I don’t like to spend money on new things when a thing made of reused things is available
I have been using a set of panniers that I made out of Tidy Cat litter buckets for years. They’re great. A few things that I like about them include:
Can be used as a seat and/or table
Double as a beer cooler
Great conversation starter
If you’re looking to carry some extra gear and on a budget, check these out. My old ones have treated me well and have plenty of miles left on them, but I wanted a slightly larger set for this tour so I made some new ones. Here is a quick tutorial on how to do it.
Use the ruler to measure the distance between rear most cross bar on your rack and one more that is at least six inches away. This will be the distance between the outside edges of your J-hooks. I like to have these snug against the cross bars to prevent shifting.
Cut the trim of the bucket with the razor to make a space to mount the J-hooks
Drill holes in the cutout area to secure the J-hooks and then fasten them with the bolts. Be sure to put a washer on the inside.
Use the channel locks or vice to flatten the curved end of the EMT strap
With the pannier mounted on the rack, find a position to mount the EMT strap so it can hold the lower portion of the pannier against the rack. Mark the hole to be drilled.
Drill the hole and secure the strap with a nut, bolt, and washer
Drill two small holes in the bucket trim below the J-hooks. These can be used to attach the small bungee cord in order to reduce vertical movement
A few notes and ideas
You may find it necessary to cut a bit more of the trim around the bucket out allow it to fit nicely over the rack. In the picture below you can see how I have done this.
Have some fun and paint them or cover them in stickers. I can tell you from experience that putting masking tape over the Tidy Cat logo in order to preserve it when painting just peels the label off. Maybe try painters tape or cling wrap
If you don’t have a tight fit with the J clips or EMT strap wrap a bit of electrical tape around the rack
Stick some reflective tape on the back and sides to make yourself more visible
The EMT strap could be improved upon. Something like a double roller cabinet latch or this tube mounting clip could be adapted to clamp onto the rack. This would eliminate vertical and horizontal motion and eliminate the need for the bungee cords, which would also make installation and removal a bit easier. A more expensive option might be to purchase a set of Ortlieb hardware. If somebody comes up with a nice improvement for this part of them, please let me know. I won’t have time to play with it before our trip.
Getting ready to paint
I tried to keep the Tidy Cat logo intact, but the tape peeled it off
The inside view of the finished product
Outside view. This is what you will see from the road
They make a great platform to strap other things to
Other people’s builds
Since posting this, some folks have sent some shots of their Tidy Cat Panniers as well. I thought I would share them. Feel free to send in your builds.