Life at the end of the road

July 24, 2011

Proven down, Proven up :-)

Filed under: daily doings, food, wind turbine — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 8:25 pm

Well the three weeks holiday is drawing to a close, the roof still isn’t painted, my Land Rover has still not got a guard in front of its oil cooler and the guttering at the rear of the house is still not repaired 😦 On the up side I did get an awful lot done on the mark III hydro scheme and I’ve caught my fair share of lobsters, the weather has been good and I’m still in one piece 🙂 We have also made lots of children very happy whilst they assisted with our labours on the croft, so all in all it’s been a great holiday, I just need to get back to work for a rest 🙂

The day got off to a bit of a shaky start, for whilst feeding the pigs I heard an ominous knocking noise from my Proven 2.5Kw wind turbine .


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So after feeding the herd, admiring yet another of Jamie Lee’s nests


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and watching Cheeky the tup square up to Molly, I went to check it out.

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First job being to stop it by putting on the brake, one of the features that sets the Proven apart from cheaper turbines is its easy to use disc brake. This is actuated by simply tying that cord around a lever then pulling the lever downwards.

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Once the turbine ground to a halt the broken furling spring was clearly visible, the turbine has nine of these, three on each blade and the allow the blades to ‘cone’ inwards during high winds to regulate it. The beauty of this simple design is that the turbine will continue to produce its full output even during storm force winds that would have an ‘upwind’ turbine braked or turned out of the wind. It does have more moving and therefore serviceable parts than a conventional design but this is only the second spring that’s failed in six years so I’m not complaining, Proven recommend they are changed at around four or five years anyway.

Common sense dictates that they are all changed at the same time but for now I’ll settle for a second hand one that I had as spare.

Lowering a Proven wind turbine

After returning home for breakfast I collected the rest of the team, loaded up ‘Tirfor’ and tools and set about it.



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First job is to set up the ‘gin pole’ and the ‘Tirfor’

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then get ‘Action man’ to drag the wire from the ‘Tirfor’ to the pole 🙂

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Once the ‘Tirfor’ wire is hooked to the ‘gin pole’ I took up most of the slack then undid the four M20 bolts that secure it to the hinged base.

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With, of course a little help from Rocky 🙂

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Once the bolts are out, the little slack that I’d left in the wire allowed me to gently ease the turbine and mast up off its base.

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Then it’s just a matter of winching it slowly down onto a convenient rest so the turbine is at a good height to work at.

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The broken spring was soon replaced

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but you can see from the picture that it is shorter than the original two nearer the camera, indicating that they could all do with changing before the winter. The springs were not the only thing worn, the plastic inserts and nylon washers also need changing and one of the hinge bolts was broken.

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No great problem but I really must sort it all out and give it a good coat of paint before October.

Proven wind turbine raising

With everything bolted up, torques checked and bearings greased it was just a matter of tirforing away until it was upright. Then the base bolts are re fitted, the brake released and away she goes.


To say that I’ve been pleased with the performance of this turbine would be a bit of an understatement, OK it cost us an arm and a leg but it’s made in Scotland and does exactly what it says on the tin 🙂

More lobsters 🙂

I could have thought of better things to do on a Sunday afternoon but my team had worked hard and wanted to go fishing, so after a bowl of noodles that’s what we did.

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The north wind had us tucked in behind the shelter of Aird Torran and nothing was caught on the handlines

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but I can think of worse things to do

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and the lobster pots proved quite productive. OK, we threw three of them back, but to be honest I get as much pleasure out of catching them as eating them 🙂

Wifey had to take our ‘team’ away for the 16:00 ferry so I spent the rest of the day in the garden pruning hawthorn trees and in the kitchen making chilli. It’s now 21:20 and I’m off for a bath then bed 🙂


A record, even for me :-)

Filed under: daily doings, hydro — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 7:02 am

