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  #1  
Old 29 Mar 2010
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DIY soft panniers

Hi guys,
I've set my mind on getting a set of soft panniers. Would love a set of Andy Strapz or Steel Ponies, but getting them sent over from Oz to Europe + paying import duties will set me back at least 300 euro's... seems like a lot of money for a set of canvas bags.
Has anyone tried fabricating softpaniers themselves? Can't be too hard i've been thinking. Buy some reallt heavy duty truck canvas, some velcro, some nylon straps and a couple of nights behind a sowing machine should do the job.
Am I missing something / seeing it too simplified? Has it been doen before? Please share your experiences.
cheers
Paul
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  #2  
Old 29 Mar 2010
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soft luggage

I've been thinking the same thing - more because I want something that I know will fit my needs vs looking for it.

Another place you might want to look before you start making your own is a bicycle shop - Not sure of the brands to look for in UK/ Europe but Cannondale here makes nice stuff that could be modified with a strap or two. If nothing else it would be a good place to get ideas for your own bags
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  #3  
Old 29 Mar 2010
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Panniers

Hi Paul
Have you tried the army n navy stores for the larger knapsacks i have used these before dirt cheap and meggar strong and abrasive but leak like a tea bag.

cheers

steve


Quote:
Originally Posted by pauldelft View Post
Hi guys,
I've set my mind on getting a set of soft panniers. Would love a set of Andy Strapz or Steel Ponies, but getting them sent over from Oz to Europe + paying import duties will set me back at least 300 euro's... seems like a lot of money for a set of canvas bags.
Has anyone tried fabricating softpaniers themselves? Can't be too hard i've been thinking. Buy some reallt heavy duty truck canvas, some velcro, some nylon straps and a couple of nights behind a sowing machine should do the job.
Am I missing something / seeing it too simplified? Has it been doen before? Please share your experiences.
cheers
Paul
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  #4  
Old 29 Mar 2010
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If you are anywhere near a sailmakers go and visit them and tell them what you want, they will have someone who will help you out.

You can have them made to your exact specifications out of all sorts of material that will last.

Don`t think of the white sail material that you know they have a choice of a lot tougher laminated materials.

I know this because I am a sailmaker in Denmark.

Steve
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  #5  
Old 30 Mar 2010
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My friend Pat bought a couple of cheapo rucksacks in Weymouth market for £3.99 each plus a bunch of straps to tie them on with and travelled 15000 miles round South America with them - no problems. Of course everything needs to be in plastic bags..... but that's normal! Mind you they were a bit knackered by the end of the trip (the original dusty old bags if you saw our Derby HU presentation. She's now upgraded to somebody's cast off Helds for our current trip and they're holding up well so far (8000+miles to date).
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  #6  
Old 30 Mar 2010
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Oké, couple of good ideas there, especially the sail makers seems like a good source of knowledge.
But my original idea was to basically copy the andy strapz (Andy Strapz - Motorbike Bags, Straps, Panniers, Over Gloves - Australian Made) / steel pony (Steel Pony Luggage Home) concept. Simple, waterproof, throw-over saddle bags with a folding top. Buy some heavy duty pvc (used to cover trucks / circus tents etc), buy some vynil straps and velcro and stich it all together. You'd be done for 50 euros max i guess.
Any feedback on this idea?
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  #7  
Old 30 Mar 2010
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Will a normal sewing machine handle heavy fabric? I've always thought you needed a special machine for sails, duffels, that sort of thing, but I'm not sure I know how I might have determined this.

There is a lot of skill in the design and fabrication of high-quality gear, including fabric stuff....but much of what I've seen and used which is aimed at the bike market isn't really too sophisticated (to my dismay when it leaks, tears, breaks, fails to close and fasten or otherwise function as intended). C.f., expensive roll-top panniers which leak but don't drain (hence fill up several inches deep with water when it rains), draped in multiple straps which fail to secure properly, then promptly rip when tightened. Or maybe that's just me.

Use more stitching than you think you need, plus the better grades of velcro and/or buckles, and bring some plastic bags and rubber bungies to tie it all back together when it explodes.

And post back to tell how it all worked out.

