Another NOOB tries his hand at ammo can panniers…. - Stromtrooper Forum : Suzuki V-Strom Motorcycle Forums
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post #1 of 34 Old 12-12-2012, 02:16 PM Thread Starter
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Another NOOB tries his hand at ammo can panniers….

So I decided I wanted some side cases for my Vee, but being the cheap bastard I am, the ever popular practice of converting ammo cans to panniers looked like the way to go. I headed to the local surplus store, and picked out a couple nice 1500 round 7.62 minigun cans. These cans do not have hinges; instead, they have latches at each end so that the lids can be removed. I decided I wanted them to be hinged, and after some thought, I came to the conclusion that if I left the section of the can-side of the latch in place that acts as a locator for the lid, it would work well for attaching the hinges. So, I set forth to grinding out spot welds, and cut the can-side of the latch so that the lid locator would remain.


I also removed the lid-side handles as I didn’t see the need for them. Rather than just cut off the rods, I chose to completely cut off the rolled edge of the lid to reduce weight some.


I removed the diagonal pieces because I wanted a more smooth look, and because I didn’t feel they were particularly needed for their new application. Removing them gave me room on the bike side of the can to add my own reinforcements, which will also serve as attachment points to the racks I’m building.

The can-side reinforcements, and the bike-side racks, are being fabbed out of 3/16”X1”.
Next came hinges. I had wanted to use “piano” hinges to span the entire length of the end of the can, but the only piano hinges I could find were very small and light duty. Bigger hinges that would run the full length of the end of the can were much too big and much more heavy than needed, so I decided to use two medium sized hinges.


I found some locking hasps at Menard’s that looked like they’d work nicely. They will however require a ¼” spacer between the lock mechanism and the can side due to the hasp hanging over the edge of the lid, and the lid itself sticks out a little. After some thought, this will work out as an advantage, because the spacer will be made over sized, maybe 3”X3”, to act as a reinforcement for the lock mechanism and to spread out the load of the hasp some.

When I get some time to snap some pics of what I have done thus far on the racks I’ll post them.
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post #2 of 34 Old 12-12-2012, 04:12 PM
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Very nice!

Be keeping an eye on this thread as I work on mine!

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post #3 of 34 Old 12-12-2012, 06:21 PM
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Love mine !!.

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post #4 of 34 Old 12-12-2012, 06:43 PM
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Very nice. I can't wait to see the end result.

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post #5 of 34 Old 12-12-2012, 07:46 PM
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Love mine !!.
Good Lord...those things are HUGE!!!

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When I get some time to snap some pics of what I have done thus far on the racks I’ll post them.
So, realizing that these photos are of the "work in progress", what color are you thinking of painting them? And are you thinking of painting them or doing some sort of "durable liner"? Kind of like "Rhino Liner" or one of those kits you can buy at an auto parts store that looks the same.

This is VERY cool! If I may ask....how much did you pay for them at the surplus store?

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post #6 of 34 Old 12-12-2012, 08:15 PM
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You'll have to let us know if they leak :-/
I'm wondering that since you cut away the front and rear to be flush and there is no more downward pull to seal the rubber tight if they will keep the water out...

I had mine heated to burn off some sticker glue then acid dipped and powder coated to match the silver of my wheels and top box. At around $120 total it was a great investment!

Looking forward to seeing yours finished

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post #7 of 34 Old 12-12-2012, 08:58 PM Thread Starter
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You'll have to let us know if they leak :-/
I'm wondering that since you cut away the front and rear to be flush and there is no more downward pull to seal the rubber tight if they will keep the water out...

I had mine heated to burn off some sticker glue then acid dipped and powder coated to match the silver of my wheels and top box. At around $120 total it was a great investment!

Looking forward to seeing yours finished

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I did consider the potential for leaks after cutting away the existing latch mechanisms, which is why I "preloaded" the lids with 8 cinder blocks before I tacked the hinges in.I'll do that again when I install the hasps.

If for some reason that's not enough to keep them sealed, I can add a shim behind the seal.

Thanks for all the complements, I'll be sure to address any questions anyone has, and I'll post up pics as soon as I find time to make some progress.
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post #8 of 34 Old 12-12-2012, 09:56 PM Thread Starter
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So, realizing that these photos are of the "work in progress", what color are you thinking of painting them? And are you thinking of painting them or doing some sort of "durable liner"? Kind of like "Rhino Liner" or one of those kits you can buy at an auto parts store that looks the same.

This is VERY cool! If I may ask....how much did you pay for them at the surplus store?
They'll be black to match the bike, most likely gloss black. I doubt I go the Rhino Liner route because I don't think I'd care for the textured look against the smooth surfaces of the bike.

As for the cost of the cans,I think I gave around $40 each for them, but I did get the two best ones they had.
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post #9 of 34 Old 12-12-2012, 10:31 PM
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One can find the ammo cans for about $25 each online.......sometimes (I did, on Ebay a few years ago)......or probably cheaper at a REAL army surplus store in town.

I kinda wondered about that lid sealing tight myself after seeing what was cut away. It will probably be OK unless you ride for hours in a frog strangler!! You might consider cutting off the horizontal "lips" running along each side of the lid.....the part with the half-moon curve in it.....I never did figure out why it was there (it's not for sealing, I don't think) = cut mine off, saved a few ounces. I also cut out some of that "waffle-core" on the inside of the lid, to shave some weight. Gotta remember, these cans held lead bullets at one time, and where stacked on top of each other = alot of weight. We are not utilizing near the strength these cans are capable of withstanding.......cutting out uneeded material should not effect the strength in the slightest as used for panniers. Just my $0.02......

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post #10 of 34 Old 12-12-2012, 11:17 PM
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I buy them here locally for $22 each with new seals..


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