Life at the end of the road

June 30, 2013

That time of year again

Filed under: Croft house for sale, Land Rover, pigs — Tags: , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 6:33 am

Yes the ‘clock is ticking’ to MOT time on the ‘Old Girl’ once more, and once more I’m in a tiz, a word, which according to my ‘spellcheck’ doesn’t exist, anyway I’m sure you know what I mean. It’s also that time of year when I can’t stay in bed and sure enough I was up at 4:30 and away out to the ‘power station’ to watch my meters, how sad is that. The good hash of wind that is blowing from the south usually means rain but as yet it’s not reared it’s head and even the solar PV was producing 50w at 5:00am. In fact the weekend so far has actually been very nice, hardly sunny but dry with a nice warm breeze to keep the midge away.

Smidge on Raasay Smile

 Not that that’s a problem these days with the ‘Smidge’, which is now available from .

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So now not only can you buy first class hand made jewellery almost as soon as you set foot on Raasay but you can keep the midge at bay too. I really cannot praise this product highly enough, twenty eight years I’ve lived on the west coast and it really is the only thing that works, without stripping paint or stinging your eyes.


The first thing that I did yesterday at 5:00am prior to going outside to mow the lawn was dowse myself in the stuff, only a couple of years ago that would have been impossible in anything other than full sun or a gale.


Next it was up on the roof, again an impossible task on a calm grey dawn,



this time to secure the solar panel junction and fuse box. I had to leave it unfinished last week due to the pishing rain that was filling it with water as I made the connections so yesterday I went up there with rags and WD40 to finish it off.

All this with only one midge bite and that was on my back where my Tee shirt had lifted and exposed some skin, and not only that the wife didn’t beat me for cutting the grass and banging on the roof before 7:00am, result or what Smile

After breakfast, pig feeding and pigeon shooting it was back under the twenty seven year old Land Rover to continue with the servicing and pre MOT work. The majority of my time being taken up by bodging, sorry repairing the stainless steel exhaust and its brackets. The pipework may not corrode but everything else does and the half hour job turned into an epic of cutting up bits of scaffolding to join two sections that had suffered a rusted clamp. A mild steel affair that is fitted during manufacture prior to swaging the pipe end. Consequently the pipe must be cut to fit a new one and I have no stainless welding wire.


Eventually however I got it sorted before managing to turn changing the fuel filter into an epic, (the red thing on the bulkhead) a job which, over the last twelve years has seriously messed me up.

I dunno why as I must have changed thousands of these over the years, the old ‘Crossland 522’ was the diesel filter of choice for all UK manufacturers for around 30 years. I have them on my generators, they were fitted to my fishing boat and just about every diesel engine I’ve ever worked on up to the mid eighties. It’s a simple affair sandwiched between two O rings, which for reasons I’ve never been able to fathom are slightly different sizes and in most applications is a ‘piece of cake’ to fit so long as you get the O rings the right way around and fit the top one correctly. 

I dunno if it’s the height of this, it’s awkwardness to get to or just my incompetence but I rarely manage to change this filter without some disaster and today was no exception. As is usual when I change a 522 I do it with a warm engine, old diesels can be a pig to start at the best of times so it’s foolish to do so prior to running the engine up first. This time I (once more) failed to locate the top O ring correctly and it was ‘drawing in air’, not a problem as I was half expecting it anyway. However in leaning over to see and then rectify the problem I broke the spigot (once more) off the radiator header tank!!!!



This will be the third time in twelve years that I’ve done this and I mustn’t be the only one, the design is stupid, it sticks out upwards just where you lean over the wing to access the injectors, fuel pumps and filter. In the past I’ve re soldered it which involves removal but this time I did it in situ with some JB weld epoxy resin.


One good thing about all this training, which I hadn’t actually realized until I came to enter the work on page number four of twelve years worth of ‘service history’ was that I’ve done half my normal mileage, only 6000 miles in just under a year!!!

