Life at the end of the road

May 10, 2015

A minor ‘meltdown’ :-)

Filed under: boats, daily doings, life off grid, shed/house — Tags: , , , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 11:07 pm

When it’s nice it’s nice but for most of the time it certainly doesn’t feel like May, today, Sunday has been staggeringly wet. Friday and Saturday being positively tropical by comparison. I even broke out the shorts and sandals for a couple of days, just as well really, after having a rather subdued birthday I was needing some sunshine. I thought I was only 58 this year but wifey informed me recently, ‘no you’re sixty next year’!!! Well, that was a bombshell I can tell you and it’s taken me a few weeks to get over it Smile

Still, that’s not the reason, or at least the main reason there’s been no activity on here, quite honestly, I’ve just bee far too tired. This ‘living on site’ is just too handy for my huge ‘man cave’ next door and I’ve been busy doing stuff for the house.


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Our beautiful solid oak doors have been getting the ‘Osmo’ treatment . This interior ‘Door oil’ 3060 is supposed to be the ‘dogs danglies’ and I have to say, so far I agree. It’s made from ‘natural oils’, whatever they are, goes on a treat and leaves a beautiful deep satin sheen. It’s not cheap right enough and I reckon I’ll need four tins to do the thirteen doors but they shouldn’t need doing for years, and then you just slap another coat straight on top.

The water treatment plant

My next project was a small water treatment plant, something I took on very reluctantly Sad smile However, you’re supposed to have it tested to get a ‘completion certificate’ these days and the fact that we’ve been drinking it for 25 years with no ill effects counts for nowt. Truth is, if I go away anywhere for long my skin goes all funny and tap water ruins a good malt, but ‘hey ho’, we all have to conform these days, at least until I get the certificate Smile

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I made up a simple filtration system using three 20” filters of 20micron, 2 micron then a charcoal one. Finally a 32w UV sterilizer that’s supposed to kill anything too small to get trapped in the three filters.

The polytunnel

Another little project was helping our neighbours with their new polytunnel at ‘number 3’.

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They’d done all the ‘donkey work’ and it was just a matter of mixing some concrete up for them.

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The task being made much easier by having Lachie’s telehandler on site. I rigged up my electric mixer on a long extension so it was right by the aggregate. The mixer was firmly screwed to a pallet on the front forks and once mixed I just lifted the boom, reversed under it and deposited the load in the trailer for carrying the few hundred yards to the tunnel. Three trailer loads did it with relative ease, a good deal less trouble that hauling all the gear down there and mixing at the tunnel.

Solar hot water

A day, or at least a morning was set aside for going to Elgol on Skye to collect 60 evacuated tubes for the hot water collectors that are going on the roof of the ‘bunker’. For us, solar PV makes more sense than solar hot water and we abandoned the idea of solar hot water a couple of years ago as the price of solar PV tumbled. Solar hot water was at one time cheaper than solar PV and if done right can supply all a families hot water needs for at least six months even here. However, we already have 4.75kW of solar PV and our ‘Sunny Island’ SI 6.0H ‘off grid’ inverter is ‘maxed out’ on ‘AC coupled’ PV and turbines.

The shed (bunker) that Lachie an Donald are building has a perfect roof for a solar array but I never really realized just how much sun it actually gets from early morning until late afternoon. To put solar PV on the roof I’d have to ‘DC couple’ it, that is connect it directly to the battery and use large diameter cables or run it through a charge controller at a higher voltage, either way it would be quite costly as the battery bank is over 30m away.

As producing hot water is about 50% more efficient per square meter than generating electricity, and as the 1500lt thermal store is directly below the array I decided to ‘give it a go’. A mate was selling some brand new ‘unbranded’ Navitron 20 tube arrays at half price, what had I to lose Smile

navitron  Solar hot water and heating

Navitron do DIY kits and provided excellent support via their website, forum  Navitron Renewable Energy and Sustainability Forum – Index and various YouTube videos.

