Life at the end of the road

April 7, 2008


Filed under: daily doings — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 12:03 pm

For those wondering where I was yesterday and thinking I might have gone ‘off the blog’ so to speak, don’t panic! I was just somewhat distracted by events. It was a busy day in between blizzards working on the ‘Harris hydro’ turbine, I got it commissioned and charging up the battery bank in great style. Then just as I was about to settle down to recording the momentous event we had unexpected guests, a ‘Jamie Oliver’ venison pot roast and a box of wine so the rest of the day went a bit ‘pear shaped’ so to speak. Anyway I will pass on all the days events to you shortly but having just returned from Portree We now have to go out and

cut bedding before it starts snowing again!

‘Harris Hydro’ is commissioned

It was a fine morning when we set off for Torran to get the turbine connected up. Whoever built the

certainly picked the right spot as it has it’s own wee micro climate there tucked as it is in the north west corner of Loch Arnish. Facing SW it gets all the sun there is and the lewisian gniess rock behind it soak up any heat like huge storage radiators making it just about the nicest and warmest spot on Raasay. In fact Calum of the road fame once grew tobacco there and it wasn’t in a green house. So when we arrived the north wind which was making life very chilly at Arnish was passing high above the old schoolhouse and it was positively summery. The Dudes pal and I decided to get stuck into wiring up the turbine and the Dude decided to go with friends up Dun Caan, Raasays extinct volcano ( though I did question their sanity ). The forecast was for snow showers but it had been for snow showers yesterday and never come to much more than the odd blizzard!.

Connecting the turbine proved quite straight forward. It’s 24v so there’s no high voltages to deal with and only 2 wires, we were only doing it temporary anyway as we had no dump load yet for the ‘Morningstar’ TRI Star TS45 charge controller.

This is some kind of resistive load like a heater element that will get switched on by the charge controller once the batteries are full. Hugh Piggot of

Hugh Piggott – Scoraig Wind Electric who supplied all the kit and expertise will be coming at the end of the month to wire in the solar panels (yet to be fitted) and the dump load. So for now it’s a case of switching lights etc on if the voltage climbs over 30v. The fist thing we did was lift the turbine off it’s base to seal around it with silicon as I’d noticed a small leak when we’d last run it up.

I made the sump from an old washing machine drum and one of those plastic manhole inspection bases and it’s perfect for the job. Whilst the silicon was curing we went and connected up the other end of the cable to the battery bank.

I know it’s not the prettiest of wiring jobs but it’s only temporary, this was taken after the turbine was connected up and the ammeter is reading a steady 8 amps and the voltage 28.1v which is well over 200w and in excess of 5kwh per day a very useful amount indeed. This should pretty much make the diesel generator redundant for everything bar the washing machine.

This is an ammeter fitted at the turbine end for setting it up for the optimum output. There are 4 valves that supply water to the 4 nozzles ( 2 large and 2 small ) that drive the ‘pelton wheel’ at the moment we are running on the 2 smaller nozzles and producing 8amps (around 220w) It should be possible with a few tweaks and a bit more water to run on the two larger nozzles and produce a good 12amps or around 330w. But for now that’s all I had time for as it was time to take the Dudes pal to catch the ferry.

A real blizzard

The Dudes pal and I set off back to Arnish on the quads just as it started snowing, it had been snowing on and off all day but this was starting to lie and by the time we got home it was pretty white and wintery. As we were getting ready for the drive to the ferry the ‘Dun Caan’ team phoned to say they’d turned back as they were loosing the path in the snow and what was the road like. I said I’d phone them once I’d got to the ferry in the landrover and if necessary they could follow me back up the road to Arnish. As it turned out we only just made the ferry with the snow but it was melting quite quickly so they made it back home under their own steam.

Time and tide wait for no man

That was us home in the warm and dry for the evening but friends of ours were supposed to be making the hour long trek to the tidal island of Fladda. Under normal circumstances and through 30 years of experience they would have just made it over the causway and beaten the rising tide but with full loads on their backs and the northerly gale in their face it would have been touch and go added to that there’s every chance the tide would have been higher than predicted as it was being pushed by days of north wind. So we offered them a berth for the night and it turned into a most enjoyable evening around the dinner table. Marred only by the fact that the Dude had a dentists appointment in Portree at 9:10 on Monday! Still we did make it (just) and when we got back home our 4 guests and dog had left and in their place was a very fine looking bottle of ‘Superstition’ a 43% single malt from the isle of Jura. Now I’m not a whisky person but I’m really going to enjoy the odd medicinal tipple from this fine bottle.

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