Life at the end of the road

August 24, 2011

Siphoning at last :-)

Filed under: boats, daily doings, hydro, life off grid — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 9:14 pm

I have to say that I was beginning to have doubts about my latest hair brained scheme of siphoning water some 800m over hill and heather. Quite apart from the other days setback of not being able to get the water to siphon over a hill contrary to the laws of physics, I was starting to wonder if I had the strength to carry on. I was even considering reverting back to ‘plan A’, a mere 500m run, which apart from the initial hump over the bank of the loch was all down hill.

All that however was last night as I struggled manhandling the long lengths of 90mm MDPE pipe through bogs, over rocks and round trees. This morning I awoke with fresh enthusiasm determined to at least get the pipes connected before returning to work tomorrow. Of course before any of that could be done I had pigs to deal with and a lawn to cut, rain was forecast for 13:00 and I knew I’d never get it done once I started on my pipe laying epic. OK, I know the lawn is hardly crucial but I’ve almost cut about as many times as I’ve almost done my VAT return 🙂

With that sorted, second breakfast demolished and covered in ‘Smidge’ Molly and I set off over the hill to join up some pipe.

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It was not long before the doubts about my sanity returned and ‘Plan A’ was once more looking like a better prospect. This 100m long length of pipe only needed pulling some 50 or so meters to join up with another but try as I might I could not budge it due to a large amount of water trapped in a dip. eventually by dragging the other end downwards to empty it I got it in position.


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All I had to do after connecting it was retrieve the lower end and tow it up the way towards the other pipe and measure the gap. It was probably about 90m but I decided to remove a short section of pipe to save on couplings so measured it at 110m. This would give me another spare coupling to extend the pipe at the Tarbert end and gain some extra head.

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Somewhere in there amongst the sweet smelling heather and bog myrtle is a very long pipe indeed 🙂

That took me nicely up to lunchtime  after which I dragged 110m of Bill’s 150m from yesterday into position and after much sweat got it connected and the pump fired up to prime it. By now it was 15:00 and time to go out fishing, had it not been my last day I’d have foregone the pleasure in favour of a sleep. However autumn is just around the corner and I wanted to get the wee ‘Pioner Maxi’ out of the water and harms way.

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A quick circuit of Loch Arnish and round the Fraioch Eilean or Heather Island

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past the MV Meridian from Lochcarron


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by Aird Torran and back into the loch to lift my final and most productive creel below the Old Schoolhouse.

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After removing the two large hens and one cock I loaded it up with bait and set it over at Murdo’s stone

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and I bet there will be a lobster in it next week 🙂

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Then it was out with the ‘rockproof’ boat, a task made much easier since we demolished my old shelter there 🙂

A sense of achievement

With the boat safely hauled up it was back to the water turbine, and long before I got there I knew things were looking good for I could see the water exiting the penstock from the road at Tarbert 🙂 This was yet another reason for not using the ‘sensible option’ of ‘Plan A’. Not only is the cable run some 500m shorter but the turbine will be relatively accessible and I can see if there’s water coming out on my way up and down the road.

Sure enough I continued onto Loch Beag or the Small Loch, opened and closed the appropriate valves and turned off the Honda water pump. A quick feel at the inlet pipe (which nearly sucked in my fingers) revealed that all was going to plan 🙂 Returning back to Tarbert with the pump on the quad I went to investigate the end of the pipe.

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6.2 bar of static head, probably more as the valve would not fully close and I’ve still a few more meters to go down to where I’m putting  the turbine, so I reckon a good 7bar 🙂

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There’s still an awful lot of work to do but at least now I know it will work and can order my 🙂


  1. Have you completely given up on Avon SSS in preference for Smidge. I did buy some Smidge recently but havent given it a go yet. Shame I left it at home this afternoon because the midgies in the Peak District were horrendous this evening.

