Life at the end of the road

July 13, 2015

The ‘Chicken Run’ :-)

Well, that’s the last full day off of the ‘rest week’, tomorrow it’ll be ‘back to the grind’ so to speak. To be honest I’ll be glad to get back aboard the Hallaig for a rest, these long days working on the ‘wee hoose’ have got me ‘pure knackerated’.

I had intended getting something down on here after Saturday’s ‘Chicken Run’ to see ‘Donald the Hen’ and Katie but got distracted by the neighbours.

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I left Arnish at 8:00am after filling a couple of buckets of the telehandler and depositing them on the neighbours croft. Then it was off south in the ‘Old Girl’ to pick up our dear friend Jessie Nicolson for our trip to Skye. It was only a visit to Portree for feed then a run to Struan to collect 20 more ISA brown pullets for wifey. Raasay’s oldest resident has a soft spot for chooks so I thought it was about time I took her to meet Donald and his wife Katie, who herself hails from Raasay.

Once we’d done a ‘wee shop’ at the Coey and loaded up with hen feed we drove the ten miles or so west to Struan. Our arrival at ‘Chicken central’ was greeted with coffee, biscuits and home made scones, all accompanied with great craic, reminisces and a few Gaelic sayings that I’ve promptly forgotten Sad smile One was definitely about crowing hens though Smile


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After the best part of an hour we had to depart to catch the ferry, leaving Molly to ‘watch’ the chooks on the way back.

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A couple of extra passengers hitched a lift over to Raasay us with and we dropped those off in Willie Eyre’s ‘Space age hen house’ You would ever believe it was seven years old and made from old bits of plastic pipe and surfboard sail!!!


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Molly helped me unload the chooks into their new home in our ‘solar powered hen house’. They’ll be kept separate from the others for a few days but they can see each other through a grill in the door, that way they get used to each other so don’t fight.

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The Trace SW4548e

The last posting had the Dude and I going to see Bill Cowie on Rona to collect some old Trace inverters that had died. Now these inverters are probably the best and most rugged ones ever made but they’re sadly lacking in any kind of support or a UK dealer. They were taken over by Xantrex about ten years ago then ‘swallowed up’ by the much larger Schneider Electric who have no interest whatsoever in repairing, supplying parts or even offering any kind of schematics for these old units. Consequently it’s very difficult to get them repaired and their immense weight often means that the cost of carriage alone makes it uneconomic.

So when my old one at ‘number 3’ died two weeks ago it didn’t look like good news for the new owners Sad smile However with these two old units from Rona I thought I may be able to sort something out. A rather ambitious thought really when you consider I’m no electrician and haven’t got a clue about electronics.

With the Rona units safely in the barn my son and I went around to the old homestead to remove the 4.5kW unit from ‘Cyril’s shed’.

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Now, I know 63kg isn’t that heavy but it is when its on the wall, in a package so small and all the heavy bits are at one end. I have lifted one of these on and off the wall on my own but would advise against it.

With that slid off the wall onto a plastic box and then the rear rack of the quad we took it up to Sonas.

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First thing I did was rig it up to a 48v power supply ( a rectifier unit from a UPS system). I was hoping for smoke, sparks and a burning smell so I could identify the faulty components but no such luck Sad smile

All it did was to keep tripping as soon as I switched it on and the interior gave no clues as to what may be wrong. None of the capacitors were swollen, no sign or smell of burnt components and everything seemed to be connected.

In desperation I disconnected the three toroid’s from the ‘AC board’ that seems to control everything and tried it again. This powered up the inverter and what’s more it produced 229VAC and did not trip Smile

Time was ‘marching on’ though and I had to make dinner for the guests that would be visiting within the hour.

An excellent evening followed and my vegetarian chilli went down a treat,

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however, things didn’t look (or feel) so rosy in the morning Sad smile

Despite or perhaps even because of the high blood alcohol content I managed to fix the inverter Smile

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The output from the three toroids goes to that ‘chocolate block’ on the ‘AC board’ top right. That’s the whole board and it sits on the light end of the inverter, Removal is quite straight forward, just 8 screws, 4 soldered wires to the two fans, that ‘chocolate block’ and a ribbon cable. The end casing needs removed but that’s just a few rivets to drill out and two more ribbon cables.

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You can see the black and white wires from the torroids top right. I just took the AC board from one of the other inverters and fitted in place of the one I’d removed.

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Lo and behold, 230v and 50Hz, OK, 49.99 Smile

We refitted the inverter back in Cyril’s shed, re set all the parameters and ‘hey presto’ it works a treat Smile


A sad end

As for other stuff,

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well, I reluctantly pulled down the old Rutland wind turbine mast at the back of ‘number 3’.

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I also did much road building up at the hen house

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and started preparing the front window lintels for the new house. As you can see, they’re old railway sleepers, trust me, they’ll look amazing in that natural stone gable.


    • Nice find Sean,
      I regularly check eBlag for them but I missed those two, he obviously doesn’t realize that they’re ‘bidirectional’ too. Probably because Trace say they’re not but my old one has been used that way for years now. In fact all ‘H bridge’ inverters can be used to ‘AC couple’, you just need to fit external charge control. I’m sorely tempted to stick a bid on myself for one. I do like them.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — July 14, 2015 @ 5:52 am

      • Save your search (“Follow This Search” at the top of your search results), and Ebay will email you when a new one is listed.

        Comment by San — July 16, 2015 @ 8:51 am

  1. Morning Paul.
    Great to see your in full flow with your blog. Yep missed your writing about your trials & tribulations, which you’ve quite obviously had lots more of whilst you rested your keypad. Hope the weather starts to get better for you up in the windies.
    When do you think you will be moving into the Big House? I’m sure all your readers are looking forward to wishing you and the family, all the best on that occasion.

    Comment by Polite Scouser — July 14, 2015 @ 6:33 am

  2. Hi Paul these Ebay units are just up the road from me, you bid on them and i`ll collect them for you if you want them and drop them off when we move in the next 3/4 weeks – we are still battling objectors to our croft house but are moving up at the end ofJuly anyway so if you fancy grabbing these units I can collect them for you and chuck em on the wagon we are bringing up with tons of gear in it you don`t happen to know anyone who wants rid of a shipping container cheap by any chance ? We are looking at having to use Jans Vans for a while but always on the lookout for something cheaper
    Thanks Roy

    Comment by Roy Bennett — July 14, 2015 @ 9:09 am

  3. Love the railway sleeper addition. Will give a genuine trainspotter aroma on warm days. What a palace. Leo

    Comment by leo — July 14, 2015 @ 11:34 am

  4. Glad to see your back Paul, The house looks great👍

    Comment by Alex and Lesley — July 14, 2015 @ 6:58 pm

  5. My gran- who hailed from Fife- used to say that a “whistling woman and a crowing hen will bring the devil out of his den”. Could your Gaelic saying have been something similar?

    Comment by judy hallinan — July 15, 2015 @ 8:11 pm

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