Life at the end of the road

February 18, 2017

Curing nicely :-)

Gosh, almost two weeks since I’ve been on here and what a spell of fantastic weather we’ve had. Of course it all went severely ‘pear shaped’ after Valentines day but prior to that it was pure awesome. I had three consecutive days of 10kWh solar generation and 60kWh for the full week. OK, probably not ‘interstellar’ for a 4.75kW array in Aberdeenshire or Sussex but probably my best ever.

Sure the only ‘fly in the ointment’ being that I’m actually at work so have missed out on some serious work at home, but ‘hey ho’ it’s been a pleasure on the Hallaig too. Sadly the many visitors that turned up for ‘half term’ missed out on the best of it but most people on the ferry seem to be smiling these days Smile

February the 6th was the last ‘working day’ of the ‘fortnight off’ and it got off to a fine start with a little snow on the Storr. Unusually for a busy day I took the ‘wee dug’ for a walk, our Molly is unusual in the dog world in that she has to be dragged out for a walk. Indeed she’s started limping to try and con us into thinking she’s got a sore leg. I’m no doubt it was sore to start with but now, when she thinks no one is there she walks on all four legs!!!

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So, after carrying her over the gravel outside the house I put her down on the road and off we went.

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All three of us, for no sooner had we closed the gate than we were joined by the girls Smile

Mitsubishi MM30SR problems

I still had a couple of hours to spare as Ross from Eyre Plant had phoned from Sconser to say he couldn’t get on the ferry!!! Not often the Hallaig is full these days but there were a couple of trucks before him and the usual Monday morning workers.

My good mate Lachie had dropped off his 3 ton Mitsubishi digger for me to have a look at, and me, confident with my success at fixing mine had said I’d have a go at it. Trouble is, it’s a ‘grey import’ from Japan and there is very little concrete information on it, in English at least. He bought the machine locally very cheaply but it had a fault, “machine randomly stops digging but is OK after a restart”. At least that’s what it used to do, now all it will do is track and lift the blade.

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As the working functions are manual and the none working ones are electronic I figured it would be something to do with the interlock that prevents these from operating unless you are sat in the machine. Mine had a very similar problem connected with the wiring to the ‘unloading valve’. This is a solenoid operated valve that bypasses all the functions that were not working unless you are sat in the cab.

Tracing electrical faults without a wiring diagram and hydraulic ones without a circuit diagram isn’t easy and a quick search on the Internet told me that I’d not be getting them any time soon Sad smile That post describes the fault to tee and was not very encouraging. Methinks the previous owner of this particular Mitsubishi must have read it too Smile

No matter, armed with my previous experience I felt confident

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despite everything being written in Japanese Smile

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Indeed, after stripping out the machines floor I found the ‘unloading valve’ solenoid, removed the connecting plug that was full of water and thought ‘yippee’. I then bypassed the wiring by connecting straight to the battery but that didn’t do anything either so I tried operating the solenoid manually, again without success Sad smile  Unfortunately, just as I was ‘getting into it’ I got distracted Smile

The BIG pour

OK, it wasn’t that big in the end but  Ross from Eyre Plant arrived at ‘the end of the road’ with what must be the heaviest load yet to make it north.

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His rather large and ‘top heavy’ Scania turned up at just after 11:00 having dropped off half his load at the distillery. Plan was to make two trips if necessary and if any was left it would go towards the 60 cubic meter pour for the warehouse down there.

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Me, I’d been busy the day before cramming some extra mesh and 20mm rebar into the ‘ole having mixed 9 cubic meters myself with the wee mixer.

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Also chopped up some hose and plastic ducting to cover the M30 studding so as to keep the threads clean.

Ross expertly reversed the huge ‘eight wheeler’ Scania up the drive and got ready with his remote control to pour the 35 Newton mix into the ‘ole.

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Once he started there wasn’t much time for pictures as I was busy with the ‘poker’

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A petrol driven vibrating stick something like a heavy strimmer that Ross had brought with him. I’d borrowed it from a mate and just wished I’d borrowed it a week earlier. When pouring concrete it’s essential to get the air out of it so it flows everywhere, especially in something like this where the scope for air pockets is huge.

When I was mixing with the electric mixer I’d used a garden hoe and it was boodly hard work, this tool made it a much easier affair. Working it frantically around the bar and steel plates you could see the concrete visibly shrink as it disappeared into unseen air pockets. I was most impressed and put one on my ‘wish list’ Smile


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Not much later the full load of 6.1 cubic meters was in the ‘ole. My son and I had come up the calculation of 6.4 and 6.5 and I reckon 6.3 would have been perfect. As it was the load was about 12mm short of the top of the shuttering at one end so certainly not worth a return trip, so Ross cleaned down his truck and headed off. All in all the job had taken me a week to mix and pour 9 cube and him less than an hour to pour 6, by midday he was gone.

