Life at the end of the road

June 9, 2014

The last leg

Filed under: boats, daily doings, How I, shed/house — Tags: , , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 9:01 pm

Monday already, and what a peach it’s been, come to think of it Sunday was pretty awesome too, though I can’t actually remember what I did. Actually, now I come to think of it I did ‘ordinary’ stuff in the main, you know the kind of Sunday that wouldn’t have been out of place in suburbia. A leisurely start by hacking up a steel mast with the 9” grinder round the back of the house. A tactic employed in the hope of awakening the sleeping teenager, not that it worked or ever has but it made me feel better. By the time that was cut up into manageable sections and hidden in the long grass for future archaeologists, the sun had burnt off the morning dew.

With nice dry grass it was time to deploy ‘plan B’ in the  Dude awakening strategy and break out the brush cutter on  the lawn followed by the ‘heavy armour’ of the lawn mower. Not that either worked, it was only the last resort of free range Arnish pork sausages that finally did the trick. However by  this time it was well after midday and boodly roasting, the boy had probably been driven out of his bed by the heat.

Water in the fuel

Our plan had been to head over to the ‘Old Schoolhouse’ at Torran where he would cut the grass and I would check out the renewable energy system there. That went pear shaped when I met my mate on the track, who was just about to go out in his boat to set some creels. However, there was a little job that needed doing first, and that was to tow my own wee Pioner 10 to the old fish farm slip. This trusty plastic craft was my tender for the MFV Conqueror and has been dragged up and down more shores than I’ve had hot dinners. It must be almost twenty years old now and had finally had ‘its arse worn out’ and was letting in water.



It’s a fantastic little boat for dodging about the caves, coves and beaches on a good day, virtually indestructible and easily managed up and down any shore from fine sand to huge round boulders. However my mates Pioner Maxi  was going to Caley Marina for repairs and he’d kindly offered to take mine along too.

Unfortunately, just a few yards out from the shore the 15HP Yamaha on my mates Maxi started spluttering with the unmistakeable symptoms of fuel starvation. The normal culprit being a closed fuel tank vent or trapped fuel line, both checked out OK so it was either dirt or water. Either way we weren’t going anywhere in this boat without using the oars, and that would be pulling the white boat too.

Now water in fuel is the bane of every mariners life and if not dealt with thoroughly can create more problems weeks, months or even years ‘down the line’. Sure you can just empty the fuel out of the tank then drain the filter and carburettor to effect a seemingly good repair. However it’s impossible to get all of the fuel out of most tanks and chances are that water will soon start making rust in the tank or aluminium oxide in your carburettor. Assuming you are petrol that is, if your engine is diesel then the situation is far far worse, for apart from the obvious mechanical problems of rusty pumps and injectors, there is the dreaded ‘diesel bug’.

Now I thought the ‘diesel bug’ was an urban myth like ‘WD40 is made from fish oil’ or ‘if you turn a beer can upside down and tap it on the bottom three times it wont froth up’. No, the ‘diesel bug’ is a bacteria that thrives at the interface of fuel and water in your tank and it really can make a fearful mess of your engine.

Here’s a picture form a tank I had on the croft that got water in it

For many years I thought ‘diesel bug’ was a myth, it wasn’t until I got it in my generator tank several years ago that I discovered how real and serious it is. Diesel bug is a bacteria that lives at the interface of water and diesel, It’s very corrosive, looks like frog spawn and will ruin your pump and injectors if left unchecked. I acquired mine when the tanker driver filled up my tank and forgot to replace the lid, I never noticed for a day or so and water got in. It took about a year for it to wreck the injectors on ‘Twinny’ my 7kw Lister and I had to empty and clean out the tank with a power washer and then hoover.

  diesel bug

This is what a bad case of diesel bug looks like, There was still about 100lts of good looking fuel above that mess, but of course you would not see that gunk until it was into you filters or engine. It took me all afternoon to clean out this mess and get it into an empty barrel. You can get a ‘biocide’ that kills it, we put some stuff in the ferry twice a year as a precaution ‘kathon’ it’s called but I’m not sure what happens to the mess once its killed the bug, perhaps it’s only good at stopping the bug from forming.

So we emptied the fuel tank into a container then I sent my mate up to my workshop to hoover out all the dregs whilst I cleared the rest of the system.


You can see from the picture that already there is rust in the tank, though I’d bet that was from a steel jerry can. Steel cans and fuel tanks are a waste of time in small boats with outboard motors, give me plastic every time.

002 003

Once the clean fuel is in the tank and you’ve emptied all the fuel lines then pump fresh fuel into a clean container and ensure all the water is out. You will already have cleaned out the filter but the next thing to do is to clean out the fuel pump and carburettor. Now unless you’re ashore in a workshop I recommend NOT stripping them down. The last thing you need is a lost screw or broken gasket, what I do is loosen all the fuel pump screws then just pump the fresh fuel through it, once that’s done do the same with the carb, just loosen the drain plug and pump fuel through that. If you take the screw out and drop it in the sea your screwed, they’re invariably brass so none magnetic and a fine metric thread that you’ll not get ‘off the shelf’ anywhere.

Do it this way and you’ll not ruin your day or the rest of the season’s fishing, leave the carb and fuel pump well alone until it’s time to winterize your engine.


