Instructables
Picture of Toolbox Saddlebags for under $20
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CHECK OUT THE REVISED VERSION: http://www.instructables.com/id/Revised-Toolbox-Saddlebags-for-under-20/

Time and time again I find myself having to pack my rain gear with the loads of other misc. items into my backpack and hope they all fit.
I've always knew that I wanted to use saddlebags to solve this problem but I could never convince myself to dish out $80+.
So I discovered that the most economical and effective alternative was to use toolboxes.
They can be locked and waterproofed but best of all: they're cheap.

Note: These particular toolboxes are NOT waterproof. Use your discretion as to how you'd like to use them and make improvements/adjustments according to your needs.
 
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Step 1: Gather your tools and materials

Picture of Gather your tools and materials
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Of course, a great toolbox saddlebag starts with the toolbox. I picked up two 16" Workforce toolboxes from Home Depot for $7.47 each (amazing yeah?). That's about $15 already. (The 22" Husky toolbox will be for another instructable ;) )

Next, pick up the misc. nuts, bolts and flat/lock washers. I've estimated it to run about $5 but I just found them around the garage (FREE!).

Lastly, you'll need to do some minor custom metal work in order to form a rack for the toolboxes to be bolted onto. I had a couple of old refrigerator racks that I had cut to sizesuper heated with a blow torch and bent into shape. Have fun but be safe! (Fiiiireee gooooood.)

It helps to have a screwdriver with drill bits and pliers of some type to bore holes into the toolbox and tighten the screws/nuts.

CHECK OUT THE REVISED VERSION: http://www.instructables.com/id/Revised-Toolbox-Saddlebags-for-under-20/

Step 2: Form a rack

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So you'll need to use your imagination for this part.

Use whatever you can find around the garage that would make a suitable rack.
As I have mentioned, I found an old refrigerator rack and macgyver-ed something together.
The general shape would suit this particular toolbox best because it will allow you to open the box while fully extending the top cover.
I used a blow torch to super heat the metal and bend them into these shapes.

CHECK OUT THE REVISED VERSION: http://www.instructables.com/id/Revised-Toolbox-Saddlebags-for-under-20/
That's unfortunate about your bike being toppled like that, I think the center stand would make it more likely to topple though. My bike has both, and I only use the center stand if I'm doing maintenance or some such and need the bike to be level. The center stand(on my bike) has a narrower stance and raises center of gravity. I'm always afraid if I leave it that way my dog will manage to knock it over. Just my 2 cents.
MeNmyShadow2 years ago
Great idea!

I plan on a similar idea with 2 old Samsonite train cases. We all know how durable those are!! Plus they lock, and have a tray inside for small stuff. They look like hard bags anyway... not sure if they are water proof though. One fits great on my luggage rack too. I just bungee it on.

Picked them up from local thrift store for under 5 bucks. Guess larger suitcases would work too, but my bike is pretty small (vt500). Stuck some reflectors on the back to make them look "official". Would pipe hanging straps work to mount them?? Could wrap the bottom with old bicycle inner tubes, or heater hose to absorb some of the shock...hmmm...

You could get some velcro to attach a piece of leather or vinyl to the top of your tool boxes and fashion a sort of "do rag" for the top. Wrap it down and around over the latch and velcro or snap into place. Or attach it through your racks with hammer on snaps. (sort of like a hinge) Snaps are available in heavy duty for tarps etc...

Love making something out of nothing - and thankfully there are an abundance of thrift stores in Denver to supply my creative larks.

Oh! I just realized hard plastic coolers would work great too, and they would be waterproof. Just put a toolbox hasp on to lock them up. You could paint to match your bike. A friend of mine "dumpster dives" and has a garage full of cool junk to build stuff with. Check your local apartment complex at the end of the month when people are moving out...

Oh, I'm gonna love this website. :D Thanks guys
Here's a poor quality pic from my cell phone...
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Kamiana8 (author)  MeNmyShadow2 years ago
Hey thanks for a great comment!

For the waterproofing problem on my toolboxes I just hot glued the holes from the inside-out and it's working pretty well so far. Not to mention it's a cheap alternative to doing all this fancy stuff with fabrics and such which I'd never be very good at haha
speedhump3 years ago
One of my toolboxes is the same as the one used by Kamiana8. Not a good choice. They leak through the handle attachments.
Kamiana8 (author)  speedhump3 years ago
It does have a tendency to leak through the handle and I think the fabric my uncle bought just might remedy the issue. I'll be adding it to the end of this instructable as soon as we figure out how to sew and secure it over the toolbox.
karlpinturr3 years ago
Nice idea!

I did a similar thing 25-30 years ago, and put a motorcycle topbox on a very badly homemade bike rack. It didn't last long, as I was permanently overloading it. Eventually the rack collapsed, taking me down and cracking the topbox beyond repair (at that time - I might have been able to resurrect it nowadays) on the road. Still...