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I have to say, I felt very pleased with myself Smile The day had been perfect for it, dry, mild and with a fresh breeze but by late afternoon it was pure pishing down. Far too wet and windy for tinkering outside on the Mitsi so I turned my attention towards the ‘Old Girl’.

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Or, to be more precise, a new drivers door for her from Darren at Jedi 4×4×4 . Even though I fitted brand new genuine Land Rover doors 15 years ago and fully injected them with underseal they are all now rotten. The problem being that it took Land Rover over 50 years to realize mixing aluminium and steel s not a very good idea due to the electrolytic action between the two different metals. Newer models are now all steel and galvanized so should fare better.

Back to work

The crappy weather surrendered to the Scandinavian high and left us with a refreshing spell of easterly winds and brilliant sunshine.


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We also had some splendid moonlit mornings and evenings.

moonlit storr

That’ll be taken from the bedroom window one early morn as the moon slips behind the Storr on Skye.

Sadly that came to an end and today, Saturday, you can tell how bad the weather is cos the clam dredgers have appeared Sad smile


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Two of them ‘scratching’ away in the narrows.

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We also had a welcome visit from the MV Loch Bhursda who was calling in for a break on her passage from Berneray to Mallaig. The Bhrusda had been relieving the MV Loch Portain on the Sound of Harris route whilst the Portain was in for her annual refit at Garvel Clyde.

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After our lunch and her rest, we carried on with the days schedule and she headed for Mallaig.

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We could still hear her almost an hour later Smile OK, not quite but her big V8’s burn more fuel in a day than we do in a week and exhausts are noisier than most low flying jets!!!

A classic Bultaco Pursang

As you often do whilst ‘surfing the net’, I came across an unexpected surprise the other day.

Pursang 2


I saw this Bultaco ‘scrambler’ on Facecloth on an acquaintances page. It is a 1969 Bultaco and I owned it for several years, or to be more precise I looked after it. It belonged to my best mates brother when he was a lad down in Lancashire, he was only a boy at the time and used to race it in what was then called the ‘schoolboy scrambles’ . Methinks you had to be under 16 at the time and I guess he’s not much younger than me so probably around 1973 or 4 when he had it, so it wasn’t very old then. Roll on ten years or so and it’s gathering dust in my mates garage  and I’m on holiday from my then job managing a scallop farm on Scalpay.

I visits my mates garage as usual to see what I can scrounge and came away with a lathe and this. Not even sure if his brother even knew at the time Smile He says to me, “if it’s any use take it but I may want it back”, so I did and for several years I tried to tame this race tuned beast. The thing went like a rocket and I was really scared of it, you had to slip the clutch like feck to get going, as it had no power whatsoever below 3000RPM. Beyond that it generally lifted the front wheel and you were off, usually by pointing it in the general direction you wanted to go and hoping for the best. Despite all this on good days I’d travel the four mile forestry track to work on Scalpay with it whenever I could. Though I had it for the best part of a year before discovering it had five gears. The tiny front brake did little to encourage confidence so I rode it as slowly as I could, which to the untrained eye or ear must have seemed like a maniac. This machine just did not do slow Smile

A few years later I moved to Raasay taking ‘the beast’ with me but using it less frequently on account of the poorer tracks here. Around six or seven years later my mate phones me up asking if I’ve still got it, bear in mind it’s now been in my possession for some ten years or so. Sure says I, he then informs me that some chap has been looking for it for four years, as it was the first motorbike he ever owned and he got it when it was almost new.

To cut a long story short this chap (pictured below) loaded a lovely Montessa trials bike into the back of his HiLux and drove all the way from Lancashire to Raasay to swap it for the Bultaco. I was ‘over the moon’ cos the Montessa was designed to go very slowly over obstacles rather than quickly around them. Russell was dead chuffed cos he’d finally got his old bike back and twenty years later it’s fully restored to its former glory. Not bad for a 48 year old two stroke hey Winking smile


Pursang 1 Bultaco

Nice one Russ, I just cannae believe it was only a 125cc!!!!!!

Good and hard

So that’s it really, tis Saturday evening aboard the good ship Hallaig and we’re just awaiting the late sailing. Tomorrow I’ll get a good look in daylight at my turbine base which is no longer an ‘ole but 30 tons or more of steel and concrete that has been curing nicely for almost two weeks. This time next week it’ll be good and hard and with a bit of luck I’ll have got the mast in position.


