Life at the end of the road

February 26, 2016

Get it from Germany

Filed under: daily doings, stonework — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 9:40 pm

One thing about living in the Highlands, you get seriously ripped off with postage and delivery charges. It’s not even just the islands nowadays, it appears to be anywhere north of Glasgow. Yesterday’s conversation with a chap at was just typical.

I needed what they call an ‘accessory’ to their excellent ASM170 generator start module

ASM170 engine controller - click to enlarge

It’s a great piece of kit but at way over £200 it’s not cheap so you would expect it to come with the 20 pin plug you need to wire it up. Not so, that bit is another £36!!! Now that I can live with (just) but what really pi55ed me off was the £30 delivery charge (only £12 for the rest of the UK). Bearing in mind that this plug will fit in a ‘jiffy bag’ in struck me as extortionate but no amount of pleading could persuade the chap to post it via Royal Mail for a fraction of the cost and with guaranteed delivery within a couple of days. I know well enough from long experience that if parcels are sent via TNT, DHL, FedEx, Hermes or anyone else then we get them on Thursday and only Thursday. So trying to order that on Wednesday would have seen me forking out £30 for an eight day service. I got them to send it to Glasgow for £12 and will get wifey to collect it or MiL to post it.

Sharp contrast to the starter solenoid I ordered off eBay the same day and roughly the same size, that arrived today and the whole thing including postage was less than half the price of a DHL delivery. Even better was the tow bar for the Egg Chariot, that weighed over 20kg, was ordered at the same time as the starter solenoid and module plug, cost me £20 for delivery from GERMANY and arrived today!!!!!! 

A trip to see Pop

Thursday had us up early, over to Sconser quarry in the ‘Old Girl’ for chippings then off to Aultbea  to see me Pop at the Isle View care home. The isle in question being the Isle of Ewe in Loch Ewe, it’s a superior care home with outstanding vistas over the loch. Mind you it’s a fair old trek from Raasay but well worth the effort, the staff are amazing, keep us updated with weekly with reports on how he’s doing and even arrange Skype calls for me Mam. Well they used to until she lost her internet almost a fortnight ago. The usual BT carry on “It’s not a line fault” bolloxx “we can send an engineer out in a week but you may need to pay”. Then a few days later “sorry it is a line fault, we’ll send someone out on the 1st of March”. Boodly clowns, me mum is distraught, it’s the only way she can see me Pop without a 200 mile round trip.

Anyway, it was a lovely drive up there and back in wifey’s ‘Egg Chariot’, the Symmetrical 4WD of the Subaru making light work of what snow there was. Collecting the ‘Old Girl’, now grossing over 5tonne from the quarry we finally got home at around 19:00.

More chuckies

Today, unfortunately we had to leave the island once more, this time for pig and hen feed. Making the most of it I spent a few hours in the morning preparing in front of the house for the load we got yesterday.

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Collected some rocks from Tarbert for the edges then headed once more to civilization, leaving the trailer at Sconser to fill on the way back.


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By 19:30 I had most of it spread out by Fred Flintstone’s picnic table.

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I can just see us drinking cold beer here in the summer Smile

February 24, 2016

The list!

Filed under: daily doings, New hybrid ferry, stonework — Tags: , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 11:28 pm

Well, that’s it then, the holiday has started, a whole month to work through ‘the list’, not that I’ve actually written one out yet, but I’d better. Not that I’ve actually ever finished one of my holiday lists but I do try.

The last shift was one of stark contrast, starting as it did with storms, rain and several missed sailings. However the last few days were a pure joy, no doubt helped by the thought of four weeks off work, arriving home in daylight on Sunday and the best sunshine of the year so far.

Light both ways

It’s always a bit of a ‘milestone’ for the year when I can get to work and back in daylight, and this Sunday was the first. OK, it’s a late start and early finish, but even so, my next shift will be in BST so I may even do it during the week when I return to work at the end of March. That will be a real ‘milestone’, an early Easter for my first shift, I love Easter. Not so much now, but in a previous incarnation I spent the whole winter looking forward to Easter and a trip to the West Coast to do some wreck diving. Now I’m a wreck myself and have not dived in a couple of years but my love of the West Coast has never waned.


