Life at the end of the road

August 18, 2014

Diesel bug***ed :-)

Filed under: daily doings, life off grid, stonework — Tags: , , , , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 10:26 pm

Well, it’s been a funny old day but it didn’t quite ‘pan out’ as I expected, my quiet evening reading the revised ‘Hybrid Ferry Manual’ disappeared into my waste oil tank, leaving me with a taste of diesel and smelly fingers. More of that later though, for now it’s 21:00 and time to do what I should have been two hours ago, and that would be relaxing after the wife’s lovely pasta bake. The leftovers from Sunday’s ham and pineapple roast making a fine Carbonara  sort of dish with tomato and cheese. The lovely Chianti classico that should have accompanied it being a little tainted by the taste of diesel in my mouth.

Murray’s gone

The first task today after the now routine back exercises, pill lottery and hen feeding was to take Murray back home. Although the post lady was heading south to work she was carrying eggs for the community shop and didn’t want them in the car with the wee dug. Murray is not a great traveller and prone to the odd bout of ‘stomach emptying’. So it was agreed that I’d return him whilst stopping regularly to give him a wee walk. In truth I was quite happy hanging onto him for a little longer Smile

After just a couple of miles driving the newly ‘TDi’d’ ‘Old Girl’ we stopped at the Screapadale parking place and went for a wander down the old forestry track. It’s hard to envisage now but this whole area was, until ten years ago a coniferous plantation. There was much whining by some folk when it was cut down, but I for one was glad to see the back of it. I don’t mind regimented plantations of none native trees, they’re a crop that needs harvested, providing a few jobs along the way. I even used to enjoy walking down the dark narrow track between them all to the lovely pebble beach. However once they were harvested the place became a bright blaze of foxglove and native flora, pretty soon the brash and stumps became overgrown and now it’s regenerating naturally and smelling of sweet heather.


Seriously, ten years ago this was like ‘Mirkwood’ from ‘Lord of The Rings’


and you you struggle to find the stumps of the old spruce and fir.


Mother nature is a great healer.



Fifteen years ago this old ruin was a dank, dark moss covered pile of stones barely discernable amongst the closely planted evergreens. The sunlight has killed off it’s soft green shroud and now there’s even a small birch tree inside it.



I just marvel at the size of the stones and the skill of the masons that rounded the corners to let the gales ease by.



Some of those stones must be half a ton and more.

It was only a short walk, just to relax the ‘wee dug’ really and pretty soon afterwards we were back at the Land Rover.



This is Grian a Sgier west of Fladda, the ‘sunny skerry’ or sunny rock in Gaelic. It’s a few miles away and was indeed catching the sun, not to mention some of the northerly swell.


Our next ‘port of call’ would be the Inver parking place at the bottom of Glam Brae, Lot Eiachan is its name, though I’ve no idea how to spell it. Anyway, I think it means ‘Hector’s croft’, so that’s what I call it, there are a few ruins there before the path proper down to Inver, one of Raasay’s few sandy beaches and once a favourite with the Royal family. Many is the time that the Royal yacht Britannia has anchored off there and the whole entourage landed on Raasay. Even in my time I remember the crew from the attendant destroyer coming ashore and drinking the pub dry. It was even rumoured once that prince Charles called on Calum himself at Arnish, and to be perfectly honest it wouldn’t surprise me if he did.


The ruins here are of a completely different style to the Screapadale ones, though probably of similar age. Here the stones are much smaller, evenly sized, the corners far more pronounced and the walls perpendicular to the ground.



This is a more likely a barn than a house but I just love the way that a huge natural boulder has been incorporated into the wall.


As with many buildings, their shape and use change over the centuries, here if you look carefully you can see where a doorway has been blocked, yet it’s been done with such skill that it’s not immediately obvious.


After our brief potter about the ruins and perusal of the Inver path we continued southwards as far as Henderson’s bridge.

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Here we all went for a little wander in the beech wood but never got very far due to the ceps!!!!


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This ‘Rolls Royce’ of the mushroom world was growing in profusion there and I picked a few fine specimens before finally delivering Murray back to his home. My reluctance at parting with him being tempered by the two fine bottles of red wine I received for being his baby sitter Smile

A serious shed

Having taken Murray back I decided it was high time I visited my good friend and ex skipper Willy Eyre, good friends being people you can ignore for two years then ‘pop in and see’ as if nothing had happened Smile As usual, my mate was on great form and after a cup of coffee and a spell of catching up he took me to see his last project.



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A very friendly shed made completely from recycled timber, corrugated iron and old caravan aluminium!!! pure genius Smile

The dreaded diesel bug!!!!

After that it was back home and a spell of gentle house work until the wife came home from work and lit the oil stove in the kitchen. Not that it was cold, but just to heat the water, anyway, after a short while it went out and I had to go and investigate. To my dismay I find the filter choked and the tank full of water and the dreaded ‘diesel bug’, a bacteria that lives in storage tanks at the interface of water and diesel.


