Life at the end of the road

January 3, 2015

From China with love

Filed under: daily doings, life off grid — Tags: , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 11:48 pm

It must be a Glesgie thing, me I’m sat at the kitchen table trying to update the blog with wifey and MiL rolling about the place in stitches. They’re watching ‘Still Game’ and have just by the three foot jobby in the toilet.


Way above my head I’m afraid Smile

Problems with the ‘Powerspout’

Anyway, it’s been a pure peach of a day here and I decided to make the most of it by wandering over the hill and clearing some air out of the Powerspout. I’d turned the turbine off weeks ago, quite simple because we couldn’t use all the electricity and I figured today would be a good day to clear some air out of the penstock.

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It’s a bit of a PITA as it involves a 2” Honda water pump and my old Northern Diver dry suit.

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Basically I just connect the pump up, start it then open the bleed valves but it does involve quite a bit of trekking about the hills and hanging around.

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Here’s the old boundary wall between North Raasay and Arnish

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and here’s home for the next few months Smile

I got the penstock all cleared of air then started up the New Zealand manufactured turbine only to find that the output was about half of what it should be. Normally my hydro turbine produces just shy of 800w but upon restarting it after its rest it was only producing around 350w Sad smile A walk over the hill to the turbine itself soon identified the ‘issue’,

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only one of the two jets was working, the lower one just spraying a trickle onto the pelton cups that drive the alternator. Of course I’d no tools so another trip over the hill was required to get some.


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As far as hydro turbines go, you can’t really get better than Michael Lawley’s ‘Powerspout’ turbine for the money. Based on a ‘Fischer and Paykel’ washing machine motor and producing up to 1kW these turbines are cheap, well supported and pretty reliable. I don’t pretend to be any expert on these things but I’ve got a ‘Stream Engine’ operated a ‘Navitron’ and installed a ‘Harris turbine’ . They’re all good and do what they say but one seems to be the best value for money of them all and is available from Hugh Piggott at .

When I purchased mine from Hugh some years ago I bought spare pelton spoons and bearings , mainly because of the free shipping with the turbine. However you get a good toolkit with it that includes a special spanner for the nozzles.

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Well, that would be the cause of the blockage then Smile

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You don’t actually need to remove the clear panel to access the lower nozzle but you can see better with it removed and it’s no hassle.

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That’s more like it, two nicely placed jets of water bouncing off the cover, so with that all ‘hunky dory’ Molly and I went beachcombing.

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A good looking plank turned out to be rotten in the middle but will still make two fine shelves in the barn.

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A porpoise had also suffered the same fate as the plank.

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That done it was up to the barn to check out the output of the turbine,


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which was still low, but an hour or two later had risen to over 700W.

A spell of clearing drains around the back of the barn saw me to darkness and beyond after which I reluctantly headed home. It had been a fine day with a good deal achieved and I wasn’t ready for calling it a day. Luckily I had a wee parcel from China waiting for me at ‘number 3’


an LED ‘self powered’ voltmeter from Lilly in Szechwan Province . The last one of these I bought cost me £25!!! this one was £1.85 including air freight!! but it gets better. I actually ordered this in November to replace the one in the kitchen, not that there was anything wrong with that,

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just that I needed to remove the 12v one and that powered the 48v one.

When it didn’t arrive after a couple of weeks I can’t say I noticed or was even too concerned, it was after all not much more than the cost of a 1st class stamp. However I got several emails off the delightful Lilly in China apologising for the delay and even offering a refund. I replied saying ‘no worries’ and she emailed yet again offering a refund, this time saying that if it turned up I could reimburse her. Anyway I said that I’m sure it would turn up, and turn up it did today, so this evening I fitted it.

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  1. Like wifey and mil I too was LOL at the still game program, must be a Scotsman thing. having said that the Mrs Brown,s boys shows also have me ROFL. So maybe just a sense of humour shared by Gaelic heritage persons, but having said that both my parents where English, so now I am totally confused and will settle for a good sense of humour at things of a comical nature.
    Anyway Happy New Year and so pleased you got the Powerspout up to par again and well done to the Chinese women for her diligence and excellent after sales service. something many UK firms could learn by.
    Keep up the excellent blog and all the very best for a great 2015.

    Comment by Thomson Caravans — January 4, 2015 @ 1:59 pm

  2. Hi Paul,
    I’ve been a bit lax with reading the blog lately, but have now caught up with the goings on on Raasay. Happy New Year to you and family, and all the other residents. I was on South Uist for a week at a work party for the Gatliff hostel at Howmore back in November, and when we left for home in the middle of the month, we had a fantastic journey across Skye with a great view of Raasay in the sunshine, made me feel ‘home-sick’ to be going straight past without a visit! Maybe you should have come to an arrangement with SYHA to stay in the hostel for a while – much quicker for you and Mrs Postie to get to work!!!! Glad to see that the hostel has not yet been sold, hopefully will be able to come up to run it for a week or two in the summer!

    Comment by francesp — January 4, 2015 @ 3:00 pm

    • Maybe you should have come to an arrangement with SYHA to stay in the hostel for a while – much quicker for you and Mrs Postie to get to work!!!!
      and who would feed the hens, sheep,birds, cats and collect the eggs 🙂 The schoolhouse is also FOC 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — January 4, 2015 @ 9:00 pm

  3. Good to be enjoying your blog once again, Paul. Just planning an islands trip for May/June, but not to Raasay this trip. Arran, Islay, Jura, Colonsay with an Irish friend and a Yank pal, who will be on their first cycle trip to The Isles – an awakening for them and a reawakening for me. Always enjoy your blogging, thanks,

    David & Margaret Gartside, Saddleworth, UK and Spain.

    Comment by David & Margaret Gartside — January 4, 2015 @ 7:26 pm

    • Hope you have a good trip and the weather is kind to you and your friend, May/June is usually good on the West Coast.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — January 5, 2015 @ 6:18 am

  4. So pleased to be reading the blog again!

    Comment by may cruickshank — January 4, 2015 @ 8:09 pm

    • So pleased to feel like actually writing it May 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — January 5, 2015 @ 6:17 am

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