Life at the end of the road

September 16, 2011

Plan ‘D’ :-(

Filed under: daily doings, hydro, Land Rover, life off grid, weather, wind turbine — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 9:35 pm

Oh boy, will I sleep tonight after today’s epic 🙂 The day started off well enough, I was up bright an early looking forward to finishing off the fence repair I started yesterday, changing the pigs bedding, perhaps cutting a little more and then making a dent in my woodpile. Things however did not go to plan, not even a little bit 😦


The first day off was nice enough but the second was a ‘pure peach’, just like the forecast said, wall to wall sunshine. So much so that the lawn dried out and I almost cut it 🙂 The first job of the day was the simple task of replacing the power steering belt on the Land Rover, yet another casualty of the disgraceful roads on Raasay. The first one of the week being a puncture on wifey’s car, which will probably set me back £100 as the sidewall was damaged. The sidewall is always damaged these days, has anyone else had a puncture recently and not had to fit a new tyre or is it just residents of the north end of Raasay?

I hate these modern low profile tyres, you feel every bump on the road, they put the wheel so close to the road that you b****r the rim up every time you touch the kerb and they cost an arm and a leg. Not only that but they’re total cr4p in the snow, it wouldn’t be so bad if they gave you a decent spare. No no, some Mickey Mouse offering they call a ‘space saver’, which is corporate speak for money saver, theirs 😦 Why do we put up with this sh1t, apparently some cars don’t even have a spare these days!!!

The scrap tyre is probably an obvious victim of the road, pot holes 100mm plus deep, with their attendant ‘spoil heaps’ strewn nearby. Having to drive on the verge in several places to avoid the craters and a cattle grid that is in danger of collapse through rust. The power steering belt is not so obvious or even such a big deal, but it is a consequence of all the deep water which sprays under the bonnet and causes the belt to slip. And no I don’t drive fast, it takes me almost 40 minutes to drive 11 miles.

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Fortunately I had a spare and it’s just a simple job (on the NA and TD) to loosen off the 13mm bolt on the idler pulley and slip a new belt on. Rather than use a bar to tighten the belt a 32mm spanner just fits the pulley support nicely allowing you to tension it whilst nipping up the bolt.

That done I went to check on the new hydro turbine site and was dismayed to see that the flow had diminished to a trickle, so spent a couple of hours bleeding the 800m long supply pipe. With that sorted and a steady 3lts/sec flowing out I went to help wifey in the veg patch. Or should I say I went to observe wifey in the veg patch whilst I ‘piglet proofed’ a fence. The main fence that surrounds the 50 or so meter plot is a 2m high deer fence but part of it is cordoned off for keeping freshly weaned piglets in. It’s very secure and at the opposite end of the croft from the sows so escape is impossible. However the fence that divides it up is made from chicken wire and the last lot of weaners that we put in there managed to burst it, with disastrous results for the contents. Not that they ate a great deal but they sure had a good dig 😦

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Adding some ‘Ryloc’ fencing to the outside sorted that and once it was secure I put the six ‘spotties’ in to test it 🙂


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What can I say, look what greeted me as I went out to feed at 7:00am 🙂

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As for the Storr, it looked like it had been deposited there from Utah or the Grand Canyon, awesome 🙂

Proven in difficulty ?


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The trusty Proven 2.5Kw was working well preparing for its seventh winter, though I hear that the company is in need of a cash injection 😦 Shame because this truly is a perfect ‘off grid’ turbine for exposed locations. Hope they get sorted because I’d have no hesitation at buying another if we needed one for the new house.

They’ve had a lot of bad press of late, much of which has to be said was due to faulty installations rather than a bad product, but it did them no favours. I feel that the current issue with their large 35-2 may be the final straw, bad news for a Scottish company that actually makes something and doesn’t outsource it to the far east. Though I’d not be surprised if any restructuring of the company would do exactly that 😦

Even before breakfast I went over to Tarbert to check on the water flow at my turbine site, which is when I realized that the day was not going to be as planned 😦 The gush that I’d left last night from the loch some 70m higher had gone down to a mere trickle. This could only mean one thing, air in the pipe, I was not a happy chappy  😦

Nothing for it but to go and check the penstock’s entire 800m length of 90mm pipe for leaks again. If the pipe went straight down this would not be an issue, for any air would just flow out through the end. Indeed my initial plan was to do just that with a 500m long penstock pipe, and there are times that I’d wished  I’d stuck to plan ‘A’. The problem with taking the sane and easy route being that access to the actual turbine would be difficult and it would mean an extra 500m of expensive cable as opposed to 300m of free pipe. I say ‘free’ but the amount of time and effort I’ve put into this mammoth undertaking does make me wonder how free it actually is.

I’ve already moved the pipe once to find a less hilly route and that seemed to work for a while, the times it stopped siphoning I just put down to air leaks due to the pipe contracting as the cold water ran through it. Walking the pipe today I discovered a high spot where the flow had stopped. All the pipe between there and the loch was full of water and all after empty.

Surveying the terrain once more I decided upon another route avoiding this high spot. A course that would involve much manual labour and some dodgy quad riding close to a cliff.

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First job was to empty the pipe, it’s hard to drag 80m lengths over the rock and heath with no water in but impossible when full.

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The plan ‘D’ route was taking me uncomfortably close to the 60 or so meter drop to Loch Arnish but there was nothing for it. Dragging by hand was out of the question (I tried) so it was up to the Honda and my lucky underpants.

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The ‘wee dug’ was not impressed and soon moved to the safety of the heather and the side away from gravity, or at least its consequences.

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By 13:00 I’d done the worst of it, but was soaked to the skin and hungry so returned home to get changed and eat, reluctantly abandoning my saturated (with water) lucky underpants in the process 🙂

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Fortunately I found some lucky white heather instead and completed the epic by 17:30 without incident. Much swearing, sweating and panting right enough but at least we were in one piece. The new route is in fact some 20m shorter as well as a few meters lower so fingers crossed.

After dinner the Dude, Lighting MacLennan and I went to switch off the priming pump and all seemed rosy so we’ll see what tomorrow brings. I’ll give it one more chance before resorting to plan ‘E’ which is an all downhill route of about 600m with en extra 3 or 400m of cable, though I’ll save that until my boy has more friends up to stay :-) 

weather 160911

So I’ll just leave you with the weather

graph 160911

I’m off to bed 🙂



  1. first i see a huge white best end of pudding sitting in the back of the quad and then i see miss molly’s most soulful piercing gaze — ah! a good day for pudding-to-match-the-lucky-heather fans.

    and, bbc radio 4 had some guy wandering around in the heather today (huge grouse shooting moor), said it blooms just this time of year for a week and smells like honey. true?

    Comment by jeannette — September 17, 2011 @ 12:46 am

    • Morning Jeannette,

      it has indeed been an exceptional year for the heather, and yes it does smell like honey, though it would be more accurate to say that honey from bees that have fed on it smells like heather.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — September 17, 2011 @ 4:59 am

  2. Paul, you’ll be going through the whole alphabet at this rate

    Comment by carina — September 17, 2011 @ 11:38 am

    • Morning Carina,

      think I’m rapidly heading towards E 😦

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — September 20, 2011 @ 5:37 am

  3. Thanks for the offer of ’emergency’ air fills Paul, i’ll have a word with a clam diver when i see one about nitrox (certainly be cheaper than a trip to Oban).


    p.s. cracking pic of the Storr, going to be another good day tomorrow too :-).

    Comment by Rich — September 17, 2011 @ 7:20 pm

    • It was indeed a good day Rich 🙂 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — September 20, 2011 @ 5:43 am

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