Life at the end of the road

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.



  1. Hey Paul, I know everything about lister engines, including that wee snippet. I claim my free eggs, I a m overdue a visit so I could collect them to save on the postage. Surely if the dreaded mink has come over then you could set the dude onto it, he must be a crack shot by now.

    Comment by Simon. — August 30, 2012 @ 10:08 pm

    • Morning Simon, now you don’t have to tell any porkies to get free range eggs just come on up to the door 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — August 31, 2012 @ 7:07 am

  2. The Old Man of Storr and his companions look magnificent ! Dead foxes and swimming mink….whatever next.
    Do rats swim in the sea? Amazing to see your house site flattened ! When do the foundations start ? x

    Comment by SOTW — August 30, 2012 @ 10:28 pm

    • Dunno about rats swimming in the sea but wifey almost spotted the inverted egg 😦 Though I did explain that by the time it got in the box and stamped it was the right way round 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — August 31, 2012 @ 7:06 am

  3. The drought has shown that you certainly need a good spread of power generation options using “off-grid alternatives”. Many fields down here still have standing corn due to the rain.More expensive times ahead foodwise seem likely.

    Comment by Andy — August 30, 2012 @ 11:02 pm

    • Morning Andy, the number of times I’ve kicked myself for not buying more PV 😦

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — August 31, 2012 @ 7:04 am

  4. Sadly i knew that little snippet of info about unf bolts, comes from my apprentice days working on leyland mastiff tippers this one must be in oz, the things disintergrated with rust in this country. So i claim my eggs also.
    Anyway your post has reminded me, the same job needs doing on my st2….

    Comment by The Peoples Republic of Northumbria — August 31, 2012 @ 2:38 am

    • Morning Steve, can you collect from South Shields 🙂 If not I’ll deliver them personally 🙂 Really loved the video, we had one of those on a stand at college, the V8 not the Mastiff 🙂 What we did have though was a Commer TS3 chassis and running gear complete with the 3 cylinder 6 piston turbocharged two stroke. Now that did make a lovely noise 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — August 31, 2012 @ 7:03 am

      • prone to running backwards under certian conditions..

        Comment by The Peoples Republic of Northumbria — August 31, 2012 @ 5:13 pm

  5. Hi Paul, Sadly (perhaps) I too knew about those bloody bolts, from my apprenticeship days working on HGVs for the most part in Glesca. I’ll waive the egg award for now though. Mink are a prize pest. More likely to be an Otter given the sighting location, I’d expect. Otherwise look out for those Hens.

    Comment by yractual — August 31, 2012 @ 8:33 am

  6. Hi Paul, We have seen mink recently at sconser, one was on the shore in front of the golf club and this week Les saw one come out of the quarry and cross the road going towards the shore. They are good swimmers and can stay under water for some time so could they swim to Raasay? Don’t let them get a hold over there, you haven’t even foxes to predate on them. I remember a friend of mine over 10 years ago trying to motivate various powers that be to control the mink on Skye but all she met with was total denial that they existed on Skye. Now we are hearing lots of sightings of them and they are taking advantage of the increase in chook keepers here. A survey is being undertaken to determine the extent of the problem over the next few years, considering mink are prolific breeders it’s definitely shutting the door after the horse has bolted. Don’t let it happen on Raasay. Keep up with the blogging it’s invaluable.

    Comment by Carole and Finnie — August 31, 2012 @ 9:11 am

  7. Morning Paul Mink have been seen in Braes as well. I would imagine they may be able to swim from Aird to Raasay at slack water, but hopefully they try it when the tide’s running.

    Comment by John MacDonald — August 31, 2012 @ 10:18 am

  8. A few years ago I saw mink at first hand, who were living in the shed next to my friend’s house at Point of Sleat on Skye. They had ruined most of the furniture stored there while his croft house was being renovated and they were very bold, swimming across the harbour when the tide was in. I hope you don’t get them on Raasay. So destructive.

    Comment by Carolyn — August 31, 2012 @ 10:31 am

  9. i don’t know what tramadol is, but it sounds like it’s hard for you to take it and hard not to take it. i got a really good acupuncturist for sciatica, and it worked wonders, it may be hocus pocus (i don’t actually think so) but it’s not drugs with bad side efffects. i’m with you on the hallucinations, though. party on.

    Comment by jeannettesmyth — August 31, 2012 @ 8:55 pm

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