Life at the end of the road

November 26, 2016

Just a typical week aboard :-)

Filed under: boats, daily doings, Trucks and plant — Tags: , , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 7:20 pm

Well, I managed to get into work without any drama for the rest of the week, mainly on account of the temperature rising but also because the gritter arrived on Wednesday.

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A nice shiny Mercedes that made a splendid job on all the worst bits, they didn’t do the whole road right enough but I guess they only had so much salt on board and had to ‘eek’ it out. There are still no piles at the side of the road right enough and who knows when they’ll be back but it’s a start I suppose.

After Monday’s episode I must confess to not having slept so well that night for I had a dilemma, what to do about Tuesday morning! Sure, I was pretty confident I’d get down the road at the helm of the ‘Old Girl’, after all, I’ve some 15 years of experience in getting up and down that road, even when a snow plough and JCB couldn’t.

Thing is, my boy was going to accompany me once more and should I let him drive? Would he want to after Monday’s epic? Well a cold frosty morn greeted us as we departed at 6:00am and I nervously asked him if he wanted to drive, half hoping he wouldn’t. It was of course a superfluous question and brimming with confidence he jumped in. A touch more cautious and with invaluable experience under his belt he delivered me safely to the Hallaig and we sailed on time Smile

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It was a lovely morning indeed looking down towards The Moll and Scalpay at just after 8:00am, not that I saw a great deal of it as we’d a couple of engineers aboard.


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Gary from Macgregor Cargotec working on the hydraulic pumps and Owen from Mitchell Power Systems  on the Volvo’s. 

Gary was resetting the hydraulic pumps which had been ‘expertly’ adjusted at dock Sad smile whilst Gary was checking all the alarms and shutdowns on the main engines as part of the annual overhaul. He was also doing a modification on the belt tensioners for the water circulating pump at the front of the Volvo D13.

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The new (green one on the left) is thicker than the old one and is fitted using longer bolts. Apparently some have been failing in service so Volvo are changing them under warranty. Ours showed no signs of wear or imminent failure though but they probably have an easy life compared to some industrial engines.


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DG3 had also been smoking and running a high exhaust gas temperature but low boost pressure. Turbo failure was suspected but it turned out to be a faulty ‘waste gate’ actuator. The waste gate is designed to open as turbo boost pressure increases to prevent over pressure. Too much boost means too much heat and that can lead cracked heads, pistons and or gasket failure. I guess our high exhaust temperature would have been caused by too much fuel rather than the boost pressure. Normally as pressure increases so does the fuel but it would seem DG3 was increasing fuel without pressure. The waste gate was actually working cos we checked it, obviously it wasn’t working enough Sad smile Anyway, Owen sorted it, like he usually does Smile Owen is moving to ‘pastures new’ next week and I guess Mitchell’s and ourselves will miss him, he’s a damn good technician!!!

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It wasn’t just the engine room that was busy, so was the deck, not with traffic, it was pretty quiet on that front. Sandy and Finlay were busy splicing new ropes up for the winter ahead.

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Though there were a few days when winter seemed a long way off.

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There were even days that I felt like going clam diving again, the Ullapool registered Auk having been in the narrows for most of the week.

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Guess what

We’ve a big job on the horizon next Sunday as one of the hydraulic rams fitted at dock needs replacing!! so I’ve been doing some ‘prep work’.

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First you take an old steel salmon cage hinge then cut the tapered end off with a cutting disc. Well you cut most of it all the way around as a 115mm disc isn’t deep enough, then you twist the end off with some BIG adjustables.

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Then with the end lopped off you mark its ‘point of balance’

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and drill a 20mm hole, which takes quite a while Sad smile

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Next step is to insert a 100mm M20 threaded rod though said hole and retire to do lots of paperwork ready for the next stage.

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Voila, several sheets of paperwork later a nice big drift for belting out ramp hinge pins. The long handle means I can keep my hands clear whilst my ‘back to back’ belts it with a 14lb sledge hammer Smile

Christmas sea food

That’ll be the salmon farmers heading to work the other morning just after 8:00, seems like there’s a lot going on round at the Moll fish farm. Harvesting for Christmas I guess as they’ve been coming back home in the dark, as has ‘Emma C’ who’s been berthed behind us most days and keeping similar long hours.

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Most of the fishing boats have been making the most of the good weather and prices as we head up to the festive season. There’s been a noticeable increase in the velvet crab fishery and a few boats even out on Sunday.

More Volvo work

As part of the regular 600h Volvo service is an inspection of the Jabsco water pump impeller, though they’re normally good for much, much longer than that. Normally I guess we change them at around 1800h or longer as they’re running in a sealed system with the lubrication benefits of the corrosion inhibitor.

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I did change the 1 on DG1 when I serviced it the other day, though more as a precaution than through need. DG2 however had a pump that was in a pretty sorry state.

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It was still performing just fine and I’ve seen them working OK in much worse condition than this but that’s usually in ‘open’ systems that have either got blocked and dried up, or sucked in debris with the sea water. Anyway, a new impeller and back plate sorted it out, had it been mine I’d have just turned the back plate around. Volvo charge £90 for what is essentially a small round flat brass plate with four holes in it. They then cut the name Volvo into it to discourage conscientious engineers from turning it around. I guess it is just feasible that the logo could damage the impeller, highly unlikely but that’s what they’d say!!!   

‘Build a better mousetrap’

Well, I don’t think you could,

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these ‘The Better Mousetraps’ really are the best. I got mine from Harbro in Portree but you can get them off eBlag and they’re deadly, easy to set and idiot proof. Our cats never followed us from ‘Number 3’ though we do occasionally see them over here. With three cats we were never bothered by mice at ‘Number 3’ but here at Sonas we go through spells of them. Don’t see any for months on end then I guess with the drop in temperature brought them in the barn. The ‘tell tale’ chewed foam insulation indicating their presence even before the droppings, last thing I need is chewed wiring here at Sonas. The wee blighters caused me a lot of grief in the past, must have been one the cats missed back at ‘Number 3’ for I once had a spell of inverter tripping back there that was driving me mad for months.

The Trace kept randomly tripping with an ‘overcurrent’ indication and there was no rhyme or reason to it. I spent hours looking for it and isolating various circuits but to no avail. Then one day I happened to be near the inverter when it tripped and I heard a crack from within the dry stone wall behind it. When I pulled the cable out, there it was nicely chewed by what I guess was now a dead mouse Smile 

So that’s it really I guess, Saturday night now, ‘the longest day’ and we’ll be sailing soon and rumour has it that darling wife is going to open a bottle of wine as it’s the weekend Smile


  1. Ouch… wouldn’t that chunk of impeller possibly give you some grief if it came loose?

    How much would the gaffer pay you to turn a few bits of brass and add some holes? Decent beer tokens if he/she covers the materials?

    Cheers for the heads up on the mouse traps. We’ve had a spat of the buggers here, one in the house, the shed and my garage where one had started to go through my landy spares box and made a right bloody mess. We’re on the hunt for a cat to join the crew but a trap that doesn’t react to moisture is just the ticket in the meantime!

    Comment by Matt — November 26, 2016 @ 8:07 pm

  2. Hi Paul, Have read your blog for many a year now. Had to laugh at Volvo’s prices. I used to run a marine parts supply company and it never failed to amaze me how much equipment makers marked up prices for “bought in” spares. Calmac could save tax payers money by buying Jabsco spares here. . Get yourself some brownie points.. lol

    Comment by Doug Miller — November 27, 2016 @ 10:30 pm

    • Cheers Doug, just found the same part for a third of the cost on that site!!!!

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — November 29, 2016 @ 5:05 pm

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