Life at the end of the road

March 16, 2016

Porky delights :-)

Filed under: daily doings, wind turbine — Tags: , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 12:33 am

Golly gosh, been a little hectic here this last few days to say the least. I’ve got lots on the ‘to do list’ as it is but we’ve had a couple of unexpected disasters  here that have shaved a few days off the holiday, and jobs off my list. Number 1 and 2 being generator related, not just Harry my HR2 Lister but Cyril the SR2 next door too. Lost track of the days right enough but one fine frosty morning I got up to do the usual chores first thing, one of these being a look into the ‘power station’ to see what we’ve generated or used overnight.

As soon as I approached the shed door I was greeted by the very expensive smell of the ‘magic smoke’ from inside the shed Sad smile It was warm too indicating that Harry had been running over night. This would be on account of me altering the inverter settings to set the inverter to start the generator at 60% SOC and stop it at 80% SOC, that’ll be ‘state of charge’ of the batteries. I had gradually been increasing the lower setting from the default 40% and reducing the upper setting from 100%. My logic being that the batteries last longer if cycled less and the extra solar from the lengthening days means the batteries are charging faster during the day.

Using the generator to charge the batteries fully is very wasteful due to the way lead acid batteries (most batteries in fact) like to be charged. The initial charge, called the ‘Bulk’ phase is done at a high current and so the generator is well loaded and running efficiently. However the next phase, ‘Absorption’ is done at much lower current and can take up to three hours to fully charge a battery. So, with longer days and still plenty of wind and hydro it makes more sense to let nature do this bit. Anyway, I guess I’d set the lower threshold a little high so, around 4:00am the generator must have started to charge the batteries.

120316 001 120316 002

Unfortunately something went wrong Sad smile Trouble is, I’m not entirely sure what!!! Luckily when I bought this massive Lister HR2 15kVA set with a mere 50hours on the clock some 13 years ago it came with a load of spares. I paid £1000 for it delivered to Sconser and being a ‘standby set’ from a satellite tracking station it had hardly been used but was well serviced. It even had a heater in the sump, so was kept warm for twenty odd years before I bought it. Amongst the injector pipes, filters, springs and gaskets was a brand new, yes brand new starter motor.

120316 003 120316 004 120316 006

Fitting the starter is a pretty straight forward job, though mine has extra relays and wiring for the ‘Murphy ASM 170’ start module. That will be the same one I’m fitting to Cyril next door and, as I hinted that’s not going too well either. The generator is starting and stopping better than it’s ever done at ‘Number 3’ but it’s started tripping the RCD in the house Sad smile More of Cyril later, back to Harry, well, I’m a little perplexed cos I’ve not actually identified the cause of the problem yet. Did the starter stick in and get driven by the engine? Did it short out internally or did the inverter send some wrong info to the start module.

Truth is I’ve not got a clue and even downloading the ‘event history’ from the inverters SD card hasn’t really helped. The data shows a low SOC start request being initiated around (3:53 actually an hour later) EDIT, further investigation reveals that it was a ‘BMS’ request

Event log 090316 

Roughly translated this means the genny ran from 3:53 to 6:03 when it was shut down due to ‘reverse power protection’. Usually this means that the AC grid is receiving more renewable energy than the energy generated  by the generator. In effect this means that say the wind has got up or the sun come out (though not the latter at 7:00AM) At 6:24 another start is initiated and this continues for another hour and a half (another 4 starts) until 8:25 when the generator fails to start and I guess the starter motor starts belching the ‘magic smoke’ Sad smile So, until I get to the bottom of it I’ve switched the generator to ‘manual start only’ and increased the minimum time between starts to 60 minutes.

Well then, methinks I’ve gotten somewhere after studying the ‘event history’ and ‘logging’.


I know it’s all gibberish, it was to me for hours but it would appear that the generator was requested at 70% SOC under a condition known as a ‘BMS full charge request’ which overrides the SOC request. Needless to say I’ve turned that function off now. It doesn’t explain what wrecked the starter but it does explain why the generator was running so long and kept going into ‘reverse power protection’. These SMA ‘off grid’ inverters do seem to have their own way of doing things!!! I do like this German stuff, you can feel the quality in it, a huge die cast aluminium chassis to take the heat away and lovely soldering on all the boards. However the Sunny Island SI 6.OH does seem to have a mind of its own!

Desperately boring stuff I know so I’ll try and get ‘back on track’.

OK, I’ll try again, I’ve been writing this for three days now and still no nearer posting it! Can’t even remember what I’ve been doing as I’ve not even filled in the ‘paper diary’ this week.


Thursday I’ll not forget right enough as we went to Aultbea to visit my dad at the ‘Isle View’ care home.


The isle in question being the Isle of Ewe situated within the large sea loch that was once a marshalling point for the Russian convoys and a well used anchorage for the Royal Navy.

