Life at the end of the road

August 31, 2012

Donald’s (rock) Garden :-)

Filed under: daily doings, life off grid, shed/house, Trucks and plant, weather — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 9:44 pm

Nearly half past nine and I’ve just sat down, shattered. The washing done, the dinner made and digested, the dishes done and a long hot bath just disappeared down the plughole Smile Can’t see this being very long tonight as I’ve to be up early and off to Portree tomorrow on the 8:55. The hens, pigs, teenager and bins will need dealing with before we leave here at 8:10 and I’m ‘nodding’ already Sad smile

After yesterday’s blue sky and sunshine the last day of summer was a bit of a damp squib, though not until after 9:00am, before that it was actually quite nice. Well it was at 4:00am when I got up due to not being able to sleep, no doubt something to do with Tramadol withdrawal Sad smile Anyway, after rattling about the house, wandering outside to try and photograph the full moon and plonking away on here I went back to bed. Big mistake, for I slept in and did not arise until 7:30, a good hour after the hens should have been let out. Realizing my error I rushed out in my PJ’s and slippers to let them out and clean out their nest boxes. The rest of the housing could wait until after lunch but the nests needed cleaning and filling up with fresh straw, the last thing I wanted was dirty ‘Arnish Eggs’ Sad smile 

That done it was back in the house for coffee and to get dressed before venturing forth to feed the pigs


and discovering a Hitachi 7.5t digger at the end of the road Smile Well it certainly wasn’t there when I fed last night at 18:30 so the GDD must have been up after that Smile The ‘Grumpy Digger Driver’ must see very little of Mrs GDD for he never stops.

As it looked like ‘Hugh Mackay Plant’ would be heading north today I quickly grabbed a bacon sandwich and headed up to the new house site to be there before him. This would give the impression that I worked almost as hard as him Smile 




My task for the day was to move all the electrics out of the  new barn and into the ‘lean to’ that I’d built on the back of it. It wasn’t a crucial task but this shed would ultimately house Harry the HR2, batteries and all the inverters so it seemed a logical move.

Sure enough a few moments after Molly and I had started removing all the gear I’d just fitted a few months ago Hugh turned up with his ‘pecker’ swinging from his bucket Smile



The ‘pecker’ in question being a Toku hydraulic rock breaker to deal with ‘Donald’s Garden’ and it needed a new chisel. A £200 plus chisel that was covered in black grease that Molly managed to get covered in Sad smile 



Whilst almost 50% of ‘Donald’s garden’ was proper soil (probably the only soil at the north end of Raasay) the bit where ‘yours truly’ wanted to put his house is rock, solid rock. Lewisian Gneiss that needed chiselling away inch by inch to make a level site.


Me, I spent the day moving this from here to



here and adding an electric meter so that I could see at a glance how much power I’d generated.



After that it was chooks, eggs, boy, shop, dinner, washing, bath, washing up, blog and now bed Smile


So, I’ll just leave you with the weather Smile


August 30, 2012

Wettest summer in 100years, aye right :-)

Filed under: daily doings, hydro, life off grid, listers — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 9:19 pm

No posting last night peeps, the wee dug and I  went to bed early Smile yup, your right, the dug has taken the wife’s place beside me and I let her. Molly is not going to take kindly to being shut in the kitchen on her return I can tell you Smile 

It was pretty miserable yesterday right from the word go and I have to say that I had little enthusiasm for the day at all. My reluctance to meet it ‘head on’ in no small part due to two large glasses of red wine and an undisclosed number of cans Sad smile Serve me right, I was even less thrilled to get on with the ‘days doings’ when I discovered my box of Tramadol was empty Sad smile Though how I’d let slip by me was a mystery, well OK it wasn’t actually empty, it was full of that slip of paper that says ‘ may cause constipation (yup I can vouch for that and the associated smell Sad smile ), upset stomach (OK it takes a lot to upset my stomach but they certainly had an effect), blurred vision, headaches (none of those) , hallucinations (if only Smile ), restlessness, insomnia, panic attacks and you may get withdrawal symptoms Sad smile  That did it, I’ve had enough of rattling when I drink more than three cups of coffee and feeling like carp in the morning if I’ve had a drink, I’m giving them up. Not that I have much choice really, living where I do makes it really easy to give anything up, I can vouch for that, I give up smoking regularly Smile Actually I gave that up (again) at the Boxing day tsunami but have lapsed occasionally, though not this year Smile 

Anyway the ‘Scotch mist’ that greeted me and the half gale that accompanied it had me thinking that it would be a day for inside stuff. Well at least after I’d fed the herd, cleaned out the chooks and done all the regular stuff that wifey does. All of these being completed wearing oilskins and wellingtons but not accompanied by the dreaded midge. That diminutive plague of the ‘west coast’ having made up for the lost time of an arid April, May, June and July. The old midge had become a bit of a pest of late, in reality no worse than any other August, but they’d been absent for so long that I’d kinda got used to being ‘midgeless’.

Being already clad in ‘Smidge’ and waterproofs the wee dug and I went to see if we could squeeze some power out of the ‘Stream Engine, hydro turbine.



