Life at the end of the road

February 20, 2015

Three quarter inch ‘chuckies’ :-)

Filed under: daily doings, life off grid, Trucks and plant — Tags: , , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 11:00 pm

I think my output is directly proportional to the amount of wine I drink, hence the lack of posting, I’ve been resting my liver. Well, I thought I’d give it a little exercise tonight, thanks to a nice bottle of Villa Vinci, Montepulciano  ‘D’ Abrruzzo my mum gave me on Monday. Not that I’ve actually tasted it yet but my mother has never bought me a bottle of dud wine yet, after all, what are mums for Smile

Anyway, having made a start on laying down the ‘chuckies’ in front of the barn I got a little obsessed with it, as it made such a difference.  The ground outside is mainly compacted rock with a little clay in between so it’s as hard as iron with little scope for weeds but it’s got one or two permanent puddles due to water running off the bank. The water isn’t deep but it’s invariably just outside the door of where you park and the ‘wee dug’ constantly covers the interior of our vehicles with mud.

As there had been snow and possibly ice forecast for the  Monday night I decided to escort the postie and her van south then continue onwards to the Sconser quarry for more ‘three quarter inch chuckies’ for the barn.

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As it happened the forecast was wrong and there was sign of neither snow nor ice, which was just as well for the Ford Transit Connect that wifey drives for Royal Mail is pretty useless in either.

Well, that was a mistake

Hmmm, Friday night now, the wine was so good that I had a glass and fell asleep, trouble is there’s still some left so perhaps I’ll do the same tonight.

Anyway, I’ll have a go.

I arrived at the quarry as preparations were well underway for a few blasts that would displace almost a quarter of a million tons of rock from the hillside.

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That ruck is carrying the explosives in a three part liquid form, ammonium nitrate, fuel oil and something else, individually quite harmless but they’re mixed by the truck and poured down the holes. All they need then is the detonator to set off a very large bang Smile


As you can see, things have ‘moved on’ Smile

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There was some serious machinery on hand to start moving it after the blasts and I must get a hard hat and hi viz vest for the ‘wee dug’. Boy, I really would love a shot in that 38 ton digger, I could do some serious damage with that on the croft!

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Whilst not in the same league as a 38ton Volvo digger this lovely ten year old DAF of ‘A Macleod Haulage’ from Strollamus is quite a machine too.

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I forgot to weigh myself before and after the shave, but here’s what a Land Rover, trailer and wee dug weigh in at. Also, there cannot be many quarries with a public road through the middle of them, and hey what a view from the office. Having said that the last office got blown over and landed on the mangers van, with him in it!!! The office that is and not the van, Sconser really is a very windy spot, needless to say the new office is well attached to Scotland now.


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After two tons of the chips was expertly and very accurately dropped in Lachie’s trailer I headed home with all my hair. I was hoping to get a hair cut whilst I was there but it just didn’t happen Sad smile


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As the ground at this end was not quite as solid and rocky as the first area we did we put some Teram fabric down. It probably wasn’t really required but I had a good piece that the wind had unravelled off a roll.

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Over a couple of days we put down eight tons which really did make a huge difference to the area.

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A couple of days was spent looking over Phoebe for the MOT and doing a few minor repairs. Nothing serious and she passed today with just a couple of ‘advisories’ that I’ll deal with in due course.


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The last few days have been ideal ‘renewable weather’ with plenty of wind for the wind turbine, water for the hydro turbine and sunshine for the solar panels.

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Over a 70 hour period the 2.5kW Proven/Kingspan   turbine came out on top with 57kWh generated, the 800w Powerspout a close second at 54kWh and the 4.75kW solar array a paltry 15kWh. However it’s only February and as the wind drops and the days lengthen these figures will inevitably change dramatically in favour of the solar over wind whilst the hydro remains stable. The meter from the solar only actually monitors 2.2kW of the array but it’s a fair assumption just to double the recorded 7.5kWh. So, all in all quite good with an average of over 42kWh per day, now that is pretty good for an investment of well under £18k, sure the batteries may need replacing in 10 to 15 years but offset that against no electricity bills, standing charge, heating bills and most important of all a reliable supply. I have had less power cuts in 25 years than Raasay gets in your average winter and mine generally last a few minutes whilst I go out an reset something.

Of course it’s not quite as simple as that, I do have to maintain stuff, have spent years online researching and I have had the occasional ‘brown trouser moment’ but it is supremely satisfying to make your electricity from the elements.


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I also have a nice warm shed that seems to attract toads thanks to all the ‘dump loads’ I fitted.

