Life at the end of the road

June 23, 2013

Almost a ‘grand’ !!!!!

Filed under: Croft house for sale, daily doings, How I, Land Rover, life off grid — Tags: , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 9:07 pm

Well, it’s been a midge and smidge free day today and that’s for sure, a day more reminiscent of the spring equinox than midsummer. A good blast of north west wind and rain from dawn until dusk, which at this time of year is around twenty hours. Not that that kept me inside the house, not a chance, I just donned my one piece ‘Andy Pandy’ suit and got out there in the vain hope that it would fine up. The forecast having convinced me that it might just brighten up for a wee while during the afternoon as I was optimistically wanting to see my new 940w solar array produce some power. Not that it’s such a great ‘spectator sport’ but watching an ammeter move after erecting a  wind turbine or damming a stream to produce some electricity is immensely satisfying. I kid you not, you peeps who just plug things in and turn on lights whilst the electric meter spins around are missing out on a whole heap of fun Smile

Anyways, after leaving you this morning it was on with the carrier bags and into the suit.



The plastic carrier bag trick being something that I picked up off Emby  ( James Gillies) some years ago and it’s one of those simple little things, like having a shaving mirror away from the sink that makes life so much easier. Gone are the days of fighting with oilskins to get them on or having to resort to removing your boots first. Simply stick your foot in a carrier bag first and the over trousers, suit or whatever will just glide over your wellies, pure genius Smile

Once in the rather bright and loud one piece it was round the herd feeding then over to Torran to turn on the hydro turbine there and check the batteries.

004 005

I’d turned off the ‘Harris turbine’ a couple of weeks ago knowing that the solar panels would cope just fine. However knowing that the electrics would be getting a hammering today I thought it wise to ‘crank it up’ for a few hours. Sure enough I arrived there to find the Studer inverter chucking out some 60amps (around 1.5kw) continuously and the ‘Tristar’ controllers indicating yellow/red. Not a problem but on a cloudy and driech day like today it would be silly not supplement the solar panels with some hydro to prevent the generator starting.

Cleaning a ‘bubble stove’ burner pot

To be honest I had an ulterior motive to visiting my mates at Torran, and that was to steal a shovel of coal. We have not burnt any coal here at home in years, probably ten at least. However the ‘burner pot’ in our oil stove needed cleaning and fifteen or more years of trying everything from chipping to phosphoric acid has taught me that there is only one way to clean the burner pot in a drip feed oil stove. The one and only way to do this and successfully  remove all the carbon deposits is to chuck it on a bonfire, however two days of constant rain put paid to that plan so I decided to put it in the ‘Squirrel’.


007 006

The problem being that when full of wood the firebox isn’t large enough to fit the burner pot in, so I put a nice bed of coal down prior to putting it in the fire. Now I only mention this because I’ve scoured the internet in years gone by for the best way of cleaning a ‘burner pot’ and come up with zilch. It was my good friend ‘Willie Eyre’ that suggested doing this, and once more I’m indebted for his wisdom Smile



An hour later, after glowing ‘cherry red’ and then having the crap power washed out of it, it was as good as new. A word of caution though, some of the fittings are brazed in so no hotter than ‘cherry red’.

A perfect power washing day

The pishing rain and me already in the ‘Andy Pandy’ suit had me spending a good deal of it washing things like the wife’s car and my Land Rover, for only the second time in ten months!!!!


Impending summer guests also had me giving the trusty ‘Thomson Glenelg’ a good wash,


our 1971 little gem is due visitors soon Smile 

The ‘power station’

Hanging about the workshop and house for most of the day also had me dashing in and out of the generator shed to see how all the renewables were doing.


The Proven 2.5kw wind turbine was doing well over 2kw in the gusts,


the solar panels were never less than 1 amp (around 50w) and often at 5 amps (around 250w) for middle of the day. The ‘Powerspout’ is turned off but the ‘Stream Engine’ was also putting out around 250w for the whole day, the net result of which is a very hot house and lots of washing done Smile



Here’s the ‘power station’,

1 = 950ah 48v battery bank

2 = Trace SW4548e inverter

3 = Morningstar TS45 solar controller in ‘diversion mode’

4 = Solar controller, dump load, and array fuses

5 = Cyril the Lister SR2 6kw generator

6 = 3ohm 1.2kw DC dump load

Out of sight are the Proven wind turbine charge controller


the GTI (grid tied inverter) for the ‘Powerspout’


and the transformer for the Stream Engine

A community to be proud of

Once more I’ve been distracted by my obsession of making electricity from wind, water and sun, for the last time I spoke to you I was going to tell you about my visit to the Raasay village hall. It was all a little last minute, and if I’m really honest I only went because it was pishing down, shame on me I know, for it was a fund raiser for cancer care. However, around 13:45 I collected my neighbour and we trundled down to the village hall for the 14:00 ‘coffee day’ for


and I was pure staggered by the turnout.


This is after all a small island with a population of well under 200 and it seemed like everyone was there, not only that but at least £930 was raised on the day!!!!! The hall was ‘mobbed’ with loads of home baking, stalls, raffles and a tombola, tea and coffee cups were kept topped up by hard working volunteers and a jolly good time was had by all. Seriously though you’d struggle to raise almost one thousand pounds in a day in a good sized city, let alone a tiny wee island, I am indeed proud to reside here Smile



  1. i dote upon your tales of raasay society. thank you.

    Comment by jeannettesmyth — June 23, 2013 @ 9:46 pm

    • Morning Jeannette, it is indeed a pleasure to live here.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — June 24, 2013 @ 3:16 am

  2. Ah yes. .. the pishing rain. .myself and my brother got caught out during a run up to the Stein Inn at waternish on Thursday. . Anyone who spotted a red and a yellow Ducati heading north during the solstice (Thursday/Friday) and looking rather bedraggled. That was us, so give yourself a pat on the back…

    Comment by The Peoples Republic of Northumbria — June 23, 2013 @ 10:25 pm

    • I thought you had to be at least 60 to have a motorbike these days Steve 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — June 24, 2013 @ 3:14 am

      • cheeky begger!!!

        Comment by The Peoples Republic of Northumbria — June 24, 2013 @ 9:32 am

  3. Every cloud has a couple of kilowatts in your case :-). High speed waterproof donning is the future.I was wondering what to do with all those plastic bags we have collected.

    Comment by Andy — June 24, 2013 @ 8:08 am

  4. Raasay has always been a silver lining for Marie Curie having hosted a Sponsored walk a couple of years ago for us when again it was pishing down. What a wonderful fun day we had and the sun came out to dry us in the afternoon. The community should be well proud of itself. The Local Marie Curie fund raising group salute them. Every penny raised stays within the Highlands and Islands for end of life nursing care in the home.

    Comment by Norma Parker (secretary) — June 24, 2013 @ 10:18 am

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