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Best Cat Litter Bike Buckets

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Every bike worth its salt has some way to carry cargo, and I am not the first to think of using cat litter buckets. However, I am the best at it. I say this not because I'm egotistic (although I am) but because I have had several buckets fall apart on me, and the next incarnation is always built to remedy the problems of the last generation. What you are about to see is the culmination of years of Cat litter bike buckets, perfect for groceries, bike camping or anything you can imagine.

 
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Step 1: Buy Your Cat Litter

Start by gathering your material.

Most of the work is done by the cat litter manufacturer, it's hard to mold your own plastic bucket. In my experience, use one of the buckets that comes with a full lid, not a screw on cap. As well, square sides makes it much easier. My preference is Scoop-Away, but that's more for their quality litter than anything else.

Cut 2 pieces of pipe strap 8 large holes long. Well, 4 if you want to make 2 buckets.

Gather 8 bolts and matching nuts for each bucket. Ideally they should fit snugly through the holes in the pipe strap.

Pannier hooks, whatever you find works best. I have tried a lot and get the best results from 1 3/4 inch L brackets pounded into shape with a hammer.

Eyebolt and corresponding nuts and washers

A drill, screwdriver, and blade makes the work go quicker

For best results, leave a PBS cooking show on in the background while you work.

Step 2: Break out the drill

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Line one of the 8 hole segments of pipe strapping on the top of the cat litter bucket. Drill through the 3 outer holes on each side. Now would be the point to enlarge the holes to fit your bolts.

Step 3: Start Bolting things on

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Take 4 of the bolts you have accumulated and sandwich the cat litter bucket between two bits of the pipe strap.
jwilcox111 year ago
Probably the best detail so far. A few ideas on my prototypes. As my Bike Friday has smaller 20" wheels, the boxes hang lower than the axel, so you can't pull down from the bottom (as in this design) for stability. To overcome this, I bent some 1/8 inch aluminium perforated metal so that is hooks the rack stay when the panniers are mounted, like Ortlieb does, see picture #2, the little black hook: http://lovelybike.blogspot.com/2011/03/pannier-mounting-systems-compared.html). I did this by taking a rectangle, then cutting a mounting plate section of the metal, and then cutting and bending the hook.
Second, I didn't want bungee cords to take on and off but the buckets needed down force to ensure they stayed on. Since my buckets ride about 3 inches above the rear rack, I drilled small holes in the ridge extension near the rack (a series of ridges go around the buckets to add strength). Just one micro thin and short bungee hooks to the hole, goes down and under the rack, then up to the other side (pulls down on the buckets). Still testing the design. You can reach me at www.footpin.com, bottom of the page for a link to an email.
milesnorth1 year ago
NICE, Giveing me some interesting ideas here! Thanks!
mpandolfo2 years ago
Some acetone (nail polish remover) and a little elbow grease will remove the label.
bo88y3 years ago
To remove the labels, a belt sander works quickly (10 minutes, but half of that is flipping the bucket and trying to hold it down), but with some smudging from the heat. The resulting "matte" finish (a blatant euphemism) might be prone to collecting road dirt, but some people like that rustic look. You could do it by hand, starting with 80 grit and then hitting it with 120-150. ~ ~ If you sand them off, there are spray paints that stick quite well to plastic (Krylon and Rust-oleum), especially CLEAN, sanded plastic, but leave it alone and let it cure for a week or so. This makes a huge difference in the adhesion. Lots of color choices. Make it pretty. ~ ~ Yeah, I know the instructions say you can use it after an hour, but I used this stuff on recycling bins, and it scratched easily after a couple of hours, but the ones I left alone are still doing fairly well. And that's on the kind of tall, lidded bins that get picked up by the trucks and flipped. On the surface that the trucks' dumping-arm presses against. They're scratched, but no more than any other surface-coating would be scratched. I love this paint. I prepped the painted areas of the bins with 150-grit sanding, and then wiped with a damp rag, BTW, going further than the instructions require.
Jermi44 years ago
Hello it's me again.  Well I finally finished my cat litter panniers and thanks very much for the inspiration!  I took a pretty different design path with cues taken from the Arkel systems for attachment.

My problem now is that I have two huge advertisements for cat litter on my bike.  Have you over your years of experimentation figured out how to get the decals off of these buckets?  I tried GunkOff (basic solvent) but it would have taken many hours and tons of the stuff to do the job.  I heard a heat gun might help.  Any suggestions?  Thanks.
urbanmari4 years ago
Hi Fuzz, thanks for this idea of how to re-use cat litter pails.  I don't use clay for our cats but have wanted some reuse for the ones I see discarded. 

Quick question: What kind of short rack is that over the front wheel?  Is it specifically made for over-the-front-wheel, or what?  I'm searching models but don't find a bunch.   Thanks!
Jermi44 years ago
How does this add to the strength of the bucket? It seems like some of the designs which incorporate a small piece of lumber would give a lot more strength.
Fuzz2050 (author)  Jermi44 years ago
it doesn't strengthen the bucket as such. The buckets are plenty strong as they are, they were designed to carry 30 pounds of cat litter. Rather, the pipe strap serves as a series of washers, preventing the bolt heads from pulling through the plastic and coming loose.
Jermi4 Fuzz20504 years ago
Okay I understand that. I'm about to build a set of my own though, and I'm concerned with the forces applied to the plastic around the bolts because it's very localized, and very different than then bucket was designed to accept. I was planning on mounting a 1/2" think board just snug underneath the top rim of the bucket so that the forces are distributed along this top lip. The bolts would go through this board as well as the bucket. Do you have any experience/troubles with such a design?
Fuzz2050 (author)  Jermi44 years ago
Having several bolts serves to de-localize the force, and the strip of pipe strap helps even more. I can say that I've put these buckets through the test, and never found the need for additional reinforcement. I've carried all sorts of things, camping gear, produce, even cat litter, and they have held up marvellously.
How do these handle when well loaded on the front? Also, not sure if you have any idea, how much does an empty bucket weigh? Thanks for posting this.
Browncoat5 years ago
I can't tell what you've attached your buckets to, but I don't think my bike's got it. I also can't tell what you've done w/the bungee cord(s). :/
Fuzz2050 (author)  Browncoat5 years ago
You raise a very good point. The hooks go over the rails of your bike rack, either front or rear. The bungee cords hook into the eyelets on your dropouts. I'd post more pictures to be perfectly clear, but I'm afraid my camera is broken at this moment.
Ok, I don't have a bike rack. No wonder I couldn't' see how it could work on my bike, eh?
Fuzz2050 (author)  Browncoat5 years ago
Makes sense, now it's time for you to get a bike rack. Makes your bike so much more useful for carrying stuff.
what a great idea! Thats probably one reason why I haven't gotten a bike... that and I'm lazy. But the, 'not being able to carry things' is a big draw back from biking!
flataffect5 years ago
good reuse/repurpose. If I lived near anywhere i travelled I'd to this with my huge bucket left from laundry detergent.
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