How to Repair or Reshape Your Motorcycle Saddlebags
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Over time most saddlebags lose thier shape. There is no need to pay anyone to repair or reshape your saddlebags, it is relatively simple. There is no need to buy a kit.
RESHAPING YOUR SADDLEBAG
1.Soak the bags in hot water for 30 seconds in a laundry sink or bath tub.
2.Stuff the bags with newspaper.It will take at least one Sunday edition.
3. When wet mold the top back into shape.
4.Leave to dry for at least one day.
5. Take out the newspaper.
6. Optional Step. Grind off the buckles from inside the bag and pull the buckles away from the bag.This will allow the stiffener to lie flatter against the leather. If you feel confident about pop riveting or bolting the buckles back on then go ahead and grind off the buckles. Otherwise it is not absolutely necessary to remove the buckles.
If you want to maintain the shape longer you can put stiffners in as follows
7. Cut out the shape(pattern) of the flat saddlebag top piece and the saddlebag front from the plastic sheet making the pattern 1" smaller on the outer edge so the plastic piece fits onto the top and front. You also
can substitute luan, or 16ga-24 ga metal in place of the plastic.The purpose of the plastic is to keep the bags shape once the bag is dry.
8.Apply one coat of contact cement to the inside front of the leather bag and one coat to the stiffner.Let dry. Apply another coat. Push the pieces together almost immediately after applying the cement. Do not let the cement dry before pushing the pieces together. Work fast.
9 Drill 5/32" holes through the leather and stiffener to provide holes for pop rivets or small bolts(8-32 used with acorn nuts), use washers under the bolt or pop rivet head and washers on the other side as well to increase the holding strength. Use three across the top of the front and a couple lower down. Paint the rivets or bolts if desired to help disguise them . Also install two on the right side and two on the left side of the top.
10. To reinforce the sides cut plastic strips about 4-5" wide x12" long and cement from the top of the sides. Secure with pop rivets or small acorn nuts and bolts.
HOW TO REPAIR CRACKED PLASTIC BACKS
Contact cement small strips of metal or plastic over the crack and pop rivet in place.
Sometimes the leather used by the bags manufacturer will lend itself better to reshaping than other leather. If you are unhappy with the initial reshaping results, try a second time. If you are still unhappy buy a new set of bags.
Note: Heritage bags made in the 1990's are difficult to reshape. The leather Harley used does not easily lend itself to be reshaped, however this repair
method will work as well as any.
Things You'll Need
Treat your bags with a good leather conditioner water proofing, we reccomended Obenauf's Heavy Duty LP
If your bags are faded use Obenauf's Leather Oil and mix black leather dye in with it, always test it on the back of the bag
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