Loch Ewe

I spent a bit of time diving in the area in the seventies and eighties, returning over twenty years later with my son and his pals for a ‘look see’

Funny how things turn out, if anyone had said to me in 1980 that my father would end up in a care home there I’d have said they were mad! Still, he couldn’t be in a better place, the staff are excellent and the food great. I know cos we always turn up for lunch Smile Not deliberately of course, it’s just that if we catch the 7:55 ferry and drive straight there we arrive just before meal time. This lasts about an hour and a half because the staff take so much time and care over all the guests. There’s no hurry or rushing about, everyone gets a friendly word and some good craic with their food.

120316 013 120316 014

Even managed to get a raspberry and smile out of me dad, who is settling in there very nicely.

120316 016

In another bit of synchronicity someone I met via the Internet and blog lives on the island and has family in the same home. So after lunch I left me mammy with pop and  went to meet up in the hotel  Smile  Methinks I will have to return for longer, my friend also lives ‘off grid’ and has his fingers in some very interesting pies.

The piggies return

Leaving the home around 14:30 we headed the 80 miles to Kyle


to collect two pigs in nine boxes from Lochalsh Butchers. One compensation of the 100 mile drive from Sconser to Aultbea is the stunning scenery along the way.

The pigs weighed 66kg and 83kg so, with half a pig going to a friend that meant we’d around 100kg of pork to deal with and it was after 19:00 when I got in Sad smile By 22:00 we’d had enough so left the rest in the car, which was just fine, it was a frosty night and the freezer could only freeze so much anyway.


120316 017 120316 018

Believe me, this is only a fraction of it, it took us three days to get it all in the freezer as we can only freeze 28kg per 24h. I dunno how many sausages we had but it was a lot!

Not sure what happened on Friday after another few hours of bagging sausages, probably I was round at the neighbours working on their generator or servicing the pig trailer. I did that at some point recently in preparation for its trip south to collect a wind turbine. Just changed the number plate and removed the wheels and bearings to check and grease them.

I did make dinner for my son and I right enough, it was a small haggis and black pudding from Cockburn’s of Dingwall

120316 019

I boiled the black pudding in tinfoil for forty minutes along with the haggis rather than frying it in slices, boodly delicious with some mash and mixed veg.

A touch of paranoia

Friday night saw a good breeze of wind and after a couple of glasses of red I went out to the ‘power station’  to check on the wind turbine output. Fatal mistake as I managed to convince myself that there was something wrong with it. The voltage and current values did not seem to be stable or correspond to the amount of power generated. After braking the turbine and metering across the phases I further managed to convince myself that there was some serious issue within the turbine head, faulty core, poor connections or duff slip rings. Another glass of wine helped confirm this and before i went to bed I’d convinced myself that I needed to lower the turbine to check it.

True to form, I was up early on Saturday to lower the turbine.

120316 020 120316 021

The 11m mast makes this a wee bit more of a chore than the 7 m mast at ‘Number 3’, for a start the ‘gin pole’ is much heavier. This makes it a good deal harder to set up than on the shorter mast, it also means that you really need a jack to start it off. With the shorter mast you could easily just lift the mast by hand enough to start it tipping. Obviously this would be AFTER you’ve connected the Tirfor wire.

260512 028 image

Left hand picture is the old method complete with Skye Batik shorts and the right hand picture is hydraulic jack method required for the 11m mast.

In the pishing rain and with half a gale blowing I managed to lower the turbine and remove half of the top cover for inspection.

120316 022

Everything was in order and all resistances similar across all the phases, both before and after the slip rings!!!! Having said that I had taken the original readings on my very expensive Fluke ‘auto ranging’ multimeter and I think I got a little confused. A cheap Chinese jobbie set at 0 – 200 Ohms seemed to indicate that all was well all the way back to the inverter. So, basically I’d spent most of the day working my socks off and achieved nothing other than ‘peace of mind’.

Still, it was good exercise and lessons were learned Smile

The day after the sun was out, everything seemed rosy and I got a tow bar fitted  to the ‘Egg Chariot’, that’ll be wifey’s Subaru Forester. A task that proved incredibly easy, I had the choice of a UK made one for £200 plus an ‘arm and a leg’ for delivery or one from Poland for £62 plus £20 delivery!!! How is it possible to send something from Guetersloh in Germany to Sconser than from Wolverhampton to Sconser? Sure, I had my doubts about the quality but this tow bar wasn’t really going to get much use so I wasn’t too fussed. However, it was well made, thickly ‘powder coated’, easy to fit and came with all the hardware required for installation. The instructions were carp right enough, as were the imitation ‘Scotchlok’ connectors but everything else was first class

Another job done on the turbine was the addition of extra mounting studs grouted into rock with Hilti HIT RE 500 resin. The original Proven/Kingspan mount had 6 x 24mm studs, which is probably just fine but after ‘storm Henry’ I decided to add more for ‘peace of mind’. I had plenty of M20 A4 stainless studs and had seen some resin very cheap on eBlag.


150316 003 150316 004

So, with a 24mm bit I bored 5 extra 400mm holes into the rock and fitted the extra studs. Once the holes were drilled then I power washed all of them and hoovered out the water, the resin is then injected into the hole and then the stud inserted. The resin takes about 9 hours to cure at these temperatures so I’ve not actually torqued them up yet.

