Life at the end of the road

December 31, 2014

The ‘Office party’ :-)

Filed under: New hybrid ferry — Tags: , , , , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 10:54 pm

Well it’s Hogmanay and by the time most of you read this I guess it’ll be 2015. It’s 20:00 here in ‘number 3’ and I’m already onto the second glass of Bells that I’ve ruined with Coke, I know it’s sacrilege to put that sugary muck in the  uisce beatha but I’m trying to dilute the ‘water of life’ so I don’t get wrecked this side of next year Smile

Battery issues

I know I’ve been a little lax this year, only 116 measly posts but it’s been a rather chaotic couple of years here at the ‘end of the road’ and it’s about to get worse. Hopefully though, a little sanity will return in early 2015 and I can resume my normal opinionated, ranting and obnoxious witterings. Then with the aid of a virtually indestructible camera given me by mum for Christmas, I can show you all the pictures of our new house Smile

So, where was I when I last posted? ‘Loosing pressure’ on the 28th apparently, well I failed to sort that unfortunately and have burdened my ‘back to back’ with a slight leak from the aft ‘converter cooler’.  Luckily he’s an understanding chap and knows that I wouldn’t have done it intentionally. However, I had a wee snag with our LiFePO4 batteries to deal with and that somewhat distracted me.

The worlds first hybrid sea going ferry, our very own MV Hallaig has on board 216 lithium iron batteries that supply 20% of her energy needs throughout the day. In effect it is actually much more than that, for were she (or any other vessel) sailing on internal combustion engines only, she would need to have at least two (if diesel electric) or more likely three (like a regular ferry with main engines and generators) diesels running all day. The Hallaig only needs to have one generator running during a normal working day, any shortfall or instantaneous power requirement being met by her ‘static generator’, the 600kWh battery bank.

The total battery capacity is split fore and aft in two dedicated battery rooms that are air conditioned, locked and only entered after strict procedures are observed. There is enough energy in these two rooms to send an average sized cat to the moon, instantly. Well, probably not but it is a lot of energy and it could be delivered at the speed of light to a miss placed spanner or carelessly placed wedding ring.

Now, I’m no stranger to batteries, having lived ‘off grid’ for thirty years and having used all manner of them to power my house. Consequently I have great respect for them and have spent a good portion of my winter evenings researching them on the internet. Batteries come in all shapes and forms, lead acid being the most common in it’s many forms, NiCad, NiFe having been around for almost as long, and all manner of modern technologies in their infancy, from Vanadium Redox to molten metal. It is however the Lithium Iron with all its various chemistries that power everything from mobile phones to locomotives and busses these days.

With a high energy density, fantastic efficiency and light weight the lithium batteries are the ‘weapon of choice’ these days. They do however require careful charging and a complex ‘battery management system’ to function at their best. It is this BMS that caused a minor hiccup on our ferry over the last couple of days. Nothing that would be noticed by the casual observer but a certain unevenness in the charging values  had been detected during routine monitoring.



Here you see the first four cells of module number 2 on Aft bank 1 reading 3.777v, a touch too high.


Consequently one of the modules had to be removed and the connections on the BMS cards checked. Though not before the observance of strict protocols and  isolation f the 750v bank.

009 010 012

With all metallic objects removed from my person, wearing insulated gloves and using insulated tools I removed one of the modules.

025 021

This gave me access to the three BMS cards that bridge and control the 24 cells (six in parallel and four in series)  that make up the EB 6P4S 12v module. The cards just required removing  the connections squeezing together

023 024

and a little ‘contact paste’ adding to make sure of a good connection. Of course without the aid of a computer you could be weeks looking for the affected module.

The first time in thirty years!!!

That was what took up a great deal of my last day ‘on shift’,



a fine enough day it was too.

However, the best was yet to come, for a little ‘windfall’ had left the Hallaig’s two crews with enough cash to spend on s ‘works do’ and I haven’t been on one of those in thirty years!! Seriously, the ‘office party’ is something that has been regrettably missing in my life since 1984 Smile Having said that, the first one I ever went to in 1972 had me so drunk that I never touched another drop of alcohol for 18 years. Hence I have much catching up to do in that department Smile

Anyway, it was the spectacular setting of the newly refurbished Raasay House  that we booked for both crews and their WAG’s. Foolishly I put on extra clothes, being as I was used to freezing there in times past, and ended up ‘stripping off’ as soon as I arrived in the bar at 20:15. A short while later we were led through to what was once the ‘Wooden Lounge’ the scene of many a great session in times past. The most memorable, for me at least, was my wedding there in 2001.


The service from Rosy and Alexis was first class and Linda’s meals and sweets were enjoyed by all.

038 039

Luckily wifey was working so ‘your truly’ got wrecked and got chauffeured home by the postie Smile Sadly this left me with a sore head, dry mouth and extreme lethargy that had me stuck in bed until after 9:00 this morning.

Eventually however I did manage to get up and do some wood cutting with my son.



A task that will no longer be required once we move into the new house Smile


However, if you are a regular wood cutter you could do much worse than to purchase one of these from Simon of


The ‘Loggit’ will hold just about any piece of timber that you can cut with a chainsaw.


Whether it’s 12’ long or 12” thick the Loggit will hold it firmly and not leave you with an aching back.

