Life at the end of the road

August 21, 2011

Plan ‘C’ :-)

Filed under: daily doings, hydro, life off grid, pigs — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 9:59 pm

There have been some nasty showers today but they’ve certainly not but a damper on the day which has been very upbeat. It’s not like its gone totally to plan by any means and there have been a few hiccups along the way but it has been very satisfying.

I was a good deal later than normal in my pig feeding rounds but that didn’t seem to worry the herd too much. The wee ‘spotties’ are six weeks old today so are due for weaning but we thought we’d leave them with Jamie Lee for another day as we both had other things to do. Bracken our Tamworth sow that had farrowed on Friday was looking much perkier this morning with all her piglets present and correct. The last three times that she’s farrowed she seems to have had a hard time of it and has been so worn out that she’s crushed quite a few of her piglets. This time we, and especially the swineherd have spent much more time with her, feeding her much less but more often than usual. The higher protein feed that we’ve been giving her mixed with a little water seems to have done the trick and she’s much livelier than ever she was after giving berth.




Not only was mum very active but her four boars and three gilts were the friendliest and liveliest two day old wains that I’ve seen in a long while 🙂

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These little crackers were just into everything and there was no holding them back, bold as brass and feared of nothing 🙂

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After changing their bedding and spending a little time with them I turned my attention to the Honda 2” water pump that had failed to deliver yesterday. Hardly surprising really as it’s around thirty years old and has not been used for ten. I had had it running a few weeks ago in preparation for priming my penstock but when used ‘in anger’ it was cutting out.

Ten year old fuel in the carburettor had left a hard lacquer on everything and I can only assume that it’s set inside some of the smaller galleries. Removing the carb and blowing it through with 3000psi from a diving cylinder certainly improved matters greatly though it still wasn’t 100%. However it seemed far healthier that yesterday so we went to give it a shot.

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The pump started first time and pumped with much more gusto than previously, a sudden increase in revs as it came ‘off load’ indicating that it had indeed pushed the water over the hill.

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However there was still five or six hundred meters of pipe to fill and potential high spots that would trap air to sort out so before  switching the valves to operate the siphon we went for a ‘look see’. Good practice would have had us walk the whole length checking for leaks and air pockets but we too the easy option on the quad to Tarbert where it’s just a short (well shortish) walk to the end of the pipe.

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You have no idea how much pleasure I derived from seeing that torrent of water 🙂

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And look at that pressure gauge, 7bar around 100psi with the valve barely open, OK the pump was still running but only just.

Going back home for homemade pea and ham soup we returned an hour later with wifey to walk, well climb and walk the pipes 800m length.

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Our journey starting at the old sheep fank by the end of Rainey’s wall.

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All the joints were good with no leaks and only a few air pockets that could be removed by adjusting the pipe, something not possible prior to filling with water as this pipe would contract a bit as the cool water flowed through it. Something like 4mm for every meter for ten degree drop in temperature.

Plan C

Whilst it did go better than expected the penstock failed to siphon once the pump was turned off 😦 I can’t say that this was a surprise as i had had my doubts about the GPS readings and already had a back up plan 🙂 Actually it was my original ‘plan B’ but I’d taken the easy option of routing the pipe via the red line from the loch, which is the way you approach it by quad.

plan c

Plan A, the red line is by far the most sensible route but it involves a whole lot more cable and the access is difficult. The green line is the current penstock route but obviously (as I know now) involves a rise of over 9m so I’m going to have to alter it slightly using the yellow route 😦 Just need to get more pipe 🙂

Well there was not much I could do about it until I got the extra pipe so we all walked home and I got on with changing the rear tyres on my quad.

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First I used my two ton press to break the bead

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then after changing the tyre I squashed the new one onto the rim with a ratchet strap and blew it up with a diving cylinder 🙂 I’d like to say it was a piece of cake but it wasn’t, quad tyres are just about the hardest tyre I know to change being so soft and wide they can be very tricky to inflate and seal on the rim.



  1. Morning, Paul

    What fine, healthy-looking wee piglets! So glad that Bracken has recovered well from farrowing and is being such a good mum. I hope that your lad is coping with the long days at school – let’s also hope that you get somewhere with the daft refusal to allow a hostel place to him. Good luck with that.



    Comment by Sue — August 22, 2011 @ 8:12 am

    • Morning Sue,

      the boy is wrecked and so are we 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — August 22, 2011 @ 10:36 am

  2. Paul, here in the US, people set tyre beads using a technique involving ether (sold in aerosols here, as starter fluid) and a blowtorch. Not for the faint of heart but it works. I use it on small equipment tyres all the time. Just go to YouTube and type in the words “redneck” and “bead set,” maybe “tire” with the American spelling.

