Saturday, October 14, 2023

Not Dead Yet

Been a long time since the last post. In the way of life, a lot has happened, but not much really. The New Plan Time didn't happen. It started well, but, then I injured my back. 🙁

There's a joke that goes something like this:

One day the different parts of the body were having an argument to see which should be in charge.

The brain said "I do all the thinking so I'm the most important and I should be in charge."

The eyes said "I see everything and let the rest of you know where we are, so I'm the most important and I should be in charge."

"I should be in charge," said the heart, "I circulate oxygen and nutrients all over."

The hands said "Without me we wouldn't be able to pick anything up or move anything. So I'm the most important and I should be in charge."

The stomach said "I turn the food we eat into energy for the rest of you. Without me, we'd starve. So I'm the most important and I should be in charge."

The legs said "Without me we wouldn't be able to move anywhere. So I'm the most important and I should be in charge."

"I should be in charge," said the anus, "I am responsible for waste removal."

All of the other body parts laughed at the anus and insulted him. So he shut down. Within a few days, the brain had a terrible headache, the hands were all shaky, the stomach was bloated, the legs got wobbly, the eyes got watery, and the heart pumped toxic blood. They all decided that the anus should be the boss.

I think the spine was watching with amusement.

Anyone with a back injury knows, when it's bad, everything is painful. Standing, sitting, lying, moving the arms, even waste removal hurts.

When the pain lessened, a new plan was hatched. I didn't think I'd be able to move my bike and gear about without help. Assistance was needed. I decided to dip my toe into ebikes with a "cheap" upgrade kit. This ended up not being the cheap option it first appeared. I could have bought a new ebike for less, as various components on my bike needed upgrading or changing. Still, I'm happy with the learning experience and I like the frankenstein look of my bike.

Now, I need some way to carry my gear, and power the ebike.

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Panniers for a Pack Rat

One Ortlieb Back-Roller Classic pannier is 20L. These panniers are approximately 60L each.

It's not my design. Thank Ken. He created the template, and provided the instruction and materials from which my yellow panniers were made. With those, the seams were heat welded - 100% waterproof. The panniers here are sewn, and the seams waterproofed with silicone.

Front are Ortlieb Back-Roller Classic. The rear: Ken panniers

The pattern has minimal seams, and therefor minimal sewing. The basic shape is a rectangle with one corner cut out. The corner cut out provides heel clearance. If the size is scaled down, this might not be a problem.

Order of operations:

  • Test fabric seam sewing to determine seam allowance required.
  • Measure out the template with seam allowances.
  • Fold and cut the fabric.
  • From the outside side, fold top edge to the inside and hem.
  • Sew inside sleeve in.
  • Turn inside out and sew the side seam.
  • Sew in the bottom.
  • Turn right side out and sew buckles on top edge.
  • Insert the plastic reinforcener and mark hanger holes for your rack. Check forward-backward for heel clearance.
  • Drill and bolt on the hangers.
  • Bask in the glow of finished panniers.

The template

The basic shape the pannier

It is 550mm wide and 800mm tall.

The triangle cut out is about 380mm tall and 110mm across the base.

Don't forget the seam allowance around the edge. It will vary depending on the fabric and seam type. I used 30mm for a thick canvas (the green material), but 20mm for thinner fabric (beige material).

Fold the fabric in half. Template straight edge goes on the fold. Mark and cut out.

After template cut out and folded out.

Plastic Sleeve

A plastic reinforcener will be held in place by this sleeve. It is to stiffen the pannier and give it its shape.

The plastic insert is 3mm plastic. It's 250mm long at the base. 340mm wide at the top, 340mm tall.

The sleeve is sewn inside the where the pannier will lean against the rack. Make the sleeve material the same size as the insert plus a seam allowance.

Remember the panniers are left and right sided. Sew the sleeve on the correct side of the material.


The base is approximately 300mm x 250 mm including seams. Round the corners. It's worthwhile to check the size of the base against the pannier before cutting it out.


Mine are 3mm aluminum flat bar bent into hooks. I used 6 x 30mm hot dipped galvanized bolts with a large washer on the inside. 5mm bolts would have been sufficient.

Use a large washer on the inside.

The bolts go through the sleeve, through the plastic reinforcener, the pannier, then the hanger. I left the bolts long. By sizing the hook length, the bolts protrude and stop the pannier jumping off the rack. Else, attach a elastic loop lower down from the hangers to hook on the rack.

Hooks closeup

Hooks from the side


Buckle sewn on


Back view completed bags. 
Note the seam from the inside sleeve.

DIY Seam Sealer

Mix Bunnings Silicone sealant with Mineral Turps (Turpentine). A ratio of about 1:5 silicone to turps. Thinner is better as it soaks into the fabric and doesn't peel off. Mix well, until the silicone disolves in the turps. It should be fluid, like milk. If it is too thick, add more turps. It will mix - keep stirring. Brush on the seams. It will soak into the fabric. Allow to dry - outside.