Note: These were inspired by very similar projects I’ve seen on Bike Hacks.
It’s a pretty cheap project and wasn’t too difficult. Getting the labeling off the Tidy Cat buckets was a little challenging. I used acetone and scrubbed it with paper towels. It seemed to take forever but was probably about 30 minutes for one bucket. (I didn’t bother cleaning up the original pannier where I had tried to paint over the labels.)
You need gloves that acetone won’t melt. I ended up borrowing some really heavy gloves my dad uses for something to do with pouring concrete. I had zero dexterity with those things on but at least it was keeping the acetone off my hands. I could have used something like the intarwebs to find out what kind of gloves I should be using and buy them, but I didn’t. I did learn that vinyl is right out first hand. Acetone eats through them in seconds. Also, wear safety glasses. I thought I was smart enough not to splash acetone in my eye but I was wrong. It really hurts. I got the safety glasses out right after that.
I strapped the buckets on to my bike rack with bungee cords to make sure I was putting them far enough back that my heels wouldn’t bump them and decide where to put the hooks. They work great for me with the hooks fairly centered, but a rider with bigger feet or a different fit might want to put the hooks closer to the front of the buckets to push them back a little further on the rack.
I used a dremel tool to carve out slots in the big ridges on the buckest so the hooks could lie flat against the surface. Look for the hooks in the rope section of your hardware store. I don’t think they were called rope cleats but something like that… maybe rope hooks. It took me forever to find them & I hit 3 hardware stores before I figured out that I was just looking in the wrong section.
I used a little piece of 1/8 plywood as backing on the inside of the bucket to screw the hooks into. I wanted to give it some extra strength and was concerned that a lot of weight might be a bit much for the plastic alone.
I cut a door spring in half to add the vertical tension to keep the buckets from bouncing off the rack. I wanted something that would let me get the buckets on and off my bike quickly and easily. Cutting and bending the door spring was probably the hardest part of this project for me. There may have been better tools for the job that would make it easy. I just don’t know what they would be. I ended up wrestling with the spring and broke a pair of wire clippers trying to get through it. I believe in the end we hacked through it with some very dull tin snips. I did not wear safety glasses here… but I probably should have even though no injuries ensued.
To bend the door spring so I’d have loops to hook to the rack and the buckets, I used a vice and a screwdriver to bend out a couple of the spring coils. It worked pretty well, but again, I’m sure there are better tools for the job but that was what I had on hand and also the first idea that actually worked.
To attach the door spring to the bucket, I sandwiched the top spring loop between a couple of washers and put another washer on the inside of the bucket. (bolt,washer,spring,washer,bucket,washer,nut)
I probably should have shortened each spring by another 1/2 inch. They work fine but I think the panniers would be a little more solid with a little added tension.
I wanted the spring to be held tight to the bucket to decrease the lateral movement when I’m going over bumps or leaning the bike in any direction.so I cut some strips of plastic out of a clorox bottle and screwed each end to the bucket across the bottom third of the spring. I modeled this after my rapidly decaying hand-me-down Canondale panniers. I will probably replace this with plastic from a laundry detergent bottle. I think that seems a lot thicker and stronger, but the clorox bottle plastic will work for now. You could probably get away without doing this if you were fed up with the project at this stage.
For some extra visibility, as though the bright red and yellow buckets aren’t eye catching enough, I stuck some of those self adhesive reflectors to the back. I’m definitely visible. If drivers don’t see me on the side of the road with these on my bike… they aren’t event looking at the road. They’re waterproof. There is a huge amount of volume. I’m really excited about them. I think they’d work good for a short overnight camping trip or to pick up groceries. I haven’t battle tested them yet but I will report back when I do.
Amanda commented recently on my previous post about this project. She had an alternative to acetone for getting the labels off of Tidy Cat buckets.
I’ve never seen Brasso, but I looked it up & it’s some kind of metal polish that is often also used on plastic. It sounds like a great option & I’ll probably try it next time I make one of these.