For most people with a DIY bent and a hot water cylinder solar hot water is a ‘no brainer’ as you don’t need to mess about with high voltage DC or need an electrician (apart from simply wiring a pump). It’s not quite so simple if you have a combi boiler right enough but it is doable. Me, I already had the infrastructure for the solar PV (photovoltaics) so it’s not quite so attractive unless you’re short of roof space. However, my good mate Ed, has done a great comparison here

White goods woes

Being as how the house is getting nearer to completion and we’re living in a caravan we’ve been ‘splashing out’ on the ‘white goods’, well what a PITA that’s been. Quite apart from all the ‘cock ups’ in the delivery department our new Panasonic washing machine has a fault with the door lock.

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It’s super efficient, gets great reviews and would be fantastic if it actually worked, sadly it is made in Turkey, the same place as my Hatsan shotgun. That will be the one that fell apart as the 50th cart went up the spout, the same place where the lethal IRB davit on Hallaig came from and the country that assembled the last gas cooker I bought for the chalet. This cooker arrived dented and broken in undamaged packaging!!!!! Who on earth packs a dented and broken cooker for shipping half way around the planet!!

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The thing stops working because of an error code E01, which means ‘door unlocked’, only the door isn’t unlocked, I’ve even tried wrapping a ratchet strap around it but still it unlocks itself.

Of course 20 minutes on the phone to Panasonic later I was promised a new machine as it was less than 20 days old but I told them to just come and fix the boodly thing!!

Next up were the two Liebherr appliances, a fridge and freezer, the most efficient on the planet according to

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They arrived on Thursday, were duly left 24 hours to stand prior to unpacking and plugging in, well they work just fine but they’re different shades of white Sad smile No big deal but why????

The new condenser/heat pump tumble drier arrives tomorrow, I wonder what will be wrong with that?


Prior to any of this was a week on Hallaig.


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The Hebridean Princess visited,

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and new mooring ropes got spliced.

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A batch of school children arrived for an exciting spell at Raasay House

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and there was lots of rain Sad smile


Well, after what were two beautiful days on Friday and Saturday, today has been pure pish,

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the highlight of the day being Darrel’s bottle of ‘Monte Giove’ Merlot. Dashing  back from Elgol yesterday I nipped into the Co Op for stuff to put in the new freezer and a couple of bottles of ‘Signal Post’. The Antipodean red had been on offer this last few weeks and wifey had developed a liking for it. So, rushing around like a lunatic in the Broadford Coey on account of wanting to make the 11:25 ferry I collared Darrel, the resident expert on ‘vin rouge’. “Where’s the Signal Post” says I to he, “over there, I’ve just filled the shelf” he replies, “but if you like that, then you’ll love this” he points to the slim dark Italian number Smile  Well, all I can say is ‘Nice one Darrel Winking smile

Apart from that, it was hen cleaning, house sweeping, shelf making, fence repairing and inverter changing.

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There’s not actually anything wrong with this old SMA ‘Sunny Boy’ SWR 2500 but it’s almost ten years old and does not have an LCD display on the front like the newer ones. These old inverters can now be picked up for ‘buttons’ as ‘brand new old stock’ and I’ve had this one for a while. As the weather was pish it seemed like a good opportunity to change it and keep the old one as a spare.

There was more but it’s almost midnight and the Monte Giove is finished so I’m off to bed!


  1. Morning, Paul

    Tough about the extra year – but I’m sure I remember you commenting about being 58 last year, so where the year in-between went I don’t know!



    Comment by Sue — May 11, 2015 @ 8:01 am

    • I dunno where it went either Sue, think I may have lost it in South Shields 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — May 12, 2015 @ 5:56 am

  2. Remember at 60 it is obligatory to groan gently when sitting down. You have a year to practice!
    Solar thermal is great, we are a tad further south than you! Even in mid winter water arrives at 7c and on thegreyest of days is lifted to 25c plus.

    Comment by Andrew — May 11, 2015 @ 8:25 am

  3. Paul, how did the floor in the house turn out with the glass going into it. Is it, or does it get polished?

    Comment by willie — May 11, 2015 @ 9:03 pm

    • Morning Willie,

      I really wish I’d put much much more glass in the mix as it looks amazing but I’ve only found half a dozen pieces in 3 rooms 😦 Having said that most of it went into the living area and we’ve not started that yet. It really is hard work and very messy.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — May 12, 2015 @ 6:07 am

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