Left Side Saddlebag Organizer
The process of building this organizer is fairly simple providing you have the proper tools and materials. Total cost for materials should run a little under $30.00. My original design is a little different from this plan, but after building the thing I realized how it could be put together easier. The plan is not drawn to scale and unfortunately my trigonometry is a little rusty or I'd be able to give you better measurements to work with. If someone could mold it out of plastic or even thin metal similar to the ECM shelf, the unit might look better and even be a little sturdier. However, I have used mine for a few rides and I think it will hold up. It is probably better to read the complete instructions before buying your materials.
- 1 - 18 x 24 plastic sheet (Normally used instead of glass in picture frames.) - $7.00
- 1 - 4" strip of industrial strength velcro. - $3.00
- 1 - fiberglass kit used for model planes and such (The fiber mesh is more fine than automotive and the resin is a binary liquid instead of a paste. Resin should have a set time of greater than 5 minutes or it will dry too fast. You should be able to purchase this from a hobby store. Kit came with 1' x 3' sheet that was way too much.) - $10.00
- 4 - Small brushes for applying resin. (These should also be available at hobby store.) - $??.??
- 1 - Flat black spray paint. - $3.00
- Dremel w/circular saw type blade (metal) or similar tool that will cut plastic sheet.
- Sanding wheel for Dremel or sandpaper.
- Orbital sander or Drill attached sanding wheel.
- Good scissors.
- Disposable plastic cups (Do not use styrofoam. It will melt. Resin mixture gets quit hot!)
- Disposable sticks or dowels in 6" length for mixing resin.
- Flat ruler or similar measuring tool.
- Fine point Sharpie or permanent marker.
- 1" or thicker masking tape.
I used a cheap drawing program for the diagram so assume all lines are straight. There are some thin lines in the drawing that represent pieces I cut off when finished to reduce interference with the saddlebag lid. These pieces should not be cut until complete and there are no exact measurements. When put together, cutoffs from Panel A and B should be on the upper left hand corner of the unit. There is no side panel along the top left edge that measures 2" down from the top. I know it would be easier if there were additional measurements along the diagonals on panel A, but I didn't want to damage my organizer just to calculate them. You can use Trigonometry functions to determine exact measurements if you are so inclined. However, if you follow my instructions you should not have any problems getting it exact. Measurements will have to be modified if the material you use is much thicker than 1/16".
Start by cutting a 17" x 6" piece off the top or bottom edge of your 18" x 24" sheet. Flip the 17" x 6" piece so that the original straight edge is along the bottom. Measure and mark 2" down from the top left hand corner. Using a flat ruler, starting from the top left 2" mark, rotate your ruler counterclockwise until 6" lines up with the bottom edge of Panel A and mark it. Make sure you measure using the same edge of the ruler. Draw a straight line across from 2" mark and 6" mark of the bottom edge. Measure and mark 3 1/8" down from top right edge. Using your flat ruler, rotate your ruler clockwise until 3 3/4" lines up with the bottom edge of Panel A and mark it. Draw your line between marks. You should have 10" between the two marks along the bottom edge. If you are off by 1/8" more or less it shouldn't matter. If your top edge is too crooked, you could start your measurements from the bottom edge by subtracting the above values from 6. This would give you 4" from the bottom left and 2 7/8" from the bottom right.
Panels B, C, D, & E:
Cut each piece so that at least one of the 6", 10", 3.75" and 3 1/8" edges are along the original straight edge of your 18" x 24" sheet. This is necessary so that the outside edges of your box are relatively straight. It will be necessary to cut out notches in Panel B and Panel D&E for the strap loops on the inside of the saddlebag. These cutouts were difficult to measure out, but you should be able to guesstimate them when the organizer is almost complete.
It will help if someone helps you with this part. There will be a little variability in this process depending on how exact your cuts were. As you're putting your pieces together, it will be necessary to place pieces along inside and outer edges of individual pieces to retain straight edges. For example, if the bottom edge of Panel A is exactly 10" it will be necessary to attach Panel B&D on the inside edges of Panel A. If the bottom edge of Panel A is a little under 10" Panel B&D should be attached along the outer edges of Panel A. You will get the hang of it once you start putting it together. Make sure original cuts are attached along outer edge of your organizer. Using a dremel tool or sand paper, sand down any rough edges that dramatically effect the appearance of your organizer.