    Comment by Mick — August 22, 2011 @ 8:39 am

    • It is a technique I’m familier with Mick but the ratchet strap and diving cylinder are much safer 🙂

      Cheers, Paul

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — August 22, 2011 @ 10:38 am

  3. Darling pigglets, they all look so healthy and busy for only 2 days old!
    All your pipe work reminds me of the 80year old pipe laid between the house and the brook at our family place in northern New Hampshire. As kids we always would follow the pipe as it went in and out of the underbrush and ground bringing water up from the brook far below the house. Used for the fields and when the well went dry on drought years. Now that I know the amount of over the top labor and planning it takes to get your bit of water, I’m sure thankful for city plumbing! I hope it behaves and works for you. You really are an amazing example of ingenuity and knowledge. If I had a husband, I’d want one as resourceful and clever as you are!

    Comment by Kate — August 22, 2011 @ 4:19 pm

    • Good morning Kate and the cats in Denver 🙂

      I’m sure my and his pals will be thinking the same thoughts in thirty years time 🙂 “I remember dragging this black pipe for miles with that eccentric old man, it was great fun ” 🙂

      Cheers, Paul

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — August 23, 2011 @ 5:32 am

  4. Morning paul.. hope you don’t mind me popping in. You are by the sea and I miss the sea. Plus we are getting pigs next spring so I am looking carefully at what you are doing. You have an awfully long way to go to get water.. mercy,.. c

    Comment by ceciliag — August 22, 2011 @ 6:29 pm

    • Good morning Ceciliag,

      water has always been a problem here, too much in the winter and summer, not enough in the spring, plenty in the lochs but too far away 🙂

      Cheers, Paul

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — August 23, 2011 @ 5:35 am

  5. i’ve never seen piglets in action, except in Beatrix Potter illustrations for Pigling Bland so the flick was great, thank you. (and Miss Potter’s renderings quite amazingly accurate.) amazing to see all the perfect little ones and that incredibly vast giantess that is their loving mother. she’s huge.

    thanks for the map on your routes. here in the southwest US (new mexico is where i am) water rights and management has been causing serious wars for millenia. there are pre-columbian water management structures all over the place — the so-called “primitive” people who lived here first had sophisticated catchment, channelling and storage structures for water, still rare here.

    cleverly, new mexico has sold the rights to the waters of the rio grande to texas, such that my nephew, who lives on the watershed peak in silver city, new mexico, for example, does not own the water that rains on his roof. none of them do. one side of the watershed, all the water was sold to california, the other, texas.

    the spanish killed the indians, took what had been communal lands as their own, and instituted their own complex water rights/irrigation systems — once explained to me as, “The Indians brought their crops to the water, the Spanish brought the water to their crops.”

    aaaaaaaaanyway, i’m beginning to get the incredibly long struggle you’re dealing with to acquire a bit of the wet stuff. do y’all do catchment/cisterns and all that with some of that plentiful rain you get? or did you sell it all to portugal?

    Comment by jeannette — August 23, 2011 @ 2:22 am

  6. you might be interested Paul to see in this week’s BBC “Britains Hidden Heritage” (e2) about Cragside House, home of engineer William Armstong who was the first in the UK to create a domestic hydro scheme.
    His pipes were about 20 times bigger than yours but I don’t think he put his back into it in person … it all happens 23′ into it

    Comment by Deoch'nDorus — August 23, 2011 @ 6:52 pm

    • Very Interesting indeed D&D, a real ‘jack of all trades’ engineer 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — August 25, 2011 @ 11:40 am

  7. Hello Paul
    Keep up the good work! Great pictures, please refresh me on the type of Camera you are using at present.

    Comment by Jon — August 25, 2011 @ 2:08 pm

    • Morning Jon,

      the camera is a Panasonic Lumix FZ38 and is streets ahead of all the (six or so) Fuji’s I’ve destroyed. I’m sure Fuji’s are great camera’s in the hands of other folk but I’m really hard on my cameras, they go EVERYWHERE with me 🙂 This one came off the quad, landed in a bog whereupon I ran over it with the back wheel !!!!!!!

      My only gripe is the video format, there are two options AVCHD Lite and Motion JPEG, the first one will not download on to the laptop and none of them can be edited in Windows Movie Maker 😦

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — August 26, 2011 @ 5:10 am

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