Life at the end of the road

September 30, 2011

Rather wet :-(

Filed under: boats, daily doings — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 10:19 pm

In my eagerness to get back up the hill this morning and do some rock breaking in my trench I never even checked the forecast. I was up early enough and left the house to feed the pigs to be greeted by what can only be described as a ‘hair dryer’ of warm south wind, cloudy but with little sign of mischief in the sky. The pick and shovel that I’d been using yesterday were to be assisted by a generator and Hitachi demolition pick on this fine morning and I was raring to go.

Of course the first thing I had to do was fix the Chinese piece of cr4p generator that I was going to use to power my 30 year old Hitachi. It’s not my generator, for I wouldn’t be seen dead with one of these lumps of 5h1t. It is in fact my neighbours who’d been given it as a present by her sister. A fine enough looking copy of a genuine Honda item that ‘sis’ had bought from the back of a Transit van from Ireland. It never worked from the word go but of course the mobile phone number left ‘in case of the unlikely event of problems’ had long since been disconnected.

I pulled the thing apart for her and discovered that the rotor windings had not even been soldered onto the slip rings and after that it ran well enough for the little serious work that was expected of it. However it had always leaked petrol from the vicinity of the fuel tap and being as how the stuff is so expensive I thought that I’d better fix it for her.

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Suspecting a simple case of a leaky washer I removed the tap and found to my horror that it was designed and fitted in such a manner that any halfwit could see that it was going to leak fuel from the start. It was constructed in such a way that no matter how tight the lock nut was fuel would get past the threads. On such a set up it would be customary to use PTFE thread tape but there was no sign of that here, and it’s not great stuff to use on petrol fittings anyway as it can end up blocking the carburettor jets. Still, it was all I had and I just kept my fingers crossed that the filter would keep the stuff out of the carb. And if that’s a genuine CE mark ‘I’ll show my ar5e in Woolworth’s window’ 🙂

With the generator strapped to the back and the Hitachi in the fish box, Molly and I set off without oilskins for Loch Beag a mile or so away. After checking that the siphon was still running we went back to the trench and started picking away at the large lump of Scotland that I’d discovered under the peat.

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When the first shower came I just carried on whilst Molly sought the shelter of the dry heather in the lee of the quad, the second one had me joining her. It was a heavy shower driven horizontally by the near gale force south wind, consequently it was still perfectly dry for a few feet downwind of the trusty Honda. The next shower showed no hope of a reprieve astern of it so the ‘wee dug’ and I bailed out and by the time we got home I could not have been wetter had I jumped in the loch 😦 The rain was so strong that I had to drive with a hand in front of my eyes and Molly was cowering behind the long defunct speedometer and fish box on the front.

I suppose realistically that it didn’t curtail my mornings work by more than half an hour but it left me feeling cold wet and miserable. A complete change of clothes later I was heading south down through the sheets of rain to the ferry terminal on the first leg of a trip to Portree.

We were needing feed for the pigs, shopping and of course I had to pick up the Dude after his first full week at the Hostel. In all honesty I could not have picked a better day for it, as little else would have got done outside at Arnish.

All went smoothly on Skye and I met my long lost son at the 16:15 ferry, of course he was minus his clothes bag which he’d left on the bus, his jacket that he’d left in the bus and his phone which he’d lost but ‘hey ho’ that’s 12 year olds for you 🙂

With the Land Rover already full feed I acquired two extra boys and a bigger rock breaker from my good friend that drives diggers 🙂

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  Before heading home however we had a run along to the old ferry terminal to see the  tug Red Baron (or at least I think that’s its name) getting ready for taking JST’s floating pier away to Glenelg.

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After six months of the big Fendt 936’s hauling timber the roads will be very quiet on Raasay 🙂

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We also had a run along to see progress on the new housing association houses at School Park where I found this chap busy at work laying the piping for the under floor heating.

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He was obviously self employed as it was 17:00 on a Friday afternoon and pishing with rain, not only that but he made time to chat and explain the workings of the system he was installing.

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RJ MacCallum plumbing and heating services could well be getting a phone call when the new house goes up 🙂

September 29, 2011

A serious piece of Scotland :-(

Filed under: daily doings, listers — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 9:19 pm

Another great day at the north end after a shaky start, not the high twenties of the south, probably half that but fine, fresh, midge free and great for digging 🙂 Of course it was pretty miserable when I fed the pigs this morning but that soon cleared and by 11:00am all was rosy and sunny, though Skye seemed to be getting it’s fair share of showers when I gazed westwards.

