I have this project tacked onto my KLR Makeover thread but thought I would post a seperate thread here as these cans can be mounted on many other bikes.
That thread is HERE
An ispirational Mermite thread by pilot HERE
I bought 2 US military surplus Mermite Food Transportation Cases for $20 each.
My plan is to mount them to the Happy Trails Northwest Rack that came installed on my KLR when I bought it. The cases will be gutted, mounted, then stripped, painted and customized.
Each can will have a small brake light installed to augment the standard brake light.
So here are the cans as I recieved them- you can see the seperate containers for chow hall food within the aluminum liner.
I have seen some mermites gutted and the top seal used by leaving 1-2 inches of the foam underneath- I don't want to do this. I want the can fully open- leaving the stock seal and some foam for support uses around 3 inches of space, side to side.
So the cans will be completely gutted and a new edge to edge rubber seal used to seal the lid to the case. The lids will also have their foam removed as I want to mount cleats on the top of the lid for bungee tie downs.
More on that later. First I have to gut them.
First remove the top seal and set it aside, next to some good implements of destruction-
Then you have to cut the seal between the inner aluminum liner and the base that the rubber seal sits in. The seat material is very tough, and I found that the easiest way to cut the seal is to use a sharp scraper knife and a hammer-
I found a relatively easy way to get the liner out. First I drilled a 1/2" hole near the bottom of the liner-
Then, using a sawzall, I made a cut through the aluminum from the hole to the top edge. This cut will allow you to fold over the corners and help break the seal between the foam and the liner-
Then using your implements of destruction, break the seal between the foam and the liner. Near the cuts, fold the corners in. I found that 2 Jiffy pry bars worked best, as they are flat and apply more even leverage. I never used the big pry bars.
With lots of leverage and fanagaling, the liner will break free. Then you just slowly leverage the liner out a little at a time, taking are not to damage the top edge of the can itself. Then it's out- took about 15 min each.
Then you get to do the fun part- removing the foam. I say fun because it it absolutely no fun at all. I used the sharp scraper and a jiffy bar. If you can, get the jiffy bar between the foam and the case and break off large chunks. And wear gloves, otherwise you'll have a hole in the palm of your hand like me.
The foam in the first can was much easier to get out than the second can- it was much more brittle and broke free easier. I removed as much as I could with the scraper and the remaining will be removed using a wire brush wheel on a hand grinder, though a drill could work as well.
One down, one to go-
Then you have to remove 2 aluminum strips that are along the long side of the inner can edge. These strips were spot welded to the inside of the case and are easily removed with a pair of vice grips. The remaning welds have sharp spots and I ground them smooth with my dremel. A small file or sandpaper could also be used-
Tommorow I will work on gutting the lids and the mounting system,* and get them mounted. After that is done, they are off to be media blasted using walnut shells. Sandblasting would work, but will remove some aluminum.
The first thing I need to do before going any further was to make sure that the seal I bought was going to work the way I imagined it would.
I went out before starting work and bought hose/tubing cutters from Harbor Freight for $4.99. I needed this tool to make a clean cut through the seal, as it is thick rubber and a knife just won't do it. The cutters have a replaceable razor blade that cut through the seal with ease.
Here are the cutters-
I used them to cut a few cross sections out so you could see the seal. The seal has a tab that when inserted, closes up the top gap, thus sealing in the "window. I don't want that, because the top gap is where the Mermite lid is going to rest.
The 1st section is with the tab open.
The 2nd section has the tab closed.
And the third section I have removed the tab. It restricts the seal's ability to bend, so I cut it off with a utility knife.
Here I'm cutting the tab off-
The top edge of the can has a rolled edge, and as you can see from the bottom portion of the seal that it will work better with a flatter edge.
So I flattened the edge with a pair of vise grips-
Here's a shot from above showing the edge & the difference after flattening it-
I had a couple of vice grips to choose from, and I used the one on the left, as it had a larger flat area at it's tip. A side benefit of using the vice grips is that small serations are left in the aluminum, providing a good rough edge for the seal and adhesive to grip.-
When I got to the area right above the handle (on each end), I found that I couldn't crush the edge as there was some remaining gasket material left under the rolled edge. I peeled the rolled edge back enough to get it out-
Once I got the edge completed (this takes a while!) I trimmed & fitted the seal temporarily. I will be using Shoe Goo to glue the seal to the can and also filling in the gap in the seal. But that will be after all of the other work is done.
So with the seal on, I put on the lid to see how it fit. When I tried to clamp it down, the clamp hinges were hitting the seal-
So I had to mod the hinge arms with 2 vicegrips, bending them so they would go around the seal-
This worked fine on one side of the box, but not the other. The mermites are hinged on one side. and the other side's hinge arms swing freely. The free side's hinges are easy to manipulate/bend but I struggled with the hinged side for over an hour before I gave up for the day. I may have to remove those hinges in order to get the bends done correctly.