Life at the end of the road

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.

pigs 028

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 🙂


  1. Hi Paul.
    You know the whole length of your 800 mtr Hydro pipe inside and out every fall,drop,dip,up, down and diameter but what it’s doing with you is creating the air pockets that screw all your hard work up. So its now the time where you take the bull by the horn’s and dictate where the air will collect and you are able to release them pockets of air.

    Remember Paul

    The Little old Nuns

    At the Pearly Gates, they are met by St. Peter. He says, “Sisters, you all
    led such exemplary lives that the Lord is granting you six months to go
    back to earth and be anyone you wish to be”
    The first nun says, “I want to be Sophia Loren;”
    And *poof* she’s gone.
    The second says, “I want to be Madonna and *poof* she’s gone.
    The third says, “I want to be Sara Pipalini..”
    St. Peter looks perplexed. “Who?” he asked
    “Sara Pipalini,” replies the nun.
    St. Peter shakes his head and says, “I’m sorry, but that name just doesn’t ring a bell.”
    The nun then takes a newspaper out of her habit and hands it to St. Peter.
    St. Peter reads the paper and starts laughing. He hands it back to her and says.
    “No sister, the paper says it was the ‘ Sahara Pipeline’ that was laid by
    1,400 men in 6 months.”
    It may not be relevant, but one had a grand idea.

    Await your answer

    Comment by polite Scouser — September 30, 2011 @ 10:28 am

    • Morning Walter, Sahara Pipeline 🙂

      If only life were so simple with the pipeline Walter. The problem is that some parts are under ‘negative’ pressure and as yet I’m not entirely sure which ones they are. Any bleed valves here will tend to suck air in, though that has just given me an idea. I could easily determine the suspect humps by teeing a valve and clear pipe into the system and putting it into a bucket, bubbles out = pressure, water in = vacuum 🙂

      Ta matey

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — October 1, 2011 @ 6:21 am

  2. Hi Paul,
    Nice to have passed you today on the road. Sorry we couldn’t have more of a chat, but maybe next time! I’m off to Ord tomorrow, so hoping for better weather. Didn’t make it to end of road. Pot holes v bad and when its wet, you dont know whats under the water! Fladda can wait another year. At least I’ve done it many times before.
    Cheers, Carolyn

    Comment by Carolyn — September 30, 2011 @ 3:22 pm

    • Good to see you too Carolyn, pity I had to rush, wise move with the car and potholes, some of them are far deeper than they look 😦

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — October 1, 2011 @ 6:31 am

  3. Actually, you would get a pig doing that! When I used to shoot feral pigs back in Australia there were a number of occasions when I spotted them up the sides of bluffs and had problems working out they’d got there. (No problem getting them down, though. BANG!) And when we picked up Gus, our previous Berkshire boar, we found ourselves being watched by a huge sow stood high on a very steep and rugged hillside. The owners said she often climbed up to the top to keep an eye on things, making her a definite “spider pig”! 😀

    Comment by Stonehead — October 1, 2011 @ 9:31 pm

  4. Oh, and I’m almost tempted to come and visit with my big sledgehammer and rock drills having seen your trench. I like breaking stone. 😀

    Comment by Stonehead — October 1, 2011 @ 9:32 pm

    • were you a convict in a previous incarnation, Stonehead?

      Comment by carina — October 2, 2011 @ 12:15 am

      • Funnily enough, quite a few of my ancestors were. 😀

        And one of my grandfathers went down the mines, aged 13. He, and other relatives who were miners, used to drill rock with drills and sledgehammers while lying on their sides, crouching or bent double. Doing the same job outside, in the rain, is easy by comparison.

        Comment by Stonehead — October 3, 2011 @ 9:33 pm

      • oh dear, I meant it as a joke Stoney … no offence intended

        Comment by carina — October 3, 2011 @ 11:22 pm

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