Gear Luggage

Custom Flap for S Bag

My Brompton isn’t due for another week and a half (or maybe two), so I’m still anticipating. In the meantime, I thought I’d try to make a smaller bag, like Ortlieb’s Mini O, while I anticipate.  Folks on BromptonTalk had a bunch of good suggestions about cutting down an S frame, so, while out of town one day, I went looking for one.

Instead, I found this S bag and frame for a hugely discounted price, which changed my plans entirely, as I ended up with both the bag and the frame. Having both made me quite reluctant to saw down the frame. I’m going to try living with the S bag for a while, instead.

Based on the price, I assumed the bag was used, but, once I got it home, saw that the bag was in beautiful shape. The flap looked filthy in the shop, but it turns out that it comes that way:  It’s made from a decommissioned fire hose. Those black streaks aren’t dirt; it’s stain from an honorable life before-Brompton. My new S bag was apparently unused (and, it turned out, even had the rain cover tucked inside).

The hose story is kind of cool, but the look and feel are just too urban-gritty for me. (The flap looks asymmetrical here, but that’s due to my poor photography.)  However,  I was willing to buy this particular bag because I knew that the front flap on the S bag is removable, and I planned to make my own. Here’s my first effort:

That’s faux tooled leather, with a polyester binding around the edges.  It looks considerably better in real life than in this picture, but you can see that it needs a bit more substance to look truly right.  The synthetic leather is pretty thin (and it may not wear well — time will tell), so I made a “sandwich” of ripstop nylon/clear plastic sheeting/ripstop nylon behind it, and to provide strong anchorage for the various fasteners.

Here’s what the underside of the flap looks like:

I sewed the the hook-and-loop fasteners and the snap hook buckles to one side of the ripstop pieces, put the “tooled” material on top of the ripstop”sandwich”, and then bound the edges.  That’s all there was to it.

In my vast collection of buckles, I had only one that would mate successfully with the ones on the S bag, which worried me. An Internet search didn’t seem to turn up the correct buckles, so I headed out to stores where I’ve purchased such things in the past.  I struck gold at the first stop: EMS (Eastern Mountain Sports).  Here’s what the package looks like:

The buckles on the bag are stamped “National Molding” and “Stealth” (the “Stealth” is what’s really important), but the package is branded “Liberty Mountain” which may be why I couldn’t find them on the interwebs.

I used two-inch wide hook-and-loop tape, which is twenty-five percent wider than that on the S bag. I keep a supply of two-inch on hand; it worked perfectly well.

I’ve since acquired some far heavier vinyl to beef up the flap.  I’ve also got some outdoor canvas I want to experiment with, and some marine vinyl in chrome yellow.  If my Brompton takes more than another couple of weeks to arrive, I may have a whole new wardrobe for my S bag by the time the actual cycle shows up.

This is my fourth Brompton bag, counting the lightweight one I made myself.  Total number of square feet of the bags may now equal that of a folded Brompton.  Is it possible I’ve got a problem here?