DIY Custom Hardbags

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Real Name: Eric
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DIY Custom Hardbags

#1 Unread post by JackoftheGreen »

A while ago I posted about my intent to take up fiberglassing as a hobby this winter, with a specific goal to create my own custom hardbags. Although I still intend to try my hand at fiberglassing as a hobby, I've refined my approach to custom hardbags.

The idea first hit me when I saw a guy with an interesting, if cliche', take on custom hardbags in the WalMart parking lot about a month ago. This guy had two military surplus .50 caliber ammo cans bolted to his bike as hardbags. Cool, right? I certainly want something more refined than that for PowerSlave, but it got me thinking that an ammo can, properly bond-o-ed over and repainted, would make an awesome "core" for a DIY hardbag. They come with a latch already installed, they're waterproof, and they're readily available, cheap, and made of steel.

Of course, a little research revealed the folly in this approach. The ammo cans I found that I would use as my core are pretty big (my goal is to be able to fit two gallons of milk side by side in either saddlebag), and because they're made of steel they weigh a little better than 20 pounds each. Obviously I can't accept that kind of additional weight, but I've been looking into other rigid plastic waterproof cases that should also work and are much, much lighter. These are along the lines of Pelican or Seahorse cases, though the one's I'm considered are an off brand.

The downside, of course, is they look awful. I plan to fill in the negative spaces on the outside of the cases with styrofoam or some other medium, then apply bondo over the whole thing, sand some nice radii into the corners and paint the whole thing. Voila', watertight hardbags for maybe $100, instead of the 6-900 bucks for the aftermarket stuff.

I'll post some pictures throughout the project, assuming I actually pluck up the initiative to do it. I've never worked with Bond-O, though, so I was wondering if anyone had any tips or suggestions for some other type of filler? Basically I'll just be using to to smooth the outside of the case and to supply a surface for painting. I'm concerned about preserving the latches that are already in place, but I'm hoping to keep the new surface very thin.

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