Anyway, thanks to everyone who read and commented, over a third of a million by all accounts.


  1. Well thanks for another brilliant of facts and laughter. Happy New Year to you and y family Paul and keep up the good work in 2015 Slainte .

    Comment by Stan — December 31, 2014 @ 11:19 pm

  2. Paul .
    All the Best to you and your family for 2015.
    Walter & Family

    Comment by Polite Scouser — December 31, 2014 @ 11:22 pm

  3. Happy new year to you and your family xx

    Comment by Irena Krasinska-Lobban — January 1, 2015 @ 12:20 am

  4. Paul,

    A pleasure as always to read about your day, even though much of the technical goings on regarding your ship are above my head. Amazing what technology is out there.
    Happy New Year to you and the family and look forward to catching up this year. In the meantime I shall savour the pictures and they shall keep me going until the next visit.


    Comment by Arthur T Bomber Harris — January 1, 2015 @ 1:47 am

  5. Happy New Year to you and yours Paul. All the best – and here’s to the new house.

    Comment by Carrie — January 1, 2015 @ 8:30 am

  6. All the best to you and the family!

    Comment by Gareth — January 1, 2015 @ 10:29 am

  7. A Guid New Year to you and family Paul, and many more of them !!
    Keep up the best non-political blog on the web !

    Comment by caadfael — January 1, 2015 @ 10:35 am

  8. happy new year Paul to you and your family xxx

    Comment by cazinatutu — January 1, 2015 @ 10:41 am

  9. All the best to you and your family in 2015

    Comment by Nigel Macleod — January 1, 2015 @ 10:43 am

  10. Really enjoyed reading about your doings Paul. A very happy and healthy new year to you all and may process to be moving to the new house be swift and carefree.

    Comment by Andrew — January 1, 2015 @ 11:23 am

  11. Best wishes for 2015 to you and yours. Your pictures are always enjoyable – looking forward to some from the new camera…

    Comment by IainMacb — January 1, 2015 @ 11:40 am

  12. A very happy new year to you all. Hope 2015 will fulfill many of your dreams xxx

    Comment by SOTW — January 1, 2015 @ 12:30 pm

  13. A Guid New Year to your good self, the Postie and the lad. May you have a wonderful year and one in which will see yu established in the new hoose!
    May I also take this opportunity to thank you for another interesting year.

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the electric/battery system in this post and as with every other of your posts have learnt something new.
    Now whilst I would agree that adding anything other than a drop f water or ice cubes to your whisky I can also see the advantage of adding a sugary drop of something to it when it is a blended whisky which does add to the taste, myself I prefer a good Malt and as the bells rang out had a lovely drop of Glenmorangie 10 year old. Just the one as the missus is still keeping my habits under tight control under the orders of the doc! 😦

    Comment by Thomson Caravans — January 1, 2015 @ 12:58 pm

  14. Really enjoyed the info on the batteries Paul. Over the break I went to see a LiFePO4e electric 18ft runabout planing boat. 100kW motor peak, 60 kW continous direct drive. Pack was 24kW made of 118 x 3.2 V nominal x 66 AH cells giving 377.6 Volts. C rate of cells is 3. Does 30 Knots for a short blast. All cells with BMS and nice readout on a screen for each cell. Are yours series/parallel wired or all series? Must admit if and when I can afford a Lithium flavour for my electric boat, it’ll be my choice over AGM.

    Comment by Panomphaean — January 1, 2015 @ 2:18 pm

  15. Happy New Year, Paul! I have been very lax in reading blogs and writing My own this past year but have ALWAYS read yours. You are absolutely one of my favorites! I am sure I am speaking for many others – we can’t wait until your move to the big house and to hear all of your tales. You are a born storyteller!

    Comment by Vivian — January 1, 2015 @ 2:28 pm

  16. Happy New Year to your family and may your first footing bring good fortune!

    Comment by drgeo111 — January 2, 2015 @ 3:14 am

  17. > I’m trying to dilute the ‘water of life’ so I don’t get wrecked this side of next year

    It works the other way round: alcohol from strong drinks is absorbed more quickly when it’s diluted 🙂


    Why do we often add water or other mixers to spirits, rather than drink them neat?

    Apart from perhaps making the taste of the drink more pleasant, it is also a matter of absorption.

    Alcohol is absorbed from the stomach and small intestine in response to a concentration difference between the fluid in those organs and the blood. The larger the concentration difference the greater the rate of absorption – but only up to a point. A neat spirit will contain between 37 and 40% alcohol by volume, and when taken undiluted it can actually slow down the rate of absorption, principally by slowing down the rate of gastric emptying. This is because alcohol is most easily absorbed through the upper section of the duodenum than it is through the stomach. So if the spirit drink is diluted to about 50:50 with water, gastric emptying is more frequent and the alcohol is absorbed into the body more quickly. Also, gas in a mixer [such as soda, tonic water or coke] will speed up alcohol absorption. The mechanism by which it does this is not fully understood, although it is probably because the gas also speeds up gastric emptying – which is why we often use such mixers to dilute spirits drinks.

    A belated Happy New Year.

    Comment by San — January 11, 2015 @ 11:27 am

  18. Hi I have acquired some European batteries and woundering if you could help me out with knowledge on the bms. Thanks

    Comment by jayesh988 — December 2, 2020 @ 12:38 pm

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