Ammo Can Saddle Bags

James Lee
• Tuesday, 11 May, 2021
• 7 min read

Note that 40 mm ammo cans in particular have diagonal side rails to add extra rigidity to the box. Once ammo cans are polished up and all the paint is removed, they look pretty cool.

ammo motorcycle bags saddle cans honda shadow bike motorcycles touring lol gear accessories
(Source: www.pinterest.com)


For the cleanup of the cans we used a combination of a stripping wheel on an angle grinder and liquid paint stripper. The stripping wheel, which runs about 10 bucks and took two to complete this process, works wonderful on the flat surfaces.

Hold the stripping wheel against the surface almost completely flat, with just a slight angle to work the paint off. Move the grinder around in a circular motion and avoid any sharp angles or protruding elements of the can, hitting this will disintegrate your stripping wheel much faster.

Don't worry about getting a perfect pattern or shine just yet, just get the paint off, you'll come back to that after the liquid stripper part. We also poured a little into a beverage can cut in half and used Q-Tips to apply it deep into the grooves.

You can 't let this stuff sit for long as it will just cake up and be equally hard to get rid of as the original paint. Apply, scrub in, wait about 2 minutes tops and then wipe it off as best you can with a disposable rag and repeat.

Once you've gotten the bulk of it off, apply a little to any remaining specks and hose the whole thing off to remove the chemicals... into a safe place. By this point you should see very little to no paint left on the can but you will see a sort of staining effect from the chemical runoff and such.

saddle ammo bags diy saddlebags bag panniers harley bike adventure installed position below dual sport davidson bikes
(Source: www.hdforums.com)

Now just take your angle grinder with the stripping wheel again and polish the whole thing upstarting with the flat surfaces. You can get a similar stripping wheel but much smaller for a Drexel and do some of that detail work or just leave it as is, it looks pretty good without it.

I Googled around and found where other people had made mounting brackets for hard bags or simply bolted them directly to the bike with no intermediate piece. Normally it looks like people will buy a saddlebag/box specifically for the hole pattern in their box and then purchase a universal mounting bracket that adjusts to fit.

These brackets run anywhere from 100 bucks a pair for what amounts to three bars of steel with joints/bolts for adjustment to several hundred dollars for some more sophisticated technology. We opted to take about 10 dollars worth of scrap 1/4” billet aluminum I had lying around my shop/garage and fabricate a couple of plates to act as spacers and to account for the fact that the side of my buddies motorcycle is not completely flat so there was no way the ammo can could just bolt to the side of it without being a total mess.

Now, to transfer a good bolt pattern onto your sheets of metal there are probably a dozen options. Once that is done remove the tape from the box being careful not to let it curl up or tear and transfer it to the last piece you finished grinding.

Once this is done make sure you can get the bolts through the metal and that they thread straight into the bike with no problem. In order to prevent scratching of the motorcycle frame once the can is mounted we used a little adhesive (you don't need much, it will be bolted anyway) to put a very thin strip of a foam rubber material similar to neoprene but more like foam on the plates on the inside where the piece will go against the bike.

bags ammo saddle etc
(Source: battlead.blogspot.com)

The material we used came from a box that held a helmet camera I bought, anything similar should work. Then we held the whole contraption up against the bike to make sure we didn't have too much whiskey and mess something up prior to drilling out the ammo can.

Once everything is looking good, drill through your template and into the can to make the holes needed. In order to transfer the holes from the first can to the second can, take a thin but stiff piece of cardboard or card stock that is cut so that each corner is exactly 90% (like a normal sheet of paper would be) and put it on the box that is already drilled covering the holes.

You should see that everything is lined up correctly and except drilling two more holes in the second can, ready to mount up. NOTE: If you used a 40 mm ammo can like we did then you will have to angle grind some rail away on the second can in order to make this work.

We took off about half of it, simply grinding out the small weld points and cutting through the rail about halfway through which is what we needed to make the bracket fit on the second can. The bike was taken for a spin and it was discovered that there was some rattle coming from the cans carry handles.