One question - I have some similar-looking toolboxes to yours, but the rain gets in through the point where the handles join the lids - do you have a way to solve that?
Kamiana8 (author)  karlpinturr3 years ago
daaang, a motorcycle accident? I guess we have something in common now.

As far as waterproofing it, my best idea right now is to grab some kind of water-repellent-type fabric that would fit over the toolbox (think "umbrella") and sew on a drawstring; this should allow you to seal it shut and in theory, keep the water out.

I'm trying to work on this solution myself since I totally understand your problem as I had water collect in my toolbox before. At that time it was dark and I was too tired to get upset or fix it so I just drilled a 1/16" hole through the bottom of the toolbox and drained the water haha I'm much more adamant on finding a solution now and I look forward to posting my results.
Oops! - Slight misunderstanding there (my bad!) - it was actually a pushbike, not a motorbike.

And the mopre I think about waterproofing the toolboxes, the harder it is to see a solution that won't end up costing more than the boxes, themselves (though it should still work out cheaper than buying something new).

For now, a hole in each corner is probably best.
Kamiana8 (author)  karlpinturr3 years ago
no harm done.

I'd be crazy enough to take apart an umbrella and see how that works haha
agis683 years ago
excellent brilliant excellent and relativly cheap.....5/5.... 4 for giving me the idea to do something same on my Rebel....(not toolbox but little bigger) 1 for the project.....!!!!!!
Kamiana8 (author)  agis683 years ago
haha I wouldn't mind giving you a score as well. how about I give you 1 for your project, 1 posting to instructables, 1 for sending me the link, 1 for referencing my instructable and 1 for finding a conventional approach to building the mounting brackets so that I can tell "jhamilton-1" about it and try it on my bike as well? sweet deals
jhamilton-13 years ago
I wonder if this would be a bit cleaner if you used a more conventional approach to building the mounting brackets. I love the idea of using toolboxes.
Kamiana8 (author)  jhamilton-13 years ago
haha yeah, I have no idea. The pipe clamps were the best I could come up with since I wanted to be able to un-mount the whole assembly when I had the need to do so. looking forward to your suggestions
Then consider webbed strapping with the quick release closures. You could even have one end of the closure permanently on the bike and the other permanently on the rack. The only problem I haven't figure out yet is how to make that theft proof. I'll keep thinking.
Brunomaster3 years ago
No podes ser mas groncho y cochino.
Kamiana8 (author)  Brunomaster3 years ago
come again? english perhaps
google translate gave me

"You can not be more groncho and pig."

when i plugged it in .. i guess it losses something in the translation lol.
Teauxni3 years ago
Looking at your clothes pin photo, I'm thinking that more bolts, washers and some spacers, (could be wood, pvc, or thick foam insulation) would make that a more permanent solution. It seems the clothes pins will shake loose after a while. Great job on this!
Kamiana8 (author)  Teauxni3 years ago
funny you say that, I actually DID lose a couple of clothespins so I'll definitely look into more permanent solutions. I don't want to end up using pipe clamps when hanging my clothes to dry haha
badpanda3 years ago
Nice work! Check these out, same concept with ammo cans I did a while back. http://www.instructables.com/id/Ammo-Can-Saddlebags/
WareShoals3 years ago
Nice work! I had a lugage rack on my Kawi and used a tool box as a trunk. Nice touch using a refrigerator rack for a support. That was a good idea.
l8nite3 years ago
before MacGyver this would have been called redneck engineering either way its a great idea . For a little more money you could use large fishing tackle boxes, they are even more leak resistant and the larger ones have removable bottoms.. WOW the possibilities,,,,,,,,,,,,
Kamiana8 (author)  l8nite3 years ago
You sir offer a very tempting proposition and I'd relish the challenge. thanks for the suggestion!
Or 30/50cal ammo cans.
Kamiana8 (author)  tyeo0983 years ago
I tried researching those at my local surplus store and although they were decently priced, they were very heavy without anything in them so I had to default to lightweight toolboxes. But thanks for the suggestion!
Phil B3 years ago
The hose clamps are a handy and inexpensive way to hang the refrigerator racks onto the motorcycle. I would encourage you to make friends with someone who has a welder. I have one and am always glad to help someone out who needs a couple of simple welds for a useful project. People who have welders are quite often looking for excuses to use them. And, your friend may even be willing to give you some "lessons" in welding. Later, when you can afford a welder, yourself; you will be more ready to make good use of it. That is just a thought.
Kamiana8 (author)  Phil B3 years ago
thanks! I actually have two different types of welding machines but the hose clamps allowed me to remove the racks from the bike. It offers some flexibility if I were to design or install other saddlebags.