Bagging it

I bought generic saddle bags for my Magna. I don’t even remember the brand. They were real leather from a local shop and were throw over the yoke design that would fit my bike. I mounted them with the cross over piece under the seat. For the first few weeks everything was OK, but then they started to sag down onto the pipes. I’d tighten up the yoke, eventually making new holes for the laces. But eventually they’d sag back down again. Then they started loosing their shape with the outer edge drooping down onto my pipes.

<font size=2, face=arial, color=000000>saddle bags resting on the exhaust pipes. They'd get a little warm on the bottom..</font>

saddle bags resting on the exhaust pipes. They'd get a little warm on the bottom..

Of course I could just replace them with hard bags, but I’ve got a few reasons not to. Actually, I don’t have about 400 reasons to get new ones. So I did what so many other poor bikers have done. I fabricated braces. Some time last year, I had a local machine shop make a couple of T-shapes with holes drilled to fit the bolts on my rear fender assembly. I had them bend out the bottom of the T for the bags to sit on. When I got ready to install them I discovered that they were too long, coming down and touching the pipes. So they sat for a year while I pondered.
Last weekend I decided to finally put on the new rear tire I’d bought. I pulled off the back wheel, removed the old tire and cleaned up the rim. My relief at how easily the new tire went on was short lived as I discovered that it was a 16 inch tire. I needed a 15 inch.
So I’ve been waiting since then for the new tire to come in. I figured that while I had the back wheel off was a good time to get those brackets put on. I cut the arm piece off the T. The ¼ inch of metal the angle grinder ate out was just enough to correct the length. I welded them back on to the shorter shank. I then welded on a piece of plate steel on the bottom for a larger place for the bags to rest.

<font size=2, face=arial, color=000000>Left bracket in place.</font>

Left bracket in place.

Now,when I say I welded, what I mean is that there was electricity involved along with molten metal, and eventually two pieces of steel stuck together. An hour or two with the angle grinder and most of the blobs and splatters were gone. Of course the pits where I blasted metal out are still there. Oh well, a little filler and a little paint. These things will be hidden by the bags anyway.
With the back wheel off, getting to the bolts was a lot easier. I’d spent about $10 on four stainless steel bolts that were ¼ inch longer, lock washers, and nuts. I put the bolts back in backwards so that the acorn nut was now on the outside. This is so I can remove the brackets with out having to pull the bolts out. Putting everything back together I discovered that the new bolts were too long. The old bolts were just right.

<font size=2, face=arial, color=000000>Bags back on Maggie.</font>

Bags back on Maggie.

So, $10 on needless parts, $25 on the original fabrication by the machine shop, Another $10 for some plate steel, some skinned fingers and a few assorted burns later and I’ve got bag braces.

<font size=2, face=arial, color=000000>Bags are now up off the pipes.</font>

Bags are now up off the pipes.

I wonder what it’ll cost to get them chromed.

— Guy Wheatley

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