Life at the end of the road

February 10, 2013

Keeping the lights on :-)

Filed under: daily doings, hydro, life off grid, weather — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 9:51 pm

I realized as soon as I awoke this morning that I should have lowered the Proven yesterday, the light and variable air of Saturday having been replaced by half a gale from the east Sad smile It was my own fault, I should have taken more heed of the forecast, but at least it was dry once more, with even a hint of blue sky and no sign of the forecast snow.


There was a wee lull around 9:00am, so after feeding the pigs, reintroducing myself to the four piglets



and loading up the quad with all the tools required, I set off up to the turbine.

I cannot sing the praises of my Proven 2.5Kw wind turbine highly enough, the company did have issues with lack of customer support and some of their models had reliability issues. The worst of which was the 15Kw model, though the 6Kw was not without its problems initially and the internet is awash with tales of woe concerning these. However my WT2500 has never been lowered for more than a couple of days and that was only once, normally I do whatever work is needed in just a few hours and I’ve never spent a penny on it. Actually that’s a lie, I once bought some nylon bar off eBay to make yaw rollers and that cost me £6 Smile OK, I’ve been lucky in scrounging a few second hand springs but that can’t be bad for a turbine that’s sat through seven or eight west coast winters.

When I spoke to wifey after last weeks storm and she told me that there was a ‘clunk’ at low speeds from the wind turbine, I knew straight off what the problem would be, a broken furling spring.


Sure enough, when I got up there, one of the nine stainless steel springs was broken, not that I was worried, I had at least one more spare and the turbine itself has massive bearings so not prone to self destruction like lesser turbines.



Using a Tirfor winch and the supplied ‘gin pole’ I soon had the turbine down and resting on a 45 gallon drum and pallet.

260512 029  260512 031

Though those two images are from which gives a fuller description of ‘servicing a Proven wind turbine’.

By the time I’d replaced the spring the cavalry arrived



and so did the Dude Smile


By the time the wind was beginning to freshen again we had it back up, bolted down and the Tirfor oiled and packed away for next time.

 Tirfor® TU series

I do actually have all three models and have on occasions used the smallest TU8 with its 800kg capacity but it’s a bit of a struggle, though well within its capabilities for a 400kg tower and turbine. The middle one, the TU16 makes light work of it, I’ve never tried it with the TU 32 as the winch itself weighs a ton and it’s a little OTT Smile Everyone who owns a Land Rover or wind turbine should have a Tirfor Smile

Proven went into liquidation in September of 2011 but were quickly taken over by who dropped the disastrous 35 (15Kw) like a hot potato Smile Not so nice if you were unfortunate to posses one of these machines but it least it has meant continuity for owners of the smaller ones.

My dealings with Proven were, on the whole not good, right from trying to buy one to source spare parts two years later, however, latterly someone at Proven started reading my blog and service improved startlingly Smile Lets hope Kingspan are as good now, for I’m down to my last spare spring Sad smile 

The sound of Mr Lister

Feeling pretty chuffed with myself for sorting the wind turbine I retired to the ‘power station’ to admire the ammeter and voltmeter on the turbine control cabinet, is that sad or what Smile Whilst in there, the 12 x 950ah 2v batteries that make up my battery bank got a good top up, around 5lts of distilled water in all.


Then, for the first time since I went away in September, Cyril got a run Smile I thought it was about time he fired up just to see if he still worked Smile Our hydro and wind turbines have been supplying us with clean, quiet energy since last summer but it was good to hear his distinctive thump thump once more. I only ran Cyril the Lister SR2 for a few minutes as the dump loads switch off when he starts and I didn’t want to shut the inverter down through ‘over voltage’, making a mental note to try him again when the wind wasn’t so strong or wifey was baking Smile



Harry, the 12Kw HR2 however got a full 40 minute run as I used him to drive my compressor to fill a diving cylinder whilst the Dude and I went to tinker with the ‘Stream Engine’.


