Milk Crate Panniers

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This project was inspired by a post at Instructables.com.  I just love that site, lots of good DIY projects, and people interested in finding ways to make do with less.  The Beast is my ’74 Raleigh DL-1 Tourist 3-speed, which I have set-up as a cargo hauler.  This bike has to be versatile, as it’s my main set of wheels.  The scooter is just too expensive to operate, especially for such short distances as I usually go for work and groceries.  My bicycle also has to be economical.  There are probably many other bicycles I could’ve chosen for $300, but just about all of them would’ve been more maintenance intensive and more theft-worthy.  The DL-1 is a smooth riding, reliable bike with real character, and all the components are built for the long haul.  The only weak point, the chain, I have taken care of by installing an all-metal full chain case.  That allows me to keep the chain well oiled without worry of sand eating it and wearing it out in 6 months.  It also allows me to wear whatever clothing I want without chainring marks and torn britches. 

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Here, you can see my installation.   During Tropical Storm Fay, the local Sherriff’s department handed-out alot of drinking water, and when all was said-and-done, they unceremoniously dumped what was left over at the public works building where I work.   The water was in gallon jugs, held by milk crates.  I have several of the crates, some of them holding up chicken houses.  I was thinking of using hose clamps to attach these two crates to my rack, but just didn’t see the right size at Mal Wart.  Just across the aisle from them were these U clamps.   I had to drill holes in the crates, but the clamps fit perfectly. 

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Positioning  of the crates was crucial.  Too far back, and the centerstand would not retract.  Too far forward, and my heels would hit the crates as I pedaled.  I also could not secure the bottum part of the crates because the centerstand must be allowed to spread them a little to retract.  After these pictures were taken, I went back and added a couple large zip ties to ensure the clamped milk crates would not move either way on the rack.  I plan to add some reflective highlights to the crates later.   I will post later to show a typical load of groceries or other cargo.

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