It’s awfully corrosive and can wreck injectors and fuel pumps in an internal combustion engine. Luckily in a stove it’s not a fraction as serious and emptying the tank, cleaning it and replacing the fuel will sort it. Then all you have to do is change all the filters,


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clean out the ‘Toby valve’ and re fit it. Hence the diesel flavoured Chianti Sad smile now all I have to do is beat my son about the head and tell him to make sure he replaces the lid back on the oil tank after filling it!!!!! To be honest we normally run this stove off kerosene which is cheaper, hotter, not half as smelly and does not get diesel bug. However the old ‘bad back’ prevented me from getting any more so I just used the red diesel from the generator tank. It’s not the hassle of cleaning it all out and dumping the contents of the diesel tank that’s peed me off, it’s the after taste of fuel that ruined the fine red wine Sad smile 

A song for Ferguson’s

I have to thank John Rushworth for this and it did bring a tear to my eye.

The Nearest Thing to Dreams (The Fergusons Song)

The quote from the Salford poet Robert Rose jumped out at me from a tweet posted by Dumbarton MSP Jackie Baillie. Fergusons is the last non-military shipyard on the Clyde and the last of any sort on the Lower Clyde. It now being in administration, with the potential loss of 70 jobs, is a tragedy for the communities of Port Glasgow and Greenock.

“Ships are the nearest things to dreams that hands have ever made,
For somewhere deep in their oaken hearts the soul of a song is laid.”
Robert N Rose

Heard there’s a padlock on the gates today
Went down to check, I just walked away
The Prince of Wales for a pint or two
Try to think of something else to do
One hundred and eleven years
That’s how long there’s been a shipyard here
Not one order on the books they say
They’re saying nothing about our back pay
The nearest things to dreams That hands have made or ever will
Now all our hopes and dreams
Have turned to unpaid bills
Through calm and storm
Those ships are sailing still
The nearest things to dreams
Politicians do the stuff they always do
Say it’s very sad, that much at least is true
They say there are jobs for us, that things just might be fine
In call centres, or one pound shops, or selling junk online
And in my house there’s pictures on my walls
Too many names for me to say them all
Flying Foam, the Flying Spray, Scotia, Sulisker
The Star Capella, Tirrick and the Shalder were built here
The Fivla and the Loch Dunvegan, Isle of Arran, Stirling Spey
The Pharos and the Falcon, the Hebrides, the Stirling Tay
I look at them, nothing can change the way I feel
The pride and mystery of my seagoing steel.

Thank god they didn’t name the MV Lochinvar the MV Sunset Song, for that was one of the possible names.

August 17, 2014

‘I can’t get no sleep’ :-(

Filed under: daily doings, Land Rover — Tags: , , , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 10:48 pm

Well no shortage of power this last few days that’s for sure, gale force winds for the Proven, sun for the PV and water for the hydro. The house is roasting with three heaters going and a joint in the oven, all the washing is done and the tumble drier on overtime. Not that the sun stays out for long, it’s more of a brief rainbow ration between heavy showers.


Not a great picture as it was snapped through the kitchen window on my ‘smartphone’ though what’s so smart about a phone that can do everything bar make calls is beyond me. Yup, I’m back using my son’s HTC Wildfire, having run over the old Nokia C2 last week in the Land Rover Sad smile Smartphones may be ‘damn fine splendid’ in the toon but they’re pish out here in the sticks and I’m only using it until I can pick another C2 off eBlag.

It’s almost midday now and that’s me just finished those buttered chanterelles for my breakfast, I may be feeling much better in the back department, but as Maxi Jazz says :-

after 1:00am when I turned in last night and way past 3:00am before sleep at last overcame me. Of course it didn’t help having two ‘wee dugs’ instead of darling wife but I didn’t have the heart to turf them off the covers and I hate sleeping alone Smile

Consequently it was well past 9:30 when I awoke, or should I say when darling wife shouted “what are you doing with two dogs on the clean linen” or words to that effect. Whatever, it had the desired effect and I rolled out of bed after removing Murray from my head. Then I had a shower and groggily surveyed my pill ration,


and tried to work out which ones to take first.

I’ve never been keen on taking medication and seldom finish a course of anything but this pile of ‘smarties’ certainly seems to help the pain. It makes me pass wind from both ends, gives me a dry mouth, constipation, no appetite (or at least not at the right time) and prevents me sleeping but at least I’m not being kept awake by the pain, which was the case before.

Feeding the pigs is still a little beyond me but I can manage the hens and eggs just fine and walking has become almost a pleasure this last couple of days. So, in between the showers I’ve been out for a couple of adventurous wee romps with wifey, Molly and Murray.


