Life at the end of the road

July 11, 2016

Thomson’s away :-(

Filed under: daily doings, wind turbine — Tags: , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 9:33 pm

Only 19:45 tonight and I’m in the hoose, this will be my new attempt at regularly updating the old blog, I hope you appreciate it Smile I could be out stalking mink, painting the barn floor or just enjoying a braw evening,


instead I’ve come in early to ‘fill you in’ with the latest ‘doings’ from the ‘end of the road’ Smile Seriously, I’ve missed you all Smile

Anyway, it’s been a lovely day up here for the most part despite the shaky start, which as always begins with a trip up to the hens for ‘roll call’. Not that I actually know how many are left of the 80 or 90 we had not that long ago. However, you can soon tell if the mink have been about by the disposition of the chooks. Even if none have been taken they’re a little jumpy when one is around.

The trap I’d set the day before yesterday had been entered and the bait eaten, sadly it hadn’t ‘sprung’ so it had escaped. Still, at least I was in the right area with it, so having run out of ham I reset it with some smoked fish.

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Set just by a gap under the fence I covered it with bracken, not so much to hide it but to make it less open and more tunnel like, apparently that’s what mink like.

The Forester clutch

The previous evening, after we’d all sobered up we got on with finishing off the clutch on wifey’s Forester.

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As you can see it’s pretty ‘feckered’ Sad smile The job itself would normally be quite straightforward if you ignore the workshop manual which tells you remove all manner of unnecessary items. It says remove the gear lever gaiter and centre console when you can simply disconnect it from below. It tells you to remove the anti roll bar links for no apparent reason and it also says you can remove the outer CV joints by hitting the inner race with a hammer, ‘aye right’.

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I fixed the shaft in a vice and belted the inner race with a very large hammer until I was blue in the face and even smashed the ball retaining cage Sad smile In the end we removed the outer joint and replaced the damaged ‘boot’ by sliding it down the shaft. I figured that as the broken bit of cage had sped off across the workshop at the speed of light, it was obviously very hard and would take no harm with a bit missing Winking smile None of this would normally need doing when replacing the clutch but one of the boots had a split in it and as it’s an MOT item it seemed stupid not to change it.

Eventually the Dude and I got it sorted and by 21:00 last night it was off the axle stands and heading down the road with me at the helm. Only a mile or two but enough to check it out, it would get a proper test today delivering our trusty Thomson Glenelg caravan, but more of that later.

Back to today

This morning I had another visit from this dubious pair Smile

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That will be Yang and Alex, Alex is making a short documentary for his MA in something media related. Yang, from Anshun in China was helping him out and they were both assisting yesterday when I refitted the stator in the wind turbine. I’d been making some modifications to the frame of the turbine to allow me to adjust the ‘air gap’. When I fitted it in March I’d made it too wide and performance has not been as good as it should. Modifying the frame in such a way that extra nuts could be fitted under the stator enabled me to ‘set’ the stator truer into the frame and close up the air gap to 3mm without any danger of it fouling the rotor when hot.

The Aurora ‘Power One’ wind inverter

We did all that yesterday and typically there was hardly a breath of wind once the turbine was back up so I wasn’t able to make any adjustments to the inverter. I recently bought a whole pile of bankrupt stock wind ‘bits and bobs’ for a fraction of their worth. Included in this bounty of electrical wizardry was an Aurora Power One 3.6 wind inverter. Unlike the SMA inverters I’ve used in the past the Aurora has a 16 point power curve that can be easily programmed with their software. The SMA power curve is only 5 points and it’s the most user unfriendly complicated piece of 5h1te I have ever used!!!! Having spent hours, if not days trying to get to grips with the ‘Windy Boy Setup Tool’ and ‘Sunny Data Control’ I thought it was just me being wooden, well it’s not, the stuff is quite clearly ‘not fit for purpose’. The Aurora software by contrast is ‘plug and play’, glitch free and a pleasure to use. In fact I’m often to be found out in the shed with my laptop tinkering with the settings.

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The one on the right of the screen is the one from the Proven/Kingspan manual, on the right is the current table I’m adjusting with the software. The idea is to extract as much energy as possible at a given speed/voltage. The manufacturers table is a good starting point but local conditions can be optimized by altering the various set points.

Sadly, I find this fascinating and often sneak into the shed to have a play with it. This would be virtually impossible with an SMA inverter and SDC.


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The beauty with the Power One inverters is how low they can actually connect to the grid. The SMA’s will not connect until the incoming DC voltage exceeds 230V, Power One inverters can connect as low as 50V!!! Of course that’s pretty useless as there’s actually very little energy in these light winds however you can see from my table above that I’m extracting power at 120V. OK 10W isn’t even enough to run the inverter but by 130V we’ve overcome the 40W the Aurora uses and we’re feeding the grid (or house in my case).

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After that, and with the Subaru out of the way we got a second coat of paint on that part of the barn floor.


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I’d run out of paint when doing it last ‘rest period’ so was determined to get it done before returning to work tomorrow.