I thought I’d play around with the jets on this excellent little Canadian number a high voltage AC water turbine that charges my batteries via a transformer. I’d noticed the output had dropped, and after swapping, first the nozzles and then the supply pipes I came to the conclusion that the supply pipe (penstock) was silted up, something I’d suspected for a while. The first two penstocks of my three penstock system are quite small bore, 50mm and 63mm respectively, so for now I just fed the jet from the larger 90mm pipe and double the output from 150w to 300w Smile

I have to say, that at this point I was feeling pretty swell, everything was working well, the washing was done, the wife baking and the house toasty Smile Thinking that I’d done quite enough work around the ‘power station’ I set about the smellier tasks of cleaning out pigs and the like, then pottering about the croft tidying up and power washing paths. The place has got into a bit of a state whilst I’ve been away and it’s just too much for wifey to manage on her own.


Anyway, that’s just about it for today, so I’ll leave you with the weather and a letter from the WHFP


I just hope you can read it, but now I’m off to bed Smile



    • Good idea, Jeanette. Something seriously needs to be done to preserve the infrastructure and history of Raasay, otherwise its heritage will be lost in a series of potholes. I’ve been visiting the island for years and have not managed up the north end for the last two. It’s shameful of the council to ignore a crofting family working hard for a living and having to travel on a dangerous, badly maintained road. I’ll sign a petition.

      Comment by Carolyn — February 11, 2013 @ 12:47 am

      • I couldn’t agree more. Calum’s road should be a World Heritage Site, not a victim of far-off bureaucracy, though the people I corresponded with were only in Alness which is not that far and has it’s share of remote roads up in the hills. I’m lucky to have a Land Rover so can get up to the north of the island, but this shouldn’t be necessary.


        Comment by Sue — February 11, 2013 @ 9:15 am

    • I would certainly sign any petition and take pride in providing links to it on FB, twitter and as said it should be a road and an Island that fully deserves preservation and highlighted more because of Calum’s Road, one engineering feet that would shame present road builders all over the UK.
      I look forward to the day we get over to Raasey but have to admit the state of the road does put me off as I doubt if our car would be able to cope with the craters in the road which we have all seen through this excellent blog.
      Highland Council – Shame on you!!!

      Comment by Thomson Caravans — February 11, 2013 @ 1:34 pm

    • Cheers for that Jeannette but ‘the wind has gone out of my sails’ 😦 Calum’s road isn’t actually that bad, to be honest it’s quite good compared to the rest of Raasay’s roads, which are a disgrace 😦

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — February 11, 2013 @ 9:03 pm

  1. Hi Paul.
    Glad to see your back and your blog reports are drawing good banter and discussion.
    So I’d I like to draw attention to the meat eaters, from one who eats meat. The real problem with the horse meat in our food chain under the disguise of being beef or pork is that, it has been introduced in somewhat illegal way, has no tracibility and could have all sorts of health complications. The other thing is we don’t eat horse meat because we don’t want the gallops!!

    Comment by Polite Scouser — February 11, 2013 @ 10:24 am

    • Hi Walter,

      some of these pioneering tales from the ‘Kishorn Commando’s’ are priceless hey. I just wish someone would make a documentary about it and get some of these guys on film before they all pass away.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — February 11, 2013 @ 9:25 pm

      • Kishorn Commando’s’?
        Paul please enlighten I think I’m missing the meaning of your reference.

        Comment by Polite Scouser — February 11, 2013 @ 9:37 pm

      • Walter!!!! you have never heard of that ‘band of brothers’ The Kishorn Commando’s

        (Gordon Menzies)
        (As sung by Gaberlunzie)

        We’re the Kishorn Commandos way up in Wester Ross
        We’ve never had a gaffer, we’ve never had a boss
        But we’ll build the biggest oil-rig you’ve ever come across
        Remember we’re the Kishorn Commandos

        Every single morning we get wakened by a shout
        Get up, ye idle buggers, won’t you get the finger out
        And what do we get for breakfast? Seven pints of stout
        Remember we’re the Kishorn Commandos

