Life at the end of the road

October 31, 2011

Even more power :-)

Filed under: daily doings, hydro, life off grid, pigs, shed/house, weather — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 9:23 pm

I’ll not bore you with even more rants about the clocks and I’ll just get on with it 🙂 Well apart from a little one about wifey setting the alarm clock for 6:30pm instead of 6:30am and almost not getting the boy down to the ferry on time 🙂 Me I don’t need an alarm clock, in fact I only bought one nine years ago when I started work on the ferry. I always set it but seldom require it, it’s just a comfort thing 🙂

I only realized her error as I put on my boots at 6:45 to go and feed the pigs, who normally get fed at 7:45 but then they don’t alter their clocks 🙂 Anyway I shouted something like ‘not getting up this morning’ and made a hasty exit. The swineherd is not a ‘morning person’ at the best of times 🙂

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Wifey may not have been pleased to hear me but Bramble was as I trundled up to the new house site to feed her.

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Her cosy ark is perhaps a little too cosy as she’d managed to crush another piglet, the largest, during the night 😦

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Still, the four remaining were all thriving and very inquisitive 🙂

Don’t ever get involved with a siphon 😦

The day was pretty wild, mild and until lunchtime at least, pretty dry, in fact it was really quite refreshing, especially after that bottle of Chianti last night that mum had given us 🙂 The plan for today was to do what I should have done yesterday with the boys had the weather not been so atrocious.

As you’ll know if you’ve been following, I’m trying to get a reliable siphon going in an 800m length of 90mm pipe to supply my hydro turbine, which will hopefully power our new house and barn. I’ve had the water flowing many times but after about a week it stops due to air ingress. There’s many possibilities for this and I’m not going to go over them again but if your interested read this,145889.0.html . Anyway, I’ve exhausted most options and plan to put a pressure vessel at the high point that I can fill with water, but I’ll tell you all about that when the parts arrive. Before that however there was just one last thing to do, and that was to submerge all the joints and pipe work on the suction part of the siphon. Then at least if there were leaks they would be of water and not air 🙂

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Having a spade on board I decided to help our hard pressed council by clearing some of the water off the road.

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It really is amazing what can be achieved by one man and a spade in five minutes, of course that even included filling in the risk assessment and making sure I had a mobile phone signal in case I put the spade through my steel to cap boot. Unlikely I know but its very dangerous working on the highway on ones own, which reminds me ‘HIGHWAY’ means just that, the road should be higher than the surrounding land, or at least have ditches either side to carry the water away, it’s not ‘rocket science’ 🙂

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The road wasn’t the only place full of water, this old peat bank proved a bit of an obstacle that had me getting off and pushing 😦 I’ve been up it dozens of times without assistance, but not today 🙂

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Once down at the loch I started digging into the bank to submerge the three valves that switch the flow between pump and siphon. I also changed that length of blue pipe on the left as it was badly scored, not a problem had it been under pressure for it would have just leaked water out but I feared that it may have been letting air in.

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Especially at these crappy valves

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Plimex they’re called and they’re rubbish, they keep coming loose and the blue handle is not held on with anything so just falls off 😦 The only good thing is their price, around a third of a proper one and I wish I’d have spent the extra.

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An hour or so’s work had a nice deep trench dug and the pump set up for priming,

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and all the valves and joints fully submerged.



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I’d like to say it all went smoothly but it didn’t, far from it, the pump kept blocking with all the cr4p from my trench and it took a good couple of hours to get the water flowing to Tarbert.

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The wee dug and I must have walked up and down the pipe half a dozen times bleeding it before we got air free water coming out.

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Eventually we won and the pressure gauge showed a steady 6bar at 3lts/sec and 7bar of static head so I was well pleased. Though I’ll let you know how pleased if it’s still running in a week 🙂

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Where’s Jimmy Jess 🙂

By now the heavens had opened and yours truly and the ‘wee dug’ were well soaked,

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unlike my mate in his nice cosy digger

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who as usual was pleased to see me. Though he did remark that an extra pair of hands like Jimmy Jess’s would come in handy 🙂

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And an extra pair of wellies would have been handy for the ‘wee dug’, who in her enthusiasm to greet the Grumpy Digger Driver leapt into some very deep mud :-) 


Even more Kilowatts 🙂

The wind and rain saw us producing 31Kwh of electricity today, roughly 20Kwh from the Stream Engine and 11Kwh from the 2.5 who have now been taken over by

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The meter on the left is reading 15.1amps at 53.9v (814w) and the one on the right measures the dump loads, that’s 636w with a total of 1453 dumped since April 1st

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The house meter on the left is total consumed (excluding dumps) in the last six years and the ones on the right are, top to bottom battery voltage, frequency and AC voltage. The meter on the right is Kwh produced by the generator in the last six years.