Mark
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  #8  
Old 30 Mar 2010
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I have been developing a set of hard wearing soft panniers with many design features for overland use, ( waterproof materials, and as water proof /water resistant build design as possible - heat proof kevlar rubber backs, heavy duty construction and design, stainless steel fitting and buckles throughout, bottle and water bag pockets, additional storage pocket, lockable bye adjustable cable both pannier and to bike - and multi use (ie as a backpack off the bike) and Believe me its not as easy as stitching a few bits of canvas together for £50.00. The final prototype is near completion and hopefully the design finalised - I have spent a considerable amount of money on specialist sewing machine and tooling, fixings and fitting not to mention the materials which cost in excess of £50.00 meter - (but its not just cheap canvas) for the panniers and many months building and testing basic prototypes - I am still not sure if they will be viable as they are very labour intensive, each pair takes so much time to construct and I will be hard pushed to price them anywhere lower than £300-£350 which I know is probably too much for most people. There is also a lot of competition out there and someone else Ortlieb or whoever will eventually pick up on this particular corner of the market - and undercut small producers by a huge margin. I have the tooling, equipment and skills needed but have for some time been way laid by an injury preventing me from working on the panniers and moving the project forward. I would hope to be able to move forward on this in the next month as my recuperation has moved on that is If I can see it as becoming viable. As I say unless I can somehow bring down the time involved in making the panniers then I would struggle to make them cost effective. Each pair of panniers absorbs about £170.00 in raw material before I spend any time marking out, cutting, stitching etc, build time is in the region of 14 hours a set. Somewhere from the project I would need to make a wage, a business profit and pay the government its taxes. I have considered doing one off sets and bespoke to peoples own designs this would be costly but you get what you want exactly and you have the input from start to finish in the design and materials. This is me just running ideas past you lot to see what your reactions are to these ideas - and to see if its worth me moving forward.
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  #9  
Old 30 Mar 2010
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Hi adventure950,
I've read through your thread, makes interesting reading. Hope your setup works, it will probably turn out to a great product.
The prices you quote are too high for my budget. For that kind of money I can nearly get a decent set of aluminium panniers or import andy strapz / steel pony bags from Oz.
My aim is to produce functional bags, nothing too fancy, but that will do the job. Waterproof, sturdy, +/-30L's each and easy to dismount from the bike.
I've had a look at materials and think it should be achievable in the range of €50. 900g/m2 pvc tarp used on trucks (ortlieb uses 600g/m2) is available for €10/m2. Heavy duty nylon straps and velcro cost round €2/m. Throw in a couple of accessories like clips, d-rings and thread for €10-€15. I can probably find some place which will allow me the use of their sowing machine.
What am i missing?
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  #10  
Old 30 Mar 2010
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Hi Pauldelft The bags I have developed are way ahead of the steel pony and andy strapz stuff- which is a very good product but I have been told not so good for our northern Europe climate - the canvas they use is oiled and can sweat and become brittle in the cold. Its fine for the aussie climate where they were made and developed. the curtain side canvas like ortlieb stuff is very hard to work with if you want a waterproof product - the stitch holes where you attach straps and sew seams will leak. Most adhesives will fail due to the nature of the material and without very technical heat moulding equipment they can not be sealed properly. You can put on flat patches with a weld kit but these are not suitable for complex curves or repeated folding of the fabric. Ortlieb make the bags on tooling and pre set moulded presses that can cost upward of 100,000 euro to set up and buy. - really for the big boys eh. I am however sure you can make some panniers up - maybe for 50 euro I think a bit more but you do not build in your labour costs -and I would question the integrity if they were sale to others and not just for your own use. Also you will find the Buckles and fixings are all quite expensive if you were to use marine grade stainless steel If you contact a sailmaker I am sure you could buy some suitable boat cover PVC for your project quite cheap - I buy it for £6.00 a meter. However it has some disadvantages for pannier making also. It is not possible for me to go into all the various strengths and weaknesses of various materials on this page but I can assure you if you start talking to the various manufacturers of materials get samples sew various seams you will quickly start to learn about the problems. Good luck with your project I wish you well and hope you produce a bag set that is suitable for your use.
If I was inclined to do so I believe I could make a set of panniers far cheaper than I am - but then there would be compromise in many areas. Plenty other people sell panniers with compromise - that is something I am trying to avoid.
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  #11  
Old 30 Mar 2010
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Thanks for the tips. So working with the PVC and getting the stitching waterproof is the challenge. Will have to explore this.
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  #12  
Old 31 Mar 2010
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just a few ideas:

Run the straps all the way around the bag. In that way you use the strength of the straps, not the strength of the stitches. You can then use fewer stitches that would otherwise weaken the bag and make it more difficult to waterpoof it.
Should the stitches break, you still have straps around the bag, so it will not fall off, rightaway.