        Digging down a dusty hole till we can hardly speak
        Summer sunshine, rain or snow, we seldom stop to sleep
        We work for forty hours a day and fourteen days a week
        Remember we’re the Kishorn Commandos

        We’re the toughest gang of workers that you have ever met
        We’ll work or fight with anyone, and you can lay a bet
        There may be some men tougher, but we haven’t found them yet
        Remember we’re the Kishorn Commandos

        We’ve never joined the Navy, we’ve never joined the RAF
        We’ve never joined the army, we’re not so bloody daft
        We’d rather go to Kishorn and get paid to skive(?) a raft
        Remember we’re the Kishorn Commandos

        You’re welcome here in Kishorn if you know how to work
        We’ve Geordies here from Africa and Paddies from New York
        Wi’ Scousers, Jocks and Taffys, all from the County Cork
        Remember we’re the Kishorn Commandos

        And when the job is over we’ll up and pack our bags
        We’ll spend the money on the booze, the women and the nags
        But until then we’ll have to do wi’ navvies dressed in drag
        Remember we’re the Kishorn Commandos

        [1976:] [This] was written after a 9 am session of singing with the men working at the Howard Dorris construction camp on Loch Kishorn. They are a very special breed, and we are proud that they have adopted this song as something of an anthem. (Notes Gaberlunzie, ‘Wind and Water, Time and Tide’)

        These chaps built ‘the worlds largest man made movable structure’ and it’s still pumping oil today 🙂

        Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — February 11, 2013 @ 9:51 pm

  2. So pleased to see you messing about at the End of The Road again Paul, looks like you are certainly making up for lost time and as always a joy to see your excellent pictures from the island again.
    Lovely to see you and the Dude working together again too, excellent blog as always, Graham

    Comment by Thomson Caravans — February 11, 2013 @ 1:37 pm

  3. Paul thank you for this enlightenment, I look forward to using this info in the near future. The nearest thing I got to going commando was when I crossed the Equator as a you Seaman in 1966, greased and feathered is not a thing you forget.

    Comment by Polite Scouser — February 11, 2013 @ 10:17 pm

    • ‘Greased and feathered’ for old Neptune 🙂
      Seriously though Walter, the whole Kishorn thing is the stuff of legend, 3000 ‘bears’ stuck in the middle of nowhere with a ‘cost plus’ budget building the worlds largest movable structure, you could not make these tales up. Even now, some thirty years on the ‘Ninian Central’ is something to behold. When they finally towed it out to sea in 1978 it used 5 tugs and three of them were the worlds largest, at 600,000 tons it was like a floating skyscraper. No GPS in those days and only a half mile corridor to tow it through.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — February 11, 2013 @ 10:31 pm

      • Hi Paul
        Couldn’t open your You Tube LINK so I did a search about Kishorn the song, building of the rig, the social problems and misleading companies. As now a retired publican if I told a person that it would take two hours before a table became available they would take that decision to wait or not, but if the waiting time went to 2hrs and 1 minute I would get hell and all from them. What I’m trying to say is, if people were honest in the first place its surprising what can be achieved and will be accepted for good of all.

        Comment by Polite Scouser — February 13, 2013 @ 1:48 pm

      • I saw most of those videos too Walter, but at the end of the day, twenty years on you’d not know anyone had been there. The loch is fertile and the ‘Commando’s’ gone. I always remember one of the riggers saying to me (as the site was winding down) ‘most of the locals that worked here ‘pi55ed there wages away’, me, I knew it wouldn’t last so ploughed my money into a house. Can’t really blame Howard Doris for that 🙂

        Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — February 16, 2013 @ 10:19 pm

  4. Cheers Paul for your updated reply which prooves once again the earth does after a while rejuvenate in this case for the better.
    Your new house looks like its coming on well but get that roof on as soon as possible.

    Comment by Polite Scouser — February 16, 2013 @ 10:35 pm

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