October 30, 2011

Wrestling with the clocks :-(

Filed under: daily doings, hydro, shed/house, weather — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 11:09 pm

To be honest I’ll be glad to see the back of this weekend for it’s been the most miserable I can remember in a long while at least on the weather front.


That wind speed indicator being the lowest it’s been in days and I’m sure that rain gauge is a decimal point out, it certainly feels like it.

Still, we’ve certainly had plenty of power this weekend, in fact I can’t remember when the generator last ran, probably September. In the 48 hour period between 7:00pm Friday and 7:00pm Sunday, that’s actually 6:00pm because of this pish of changing the clocks. Anyway, it was a full two days, and it that time the Proven wind turbine and the ‘Stream Engine’ water turbine have produced 57Kwh of electricity, 39 of which was ‘dumped’ into the heating elements in the porch, bathroom and bedroom. We used 18Kwh in that period which is over double our normal 4.3Kwh per day. A figure obtained after just three days short of six years usage, in which time we’ve used 9548Kwh.

graph 251011


The reason we used so much is because we tend to do high energy stuff like baking, roasting, washing and tumble drying when it’s wet or windy. Conversely in droughts and calm spells we do less washing and more pot roasting. It’s no great inconvenience and you soon get used to making the most of natures elements :-) 

Well done Raasay

Saturday was ‘postless’ due to a rapid change of plan in the morning, sure I’d got up as normal, fed the pigs, checked Bramble for milk and started to get stuff ready for more ‘hydro madness’. My son and his pal were due to be playing footie on the all weather pitch at Portree high but we all felt certain that would be cancelled and were looking forward to a day at home.

With the wind blowing 35mph and the rain lashing down, we received a call that it was on 😦 Still unconvinced that it actually would be, and feeling certain that once we arrived at Portree High sanity would prevail I offered to take them. I needed my helpers for the days task and would be hard pressed without them. Of course I could have stayed home and done the VAT return, but why break a 22 year old spell of avoiding it until the last possible moment 🙂

Three nil nil draws and two nil one defeats can hardly be called a good result but it was in our book. Our diligent players were playing against well oiled teams twice their size and with  only six or seven of their own players. The rest of Raasay FC being made up with players from other teams and I have to say a most excellent goalie who was responsible for stopping some excellent goals by the other teams 🙂


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We left there at 14:30 and instead of going home headed for the mainland and my parents house. I’d planned to go over on Sunday anyway but visiting on Saturday would make better use of time as I was already on Skye. Not only that but I had a pump on board to fill up their new oil tank 🙂

A boodly disgrace

My elderly folks are having new central heating fitted under some scheme or another for pensioners wishing to upgrade to more efficient heating. It all sounds very good in theory, they have an old and expensive system with not enough radiators and their current oil tank isn’t ‘bunded’ this means having a double skin capable of taking the entire contents.   There’s nothing wrong with the tank, it was quite legal when it was fitted, being plastic and covered in ivy it is unlikely to degrade and not being made by Balmoral is unlikely to split. However every time the tank is filled the driver mentions that it should be double skinned due to its proximity to a burn. Something that as you can imagine worries my folks greatly.

Hearing about this scheme and then actually qualifying for a whole new system and tank seemed like a godsend then, aye that’ll be right 😦 It’s been surveyed three times, the plumbers have turned up twice then left with some lame excuse without doing anything. Three weeks ago my mum moved furniture and carpets for them to do the ‘one day’ job and due to incompetence beyond belief she’s still waiting. One lot came to fit the plinth for the tank, a week later the second lot came to fit the condensing boiler but couldn’t because there was  no plinth for it. The third lot came to ‘fit the plinth’ and just dropped of a paving stone and vanished into the ether :-(   Though that wasn’t before saying that they couldn’t possibly fit the boiler at this end of the house and it would have to go elsewhere!!! Then when she asked them about transferring the oil the 2m from the old tank to the new they replied ‘sno ma job’ 😦 When the seventy odd year old with the eighty odd year old husband enquired as to how they were supposed to do it something about ‘them’ as in Ma and Pa doing it was muttered 😦

Fortunately moving oil is something that I’m well used to after 26 years ‘off grid’ so I did it with little fuss and effort. But you’d think that a company that installs OIL central heating would have some means of putting oil in the friggin tank to test it!! I know when folk have had new systems fitted or new tanks installed on Raasay the plumbers have transferred the oil as part of the job.

After doing that, fitting a shelf, having a bite to eat and being given a fine 2007 Chianti (which I’m now savouring) we left for the 21:00 ferry from Sconser.

Messing about with clocks

Arriving on Raasay at 21:25 we headed north in the dark, collecting another one of my team along the way 🙂 I went straight to bed leaving wifey with the ‘three amigos’ 🙂 This morning I arose at the usual time by my body clock, which is insanely early according to the time that the freshly altered clock says. I friggin hate all this messing about with clocks, it leaves both me and the pigs confused for weeks 🙂 It’s not just the fact that my body clock is messed up, it’s all the pishing about with the multitude of timers, clocks, thermostats and alarms that seem so abundant in twenty first century life. What is the point of it!!!! I don’t care what time we use, GMT, UTC, BST, CET or friggin Arnish Pig Time but can we please just pick one and keep to it.

It’s not ‘rocket science’

The day really did not get off to a good start, I was already in a foul mood after all the clock fettling when I went to feed Bramble and Jamie Lea. As has been usual for the past week I checked Bramble for milk, and sure enough she had it in abundance so I went to move Jamie back onto the croft. That was when I noticed the piglets, four of them all curled up in a nest of bracken inside the ark.

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Four live ones and four dead ones 😦 Bramble had farrowed early and Jamie had squashed four. We thought she wasn’t due until November and wifey had checked her for milk last night and found none. They can’t have been more than an hour or two old for a little later she had another making five live ones in all. I can’t help kicking myself for not splitting them earlier but there’s not a lot that I can do about it 😦


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It may have been dark wet and windy last night, and the ‘GDD’ of Hugh Mackay plant may have been working all night at Glenelg loading timber onto the Red Duchess


for JST but that didn’t stop him bringing up more plant to Arnish 🙂

After feeding and moving everyone then having breakfast we turned our attention back to the hydro pipe at Tarbert.

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Of course we couldn’t use the cattle grid as the council had ‘fixed it’ 🙂 Perhaps I’m being unfair as I only complained about it collapsing on Thursday, but it will be interesting to see how long it takes them to actually replace it. They will of course deny all knowledge of the cattle grid actually being fecked for months despite their surveyors and the bin lorry being over it many times over the last few months 🙂

The pipe in the picture was dragged down to the end of the pipe from Loch Beag and attached to it.

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Adding this 50 or so meters on the end would give a little more head, shorten the cable run and put the turbine in a sheltered position.


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The Powerspout will be going where the spade is, sheltered from the majority of the weather and most of the salt spray.

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But first we had to take the valve back to the workshop to do some mods,

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but by the time we returned to fit it the heavens had opened into a relentless deluge.

It was only 14:00 by the clock but 15:00 in reality and my team were soaked to the skin so I took them home and ordered them to stay on the ‘Xbox’ 🙂 To be honest I’m sure they’d have rather been out in the pishing rain but I didn’t want them getting pneumonia 🙂

I had packed the Honda 2” water pump with the intention of getting the siphon flowing but realistically it was a ‘none starter’ due to the time. Had I started messing about with the pump in Loch Beag it would have been dark by the time I’d have got water flowing, so I headed home.

Now this aint ‘rocket science’ but you can clearly see that this quad is in rather a deep puddle,

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where’s it gone !!!!!!!

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That’s where it’s gone,

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five fecking minutes it took me with a £15 garden friggin spade from Jansvans in Portree to fix that. OK it still left a 100mm deep pothole, but if the council kept the water off the friggin road the potholes wouldn’t fester. Every fortnight they send a pickup over on the ferry at the cost of £90 to pick up none existent litter, how much money would they save if they sent a spade over as well 🙂

Better still why not employ a contractor on Raasay to do both, save a fortune and give some much needed local employment?

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