Sure enough an hour or so later we were ‘back to sea’


014 018

and had the white Pioner safely ashore at the old fish farm slip.

Not like any lamb you’ve tasted

To celebrate the successful day I offered to make dinner for my mate, knowing that he’d turn up with at least two bottles of very fine wine Smile My mate has an excellent nose for red Smile I’d already dug deep into the freezer on Friday night and turned up ‘the last leg’ of our Soay sheep and decided to bung it in the oven.  Now roasting lamb is not something that I do very often so I did a quick ‘Google’ and came up with this



It was pure divine and we had it with roast spuds,courgettes and mushrooms. If you ever get chance to try some Soay lamb then do so, it’s not like any sheep you’ve ever tasted.


Up early, fresh as a daisy despite the rich food and wine I took my son to school on a fine June morning and we came ‘face to face’ with this beauty who’s antlers were still forming. That is going to be a magnificent looking stag in a few weeks and just look at his coat.



After dropping off ‘the boy’ on the Hallaig I went to meet my mate and load up the Pioner’s


ready for their trip to Caley. A fine breakfast and coffee for us both followed, after which he went fishing and I cutting, rushes that is.

It was a belter of a day, too hot for the midge or overalls and I spent the majority of the day with Ellie and her wains. Whilst I was  cutting rushes, changing bedding and levelling the track into the turbine field they were resting, eating and playing in no particular order.


Ellie has three wallows of varying ‘muddiness’ in this field and she spent time in all of them, but this one is by far her favourite.



I’m guessing it’s because her wains cannot get anywhere near her teats Smile They were hilarious, feeding every hour then having a wee sleep in the sun before charging around lifting all the rushes I’d cut. They’d get really close to me from behind, then as soon as I stopped cutting and turned around they belt off at warp speed.


The ‘wee dug’ on the other hand just lazed in the sun all day.


Feeding from a muddy pig Smile

Tondu Pro 851 brushcutter

There can be few things in my life, nay in anyone’s life as reliable as my Tondu Pro 851 brushcutter. I got it second hand some thirty years ago and it has possibly been worked harder than any other on the planet. Seriously this amazing bit of kit gets used all year round, it must have cut literally tons of rushes and twenty five years ago I used to make hay with it.



The quad it’s resting on is probably the least reliable thing on the planet Smile Seriously though this two stroke has had nothing more than fuel, oil and spark plugs in twenty five years. I think I put an ignition coil and some clutch shoes on it in 1989 when I’d had it four years!!



024 025

Here’s a couple of ancient tree stumps in the field, probably from the last ice age?



The next project is a dust bath for the hens,


but, made from an old fish tub and feed bags, it’s still very much ‘work in progress’

Well, I dunno how this one escaped me,


yesterday you had ‘Calum’s road’ in Hooky’s 20 ton truck now you have it in a 1965 Porsche, in German Smile



  1. Hi Paul,
    Catching up with your lateotr as I haven’t visited lately, been busy, I’m beginning my journey up to Raasay tomorrow, 2 weeks at YH 14-28 June, yipppppeeeeee!! Don’t think you’ll be working on ferry on Friday? Call in for coffee/tea/cider/chat if you’re passing YH.

    Comment by francesp — June 10, 2014 @ 11:00 am

  2. Great boats them Pioneers, pretty robust, even as you say years of dragging up the beach, and thats the other great thing you can drag them up the beach without the help of a four wheel drive.

    Comment by Alistair — June 11, 2014 @ 8:10 am

  3. the way he speeds up on the crest of a hill over which he cannot see makes me think his wife is dead, having fallen through the floor in which she ground a hole stamping on the “brakes” on the passenger side.

    wonderful to see girlfriend in her wallow. i know a human nursing mother who feels pretty much the same and doesn’t know about wallows. love it that her snout is buried deep in the mud.

    also, isn’t miss molly looking trim these days??!!!

    again, love your omnibus posts, thanks so much. calum’s road really is a wonder, such a long haul for one man with a pick.

    Comment by jeannettesmyth — June 12, 2014 @ 8:09 am

  4. Hi Paul,

    I spent two nights on Raasay 26 years ago (1988) and enjoyed it very much. For sure I have spent more time reading your blog as I have been on the island. Maybe I will be there again in a few weeks and maybe cycling down Callums road. Perhaps the next video is recorded from a German bicycle…


    Comment by Gernot — June 12, 2014 @ 8:26 pm

  5. Hey Man. Am dying a death over here without ma daily fix of inspiration. I hope you and the family are all well chap. Any more of this nae post in and i might be forced tae by a telly, lol . Peace brother

    Comment by SEAN — June 29, 2014 @ 3:45 pm

    • Hi Frank,
      should be back on track shortly, got distracted by the Land Rover, work and family 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — July 2, 2014 @ 9:48 am

    • Hi Sean,

      one of the reasons I’ve not been posting is the vast amounts of Hylomar I’ve been spreading allover my transfer box 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — July 2, 2014 @ 9:52 am

      • Well if yo need any more chap i know a man who has approx 6.5 tonnes in stock, Good to hear everything is ok and you busy. Cheer Paul

        Comment by SEAN MALOY — July 2, 2014 @ 1:33 pm

      • Well if yo need any more chap i know a man who has approx 6.5 tonnes in stock,

        Would that be 6.5 Mexican tons Sean 🙂

        Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — July 2, 2014 @ 3:25 pm

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