Five spare piglets

All of which took me up to 17:00 when we had a visit from some friends down Sleat way with an interest in permaculture and a lovely two week old son Smile After that it was a case of sorting out misplaced Tamworth piglets, eight of which had managed to find their way into Jamie Lea’s field and were unable to get back to mum. Not that Ellie was caring, they were just six weeks old, ready for weaning and she still had two in with her for company. Had all ten been in the field I guess we’d have just weaned them and had done with it, they’ll be going away next week anyway, or at least some of them will. A cancelled order means that we have five of the ‘wee darlings’ spare, not that we’ll have them spare for long at this time of year as they’ll just be ready for Christmas and this is usually our busiest time on the ‘sales front’. So if you want some fine free range Tamworth pork on the Christmas table we’ve five lovely piglets for sale. They’re £40 each and we can deliver to a few places on Skye and the nearby mainland FOC.

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Piglets are great fun Smile

Anyway, that’s it now, it’s after 7:30, time to load up with Smidge and brave the elements, actually it’s blowing a gale so I’ll give the midge repellent a miss just now. Wifey didn’t put any on yesterday and looked like she’d got the measles,  me, I was out until 19:00 without a bite from that one application at 5:00am!!!!!

June 28, 2013

All my nipples in a row :-)

Filed under: boats, daily doings, Land Rover, Trucks and plant — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 8:56 pm

Home at last and all the omens are good, methinks I should have bought a lottery ticket on the way home. It’s been a hectic old week aboard the good ship Hebrides with some interesting cargoes and a few ‘challenges’ to speed the days along. The weather on the other hand has been pretty miserable for June, probably because I fitted solar panels last week.



Lochmaddy on a driech Thursday morning,



and I bet you can’t guess what that white concrete structure is on that tidal islet behind the yacht Goldrush.



Me, well I was wracking my brains for weeks then gave up and asked the harbourmaster, well it was a magazine for storing explosives Smile


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A long way from home, two Volvos from Slovakia made a brief visit to the islands.



Though I’m guessing that they didn’t count on having to reverse off at Uig Sad smile



A serious road roller for the Uists, they obviously repair the roads there.



Some ‘lost sheep’ in Lochmaddy, not a lot of grazing on that rock that’s for sure.

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Uig on a Wednesday evening and the ‘handbrake turn’ as we approach the pier.



Another grim start to the day, this time in Lochmaddy with the MV Kylebahn berthed on the opposite side. Jim Kilcullen and his boat from Connell have to be one of the original west coast charter operations from the early eighties, and he’s still on the go. There can’t be many skippers know the area as well as he does, at least from a divers perspective.



A spot of painting for me in the emergency generator room.


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A Ford 3000, MF 135, John Deere 2130


and David Brown 950 all heading west,


whilst an immaculate MkIII Cortina 1600 heads east. Gosh, I served my apprenticeship working on cars like this, clunky void bushes, worn out camshafts, rattling steering columns and vibrating propshafts. When I was the foreman at a Ford main dealer we had a mechanic who changed a clutch in one of these in 23 minutes!!! and that included running to the stores for it. I say running because the best mechanics wore trainers, as every six minutes they could shave of the ‘standard time’ was money in their pocket. From memory the ‘standard time’ for a 1600 Cortina clutch was 1.4 hours so he would have been paid an extra hours wage, some guys would easily double their wage every week.



That was it really, I managed to get the 15:00 ferry to Raasay today, got home for 16:00 and got stuck straight into servicing the Land Rover. Much to my amazement when I crawled underneath it I found that all eight grease nipples on both propeller shafts were in line and accessible with the grease gun!!!! In twelve years of crawling underneath the ‘Old Girl’ to grease her nipples it’s probably happened twice.

I know it’s rubbish, I missed out the wine, the pigeons I shot, the fish farm at Inver and a whole heap of stuff but I’m tired now and it’s almost 22:00.

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