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02-13-2014, 04:51 PM   #1
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How to turn a Pelican case into a camera gear case?

My work site threw away a Pelican case and I rescued it from a trip to the dump. The problem with the case is that the integral hinges in the back broke off. Both hinge pins (for left hinge and right hinge) are bent. I can see how the hinges broke. They are a part of the case bumper so they get plenty of impact. It's a poor design in my mind. The hinges should have been recessed behind the bumper surface.

Everything else is in good condition including the latches and handles. The interior had a 3/4" layer of rubber-ish foam glued on top of an all-filling rubber-ish foam block. This top layer was tailored for a piece of equipment. I removed this top layer and I am now left with the solid block of rubber-ish foam.

I would like to fix the hinges or replace them with something from Home Depot and then use this case as my camera gear box. The case is pretty big with interior dimension of 16" x 18" x 6" and the lid adds an extra 1.5" of depth on top of that.

First question: does anyone here use a Pelican case for storing their gear? Is a Pelican case safe for lenses since air circulation may be limited? My fear is fungus!

The challenge with repairing the hinged lid is that the back surface is not necessarily smooth and flat like a box. There isn't much surface area for me to work with. I was thinking of grinding/sanding the area with the hinges flat and then applying a long piano hinge. My concern would be drilling holes into the case for the screws. First, either a screw head or a nut would protrude out of the case. Second, drilling holes into the case for the screws makes me think that the case would be weaker. Maybe I could make up for the weakness by adding some sort of epoxy like JB Weld in addition to the screws.

Second question: what ideas or recommendation do you have to get this case whole and functional?

Third question: how do I cut this foam? It's remarkably tough! I would like the cuts to be clean vs. jagged and ragged.

Many thanks to all who answer!

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02-13-2014, 05:26 PM   #2
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I would like to fix the hinges or replace them with something from Home Depot and then use this case as my camera gear box. The case is pretty big with interior dimension of 16" x 18" x 6" and the lid adds an extra 1.5" of depth on top of that.
Is it possible to thread a new rod through the remaining hinge points? That is what I would try first.

First question: does anyone here use a Pelican case for storing their gear? Is a Pelican case safe for lenses since air circulation may be limited? My fear is fungus!

I do not use a pelican for camera purposes, but regular use of renewable desiccant <sp> packs should address the moisture issue.

Second question: what ideas or recommendation do you have to get this case whole and functional?

I would not drill it if possible - try first suggestion above.


Third question: how do I cut this foam? It's remarkably tough! I would like the cuts to be clean vs. jagged and ragged.
if you can remove it it may be better to do that and replace with new foam.
This type of foam is best cut using a hot wire method. Serrated blades will leave it jagged.
Option 1: look for a source for pick foam and use several layers so you can accommodate various configurations of equipment. (pick foam is pre cut in squares that you can remove.)
Also, research on line how Pelican camera cases are lined, you may see other options vs reusing the existing foam.
02-13-2014, 05:31 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by 6BQ5 Quote
Is a Pelican case safe for lenses since air circulation may be limited? My fear is fungus!
Have you thought about getting some packets of silica gel and tossing them in the case, it would solve the moisture issue. I keep packs of silica gel in all my bags.
02-13-2014, 07:27 PM - 1 Like   #4
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You can buy silica desiccant in bulk.

For the foam, a hot wire cutter. They're pretty quick to wire one up.

02-14-2014, 04:23 AM   #5
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Hi there,
Here are some great ideas - I have a recycled Pelican case as you do but hinges are still good - the foam is rather manky.

I approached this company Caseline Australia but they want me to send everything to them so that they can laser cut to match - have not done that yet but am tempted as the result looks verrry slick.
02-14-2014, 05:02 AM   #6
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Personally, I wouldn't advice storing camera gears, especially the lenses in such boxes. I store all the lenses in transparent boxes with silica gel and without lens cap ON so they get enough light.
02-14-2014, 05:20 AM   #7
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There are several companies that sell the Pick and Pluck replacement foam.

Pelican Replacement Foam

Pelican Case Foam, Pick 'N' Pluck Foam - PelicanCases.com

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02-14-2014, 07:27 AM   #8
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Consider a rechargeable dry pack. Remington makes one (for guns) but it's a good size for large camera cases. There are many alternate brands. There's an indicator patch; when it changes from blue to pink you can put the pack in an oven to dry it.

Will this case be used for rough travel or mostly storage? For air travel, foam is best. For storage or light travel, I prefer the padded divider compartments because you don't have to recut foam when you get a new lens or otherwise want to rearrange things. Pelican and 3rd parties make them for specific cases. You'll need to find your case model #.

02-14-2014, 10:50 AM   #9
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You could also get a cigar humidor humifidier/dehumifidier or an acoustic guitar device.

As for cutting the foam, I use an electric knife. Easy, like butter, and I already have one for Thanksgiving turkeys.
02-14-2014, 11:34 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by tele_pathic Quote
You could also get a cigar humidor humifidier/dehumifidier or an acoustic guitar device.
Or one for lenses. They make them. But Pelican cases are not bad substitutes as long as you have desiccant in them that you keep fresh. Dark is not to be feared if there is no moisture. Most of my stuff is now in a similar cases as I just moved to Savannah and it will be a hell of a lot more humid here than it was in Denver. (I'll be buying one of those fancy humidity controlled cabinets no doubt.) At the very least in a humid environment use a ziplock bag and some silica gel...
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