Life at the end of the road

March 8, 2017

Pure ‘wabbit’ :-)

Golly gosh, feels like winter is over despite the hail, gale,  thunder and lightning of this morning. Sure it’s freezing outside in the biting westerly but the sun has a genuine warmth in it and it’s ‘light at both ends’ Smile That will be me arriving and leaving work for the first time this year in daylight. OK, not quite last night as it was a carpy day but it certainly felt that way.

So, that’s it, I am back at work and have spent the whole of my ‘rest period’ without doing any blogging. Sorry bout that but not only was I busy but I was feeling ‘pure wabbit’!!!! Twenty years I’ve known my Glaswegian wife and still she surprises me with her colloquialisms.

Half way through the fortnight off I’m struck with a virus that’s doing the rounds and floored with a sore throat that prevents me eating, sleeping and swallowing pain killers. The weather is amazing, I’ve a list of outdoor jobs ‘as long as my arm’ and I’m struck with my worst bout of ‘man flu’ in years. Of course ‘darling wife’ has already had it and gotten through it without a whimper. Not me, no I’m a guy so have to moan constantly, crave sympathy and think my own version of this bug is far, far worse than anyone else’s.

The most empathetic statement to come my way from the ‘egg lady’ was “you look pure wabbit”  http://www.dsl.ac.uk/entry/snd/wabbit , needless to say I had to crawl to my computer and look it up.

Still, she was dead right, I was Smile

The first task

The ‘rest period’ started off pretty ‘full on’ with the annual visit from the ‘English Director, the Swiss Surgeon and the Russian Art Dealer’ who assemble from the four corners of Europe to do their yearly butchery. The two Tamworth’s we’d been fattening for them had come on nicely but it was time for them to go and I had to do the ‘prep work’.

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The 100lt cast iron boiler had to be put in place and the chimney installed. This is to keep a constant supply of boiling water for dehairing the pigs, though ideally you don’t want to be using it on the creature over 80 degrees. The idea is to melt the fat in the hair follicles but not cook the pig. The cast iron bath was put in position at the correct working height and a drain made up to take the waste water away. The cast iron bath soon knocks down the water temp and then a hose of cold into the boiler cools that down a little. Temperature of the water being constantly monitored with an IR thermometer.

As it was the ‘wee girls’ last day we let them in the garden to clear up after the birds.

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This meant that they were happy and content right up to being led to the barn door to meet their end.

FIGURE 5

The ‘end’ being a .22 bullet at point ‘a’, roughly the centre of a cross drawn between the eyes and ears but from straight ahead as in ‘a’ on the right. If you don’t you’ll miss the brain and the animal may suffer, unlikely if you are slitting the throat too to collect the blood but many folk don’t. If you are collecting the blood then get someone to hold the rear of the pig slightly higher and pump the forelegs. Please don’t click on the images if you’re squeamish.

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We had both pigs slaughtered, de haired and split down the spine in around three hours which is pretty good. That was start to finish with all the clearing up done too, a far cry from the first ones we ever did which took around four hours each. The secret is most definitely in having plenty of hot water to hand and having it at just the right temperature, too cool and it won’t come out, too hot and you’ll burn yourself and cook the meat.

I have to confess that when I do slaughter my own for my own consumption, which incidentally is all you can legally do, then my most ambitious project is usually sausages. Not these chaps though, they go the ‘whole hog’ so to speak, salamis, chorizo, blood pudding, brawn, cotechino, Parma type ham and a whole host of goodies.

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Here is my share of the proceedings brawn, sausage, cotechino and various salamis for hanging. They’d worked flat out the whole weekend to produce these delicacies, luckily they took a few hours off on Friday night and I went round for dinner of brain and humus, kidney and paprika, followed by a main of pork fillet and broccoli.

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All washed down with a fine Japanese single malt Smile

More chooks

I dunno whether we killed them all or if the arrival of the two girls we just slaughtered put them off but since last September we’ve not seen any sign of the dreaded mink that killed so many of the wife’s hens. Personally I’m convinced it was the two Tamworth’s that did the trick, for when they first arrived we kept them in section of the hen house until they were too large to get in and out of the hens ‘pop hole’. After that we kept them in one of the fallow hen runs for a few weeks prior to letting them out on the hill. I’m certain that their smell has kept the unwelcome American import at bay, so buoyed up by that belief we got some more.

Donald the Hen had a new batch of ‘point of lay’ Lohmann’s  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lohmann_Brown for sale so on Saturday we paid him a visit.

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After some of Katy’s fine home baking and coffee, we left Struan with 8 new chooks in a cardboard box. Donald ‘lives and breathes’ hens and not only are they very favourably priced he’s always on hand for advice and can also supply excellent hen house, feeders and drinkers. Donald can be contacted on 01470 572 213 or via Facebook.