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I have been reconfiguring my 2 x 3kW loads and 1 x 1.5kW to 3 x 2.5kW to better match my 45amp controllers.

Instead of having two of these in parallel to give me 3kW



I now have one of those and one of these



which gives me 2.25kW

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Choosing a resistor as a dump load

Rather than me making a complete hash of ‘Ohm’s law’ and explaining it all wrong I’ll just copy an excerpt from Hugh Piggott’s blog

Using a high power resistor as a dump load

When choosing a dump load for your charge controller, you need to find heater or heaters that will:

  • Be able to dump the maximum current your combined wind and solar systems will throw at it at once.
  • Not draw more current than the charge controller is able to handle. (Which is the number in the name of the controller – e.g. C40 can handle 40 amps maximum.)

A neat solution to finding a dump load for a charge controller is to use a big wire wound resistor that you can buy from an electronic component supplier.  Look for ones with low resistance and high power rating.  There are not very many to choose from, and their stock is always changing.

The resistor has two important numbers associated with it:  resistance and power rating.  Resistance determines how much current it will dump in your system and the power rating is a guide to the maximum safe wattage it can burn off without over-heating.

When choosing a resistor/heater for a charge controller we need to start by considering the system voltage.  Say it’s a 12 volt system then the heater needs to be safe up to 15 volts.  (Whereas 24 and 48 volt systems can go up to 30 and 60 volts.)

Use Ohm’s Law to find the current the heater will draw at this voltage (if the controller turns it on fully).  For example if the resistance is 1 ohm (written 1R or 1Ω) then Ohm’s Law says:

Current = voltage/resistance = 15/1 = 15 amps.

Next find the power it will have to dissipate (as heat).

Power = voltage x current = 15 x 15 = 225 Watts.

In reality these resistors can take some overload (and the controller is unlikely to need to operate them continuously) so you can get away with a well ventilated 200 watt resistor, although my favourite is 300 watts.  This makes a good building block for a dump load system.  You can add more in parallel to dump more current (up to 3 in parallel for a Tristar 45-amp controller) and you can add more in series to go to higher system voltages.

Full article here and much, much more.

Well there was more, much more, I went to Brochel and collected 1000lts of heating oil, laid some drains to take water away from my lovely ‘chuckies’ and laid some cable in the new house.


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Actually that’s a bit of a ‘porky’ I got my son to clamber into the rafters and lay the 7 core cable then fasten it in position whilst I passed him the tools. This is just some extra cabling for a voltmeter, generator start facility and anything else I can think of, better to lay it now and have spare cores than think of it later.

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The concrete is curing nicely with just a few pale dots caused by condensation drips from the joist hanger brackets, which will only serve to add character to the polished floor.


  1. Its fair coming together Paul !!

    Comment by v8mbo — February 21, 2015 @ 11:00 am

    • Very pleased Robin 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — February 22, 2015 @ 10:32 pm

  2. I bet you wish you were a few more months down the line and e everything was done and ready for you all to move in.

    Comment by Stan — February 21, 2015 @ 11:14 am

    • I’m past caring Stan 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — February 22, 2015 @ 10:31 pm

  3. That is some serious set up you have now You certainly wont be having any blackouts in the future, when Russia Shuts off the gas to Europe.

    However if you were to believe what a certain ukip candidate thinks you may need to find an alternative for when the renewable energy runs out.

    Priceless it could only come from a ukip candidate.

    Comment by artimaginguk — February 21, 2015 @ 6:22 pm

    • Priceless it could only come from a ukip candidate.

      Yup, Alistair, that one ‘passed me by’ so I had to ‘Google’ it, she’s in great company with that buffoon Farage 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — February 22, 2015 @ 10:30 pm

  4. Hey,my name’s Guy,I’ve just got a croft on Skye and it’s covered in bracken. Pigs are supposed to do the biz.. Maggie Smith and Donald Murdie say you’re the man I should talk to. 07960 049433 guyb24125@googlemail , Guy Barber on facebook. , be glad to hear from you.

    Comment by Guy Barber — February 25, 2015 @ 7:46 pm

  5. Paul,
    Great to see that Lachie has been busy and that the house is coming on. Looking great, very interesting to see the updates on the off grid power supply.
    Am I correct in thinking that it works out cheaper to collect the chippings from Torrin than have someone delivering it as one load? Needing a few tonne for the same reason as you, after an especially wet winter.
    Only a week until the clocks go forward. 🙂
    All the best


    Comment by Arthur T Bomber Harris — February 28, 2015 @ 8:21 pm

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