  1. Nice job on the Bult! I was a trials guy, had a Sherpa T350. Did the SSDT tho on a Beamish 325. The things these days folks do on crossers and trials bikes is crazy eh.

    Comment by Panomphaean — February 18, 2017 @ 7:00 pm

    • A CCM 500 is what we all dreamed of in the seventies John, they were made in a garage in Bolton, initially using old BSA parts that Alan Clews severely modified. In the age of the two stroke the CCM’s could keep up with the best of them and boy did that four stroke sound awesome.


      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — February 18, 2017 @ 7:28 pm

      • Ha! Paul, I worked for Austin and Alan Clews at the factory running their trail riding holidays with CCM604s. Had a few CCMs myself and tested them for TBM mag. Think I still feature in old CCM brochures 😏 How about the new CCM Spitfire 600?

        Have the CCM Story book too if you ever want to borrow.

        Comment by Panomphaean — February 18, 2017 @ 7:37 pm

      • Wonder if I ever met you John??? I was at the garage a few times, once on the back of my mates road legal one 🙂 Must have been the very early seventies. Small world hey 🙂

        Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — February 18, 2017 @ 7:53 pm

      • Well feck me, I never knew they were still in business, last I heard they’d sold out to Harley Davidson!! That is a seriously nice bike and only 20kg heavier than the seventies air cooled beezer 🙂

        Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — February 18, 2017 @ 7:58 pm

      • It was the 90s when I was at CCM. The Rotax motor era. Carl Fogarty had an interest there. He’s still great mates with Austin C. Happy days.

        Comment by Panomphaean — February 18, 2017 @ 8:01 pm

  2. First of all fantastic job Paul, looking forward to seeing the turnip fly!
    Molly is not alone, Tod flatly refused to leave his chair in his latter years if there was a hint of rain, we sometimes used to tip him out. The late night wee on rainy evenings was a lesson in concentrated thought, out, wee, in. He could bottle it up all day, he would have made a good beer drinker!
    A friend’s Jack Russell would often run on 3 legs, no idea why. Playing the old soldier with the wounded paw is a new one.
    All the best

    Comment by Andrew — February 19, 2017 @ 6:45 am

  3. Paul,

    Great to see that base come together, the difference that batch mixer makes when making the quantities you need compared to a little Belle.
    Calum I am sure must be rightly proud of that road and its users have him to thank daily.

    Those old school SSDT bikes look fantastic, a Greeves would be on my wish list, for the moment settle for one of the last XR400s. Japanese but easier to work with than your Jap digger. I am sure in no time Lachie will have a great machine fully serviced.
    Enjoy the good weather, its long overdue and the girls sure seem to be enjoying themselves.

    Take it easy.


    Comment by Arthur T Bomber Harris — February 19, 2017 @ 10:42 am

  4. A ‘ole lotta concrete there :-).
    Never thought I would read about old scramblers on this blog.Have followed motocross since the late 70s and even raced for a short while riding a Greeves Griffon 380 and a Suzuki RM400N.Currently own a Kawasaki KX500 (1988).
    The CCM story is one of many rebirths from early BSA parts,Rotax engines,Suzuki and Yamaha engines and currently,I think,a BMW designed engine.The sound of a 1970s CCM at a scramble was certainly distinctive above the buzz of the 2 strokes of the day. Google – Rolling thunder CCM motorcycles: The odyssey – a book by Peter Henshaw that tells the full story of CCM.
    Finally, Google Queensferry webcams to watch,live, the completion of a project that has only taken a few cube more of concrete than your “ole” 🙂

    Comment by Andy — February 19, 2017 @ 11:15 am

  5. Funny old world….. ive been looking for my old bike…… trouble is….. i think it was either stolen and broken for spares…. or written off…. found out that it hasn’t been taxed since 1986 ….. not long after i parted with her …

    Comment by The Peoples Republic of Northumbria — February 19, 2017 @ 11:37 pm

    • Aye Steve, I wonder where my 69 T120 Bonnevile or 67 D14/4 Bantem are now, ‘happy days’ 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — February 20, 2017 @ 8:55 pm

  6. Some footage of Bolton made scramblers in the late 70s:

    Comment by Andy — February 20, 2017 @ 12:50 pm

    • Great stuff Andy. I enjoyed working for CCM with Alan and Austin. In fact I just messaged Austin congratulating him on the new CCM Spitfire launch in London, which has gone very well. And whilst on the subject your posts reminded me that a fellow motorcycle journalist (although I don’t write for the motorcycle press these days) has my Rolling Thunder book. So cheers for that, it’ll be nice to have it back!

