Life at the end of the road

April 21, 2013

Spring fever

Filed under: daily doings, hydro, life off grid, shed/house — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 5:55 am

It’s that time of year again, not that it actually feels anything like spring at the moment, little is growing due to the drought and cold, though I suspect that will change as soon as the some comes out. Even last week I saw the first sign of bracken whilst sorting my hydro pipes, which reminds me, I should go and see how much it’s grown now. Sure the lawn is a little greener, the sycamore in the garden about to sprout leaves and the hawthorn is getting really lush, but on the whole things stalled about six weeks ago and have only just picked up. My body on the other hand now seems to be in ‘spring mode’ with me waking at 4:00am and being unable to sleep for want of ‘getting stuck in’, not that there’s much chance of that as I’m back ‘at sea’ tomorrow.

So, after tossing and turning for an hour I finally got up at 5:30 when dawn was breaking and thought I’d just finish off yesterdays effort which had me just returning from Portree at 16:00. Still well stuffed from the fabulous lunch at the Caledonian Cafe on Wentworth street. So, with the prospect of a late dinner ahead I got on with some firewood cutting ably assisted by my son.

That done, and with the freshly cut green logs of birch seasoning in my airy store I turned my attention to hydro turbine number one, the one whose pipes I’d moved last week during deluge number one. All was going well, the water level had dropped and it was producing 250w, which was quite respectable but not as much as it could have been, so I went for a ‘look see’.


I’d decided to turn off the smallest nozzle, as sometime you can actually generate more power by doing so, but when I turned it off nothing happened. The pressure stayed the same, no change of speed or noise from the Stream Engine and certainly no alteration in output. The reason becoming very clear when I took out the jet holder, a blocked nozzle,



one that discharged a huge muddy blob of silt all over me and the turbine shed when I removed it. With the valve turned off I was expecting a little jet of water to spurt out as I loosened it, not a great big dollop of brown pooh Sad smile With the jet removed I flushed out the system to clear the rest of the silt that had obviously got disturbed after last weeks session of altering the pipework.


 021  020


The wee dog and I then went up to the swimming pool, sorry house to see how the Powerspout was performing with all this rain as the inverter is in the barn there.

019  022

Very well was the answer, somewhere between the 782w shown on the ‘Windy Boy’ and 799w on the OWL energy monitor, so the stove in the house is now out and we’re heating the house with free electricity. However it means that I can’t keep a pot of tea or coffee warm on top of the stove, something that I’m really going to miss in the new house, it’s almost thirty years that I’ve lived with wood stoves now and it just won’t be the same without one. However I’m thinking ahead and don’t want to be cutting wood in my seventies, cleaning ground mounted solar panels, unblocking hydro turbines and fixing wind turbines perhaps, but not cutting down trees, storing wood and splitting logs.

Of course we do intend to have an outside wood burning boiler as back up but that’ll take foot long logs and hopefully will only get fired once or twice a year. In fact, with the way money is at the moment we’re planning to fit it at a later date, the house will be so well insulated that we should only need it for DHW in emergencies anyway and those could be covered by Harry until Alistair at fits our Perge



This will be a similar but larger system to what we’re fitting, in the picture is a 30kW boiler and 2500lt store, ours is 18kW and 1500lt but the same idea.

143  144

This will be Harry my HR2 Lister generator of 12kW who should be capable of heating the 1500lt thermal store in a few hours anyway. It takes roughly 70 minutes to heat 1lt of water 1 degree with one watt so 6kw of Harry’s 12 could heat a 1500lt store 40 degrees in around 11 hours and at 12kW half that time and so on. Not ideal as we intend to be diesel free but it would get us ‘out of a hole’ in an emergency.



  1. I like my Sunday mornings papers and your blog Paul ,answers a lot of what’s going on and keeps me up with one of the most informative social happenings and events on the far distant reaches of Raasay. As some of the locals in my home town would say “Sound La”.

    Comment by Polite Scouser — April 21, 2013 @ 6:05 am

    • Well Walter, I’ve never been put on a par with the Sunday papers, I’m honoured. Personally I’ve just never understood the paper thing, Raasay goes into mourning if the papers don’t arrive, I just don’t get it. My father would read the whole lot cover to cover supplements and all, me I’ve always preferred the Archers omnibus edition 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — April 21, 2013 @ 9:07 pm

  2. I do see your point with the aga type thing but what a back up…and i think its very much the heart of a house, when i go looking for my place to retire to if its not got a log burner it will have to have one fitted or bypassed, my grandmother had a aga till she passed at age 94!!!

    Comment by v8mbo — April 21, 2013 @ 6:27 am

  3. Logs..with you on that score, the thing is you can’t beat a log fire though. The next best thing is pay a man who can. You would still have your pot of coffee and give gainfull employment to…..??…. The dude..

    Comment by The Peoples Republic of Northumbria — April 21, 2013 @ 6:50 am

    • Nah Robin, Steve, I’m not cutting wood or hauling sacks of coal in my seventies, having said that we do have a ‘back up plan’ just in case we can’t handle the ‘cold turkey’, we’ve left a place for a squirrel 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — April 21, 2013 @ 9:02 pm

  4. Yes, a log fire is wonderful to look at. But if you don’t wish to cut wood, might you instead install one of those faucets near the sink that store piping hot water at all times? I believe they run off “free” electricity and have a superinsulated 2 gallon tank underneath the countertop. A man must have his cuppa! Alternately, it might do you good to recuperate from your many efforts while the kettle boils. But now is the time to decide about installing the hot water faucet, while the new house is still coming together. link:

    Comment by drgeo — April 21, 2013 @ 3:42 pm

    • Think I’ll stick with the regular tap DrG 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — April 21, 2013 @ 8:55 pm

  5. Pity your generators are air cooled as you could of coupled them up to the hot water store

    Comment by paul — April 21, 2013 @ 4:20 pm

    • Aye Paul, water cooling would certainly help Is it one third of your power output is wasted as heat? certainly around that figure anyway. I love the simplicity of air cooling but it aint half noisy 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — April 21, 2013 @ 4:43 pm

  6. To put it in marine engineering terms i believe the term is economiser

    I’m sure it is not beyond the wit of man to build a water cooled exhaust for an air cooled engine Or a big pipe with a little pipe inside

    Comment by paul — April 21, 2013 @ 7:33 pm

    • Aye Paul, ‘economiser’ it is and I’m more than a little surprised that the Hallaig dose not have them, like you say ‘big pipe, little pipe’ and some thermal oil.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — April 21, 2013 @ 8:54 pm

  7. glad to see superintendant mollie has not wasted away for unrequited love during your absence. how long do you have to serve on these other boats?

    Comment by Jeannette — April 21, 2013 @ 7:58 pm

    • Hi Jeannette, my ‘sentence’ was almost a years ‘hard labour’ so late August (maybe) 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — April 21, 2013 @ 8:52 pm

  8. Hi Paul…I’m not quite into my sixties yet, but following the onset of angina, I know exactly what you mean about the log cutting! I don’t mind doing a bit of splitting – the exercise probably being good for me – but no more than that!

    All the best


    Comment by Cogidubnus — April 21, 2013 @ 10:33 pm

    • Aye Dave, you never know what’s around the corner health wise and I’m trying to think ahead. I see so many people who think they’re going to live forever in good health and make really stupid decisions in their sixties about lifestyle.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — April 22, 2013 @ 8:02 am

  9. I see what you mean! a log fire though…then again,i am a city kid!!

    Comment by v8mbo — April 26, 2013 @ 2:12 pm

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