    Comment by Simon — August 24, 2011 @ 9:58 pm

    • Hi Simon,

      aye the SSS is relegated to the bin, or at least for use only when the ‘Smidge’ runs out. Aye it works OK but you need to keep lashing it on every half hour or so and if you sweat it runs in your eyes. Smidge on the other hand will last a good six hours, is waterproof and does not sting the eyes.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — August 25, 2011 @ 11:56 am

      • You must be a world authority on the wee beasties, so I am going to trust your every word. I am due back up in Mallaig for a week at the end of October, but I cant imagine I will need it them !!
        Wonder if I can convince my better half that I need a weekend in Skye to do some “testing” 🙂

        Comment by Simon — August 25, 2011 @ 8:50 pm

      • Whilst there is no doubt that it does work and they don’t bite Simon they do still fly about and get sucked up your nose etc 😦 UNLESS there is someone nearby not using it 🙂 The other evening four people came to visit me whilst I was beavering about on the croft, as soon as they arrived the cloud that had been following me waiting for a bit of exposed skin disappeared in favour of them. It was hilarious, the four of them waving their arms furiously whilst I stood there with my hands in my pockets 🙂 At first they thought I was immune to them due to my long years exposure. They drove straight down to the Hotel to purchase some 🙂

        Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — August 26, 2011 @ 5:21 am

  2. Paul, I was wondering about the Smidge as well … I bought my insect bite prone daughter some Skin So Soft and she loves it to bits … how much better is the Smidge?

    I think you should build your house where you took the photo of the heather and bog myrtle, the view is just fantastic … oh hang on though, that means you’d have to do a Calum and build a big long road, wouldn’t you !!

    Comment by carina — August 24, 2011 @ 10:54 pm

    • Morning Carina,

      I have to say that I loved the SSS as it certainly made my skin feel soft (seriously) but for midgies the Smidge is better, though if the SSS works for you it’s certainly cheaper 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — August 25, 2011 @ 11:58 am

  3. Morning Paul

    Smidge is great – effective on Scottish wee biters as well as the horseflies and other biting beasties we get round here. Smells better than SSS, though the Avon stuff that is explicitly to ward off midges etc isn’t too bad.

    Great outcome of the pipe laying/dragging/connecting. I hope that the system does the job for you.



    Comment by Sue — August 25, 2011 @ 7:54 am

    • Aye Sue,

      I’d forgot about that, the Smidge is great protection against cleggs and ticks, though only on the exposed parts right enough, the tick always manages to sneak inside your clothes and the horse fly will of course bite you through them. It’s also great for removing ticks 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — August 25, 2011 @ 12:08 pm

  4. Hi Paul.
    I’ve followed your build on your latest hydro and give you and your team full credit. It also got my inquisitives going especially the siphoning part, will it – won’t it siphon up and over the edge of the loch. So I set to the old back up surf the internet and came up with this site which does help to explain your doubts you had but as you say are just physics.

    I now look forward to you power spout connection, I’m sure the champ’s will flow on that day.


    Comment by polite Scouser — August 25, 2011 @ 8:46 am

    • Morning Walter,

      aye it’s the weight of the atmosphere that creates the siphon, by the same token any air trapped in the top of the siphon will be at negative pressure so has to be removed with a vacuum pump rather than just a bleed screw as can be done on other high spots.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — August 26, 2011 @ 5:00 am

  5. Hi Paul,
    I have been remiss at not following your blog last coupla weeks
    Did you see Danny MaCaskill on your one eyed monster in Concrete Circus last week ?
    He as always was amazing as were his Mum & Dad being interviewed about wee Danny’s exploits when still at Primary School.
    Great job with the new Hydro piping, I remember how tiring it is from just shifting a short length up the hillside.
    Best wishes

    Comment by chrisb — August 25, 2011 @ 4:06 pm

    • Morning Chris, good to have you back, missed Danny, was too busy blogging 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — August 26, 2011 @ 5:11 am

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