120316 024

And I have no idea how I ended up with one dirty foot!!!! Smile


  1. How did you manage to find a forester that doesn’t have a towbar?

    I thought they were standard issue

    Along with a smell of wet dogs

    Comment by thinfourth — March 16, 2016 @ 6:40 am

    • Morning TF,

      aye you’re right, pretty much everyone I looked at had one. AS for the wet dug smell, no sign yet but the Phoebe the Terios still stinks a year 18 months after buying it!!

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — March 16, 2016 @ 9:01 am

  2. Morning Paul

    You brought back some good memories here – my Lister Startomatic, a few days in the Aultbea Hotel in the early ’90s (great food and location) and haggis and white pudding from Cockburn’s of Dingwall in the mid-’70s. Haven’t seen white pudding for many years: does it still exist or has one of the ingredients got it banned?

    Enjoy the pigs!



    Comment by Sue — March 16, 2016 @ 8:05 am

    • Morning Sue,

      white puddings and all Cockburn’s stuff available online, if you’re visiting this year don’t bring any sausages 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — March 16, 2016 @ 9:02 am

      • Hi Paul

        Only just looked at this – busy. Will look on line – I’m missing white pudding. Not coming this year, to my profound regret – elderly relative can’t be left for very long. Hope next year. Would have appreciated the sausages!



        Comment by Sue — April 30, 2016 @ 7:34 am

  3. The red wine, the one that had you dismantling the turbine and getting peace of mind….what was its name again? I don’t have a turbine, but I need that wine.

    Comment by drgeo111 — March 16, 2016 @ 9:29 pm

  4. Have you still got the strange foot scrubber for your feet? Looks like you need it. 🙂

    Comment by Simon — March 17, 2016 @ 9:46 pm

  5. Alright mate has Blackfoot stopped you blogging you better get it seen to.

    Comment by MW — April 11, 2016 @ 6:13 pm

  6. Hi Paul,

    Just like to say how much I enjoy reading about your daily doings and such, Scottish Islands, Ferries and crofting all in one delightfully blog. Makes me want to lace up me boots, jump aboard the next CalMac and head of to the next far flung island….


    Comment by cericmurray — April 15, 2016 @ 1:10 pm

  7. Are you all well – it is worrying that you haven’t posted.

    Comment by Tessa Rogowski — May 5, 2016 @ 9:02 pm

  8. Hope everything is ok? Really missing catching up with you daily doing! :@) Ceri

    Comment by Cericmurray — May 6, 2016 @ 1:17 pm

  9. Suspect something must be up? Hope all well though, and Paul can continue this fab blog, or bring it to a final conclusion?

    Comment by Sally — May 6, 2016 @ 3:55 pm

  10. Happy Birthday Paul.
    Hope you’ve got the weekend off. 🍷🍾🎂

    Comment by Polite Scouser — May 7, 2016 @ 8:11 am

  11. For Raasay fans – on Fri 3rd June the paddle steamer Waverley has a one day cruise including a circuit of Raasay. See
    Hope to see Paul blogging again soon.

    Comment by David — May 17, 2016 @ 5:29 pm

  12. Paul-your updates are sorely missed. Hope all is ok.

    Comment by Lisa — June 5, 2016 @ 8:44 pm

  13. I expect you’re busy but just to add my voice to those who miss your posts and hope they’ll be back on line soon.

    Comment by neilking — June 12, 2016 @ 11:49 am

    • Morning Neil, Lisa, all,
      aye been kinda busy peeps, weather has been fantastic and the list of jobs long. There seems to be more work in a new house after you’ve moved in 🙂 Sure I’ll get back into it once I’m sorted.

      Cheers, Paul

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — June 13, 2016 @ 5:12 am

      • Did you see Waverley on it’s circuit of Raasay Paul? Any pics?

        Comment by David — June 20, 2016 @ 6:53 pm

      • Aye David, was aboard, ’twas a ‘Grand day out’ 🙂

        Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — June 23, 2016 @ 5:11 am

  14. I’m sure you’re looking forward to the day the job list is finished and you have time for photography and blogging.

    Comment by Steve — June 22, 2016 @ 4:33 pm

    • Morning Steve,

      well there’s my son’s car to get through the MOT, my wife’s needs a timing belt, the Land Rover needs a bulkhead and if that’s not enough I’ve started work on the Range Rover!! That’s as well as the garden, paths, hens, wind turbines and the jobs for the neighbours. As Arnie says ‘I’ll be back’ 🙂 just a case of when 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — June 23, 2016 @ 5:10 am

  15. The List never ends, only on the day you cross the park.

    Comment by Polite Scouser — June 22, 2016 @ 7:45 pm

    • Morning Walter,

      aye, that list is getting longer by the day, I really must tell you about it 🙂

      Cheers, Paul

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — June 23, 2016 @ 5:06 am

  16. Hi hope that you are OK we miss hearing from you, I realise that you are very busy but just a quick one liner to know that you are still with us all your numerous fans, would be great.

    Comment by Simon — July 3, 2016 @ 8:30 am

    • No doubt Paul will be adding it to his list 😉

      Comment by Steve — July 7, 2016 @ 10:51 am

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at

%d bloggers like this: