Life at the end of the road

February 3, 2016

We got off lightly

Filed under: daily doings, life off grid, the disaster thread, weather, wind turbine — Tags: , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 11:12 pm

After all the carp weather of late, today has been a pure peach by comparison and I was fair miffed at having to spend a good deal of it in Portree. It was up early to get my son off to school for the first time in days and then onto ‘civilization’ for feed for the chooks and pigs. Dragging our two ton tipping trailer behind us we headed for the 7:55 and fed the pigs on the way. It was a pleasant change indeed not to require oilskins or get battered by the wind.

It was only when we got on Hallaig and I started speaking to the crew that I realized how lightly we’d got off at Sonas. The storms had taken out at least three transformers on the island and much of it was being supplied by four generators brought over by the ‘Hydro’. That’ll be Scottish and Southern Energy as they’re called nowadays. Along with other cartel members of the ‘big six’ they may well fleece you with their energy charges but their engineers and linesmen are second to none. The hours that these boys put in, in all weathers is well ‘above and beyond the call of duty’. During the previous three or four days of horrendous weather they’d made two trips in the Portree lifeboat to try and restore power to the vulnerable on Raasay. A combination of ferocious winds and lightning taking out the transformers, blowing telephones off walls and toasting several computers and routers.

The ferry may well have missed lots of sailings but the ones she did make were full of engineers from the ‘Hydro’, BT and Openreach. Makes our loose guttering and poorly wind turbine seem like pretty ‘small beer’. The island is pure awash with pickup trucks from the aforementioned plus the Forestry Commission, the timber extraction people and contractors associated with the new distillery. 

The misery didn’t end there, on our way to and from Portree there were at least two cars off the road due to black ice on the untreated roads. Several people we met asking us if we’d had any power cuts, one guy telling us his mate had been without Internet for a month and another telling us to check Facecloth for this.

A87 lorry

I really am glad we’re not in that caravan!!!!

It was a bit of a ‘mad dash’ around the town

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for feed and shopping, then off to the Sconser quarry for 2ton of 20mm ‘chuckies’ for around the house.


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All expertly loaded by Donald in his Volvo ‘loader’, now I could do some serious damage with that Smile


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We managed to catch the 10:25 back to Raasay, the ferry being full of workmen and equipment trying to restore some of Raasay’s infrastructure back to normality.

However, despite getting such an early ferry back to Raasay we never got home until heading up for 13:00. Whereupon I got on with lowering the Proven and wifey stated spreading stones! The sun was out and it was great to see the solar hot water system working well. I’ve never actually visualized it working, I know it does cos you can look back through its memory but it’s always been when I’ve been at work. Well today the panels were at 57 degrees and the water circulating nicely. All ‘well and good’ since the wind turbine was out of action.

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That green LED is indicating that the circulating pump is working, the figures on the right relate to the sensor temperatures. S1 is at the panels (well tubes actually) S2 is the bottom of the store and S3 around two thirds the way up it. It’s all a bit ‘work in progress’ at the moment but when S1 is 5 degrees higher than S2 the pump on the left starts and this transfers solar heat via a coil into the store. If S2 reaches 80 degrees then the second pump starts up and circulates the internal store water around the tank to ‘de stratify’ it and cool it down.

The Proven turbine stator

As soon as I could, I set about lowering the wind turbine to asses Henry’s damage.

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Starting with removing the rear flange bolts to enable the fitting of the ‘gin pole’. That done I took down a section of the fence to allow the Tirfor winch wire to clear it. The fence has been designed with this in mind so it’s an easy task involving a few screws and a section of security fence.

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Once down I removed the covers and blades, removing the blades allows the weight of the alternator to swing it through 180 degrees so it sits nearer the ground and is thus much easier to work on. Early days yet as ‘light stopped play’ but it’s looking like the stator is toast Sad smile

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