Using masking tape along the outer edges attach Panel A to Panel C. Holding Panel A in front of you, Panel C should be behind Panel A. If you happen to place panels in front of Panel A, you will build the organizer for the Right side saddlebag. I found it easier to apply tape to the outside edge of one panel first and then fold it over to the panel it will be attached to. If, for some reason, Panel C and the bottom edge of Panel A do not match up, you will have to vary your other attachments or trim Panel C so that it measures the same as the bottom edge of Panel A. It is not always necessary to trim. For example, if Panel C is 1/8" or less longer than the bottom edge of Panel A, it is easier to center Panel C along the bottom edge of Panel A and attach Panel B and D along outside edge of diagonals but on top of Panel C. Attach remaining pieces, starting from the bottom up, with masking tape such that all pieces line up as straight as possible and total measurements of Panel A are not exceeded by too much. Do not tape along inside edge. Fiberglass process will be performed from the inside first.
Before completing this step it would be a good idea to place your organizer inside your saddlebag to see if the fit is good. Fit will not be perfect until you cut out the notches for the strap loops. It shouldn't make much difference if the right side is off by a 1/4" or less. Any more than 1/4" is way too much. Once you start fiber-glassing it will be impossible to modify your organizer so make sure the fit is to your satisfaction. When you are ready to apply fiberglass, it is a good idea to have strips cut to length of each joint by about 2" thick before starting to mix your resin. It is better to use a resin that dries relatively clear and takes more than 10 minutes to set.
Using plastic cups and mixing sticks prepare resin as per instructions. Do not use Styrofoam cups! Do not use brushes for mixing! The resin gets a little hot and dries fast so it's better to mix a little at a time. Don't be surprised if your brushes and cup begins to melt as you use them. Try to mix at least the amount you think you could mix and use in about half the time that the resin is supposed to set. Just to give you an idea, my brother and I used a 5 minute resin and it was usually rock hard in 3 minutes. You might want to use some type of glove so that the resin doesn't stick to your skin. Do not apply more than 1/3 of the amount you mixed at this point. Try to complete as many complete joints as possible. Try not to overlap resin into joints you will not be able to complete with each batch. If you have to make several batches just to fiberglass the inside it is better than having the resin set before you're able to finish.
Apply a generous layer of resin with brush into all joints and about 1" out on either side of joint. Lay fiberglass strips along first layer of resin and smooth out using brush and remaining amount of resin. Try to smooth out fiberglass strip and squeeze out any air bubbles. It is okay if resin does not set smoothly, but not okay if fiberglass is bunched up or air bubbles exist in the joints. You will find during this process that the resin in your cup will begin to harden. It should be okay to apply as long as it is still spreadable. My brother and I found that if one person applied the resin and fiberglass the other can be ready at a moments notice to mix more resin. Allow resin to dry for a while before removing masking tape and beginning on the outside. It is okay to remove tape once resin is semi-set but still sticky to the touch.
Once you have removed masking tape repeat above process to outside edges of your organizer. It is really important to fill all joints with resin so that no air bubbles exist. This will be most important when completing the finishing touches.
It is a good idea to allow the resin to set overnight before beginning this process.
Using a orbital sander or drill attached sanding wheel, sand down resin and fiberglass till smooth. I didn't bother sanding the inside, but it is up to you how neat you want the thing to look. Also, once I was done sanding the outside, I determined that sanding the inside might reduce the durability of the organizer. It is also a good idea to sand down any rough edges along the outside at this point.
Place your organizer in the saddlebag such that it sticks out from inner lip approximately 1 1/2". Inner lip is defined as the inner area of the beveled edge on the inside of the saddlebag. If you can still see through your organizer, you should be able to mark the area that needs to be cut out for the saddlebag strap loops. I made the cutouts approximately 1/2" thick so that I would have some play when installing. Cut these out and clean them up using a dremel or similar tool.
As mentioned earlier, it will be necessary to cut out the top left corner of the organizer to reduce interference with the saddlebag lid. Once the strap loop cutouts have been made, place the organizer in the saddlebag such that 1 1/2" sticks out from the inner lip. Open and close the lid such that you can see how much of the top left corner needs to be cut off. If the organizer moves too much at this point, it might be easier to install the Velcro during this process. However, this will make it harder for you to paint.
Paint and let dry.
Place organizer into the saddlebag such that 1 1/2" sticks out from inner lip and pay particular attention to the specific areas of the organizer that touch the inside of the saddlebag. I was able to use one complete 4" strip and cut one 4" strip into two pieces that held the organizer in place very well. I placed one piece in the center towards the far edge of Panel C (4" strip), on the top right of Panel B caddy corner to the far right of the notch for the left side strap loop, and on the top right most corner on the far edge of Panel D. Take your time to do this since industrial strength velcro cannot be moved once in place. It is a good idea to attach the cloth portion of the velcro into the saddlebag instead of the organizer. This will keep you from scratching anything when the organizer is not in place.
Right Side Organizer Construction
The process is exactly the same except place Panels B, C, D and E on the opposite side of Panel A.