The damp start had me pottering about in the shed to start with, trying to sort out a starter for my recently acquired Lister SR2. I’d given up on the complex electronic system that I’d considered to operate the DC motor within the alternator and purchased a second hand starter ring gear from Doug at Real Diesels . The original Lister system of electric starting is quite difficult to do remotely unless you already have a ‘StartOmatic’ as it requires the decompression levers to be operated just after the engine has bee ‘spun up’ by the DC windings in the alternator. Fitting a ring gear to the flywheel would allow me to use a conventional starter motor, which I knew  I had.

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Only trouble being that when I did eventually fine the brand new unit, it was a little larger than I remembered 😦   Had that been the only problem I could have just sorted it by fitting a smaller pinion, the SR has 10 or 11 teeth but the HR (from where this came) has 13. However what I’d failed to take into account was that the HR2 starter is on the opposite side of the engine so spins the wrong way 😦 Still, you learn by your mistakes and I’ve still got it as a spare for Harry, my HR2.

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In fact this brand new starter came with a box of spares that I got with Harry and if you were to buy one it would cost almost as much as I paid for the generator 🙂

Even before the ‘Scotch mist’ cleared Molly and I set off overland to restart work on the 800m long pipe that will supply my latest hydro turbine. I’ve been having the devils own job to try and keep this flowing for more than a few days due to its many undulations before reaching the turbine site at Tarbert. The problem being that some (I’m not sure which) of the high points were air is getting trapped are under ‘negative pressure’ so a conventional bleed valve will not work.

The first one where the pipe comes out of the loch and rises over the bank is the most obvious but after that, and without any kind of surveying equipment it’s a bit ‘hit and miss’. So today I started working my way along the pipe to try and see where the problem lay.

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I chose this spot a couple of hundred meters along the penstock as a starting point, figuring that I’d get the siphon running here and see how long it lasted.

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Then breaking the joint I fitted a reducer, valve, pressure gauge and ball valve. leaving running fully open to remove any air in the system whilst I turned my attention to the loch bank. I’m not convinced that the problem lies here for I had a siphon running over it for a couple of months with no issues. However it was only about 60m or so long and very inch that I can reduce the height of it should help.

My first probing through the peat with a long steel pinch bar where not very encouraging but I laid a line along the most promising route and started digging.

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Not a great picture but after an initial healthy start a came upon a rather solid bit of Scotland, Torridonian sandstone I think and in terms of rock quite soft, but not with a pick, spade and pry bar 😦 That was about two hours work and it was all I could manage, even after taking wee breaks to go and check on my siphon.

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It was still passing some air but when shut off the gauge read 24psi which from memory is 2.31ft per psi, so around 55’ or 17m which came as a bit of a surprise for it did not seem that much lower than the loch (must get a laser level 🙂 ). This was good news indeed for it means that I can at least remove some of the air here via a conventional valve like this (thanks Steve H) or even by drilling a small hole and letting the air escape naturally (thanks Hugh).


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All this backbreaking work had caused me to take more than the odd rest to sit and watch the sheep who had decided to do a spot of mountaineering 🙂

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You wouldn’t catch a pig doing that 🙂

The two slices of bacon that I’d had for breakfast some six hours earlier could sustain me no longer so I headed home for lunch.


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Passing this willow tree on the way that had been doing battle with some horny stag 🙂

Then onto Torran to look at the and its Lister ST2 ‘StartOmatic’ .

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With the very efficient solar panels and Harris hydro turbine that power the Old Schoolhouse Mr Lister seldom needs to start. However on the Sunday ‘changeover’ it was noticed that it wasn’t ‘startOmaticing’ so after having a cuppa with the present guests I got my meter out and had a look.

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It turned out to be just a bad connection on that little chocolate block connector and was soon sorted.

By now wifey was home from her spell on the post, and whilst she put dinner on the cooker I put my ring gear on the oil stove.

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200 degrees is what the recommend for expanding a ring gear to sweat it on a flywheel but I had to make do with 117.2 🙂

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Though it went on no bother and being a second hand one I fitted it so the worn parts were in the opposite place to where the engine would normally stop 🙂

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