cheap. Not sure if it'll go with crouch rocket. Maybe if I were to paint her MASH Olive drab and through some stencils on her... EIther way love the idea good work ; >
u may be able to do it on a crotch rocket with some plastic modification, maybe not as big as using a 40mm can. maybe a 50 cal or 7.62 would be best. not huge but they still hold alot.
badpanda (author)  HickLife2 years ago
Or maybe a single can mounted behind the back perpendicular to the bike instead of on the sides.
thats possible too but that will depend on the model and year of the sport bike. because more recently they have been being made with the exhaust coming out under the rear seat. I'm intrigued now, i'm going to look into doing it for my bike. great instructable btw.
badpanda (author)  wolvmarine2 years ago
Thanks!
ArcticNemo2 years ago
For taller bikes and a narrow profile (Dualsports and trail bikes), try the 81mm mortar cans. They are about 24" tall, and just wide enough to fit beverage cans, about a case and a half on each side. I used brackets to pin the bottom corner to the passenger pegs for stiffness.
Detachable brackets let you use them as stools when you hit the campsite.
jkm2 years ago
a very great instructable: good how you not only describe what you did, but also why you did it that way, and which alternatives you rejected.
Great result as well.
I think chroming is the way to go.
badpanda (author)  jkm2 years ago
Thanks. I think chroming would look awesome, I'm just thinking it would probably cost a few hundred bucks, but I haven't gotten a quote or anything. I also haven't looked into how much weight chroming would add.
I think those ammo cans would look great on a V-star mocked-up to look like a '42 WLA
http://www.worldofstock.com/slides/TRO1700.jpg. Strong work, Panda.
badpanda (author)  whatisadrexel2 years ago
Indeed.
knife1412 years ago
I really like this. A lot of commercial saddlebags are terribly expensive and many seem to want to eventually crack at their mounting points from vibration. You have inspired me to check into making a pair of these for my Honda Silverwing. I'll have a bit of a challenge negotiating around the exhaust system, but I think it will be doable. I have crash rails on the back, which should be a good possibility for mounting the ammo cans. Thank you for this Instructable!
badpanda (author)  knife1412 years ago
Thank you for the kind words. Throw up some image links if you end up sticking a pair of these on a Silverwing, I'd love to see it.
Those hold practice grenades for the MK19 automatic grenade launcher, they are used for "weapons familiarization for basic trainees.
If i remember correctly from being on "ammo detail" they were powder coated.
badpanda (author)  thematthatter2 years ago
Yeah, I was a Marine and remember most of these cans vividly. I'm pretty sure it is powder coating, it comes off like powder coating (difficultly)... but I can't say with certainty. Either way I don't want to breathe it, but it would be cool to have a pair powder coated something cool... if I could find it for less than I've seen powder coating going for online. The rails on this can make it really really stiff compared to some of the other ammo cans I have around the house.
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