      Comment by Panomphaean — February 20, 2017 @ 1:02 pm

      • Thanks Panomphaean.CCM have certainly got a loyal following with their 1970s bikes being very sought after in vintage circles.
        Check this company out: tps://
        I always wanted the 490 model pictured here: .The bike was produced during CCMs ownership by Armstrong(automotive parts giant) featuring a Rotax 485cc two stroke engine.Here is a link to a factory visit during the Armstrong days:
        I better give Paul his blog back now,cheers.

        Comment by Andy — February 20, 2017 @ 2:23 pm

  7. Another Bolton produced bike:

    Comment by Andy — February 20, 2017 @ 12:57 pm

    • Indeed Andy, my Vintage is that era 😉 It’s John BTW and I think Paul will forgive us for hogging the blog, being a biker himself 😉 If I was to have an older CCM (had quite a few later ones) it would be JBR Replica – John Banks Replica and John a hero of many a Saturday BBC Scrambles as I’m sure you know.

      Comment by Panomphaean — February 20, 2017 @ 3:04 pm

      • Hi John.The JBR replicas were certainly a beautiful bike with the fitting of the Honda 4 stroke engine.Bob Wright the “Sabden warrior” was the CCM works rider of my day competing in the world 500cc mxgp’s riding ultimately a 620cc 4 valve CCM engined machine.
        John Banks son,Mark, was also a GP rider of my era.Being from Shropshire,we have the Hawkstone park motocross circuit on the doorstep and we were treated to 250 or 500cc mxgps on alternate years through the 1980s.
        Whilst on the theme of British made off road bikes, have you ever heard of one of these? :

        Comment by Andy — February 20, 2017 @ 8:25 pm

      • Hi Andy/John,

        great info, links and memories, it really took me back. Apart from a brief forray in 1975/6 when I took to the streets on a Tiger 100SS then 650 Bonneville my biking days ended before I was 17. My schoolboy days were a succesion of old Villiers 9E engines in Tiger cub frames that I built myself. I had a James 200 and a late 4 speed Bantem with a George Todd 13:1 head. Never raced seriously but all my mates did and the old CCM ruled supreme in the North West at least, though one of my mates had one of these.

        Maico radial

        The compression was so high that you nearly broke an ankle trying to start it and bump starting it was a three man job in third gear 🙂

        Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — February 20, 2017 @ 8:47 pm

  8. Gosh! A wonderful motorcycling thread 😉 Cheers for the pics and links and info Andy & Paul. Wilcomoto is a vague memory Andy, much preferred 4Ts 😏 My favourite crosser was when I was in the States in the late 70s, the KSI Thumper. My friend was a works mechanic and I was out there dabbling in trials on my 325 Beamish Suzuki. As for Tiger Cubs, that was my first proper bike in 1969, although I confess to owning a Lambretta LD150 to learn spannering. My first actual bike was a Sun 98cc Two speed handlebar gearchange. I think a Villiers engine too. Anyhow some 48 motorcycles later I’m cured and now into electric mountain bikes! I know where to come if I need a renewable recharge 😏

    Comment by Panomphaean — February 20, 2017 @ 9:39 pm

  9. wow Paul,,you do find the web sites I have missed your Blogs

    Comment by duncan — March 8, 2017 @ 11:02 pm

    • Hi Duncan, I ‘must try harder’ 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — March 9, 2017 @ 8:41 pm

  10. Hello Paul
    I sympathise with your experience of flu, or whatever it was. It wiped both me and my wife out (almost unable to move) for 4 days in the new year so luckily I didn’t suffer any jibes about “Man flu!” Just to cheer you up (not), the version we had – despite being vaccinated – takes a couple of months to get full strength back afterwards too.
    When we were googling as we got better we found this website
    which we joined as it gives the public health people a handle on flu affecting people who recognise that (without another complication) there’s no point going to the doctor’s and risking catching something else! I see that Raasay is currently a hot spot… but maybe that 1 victim in the IV postcode is actually you!

    Best wishes, look after yourself as convalescence is a slow job. No-one is indestructible…

    Comment by Andrew E — March 15, 2017 @ 6:24 pm

    • Hi Andrew, I think I got off lightly, there were many suffering more than me (in silence 🙂 ) and I really am slowing down, honest 🙂

      Cheers, Paul

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — March 15, 2017 @ 9:57 pm

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