You could glue the bags together, before sewing. It will make them much stronger. Ortlieb sells glue for their kind of plastictreated material.

Waterproofing of stitches could be done with aquasure.

I would find someone who makes boat canopies. They have the material, experience and machinery.

There was a thread a while ago, about homemade bags here on the HUBB
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  #13  
Old 31 Mar 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by adventure950 View Post
Hi Pauldelft The bags I have developed are way ahead of the steel pony and andy strapz stuff- which is a very good product but I have been told not so good for our northern Europe climate - the canvas they use is oiled and can sweat and become brittle in the cold. Its fine for the aussie climate where they were made and developed. the curtain side canvas like ortlieb stuff is very hard to work with if you want a waterproof product - the stitch holes where you attach straps and sew seams will leak. Most adhesives will fail due to the nature of the material and without very technical heat moulding equipment they can not be sealed properly. You can put on flat patches with a weld kit but these are not suitable for complex curves or repeated folding of the fabric. Ortlieb make the bags on tooling and pre set moulded presses that can cost upward of 100,000 euro to set up and buy. - really for the big boys eh. I am however sure you can make some panniers up - maybe for 50 euro I think a bit more but you do not build in your labour costs -and I would question the integrity if they were sale to others and not just for your own use. Also you will find the Buckles and fixings are all quite expensive if you were to use marine grade stainless steel If you contact a sailmaker I am sure you could buy some suitable boat cover PVC for your project quite cheap - I buy it for £6.00 a meter. However it has some disadvantages for pannier making also. It is not possible for me to go into all the various strengths and weaknesses of various materials on this page but I can assure you if you start talking to the various manufacturers of materials get samples sew various seams you will quickly start to learn about the problems. Good luck with your project I wish you well and hope you produce a bag set that is suitable for your use.
If I was inclined to do so I believe I could make a set of panniers far cheaper than I am - but then there would be compromise in many areas. Plenty other people sell panniers with compromise - that is something I am trying to avoid.
Your concept sounds a bit like Steelpony. Making a complete high quality product well thought through and designed for overlanding purpose triggered by ones own demand as a rider. Customization is also possible with them. They fabricate everything themselves to closely monitor the entire process by doing it all themselves.

I think the EU would welcome such a product, though not on a large scale. Although you have to know your competition, which I think are Wolfman and Ortlieb. You might place your product on a different level. But when price and "online positive presence" come into play they appear to be popular/good options.

The biggest problem with SteelPony to me is the import taxes, which adds up too much in my opinion. The production/deliverytime of about 2 months I can live with, since most planning is done well ahead. Most people dont depart overnight on a long overland trip
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  #14  
Old 31 Mar 2010
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hypalon

Does anyone have experience with hypalon? Its the material used to make inflateble ribs and unlike PVC tarp, it can be glued together. Glueing is probably a lot more watertight than stitching, wonder though if its strong enough?

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  #15  
Old 31 Mar 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pauldelft View Post
Does anyone have experience with hypalon? Its the material used to make inflateble ribs and unlike PVC tarp, it can be glued together. Glueing is probably a lot more watertight than stitching, wonder though if its strong enough?
To make up something with glued joints, you are going to need a former/last in the shape of the bag. A box made out of 18mm ply will do fine with a router wizzed round all the edges to give a nice even radius. Build your bag around/onto the former. I'm sure you could come up with something very usable for not too much cost if you ignor your labour. Add up the hours it takes you and you'll probably see that buying ready made really isn't so expensive.
I suppose it depends on how much you enjoy messing about with things and how much spare time do you have on your hands ??
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