Then they were mounted solidly using a bit of Location back to the bike and have been holding up good since. For phase 2 we are considering numerous options such as LED lighting or even turning one of these into a subwoofer for a speaker system.

ammo bags saddle harley dyna davidson
(Source: battlead.blogspot.com)

Anyway rainy weather and colder temperatures mean it's a good time to bust out those projects and get your shit prepped for next year. I wasn't either into it being called the “Barbie Bike” anymore, and even though my soft bags have done me good I've always liked the rugged functionality of ammo cans.

Originally I'd looked at the hard bag options from the guys over at Happy Trail. They're really classy bunch who make some great motorcycle accessories out of my hometown of Boise, Idaho.

But I settled on the idea of doing ammo cans instead for practical reasons (read: Way more badass). It might be a bit small for some, but I hate carrying too much crap with me, and I've seen some wicked scrapes on the underside of larger aluminum cases.

I figured I could purchase a hard-bag rack and modify the ammo cans accordingly... Buuuuuut I'm cheap. Using 1" square tubing I fabricated two rectangles to fit just inside the profile of the boxes.

You don't want the drill bit walking on you, or prematurely denting the cans (save that for the tight trails in the woods). Getting the cans aligned correctly on the SLR would never have happened without the help of my friend Curtis.

ammo bags saddle cans shadowriders lights check
(Source: shadowriders.net)

I checked overall alignment, and marked the spots on the OSR rack that I'd need to cut away, so I could weld in the mounting rectangles. No sense melting a nice purple seat with a shower of weld cherries.

With the mounting rectangles tacked in place I took the bags off and took measurements for a cross brace. More 1" square tubing was used, with the addition of a cut and a sleeve (a smaller piece of square tube welded inside) on one side so the brace could come apart for bag removal, and another nut welded in place secure it while it's on the bike.

It was at this point I found it was necessary to modify the turn signals, so I could still remove the tops from the cans while they were mounted and keep with the slim profile I was aiming for. I certainly didn't want to mount the cans further out from the bike to accommodate the already ugly (and big and floppy) turn signals.

So I pulled the signals off the bike and was able to remove their “mounting stalks” by undoing a bolt on the inside of the bulb housing (behind the orange lens). I pulled the racks off the bike to finish all the welds and throw a fresh coat of paint on the raw steel.

Some plated eyelets were purchased from the hardware store, so I could have tie down points on top of the bags. Rubber fender washers work great as gaskets to seal up the mounting holes on the side of the cans.

saddle ammo bags bag motorcycle cans motorcycles cycle did military engineering bike bikes saddles
(Source: www.pinterest.com)

Well, either you've done something similar to this instructable or you've sucked it up and threw your cash at some vendor. Originally, I was going to put a few good caches around my area in ammo cases.

Different sizes may work, but these seem to fit my motorcycle without hampering a passenger. I hate to put that disclaimer in, but you better have a pretty good understanding of your bike before attempting.

Mark the centers of the holes for the mounting bolts and the end of the support arm. Punch the centers of the holes and remove the tape.

Since I go for more for quick and dirty, I used rust stop spray paint. I'm sure it would look a lot better if they were powder coated or professionally sprayed.

Just make sure you don't paint the little rubber gaskets on the inside of the lid. To make sure that you don't get any water in from the holes you just drilled, I used some rubber washers.

ammo saddle bags etc 2007
(Source: battlead.blogspot.com)

This helps in compressing the rubber washer and prevents the bolt head from tearing the rubber washer. I put another rubber washer between the ammo box and the support arm of the bike.

You may need a friend to help get the bolts into the support arm. Enough for my rain gear, documents, water bottle, snack, etc...

Things to consider: Paint after drilling holes, making them lockable (see other person's instructable), protecting support arm chrome.

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1 guides4gamers.com - https://guides4gamers.com/assassins-creed-odyssey/quest/dark-horse/
2 www.gamersheroes.com - http://www.gamersheroes.com/game-guides/ac-odyssey-atlantis-take-the-horse-to-adonis-or-persephone/
3 www.buyahorse101.com - http://www.buyahorse101.com/wherekeep.html
4 www.horseforum.com - https://www.horseforum.com/threads/keeping-a-horse-in-the-woods.380650/
5 crs-records.fandom.com - https://crs-records.fandom.com/wiki/You_Can%27t_Keep_a_Horse_in_a_Lighthouse
6 horsenetwork.com - https://horsenetwork.com/2020/03/is-it-ethical-to-keep-riding-in-the-covid-19-pandemic/