Life at the end of the road

January 24, 2019

A late one

Finished at last Smile That’s me two week shift over plus an extra few hours last night to assist RH Marine replace the forward battery charger that had ‘gone west’ before Christmas. The spikes, glitches and power interruptions caused by a landslip in Glen Garry had caused chaos throughout the highlands. The Hallaig wasn’t alone in having ‘issues’ after a major power line pylon got washed away on the mainland but most of them were sorted out prior to sailing the following morning. However the blown diodes on one of the Vacon inverter drives that functions as a battery charger took a little more sorting. Repair seemed risky so a new unit was ordered but had to come from the factory in Finland. This would not affect the service but it did mean sailing in ‘DG Only’ the ships non hybrid ‘diesel electric’ mode. Not that any of the customers would notice the extra generators running as the Hallaig is so quiet anyway. However there would be a fuel penalty to pay and extra generators to service during the interim.

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Number 3 DG (one of our 3 Volvo D13’s) got its turn this week, last shift it was number 2 and next week it will be DG1.


As, is often the case at around 1000h the Jabsco water pump impeller was replaced too,


and as is always the case we used Hallaig’s ‘garbage compacter’ to squash the empty oil containers afterwards Smile These go in a special ‘waste safe’ ashore and you can get a helluva lot more of them in it if you crush the cans with the stern ramp first Smile Must pass that tip onto the ‘company waste manager’, I kid you not Smile

The forward battery charger

So, after finishing work on Wednesday morning I went home for a few hours and after my dinner set off back to  work to join Hallaig once she’d tied up for the night. The battery chargers are buried right in the guts of the ‘drive cabinets’ amongst lethal capacitors, bus bars and all manner of things that could at best give you a jolt leading to a bump on the head. Worst case scenario would be a barbecued engineer and lots of paperwork, needless to say ‘isolation’ is very important Smile

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You really don’t want to be poking around in there if anything at all is live. There is 700VDC, 400AC, 230AC and 24VDC stuff in there.

Twelve hours had been set aside for the job to allow for unseen complications, programming the Vacon drive to act as a battery charger is very similar to programming the power curve into a wind inverter or programming a solar inverter to act as a wind inverter. There are just a lot more parameters to alter, a task Rene of RH Marine made look easy, which I guess it was for him Smile Though I had to laugh cos he had to use our own laptop cos his ‘RS232 to USB’ converter would not communicate with the drive, which is why I bought a laptop with a serial port, they never do Smile Worse than that, they almost work which leads you to hours of messing about with COM ports and baud rates to no avail. If you do any work with equipment that has an RS232 plug or serial port and most solar charge controllers, inverters do then buy a laptop with a serial port like a Dell Rugged (mine) or Panasonic CF19 you will save yourself a lot of grief Smile

Aside from the communication issues the job went pretty well, I was in my bed before 2:00am and ‘ready for action’ this morning before 8:00am. Sure, I’m pretty feckered right now but it’s been a busy old day with much achieved.

Yamaha YFM 350 swinging arm

Breakfast of beans on bread cos I couldn’t be bothered with toast Smile was followed by a morning wander down the road with the dogs to check one of the hydro turbines.

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It must have been windy hey Smile the turbine was OK but one of my trailers had gone for a walk too Smile

The first job  was to fit a new swinging arm to my mate’s Yamaha YFM350 quad. The part, along with a new front wishbone and some bushes had arrived a few days ago from MSP


in Holland and I can’t praise them highly enough. It’s cheaper and often quicker to get genuine Yamaha parts delivered from Holland than ‘pattern’ parts in the UK. I kid you not, I once got some CV joint gaiters for this Yamaha from Arizona cheaper than buying them in Cumbria!!! Not the parts themselves, they were slightly more expensive in Flagstaff than Whitehaven but the Dude in Cumbria wanted £25 to post them!!!

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I had to cut the old bushes out of the swinging arm but that was easy enough with the cordless grinder and some ultrathin cutting discs, they make very few sparks and stay much cooler. Sure they don’t last very long but I find these 1mm thick discs fantastic for precision cutting like this without damaging the bush. Of course I could have bought new ones like I did for the front wishbone but these were nearly £20 each and it actually looked (on the drawing) like the came with it.


Checking the levels

Before I got it finished Callum and Jay arrived to ‘check my levels’ for the ‘boat park’

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and he even brought me a wee model to show what it would look like Smile

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The coalman

Once he’d done his surveying and pulled me trailer out of the ditch I finished off the Yamaha then took it for a test drive with half a ton of coal.


OK, 250kg at a time but there was a time I’d have taken (or at least tried) all ten bags at once. This old Yamaha really has done an awful lot of work.


  1. Didn’t pick up on the landslide in Glen Garry. What were the effects,? Have driven that way many times.

    Comment by Sue Styles — January 24, 2019 @ 8:57 pm

  2. Beans? Try this and you will never eat a normally heated bean again!! ** Get a frying pan, Put in a wee blob of margarine or butter, A wee drop salt, Chop and fry a slice of two of bacon, Add your beans and heat up ( like frying ) your beans until they go gloopy, It really brings out the taste of the beans, After you have had fried bacon and beans you will never go back!! **

    Comment by v8mbo — January 24, 2019 @ 8:59 pm

    • Awesome Robin, done summat similar with butter beans, will give it shot, do you leave the sauce in?

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — January 24, 2019 @ 9:02 pm

  3. Enjoying the Hallaig stuff. Thanks.

    Comment by Panomphaean — January 24, 2019 @ 8:59 pm

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