This little Canadian number that has been whirring away here for a couple of years extracting some 3850Kwh from a little burn on my croft has done ‘diddly squat’ since April . Not through any fault of its own I should add but from a sheer lack of rain, the peeps ‘down souff’ may have been getting drowned but we’ve had a drought. A few wet days in August however convinced me that I could perhaps get the Stream Engine producing again by tweaking the nozzles.



Well I did manage to get it up to 180v but it really needs to be over 220 to put anything meaningful into the battery bank.


Still it was quite pleasant down there at the waters edge despite the pishing  rain, and whilst you can’t see them on account of the wet stuff forcing me to keep the camera undercover, the loch was full of porpoises or dolphins.


Leaving our little power station on the shore Molly and I went back home for breakfast, a rare treat of ‘Arnish Eggs’ Smile One good thing about being wifeless is being able to grade the eggs and perhaps keep a few ‘factory seconds’ Smile

Lister SR2 ‘pushrod cover seals’

All the while the wind was freshening and the rain falling so I decided to have a go at Cyril our Lister SR2 6Kw generator. Cyril has only done 150 hours work since he left RA Lister’s factory in 1972 but he has an annoying oil leak.


Not in anyway serious but the fan blows it all over the batteries, the leak was coming from the injector leak off rubbers and the two ‘D’ shaped rubber seals that sit between the cylinder heads and the pushrod casing. To do this job strictly ‘by the book’ would require the cylinder heads to be removed, and had this engine done anything like a serious number of hours or work that is what I would have done. Cyril however, despite his forty years has done nothing more than 150 hours and I knew there was little point in cylinder head removal. The rubber seals having  just gone hard with age


so I removed the rocker boxes and pushrod cover, loosened off all the nuts, removed the oil feed pipes and rockers then slackened all the manifold nuts without removing them. The pushrods, injector pipes, leak off pipe and oil feed pipes also being removed and put to one side.



This allowed me to lift up the cylinder heads just enough to slide out the old hardened seals and slip some new ones in.



Although Cyril is an SR I only had the later  ST gaskets and seals, all of which are slightly different but the ‘D’ shaped seals, whilst being slightly thicker will fit, in fact they’re a better fit Smile

Not many people know this

With the cylinder heads gently raised using a bar wrapped in a rag, the new seals fitted, both on the pushrod tubes and injector leak off pipes I started to rebuild it.


015 016

Most threads on Lister engines of this vintage are UNF and they can be identified by that ring around the nuts and the number 3. On any application requiring a torque wrench these markings should be placed facing upwards so as not to give a false reading on the torque wrench Smile



A free box of ‘Arnish Eggs’ post paid to any reader who actually knew that Smile Incidentally the torque for a Lister SR cylinder head is 50lb ft and the valve clearances (with steel pushrods) is 8 thou and with aluminium 14 thou.



With that all done and Cyril purring away nicely we went up to the new house site which was now minus ‘Donald’s garden’


but much of the stone will be going into the house itself and the rest back into another wall.



The hydro may have been doing zip but the Proven was belting it out at over 40amps so I decided to use the oven.



Simple and plain fare being the order of the day, dunno what you’d call it but it was layers of spuds, bacon, leeks, tomatoes and garlic slices, bit of pepper, some stock and hour at 200, boodly delicious Smile



Unlike the days weather Sad smile



After the first bath in weeks I went to bed, it may have rained once or twice in August but water was still scarce, though being just me in the house, and having not had any Tramadol I figured I’d earned a bath. After a week of showers on the ferry it was pure heaven Smile Today however was a totally different ‘kettle of fish’


right from the start



and I had no difficulty getting up to deal with it Smile


That boulder surrounded by heather is what they call a ‘glacial erratic’ a rounded lump of sandstone transported here by a sheet of ice millennia ago. It’s just amazing the carp that sticks in your head from school. I can’t remember what day it is but I know that this lump of sedimentary rock got plonked on this igneous gneiss by ice Smile


I call it ‘laptop rock’ for it is one of the only places that you can get a good enough phone signal to use a dongle Smile


Or at least it was in 2008 when Hugh Piggott came to stay



There was more, much more, I repaired a strimmer, cut the lawn for the first time in three weeks on account of the drought.

032  033

I pulled a Studer inverter apart



and even did some paperwork, I dealt with the hens, repaired the barn door, touched up my caravan and fitted a new aluminium moulding



but now its 22:06 and I’m going to shut the hens in and go to bed.

The new ‘Community News Letter’ arrived in my inbox today with this little snippet of bad news


Recently a mink was spotted swimming between Raasay and Fladda. As mink are an aggressive invasive species, and can do great damage to indigenous populations of wild birds and small mammals, the Highland Ranger has asked for any more information you may have. If you have spotted mink anywhere on Raasay this year please email Lloyd or Joan with brief details, and we will pass the information onto Jenny Grant.

Hopefully it was just a small otter.

Copies of the newsletter can be had from Joan or Lloyd or and its well worth a read.

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