Life at the end of the road

November 9, 2011

‘Siphons are to be avoided’

Filed under: daily doings, hydro, life off grid, pigs, shed/house — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 9:43 pm

What a start to the ‘jollies’ it’s been 🙂 sunny and mild for the most of it and I just couldn’t stay in bed. Not that there’s anything unusual in that, but normally I plonk away on here until pig feeding, or daylight, whichever comes first. However, I’m off computers at the moment and have far too much to do in the ‘real world’ just now so went straight outside and made a bonfire 🙂 I know it’s a little late but this wasn’t to celebrate Guy Fawkes or even to burn rubbish.

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It was to fix my oil stove which had started burning yellow, a sure sign that it’s in need of a good clean. This wee stove was actually converted by me from wood to oil when I lived on my own and was out of the house all day. It was great and it was cheap, somewhere between 5 and 7 gallons a week in the days when it was about 20p a litre. Now it’s four times that and even though I converted it to run of cleaner and cheaper kerosene it still costs and arm and a leg to run and needs cleaning regularly.

You can clean it by removing the burner pot and chipping away at the carbon deposits, but by far the best way is to build a good hot fire outside and toss the burner pot inside till it glows cherry red and burns of the hard black crud.

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Once it’s nicely cooked I remove it from the fire, let it cool, hoover it out and re fit it 🙂


The nice blue flame returns, the kitchen returns to 20+ degrees and I can keep my coffee pot warm 🙂 I’ll really miss the two stoves in the new house, the pot roasts, permanently hot coffee and drying/warming rack but I’ll certainly not miss all the faffing about. For the next task was to get ready for an oil delivery, 800lts of kerro for the stove and 1000lts of diesel for the generators and plant at the north end.

Of course anywhere else you could get it delivered to the door but not here, no the tanker won’t go past Brochel, why not beats me for I’m sure they deliver to much worse places. Having said that, they couldn’t get up here now if I wanted them to.

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And it’s got much worse since then 😦

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Having said that I did get a telephone call today from Dave Thompson our local SNP MSP regarding said cattle grid so who knows 🙂

Anyway I spent the next hour, after feeding the fire and pigs organizing an IBC and some barrels for the oil, which I’ll have to tow down to the south end to get filled 😦

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We walked up to Bramble and her wains just to admire the progress that Hooky of Hugh MacKay Plant had made with his Hitachi.

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What a work of art 🙂

Still five elephants 🙂

Next job after breakfast it was down to the hydro turbine to count the elephants and pressure, which much to my glee were all present and correct. That’s a full nine days with no loss of either or sign of any air coming through the penstock 🙂

Still I gathered all my newly acquired fittings together to make up a vacuum chamber at the top of the siphon that would enable me to keep it topped up and remove any air that was under negative pressure.

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So Molly and I headed over to the loch,

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we were not alone, this ‘nine pointer’ and half a dozen hinds watched us closely 🙂


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The plan being to tie this 14m long MDPE pipe into the high point with a valve at each end. This would give me around 66lts of water to displace any air that builds up at the top of the siphon.

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Once Teed in the pipe rises up the bank to a convenient fence post.

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To top it up with water I close the bottom valve, open the top one and remove the bung.

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Here’s the pipe empty,

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with the gauge reading zero.

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Here it is full of 66lts of water under a positive pressure with the top valve open and the bottom closed.

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This is it with top valve closed and bottom open, under negative pressure with the siphon running. The idea is to leave it open so any air will rise to the top of the pipe, periodically the bottom valve can then be closed, the top opened, the bung removed and the reservoir refilled with water 🙂

Well that’s the theory anyway, however the bottom 90mm to 63mm coupling has a slight leak that I’ll have to deal with first 😦 All these couplings are designed to keep water in under pressure, and for that they are great and very forgiving of scratches in the pipe. Working with a vacuum is however a completely different ‘kettle of fish’ and in retrospect I think that fusion couplings would be the way to go. Still ‘you live and learn’, but one thing for sure when considering a hydro scheme ‘SIPHONS MUST BE AVOIDED’ if at all possible 🙂

However so far, since I submerged most of my couplings all has been rosy, and with a bit of luck I’ll get my Powerspout insitu within the next few days and generating. Not that it will be doing anything to contribute to our house as I’ve not bought the cable yet 🙂

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By now it was getting dark so I went back to the workshop to finish assembling the turbine, that looks like it’s out of line, as the centre of the jet should align with the pelton spoon splitter. It is however just an optical illusion, but it can be adjusted with washers.

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Next I spun it up with a drill and all seemed fine, though not having an actual instruction book I’d to drag a laptop into my workshop 🙂 It a very comprehensive PDF right enough 🙂

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That’s it with the glazing on

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and that’ll be the rear cover on, all I need to do now is lug it down the hill and fit it 🙂



  1. What a lovely new road.How Hooky drove that digger one handed, whilst keeping the sign language flowing, is a skill in itself 🙂


    Comment by Andy — November 9, 2011 @ 11:02 pm

    • Glorious response…had me in stitches…

      Comment by cogidubnus — November 10, 2011 @ 12:41 am

      • Not only that Andy and Cogidubnus, he’s usually rolling a cigarette with the other hand 🙂

        Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — November 10, 2011 @ 5:41 am

      • Hell, sounds just like my wife…..only this is usually at about 70MPH……

        Comment by yractual — November 10, 2011 @ 10:04 am

  2. Shame the local council cant give him a few quid to sort out your pot holes. Probably be cheaper than the lorry coming over on the ferry!

    Comment by Simon — November 10, 2011 @ 8:27 pm

    • If only life were so simple and sensible Simon,

      I have just had a conversation with the roads department who want to fill in the cattle grid to save money. Fair enough says I, times are hard and I can live without it, but why not get Simon of to make one locally and drop it in, probably even cheaper than sending the council over to remove the old one, fill in the sump, demolish the side walls etc etc.

      ‘No can do’ says he, all new cattle grids must meet strict safety standards, be a certain depth then sheep can fall right into them, have a ramp for hedgehogs (of which there are none) and most importantly be actually passable by stock!!!!!!!!! What is the point of a cattle grid that can be crossed by cattle?????

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — November 12, 2011 @ 7:34 am

  3. reading a book by eric brende about living off grid (you, btw, make him look like a little pink puppy) and he tells the story of the pioneer maid stoves — invented by a pair of amish brothers. airtight, downdraft, other than that i have no clue as to how they actually work.

    it’s nice to see your no-nonsense cure for built up crud.

    Comment by jeannette — November 11, 2011 @ 4:13 am

    • Nice Stove Jeannette,

      if I was having a chimney in the hoose I’d have one 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — November 12, 2011 @ 7:35 am

  4. Looking forward to hearing how you like Calum’s Road. We went to see it on Tuesday in Inverness. We thoroughly enjoyed it – acting, playwriting, use of props were all excellent and audience was very enthousiatic. It’ll be very special on Raasay.

    Comment by Celia Fraser — November 24, 2011 @ 6:52 pm

    • Glad you enjoyed the play Celia, you can see I did 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — November 28, 2011 @ 3:00 pm

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