The daylight trip to work on Sunday had me taking a minor detour at Holoman to admire this dirty great big generator that was busy powering the settlements north of Oscaig. Work in the forest felling the infected larch and rhododendron necessitating a section of the line to turned off. Dunno what size the genny is but it certainly was quiet.

The day aboard Hallaig consisting of just a couple of trips to Sconser and back, a BIG BREAKFAST a few drills and the usual PM, (planned maintenance). The main PM job this month being a testing of various emergency functions a blackout and then recovery.



Safely tied to the pier on ‘shore power’.



Normal sailing mode, 1 DG and the drives engaged.



Something serious has happened so the ‘Start All DG’s’ button is pressed and all three Volvo generators come on line. Once they’re all ‘on the board’ we go around ‘emergency stopping’ them one by one.


Of course once you’ve pressed the last one the ship blacks out, which is then a good time to test the watertight door. 008

This must be able to close twice and open once under its reserve power supply. Meanwhile the Emergency generator on deck 4 must automatically start up and power up the Emergency Switchboard within a certain time.



That’s it on the right of the screen with just about everything else in a fault condition.The EDG is however doing everything it should by feeding the ESB (emergency switchboard) thus ensuring all the ships essential fire fighting, pumping, lighting and life saving equipment are maintained. Once all that is checked the emergency stops are reset and the ship automatically restarts the main generators and closes all the breakers. However a further part of this drill is to do it manually and also start and run up each drive unit remotely, it’s great fun Smile


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More essential maintenance, this time on Monday when it was time to take oil samples from all the generators. These are taken with a special little vacuum pump, the oil being drawn via a sterile tube and deposited in sterile bottle for posting onto a specialist company down south. This is an invaluable early indicator of any problems that may develop into something serious.

Signs of spring


Well, the first one was seeds germinating in the Land Rover Smile seriously though, aside from the ‘mixed grain’ for the hens taking root under the rear seats of the ‘Old Girl’ there was frog spawn.


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There were also birch tree buds on this ‘witches broom’’s_broom I found at Torran, along with fresh shoots on some honeysuckle.


The main task today was doing a bit of work on a couple of Lister generators, first for my neighbours at ‘Number 3’

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Cyril the Lister SR2 was getting a new ‘start module’ a Murphy ASM 170 like the one I have on my HR2 at Sonas. Unfortunately it came without the wiring loom, that’s a mere £36 extra plus £12 postage and won’t be here for a week!!! . It’s a great piece of kit and has all the functions you’re likely to need to start just about anything, however supplying it without a wiring loom is a bit pants. It also needs a 110v supply to tell it the generator is running!!! fine in the USA but here you need some kind of transformer. When I did mine I used a shaver socket, for this one I bought something like this .

Having gone as far as I could with that I set off for the Schoolhouse at Torran.


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Here the trusty Lister ST2 was needing a starter solenoid as it had gone ‘open circuit’. Whilst there the Rolls series 500 batteries got a drink of de-ionized water.



This is the 24V 800Ah bank that powers the house, it’s half the size of mine but perfectly adequate for this ‘off grid’ property.

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After sorting out everything at the Schoolhouse Molly and I went for a wander in the afternoon sun along by the Old Mission house with its amazing stone work and onto Torran proper. Everyone, including myself calls the Schoolhouse ‘Torran School’ but it’s not actually in Torran, the boundary is actually the burn at the Mission House 30m away.

That done, it was away home with the solenoid,

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I took it back to my workshop and drilled out the rivets in the hope that it was just a loose connection but as soon as I prised the thing apart I was greeted by the unmistakable smell of burnt out electrics Sad smile

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That was it really, well apart from the hens, pigs and making dinner.

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