The trusty Thomson

Next job was to give the Subaru a proper testing and take the trusty old Thomson to it’s new owners. I have to say I’ll miss it, we had some cracking times in the 1970 caravan. Many a sesh at Rockness, Belladrum and the Wickerman, sat watching the world go by with a pint of vodka and orange for breakfast.

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I lived in it for three months at South Shields when I went to college and latterly wifey used it as her egg packing station until the house was built. The new one just aint the same, everywhere I went with the Thomson people would stop me and say “we had one of those when we started caravanning”. Sure the new one has a shower, toilet, fridge and built in double bed, but it just aint got no characterSad smile The ‘Lunar Chateau’ certainly doesn’t have a loyal following like and and

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Well, the clutch got well tested and we dropped her off in the village and said goodbye.

Progress at the distillery

Taking the ‘low road’ home I was kinda surprised to see what was going on at the Raasay Distillery.

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First off, the hotel wing had vanished!

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and much was going on.

No sign of the mink when we got home,


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but he had been busy,


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well, it was like I said to the wife, ‘at least they ate it’! normally the wee feckers just kill them!



  1. Rather sad to see pics of the hotel extension being demolished (on the distillery website). Spent many happy holidays there in the 1980s, 90s and early 2000s. Let’s hope that the new works are good for the island.


    Comment by Sue — July 11, 2016 @ 10:10 pm

  2. Welcome back Paul. You were missed. Cheers! Morgan in Northern California

    Comment by Morgan — July 12, 2016 @ 4:37 am

  3. Welcome back Paul, I used to work with Les Millington and had decided that if there was no sign of you by Monday 11th, I would send him an email to see if you were ok. Originally from Elgol, now living in Chicago and missing the long summer evenings, it’s dark here by 8pm. Really enjoy most of your blog, hands up the electrical tech stuff I tend to skip but love the rest, reminds me of home

    Comment by Anne Beaton — July 12, 2016 @ 5:21 am

  4. Hi Paul, long time no hear, hope all are well at the End of the road.
    Sad to see the parting of the Thomson, she did indeed serve you well and I hope the new owners will look after her as well as you have, hope you passed on the website and registration page for owners? 🙂
    Totally agree re the new van, not the same at all. Posher and better layout but not solid and reliable like a classic van.
    I too have a new van which was donated to Joan and I by members of the Facebook page, it is a 1976 Glendale in almost original condition, the new things that where added are a lovely warm air central heating unit and modern gas fire that also works on electric and a new unit for electrics to 12 volt which is slightly hidden so appears not to be there.
    I even added a blog about it! Who would have thought it! Not up to your standard but not bad for a first attempt I have been told. 😉

    Glad to see your posts again.

    Comment by Thomson Caravans — July 12, 2016 @ 5:55 am

    • Hi Graham,

      I would have happily kept the old Thomson rather than spend an ‘arm and a leg’ on something more modern but it was not my decision 😦 Anyway we’ve passed it onto a good home for the exact same price we paid for it (nothing). I’m sure we could have got a good price for it on eBlag but it just didn’t seem right and the new owners love it.
      I did come across a post on the site when you got your ‘surprise’ caravan, I was so pleased for you. I know how much it must have meant and I know to that you deserve it for all the work you put in for the group and club. May you have many, many great trips away in it.

      Cheers, Paul

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — July 12, 2016 @ 7:20 pm

      • Thank You Paul, to say I was Shocked and Stunned by the kindness of the members would be a vast understatement. I can certainly rate that day in March as one of the highlights of my life!
        Been away once to a lovely wee site in Lochmaben, Council run sight in the heart of the town next to the Golf club and on a smaller Loch but one where fishing was going on. Very relaxing weekend for Joan’s 6oth birthday.
        Great to hear you have been generous in passing on the Thomson for the vast sum you paid for it, it did indeed serve you well and I am sure the new owner will be delighted to carry on using it as well.
        Keep up the good work with this Blog, I may not often comment these days but I always read it and it always brings enjoyment to my day.

        All the best to you and yours, Graham

        Comment by Thomson Caravans — July 13, 2016 @ 3:32 pm

  5. Good to see you back Paul, I have missed the news of the goings on at the “End of the road” in Rassay. I am very jealous of your workshop, fantastic workspace.

    Comment by Dave Butler — July 12, 2016 @ 8:50 am

  6. I think I have a busy life but I am genuinely staggered by what you fit into a day. After a day as an IT monkey for a global bank I spent the evening building ditches on my fathers farm before another typical Irish summer day ended ( torrential rain). Glad to see you back posting again, its a little reminder that not all of us are wage slaves 🙂

    Comment by veloce77 — July 12, 2016 @ 8:25 pm

  7. Great to have you back. . Appreciate the time it must take. . Thank you.

    Comment by Margaret Philp — July 13, 2016 @ 1:21 am

  8. Paul- I love the blog it is much appreciated. I was checking it pretty much every day still for updates, as you can probably tell this by my ip address…

    Comment by cabbage — July 15, 2016 @ 6:18 am

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