Once home the chooks were put in a section of the hen shed adjoining the current five we still have. The various 8’ x 8’ sections of the shed are separated but have mesh windows between them so the hens can see each other. This gives them chance to get used to each other and vastly reduces bullying and ‘hen pecking’ when they are finally mixed.

The Mitsubishi MM30SR 

One of my main preoccupations this last fortnight has been Lachie’s 3ton digger

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which has been taxing me to say the least. Basically this far eastern ‘grey import’ is far too complicated for its own good with sensors on the bucket, boom and dipper, two electronic joysticks on a CANBUS network to a large CPU under the seat.

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My initial optimism at finding this dodgy connection on the unloading valve solenoid soon faded.

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Replacing the plug made absolutely no difference and many days of tracing wires, checking sensors, plugs and connections proved fruitless. Of course having absolutely no information, wiring or piping diagrams didn’t help and the greatest help I got ont tinternet  http://www.heavyequipmentforums.com/threads/mitsubishi-mm30sr.7464/#post-225364 was soon exhausted.

This left me with three options, 1 to buy a proper ‘plug and play’ kit from IM Dynamics http://www.imdynamics.com.au/  in Australia at $2000 AUD plus taxes and shipping. This would bypass the CPU and interface directly with the original Kawasaki joysticks. However IMD recommend sending the joysticks to them for checking and or overhaul, another $40 – $400AUD plus shipping and taxes. Option 2 was to try and make my own electric kit up using new electrical joysticks and ten relays, doable, but without a wiring diagram I couldn’t figure out what each of the six wires on each of the five spool valve solenoids did. I guess I could have worked it out with ‘trial and error’ but they were not easily accessible and I’d have had to do an awful lot of wiring and cable crimping. Which, lets face it isn’t ideal on something that has no cab, sits outside all its life and operates in mud and carp. So, I opted for making up a cable operated and joystick system from http://www.hycon.co.uk/products/byhierarchy/42/156.html . That’s been ordered and with a bit of luck will be here for the start of my month holiday Smile Can’t wait Smile

Meanwhile I made up a tool to manually operate the Nachi spool valves

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from a sheet of 3mm steel and some M6 bolts.

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The spacing between the fulcrum and spool valve is 25mm but I slotted one of the bolt holes slightly to allow for it moving through and arc. The spools themselves are 14mm and the spacing of the retaining bolts is 35mm.

The tool works really well and allows me to easily move the machine now without danger of clattering myself with the boom or cab.

Yamaha YFM350 Bruin steering column bushes

Having abandoned the digger I turned my attention to the Yamaha quad and its worn steering column bushes and bearings. The top bearing is just a plastic bush that I’ve previously replaced, often greased and occasionally ground down to reduce the play. This time however I got a full kit that included the bottom ball bearing set and seals.

First of all the whole front plastic panel and handle bars need to come off, all straight forward, just a few bolts and electrical plugs, none of which you can mix up. Then a 22mm nut and split pin off the bottom of the column after which it should lift out and present you with the bottom bearing carrier.

 

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The top seal can just be prized out with a screwdriver, the bearing itself presents a problem as it’s held in with a large fine threaded retainer which is 30mm AF. I overcame this by ‘double nutting’ an M20 bolt and using an 30mm spanner.

I had to make up a puller to remove the bearing after prizing out the lower seal but the bearing broke Sad smile

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Luckily I had a small grinding stone and cut through the hardened race with a die grinder.  Built it back up with plenty of grease, job’s a good un Smile

Persian rug anyone

At some point during the fortnight off I’m working away in the barn when this chap shows up selling hand made rugs from Iran.

 

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I kid you not and they were lovely rugs too Smile Now we rarely get the ‘door to door’ types here, the Jehovah’s witness’s every couple of years, the Mormons every decade and one kitchen salesman in thirty years so there’s no need to be impolite. Indeed I seriously considered buying one off Asa, who hailed from Skipton in Yorkshire, not a lotta miles from where I was born. Still, I took his phone number and promised to give him a tinkle if we ever got fed up with our concrete floor Smile Well, you never know, I gotta say though, it’s unlikely, I do love that warm feeling from the UFH as you wander over the industrial flooring.

 What else

Well, it’s been a while and me memory is carp but looking through the pictures it looks like the ‘pirates’ were out scratching away.

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The ‘seven a side’ clam dredger Novante was busy ploughing up the Raasay Narrows again

We’d also a good few commercials delivering to the new distillery.

 

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Ian S Roger’s Scania delivering plate heat exchangers and JG Stampers MAN bringing in a 22000lt water tank one day.

The turbine base

I had hoped to get more work done on the wind turbine mast but my ‘man flu’ cut that short and the best I could manage was fitting the winching anchor point.

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The positioning of this is quite crucial and it took quite a while to bore a 32mm hole some 300mm down into the bedrock so I could bond some M30 stud in there.

Anyways, I got all that done as well as almost doing my VAT return, so not bad really.

February 18, 2017

Curing nicely :-)

Gosh, almost two weeks since I’ve been on here and what a spell of fantastic weather we’ve had. Of course it all went severely ‘pear shaped’ after Valentines day but prior to that it was pure awesome. I had three consecutive days of 10kWh solar generation and 60kWh for the full week. OK, probably not ‘interstellar’ for a 4.75kW array in Aberdeenshire or Sussex but probably my best ever.

Sure the only ‘fly in the ointment’ being that I’m actually at work so have missed out on some serious work at home, but ‘hey ho’ it’s been a pleasure on the Hallaig too. Sadly the many visitors that turned up for ‘half term’ missed out on the best of it but most people on the ferry seem to be smiling these days Smile

February the 6th was the last ‘working day’ of the ‘fortnight off’ and it got off to a fine start with a little snow on the Storr. Unusually for a busy day I took the ‘wee dug’ for a walk, our Molly is unusual in the dog world in that she has to be dragged out for a walk. Indeed she’s started limping to try and con us into thinking she’s got a sore leg. I’m no doubt it was sore to start with but now, when she thinks no one is there she walks on all four legs!!!

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So, after carrying her over the gravel outside the house I put her down on the road and off we went.

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All three of us, for no sooner had we closed the gate than we were joined by the girls Smile

Mitsubishi MM30SR problems

I still had a couple of hours to spare as Ross from Eyre Plant had phoned from Sconser to say he couldn’t get on the ferry!!! Not often the Hallaig is full these days but there were a couple of trucks before him and the usual Monday morning workers.

My good mate Lachie had dropped off his 3 ton Mitsubishi digger for me to have a look at, and me, confident with my success at fixing mine had said I’d have a go at it. Trouble is, it’s a ‘grey import’ from Japan and there is very little concrete information on it, in English at least. He bought the machine locally very cheaply but it had a fault, “machine randomly stops digging but is OK after a restart”. At least that’s what it used to do, now all it will do is track and lift the blade.

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As the working functions are manual and the none working ones are electronic I figured it would be something to do with the interlock that prevents these from operating unless you are sat in the machine. Mine had a very similar problem connected with the wiring to the ‘unloading valve’. This is a solenoid operated valve that bypasses all the functions that were not working unless you are sat in the cab.

Tracing electrical faults without a wiring diagram and hydraulic ones without a circuit diagram isn’t easy and a quick search on the Internet told me that I’d not be getting them any time soon http://www.heavyequipmentforums.com/threads/mitsubishi-mm30sr.7464/#post-225364 Sad smile That post describes the fault to tee and was not very encouraging. Methinks the previous owner of this particular Mitsubishi must have read it too Smile

No matter, armed with my previous experience I felt confident

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despite everything being written in Japanese Smile

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Indeed, after stripping out the machines floor I found the ‘unloading valve’ solenoid, removed the connecting plug that was full of water and thought ‘yippee’. I then bypassed the wiring by connecting straight to the battery but that didn’t do anything either so I tried operating the solenoid manually, again without success Sad smile  Unfortunately, just as I was ‘getting into it’ I got distracted Smile

The BIG pour

OK, it wasn’t that big in the end but  Ross from Eyre Plant arrived at ‘the end of the road’ with what must be the heaviest load yet to make it north.

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His rather large and ‘top heavy’ Scania turned up at just after 11:00 having dropped off half his load at the distillery. Plan was to make two trips if necessary and if any was left it would go towards the 60 cubic meter pour for the warehouse down there.

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Me, I’d been busy the day before cramming some extra mesh and 20mm rebar into the ‘ole having mixed 9 cubic meters myself with the wee mixer.

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Also chopped up some hose and plastic ducting to cover the M30 studding so as to keep the threads clean.

Ross expertly reversed the huge ‘eight wheeler’ Scania up the drive and got ready with his remote control to pour the 35 Newton mix into the ‘ole.

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Once he started there wasn’t much time for pictures as I was busy with the ‘poker’

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A petrol driven vibrating stick something like a heavy strimmer that Ross had brought with him. I’d borrowed it from a mate and just wished I’d borrowed it a week earlier. When pouring concrete it’s essential to get the air out of it so it flows everywhere, especially in something like this where the scope for air pockets is huge.

When I was mixing with the electric mixer I’d used a garden hoe and it was boodly hard work, this tool made it a much easier affair. Working it frantically around the bar and steel plates you could see the concrete visibly shrink as it disappeared into unseen air pockets. I was most impressed and put one on my ‘wish list’ Smile

 

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Not much later the full load of 6.1 cubic meters was in the ‘ole. My son and I had come up the calculation of 6.4 and 6.5 and I reckon 6.3 would have been perfect. As it was the load was about 12mm short of the top of the shuttering at one end so certainly not worth a return trip, so Ross cleaned down his truck and headed off. All in all the job had taken me a week to mix and pour 9 cube and him less than an hour to pour 6, by midday he was gone.

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I have to say, I felt very pleased with myself Smile The day had been perfect for it, dry, mild and with a fresh breeze but by late afternoon it was pure pishing down. Far too wet and windy for tinkering outside on the Mitsi so I turned my attention towards the ‘Old Girl’.

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Or, to be more precise, a new drivers door for her from Darren at Jedi 4×4 https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=jedi%204×4 . Even though I fitted brand new genuine Land Rover doors 15 years ago and fully injected them with underseal they are all now rotten. The problem being that it took Land Rover over 50 years to realize mixing aluminium and steel s not a very good idea due to the electrolytic action between the two different metals. Newer models are now all steel and galvanized so should fare better.

Back to work

The crappy weather surrendered to the Scandinavian high and left us with a refreshing spell of easterly winds and brilliant sunshine.

 

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We also had some splendid moonlit mornings and evenings.

moonlit storr

That’ll be taken from the bedroom window one early morn as the moon slips behind the Storr on Skye.

Sadly that came to an end and today, Saturday, you can tell how bad the weather is cos the clam dredgers have appeared Sad smile

 

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Two of them ‘scratching’ away in the narrows.

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We also had a welcome visit from the MV Loch Bhursda who was calling in for a break on her passage from Berneray to Mallaig. The Bhrusda had been relieving the MV Loch Portain on the Sound of Harris route whilst the Portain was in for her annual refit at Garvel Clyde.

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After our lunch and her rest, we carried on with the days schedule and she headed for Mallaig.

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We could still hear her almost an hour later Smile OK, not quite but her big V8’s burn more fuel in a day than we do in a week and exhausts are noisier than most low flying jets!!!

A classic Bultaco Pursang

As you often do whilst ‘surfing the net’, I came across an unexpected surprise the other day.

Pursang 2

 

I saw this Bultaco ‘scrambler’ on Facecloth on an acquaintances page. It is a 1969 Bultaco and I owned it for several years, or to be more precise I looked after it. It belonged to my best mates brother when he was a lad down in Lancashire, he was only a boy at the time and used to race it in what was then called the ‘schoolboy scrambles’ . Methinks you had to be under 16 at the time and I guess he’s not much younger than me so probably around 1973 or 4 when he had it, so it wasn’t very old then. Roll on ten years or so and it’s gathering dust in my mates garage http://www.bmsaccrington.com/  and I’m on holiday from my then job managing a scallop farm on Scalpay.

I visits my mates garage as usual to see what I can scrounge and came away with a lathe and this. Not even sure if his brother even knew at the time Smile He says to me, “if it’s any use take it but I may want it back”, so I did and for several years I tried to tame this race tuned beast. The thing went like a rocket and I was really scared of it, you had to slip the clutch like feck to get going, as it had no power whatsoever below 3000RPM. Beyond that it generally lifted the front wheel and you were off, usually by pointing it in the general direction you wanted to go and hoping for the best. Despite all this on good days I’d travel the four mile forestry track to work on Scalpay with it whenever I could. Though I had it for the best part of a year before discovering it had five gears. The tiny front brake did little to encourage confidence so I rode it as slowly as I could, which to the untrained eye or ear must have seemed like a maniac. This machine just did not do slow Smile

A few years later I moved to Raasay taking ‘the beast’ with me but using it less frequently on account of the poorer tracks here. Around six or seven years later my mate phones me up asking if I’ve still got it, bear in mind it’s now been in my possession for some ten years or so. Sure says I, he then informs me that some chap has been looking for it for four years, as it was the first motorbike he ever owned and he got it when it was almost new.

To cut a long story short this chap (pictured below) loaded a lovely Montessa trials bike into the back of his HiLux and drove all the way from Lancashire to Raasay to swap it for the Bultaco. I was ‘over the moon’ cos the Montessa was designed to go very slowly over obstacles rather than quickly around them. Russell was dead chuffed cos he’d finally got his old bike back and twenty years later it’s fully restored to its former glory. Not bad for a 48 year old two stroke hey Winking smile

 

Pursang 1 Bultaco

Nice one Russ, I just cannae believe it was only a 125cc!!!!!!

Good and hard

So that’s it really, tis Saturday evening aboard the good ship Hallaig and we’re just awaiting the late sailing. Tomorrow I’ll get a good look in daylight at my turbine base which is no longer an ‘ole but 30 tons or more of steel and concrete that has been curing nicely for almost two weeks. This time next week it’ll be good and hard and with a bit of luck I’ll have got the mast in position.

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