The first sojourn being to the old settlement of North Arnish, a once vibrant community that housed the local Post Office. Abandoned in the late fifties or early sixties several former inhabitants still lived locally until very recently when they passed away. I often go up there as it’s where my neighbours water supply comes from so I check it regularly for her. Or at least I thought I did, the five foot tall soaking wet bracken told another story. I just could not believe how quickly it had spread, the once deer and rabbit clipped pasture now a forest of ferns. Methinks I must not have been up there since my stone gathering spell for the new house in April .


And I only know it was then because I ‘Googled’ it, if you’d have asked me I’d have said June, where does time go to these days?

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We had to circle around to the bare rock and heather to the west to get there, still, as usual it was worth it.


It really is a beautiful spot up there, but you can’t help but feel for the folk that lived up there having to carry everything up from the shore on their backs.


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Travelling homeward we had to take shelter in the birch wood



within the space of a couple of minutes this


deteriorated into that. Fortunately it didn’t last long, the sun came out and by the time we’d reached home the solar PV was belting it out.


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The solar doing around 900w of it’s 960w peak, the wind turbine 1400w of it’s 2500w peak and the hydro a paltry 180w but that’s it on the summer nozzle. On the winter setting it would be doing more like 800w, the ‘Powerspout’ was pushing out 750w so pretty impressive, I’d be a much wealthier chap if I was claiming the ‘feed in tariff’. Bizarrely you can actually still claim it if you’re not connected to the grid!!! I don’t, mainly because I fitted all the gear myself so do not qualify, but also because I hate paperwork and it does seem a little unfair.

I’m not against the government encouraging people to invest in green technologies but I think they should be paying for it and not the poor sod who’s being ripped off by EDF and the like. It’s not a huge part of your bill that goes towards the FIT, a mere fraction of what goes into decommissioning nuclear in fact. It does however give them an incentive to have a huge  bureaucracy administering it and and use it as an excuse for the high bills. Oh no it’s not those sharks putting up the price 20% when wholesale gas prices go up by 7% and keeping the price there when the wholesale price falls. No no that’s not what makes your bill expensive it’s the 11% in ‘green levies’, and of that around 2% supports the FIT. The rest goes into insulation schemes and the like, all of which are administered by the companies themselves so in reality they get an even larger slice of the pie themselves. Now 11% is far too much but pales into insignificance when you consider their profits doubled between 2011 and 2012.

Me, I think you’d all be better making your own like me Smile 

Overhauling the Warn XP 9.5 winch

Another thing I managed today was to get a little work done on my Warn winch . That’ll be the electric winch that sits in the front bumper of the ‘Old Girl’ and has done so for some eight years or so. It’s not just any old winch, it’s the best and cost me about £700. Sure I could have got some Chinese clone for a third of the price but this is the ‘real Macoy’ and has pulled me out of many a hole. It has also lifted and dragged more than it’s fair share of wind turbines. Admittedly it has not been all ‘plain sailing’ and I did have to fit a new motor a few years ago and change the solenoids. However it does sit on the front bumper and is quite often pressure washed by the inclement weather in these parts.

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To be honest I was starting to loose faith in my trusty winch as after its last serious usage in February it was sounding a little poorly. However, after stripping it down and contacting them direct in Oregon I was given first hand advice on my recurring problem of sticking brushes. Basically, Steve Schoenfelders of Warn told me to coat the brushes in silicon grease to prevent the brushes sticking in the holder. OK, I know it sounds obvious but it works a treat, and it turns out Steve is also a Land Rover owner Smile

Quadruple Line Pull 2


High Rock 2012 007

He also knows first hand Simon Buck of Devon 4×4 where I get all my winch parts from!! small world hey.

The spare parts I’d ordered were a seal and brake kit and both had arrived some time ago and I’ve been pottering about ‘on and off’ giving my 9500lb winch a new lease of life.

Stretching the 30m steel cable out and greasing it.


Tying it between a strainer post and shed the pulling it taught with a ratchet strap I was able to give it a good greasing and remove the kinks.

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Cleaning up the planetary gears and fitting new seals with a little help from this video. This PDF that I printed out was also a great help

This I’d all done previously but today I managed to reassemble it with a new brake unit and get some paint on it.

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Bizarrely the motor gaskets are not listed separately from the motor in the parts catalogue but a Cornflakes packet and hammer soon sorted that Smile

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The brake kit comes with comprehensive instructions, the most important of which is to keep that cardboard tube over the three ‘brake shoes’ prior to inserting in the drum, much as you’d fit pistons with a piston ring clamp.

Hopefully I’ll get it all assembled tomorrow.

That was about it really, Murray helped wifey feed the pigs and managed to get covered in mud so the Dude and I took him for a walk over the old peat path to Tarbert.



Prior to the building of ‘Calum’s road’ this was a shortcut to Rainey’s wall at Tarbert.


The path winds its way from our door, out through the gate, past our hens and new house over the peat and heather to the bay at Tarbert.



Sadly the last bit was demolished when the road was adopted by the council but many of the steps and most of the route is still visible.

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