Six thirty now and that’s me been in my bed for thirteen hours!!!!! No kidding I went for a wee lie down yesterday at 17:30 after a pretty awesome barbecue and that was me. Well apart from wifey waking me at seven thirty to go and feed the pigs and then giving me a lecture on how I’d be up all night. To be honest I thought she was right and fully intended staying up, however once in the house about half an hour later, I couldn’t keep me eyes open so went to bed again. Even then I thought I’d be up around two AM, but that suited me fine as the house would be quite, our house is far from quiet just now 🙂 Not a hope, I was pushing zeds out until 6:15!!! I think I’ve got ‘sleeping sickness’ 🙂

The day, (Saturday) was far windier and cooler than UKWind and everyone else for that matter was suggesting, not that I’m complaining, it kept the batteries topped up and the midge away. Once the wind sets to the north here it can stay there for weeks, not a great direction for fishing and it can wreck inadvertently place lobster pots but it’s generally dry, steady and produces much power 🙂

I can’t remember what time I was up but I was out early searching my shed for pipe fittings to connect my hydro turbine penstock. I knew that I’d at least a couple left over from my last job but was amazed to find five. One good thing about having a memory like a hen is that life is full of surprises 🙂

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Every one of them was different and at least one of them had been used but they’d save me at least £75 on buying poorer quality fittings from . I say ‘poorer’ but there is absolutely nothing wrong with them it’s just that most of these were salvaged from Utility company contracts and they have much higher specifications.

After feeding everyone and trying to wean myself back on to muesli and banana in preparation for work next week I set off with fittings and tools for Loch Beag. That was after I’d spent half an hour with copper grease and WD40 ensuring all the threads on the fittings were free, and a further fifteen minutes separating two young boys who were arguing over who would come with me 🙂 The ‘Dude’, my other driver, is away with ‘Lightning MacLennan’ just now, so it was just one ‘helper’ at a time today.

The argument was settled by me promising to return for helper number two half way through the job and around 9:30 we set off south.

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As the bin lorry headed north 🙂 I know it’s only a yellow truck and you see hundreds of them, but when you consider the battle that Calum had with the council that led him to build this road it’s quite a sight 🙂

To be honest it rarely travels north as I usually take the bins south on my way to to work but this is the ‘silly season’ where people leave stuff out for the ‘bin bag fairy’ and I’m on holiday 🙂 The ‘bin bag fairy’ being this creature that tourists alone seem to believe in, she comes along in the night to the remotest of places to remove the cr4p they leave behind. That is of course if the pigs, crows and seagulls have not discovered it first and spread the contents all over the car park 😦

Anyway, off we went on the trusty Honda 350 Fourtrax to start coupling the pipe,

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amidst the bog myrtle and heather. I used this coupling first as I was not totally happy that it would sustain the higher pressure further down as it was quite short and at the upper end of its tolerance. However once hardened up it was quite obvious that it was going nowhere and I wished I’d saved it for further down the line.

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The next coupling I used was one of the plastic ones that is just basically a bigger version of your standard blue ‘polypipe’ water fitting, though being unable to get grips on it I’ve made up a wrench. It’s very similar to an oil filter remover and is made from a length of aluminium channel and some bicycle chain. These fittings are far more difficult to fit than the metal ones as they requires the fitting to be forced onto the end of the pipe. The first part is easy enough as you just hammer it onto the pipe, it’s pushing the next length of pipe into the fitting that’s hard.

Two things that make this easier, though by no means simple are, firstly trim a chamfer on with a knife,

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lubricate it with a little soap, or spit if you’ve forgotten the soap 🙂


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Also mark the end of the pipe with a saw or knife cut so that you know when it’s fully home.

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This was relatively easy to do as there was not much of a slope on the ground and both lengths of pipe could be pulled manually. The trick being to overlap the ends of the pipe, walk away with them until they touch, them with someone or something parked on the pipe to stop it sliding in the heather force them together. It worked a treat on this joint, but number three was a bit of a challenge.

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No amount of manual pulling was going to drag 200m through the heather, or 50m up the way,


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how did we ever manage without ‘ratchet straps’ 🙂


After lunch I took the children out fishing in the shelter of Ard Torran and we caught five lithe, four of which went for bait and one that went on the barbecue, and apart from splitting some logs, that was about it 🙂

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