Life at the end of the road

November 30, 2019

Another ‘peach’ :-)

Filed under: daily doings, life off grid — Tags: , , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 8:12 am

Well, that’ll be the last day of November here, Orion was framing the bedroom window once more with even sharper clarity than yesterday. Countless stars filled the clear sky yet there wasn’t a hint of any frost and the car thermometer told me it was 3 degrees Centigrade!!! My third Chinese weather station in 5 years having died in a September gale. I really should buy myself a decent one for Christmas, it’s more entertaining and less distracting than the TV which still lurks in the corner of the room, even though neither myself or Molly ever watch it, truth is I’m not exactly sure how to switch it on Smile Whatever happened to knobs and switches on appliances and radios? I often listen to the Radio, especially when working outside or in my shed and have resorted to changing radios rather than stations cos they’re that frigging complicated to tune!!! I kid you not. I’ve five of them, three Sony’s, one Makita and an unbranded digital one. The Makita is the only one I can actually tune, it has a big black knob and has the buttons set to Radios 1,2,3 and 4. Of the rest I’ve two on Radio 2 and two on Radio 4. It is actually easier to move rooms or Radios than use the friggin pre sets or tuner. Me dear old Mum must have had the same problem cos I got three of the radios off her when she died Smile

More generator woes

Now, I don’t have any issues with generators, probably cos I’ve lived off grid long enough to know that you need a decent one and you need to look after it. In the thirty years I’ve lived at the North End I’ve never been without power and the truth is I’d probably shy away from a grid connection even if it were possible. I draw great satisfaction from not having any utility bills and being independent. Well, that is until I’m asked to provide two of them to prove where I’m living and not laundering money Smile 

Other folk living ‘off grid’ don’t seem to be so lucky in the generator department, me I’ve had three (for the houses I’ve lived in) in thirty years and they all still working despite having a combined age of 132 years. I’ve got neighbours on Raasay that have had half a dozen in the same period and are continually having problems. Such has been the case with the builders working at Brochel, they’ve gone through three in as many months!!! The latest one being a brand new Stephill SSD6000 which has NEVER worked, a reflection on the company that installed it rather than the excellent Yanmar powered generator itself.

SSD 6000 generator

I had been working on it until late Thursday, leaving the builders ‘in the dark’ and promising to sort them out on Friday. The injector on the single cylinder diesel engine did not appear to be ‘injecting’, fuel was getting as far as the union to it but no further suggesting a faulty or blocked injector. However, as the generator was brand new I was somewhat reluctant to delve any deeper for fear of voiding any warranty. Armed with a name and number for the manufacturer I left the builders searching for a B&B and went home to ‘mull it over’. Whatever was wrong with it would most likely require a new part and that wasn’t going to be on Raasay until next week at the earliest.

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After making enquiries I found a 6kVA petrol belonging to a friend and loaned to another, it was at Torran about a mile down the track. Not straight forward cos I had to make several phone calls and leave Facecloth messages online at ‘stupid o clock’ but at ‘first light’ I headed over in the Mule to get it. Of course it wouldn’t start and I had to drain excess oil out of it, clean the spark plug and air filter, etc.etc.

With the SDMO SH6000 petrol generator running sweetly I headed to Brochel and tried phoning Stephill, for reasons unclear my phone on 3 and the builders phone on Vodafone wouldn’t work despite both showing 3 or 4 bars. Well, it was still early and I’d a job to do in the village so I took my phone down there and spoke to a very helpful chap at Stephill.

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Traffic was quite heavy on the way back in the wife’s Subaru which had, amongst other things broken the alternator drive belt. This wasn’t good cos the battery was pretty flat and crawling along behind these tups was making it even flatter Smile Luckily I had my wee ‘starter pack’ with me so clipped that onto the Subaru’s battery to keep it running.


I gotta say, I’m severely impressed with this tiny Noco GB70 ‘booster’ which I bought on a friends recommendation some months ago. It is small and light enough to fit in a jacket pocket, albeit a large one, yet it will deliver 2000 Amps, enough to start a large diesel engine. I kid you not, I’ve done it several times. It also has a USB port so you can use it to charge phones, laptops or whatever. My son even took it to the Belladrum festival weekend for that very purpose it’s so small and light. I purchased it when Phoebe the Daihatsu’s battery failed, a new battery was £70 and with the car still useable but destined for the scrappy I put the money towards this starts up to 8lt petrol and 6lt diesel engines it says and I can well believe it. Starts a V8 Range Rover and TD5 Discovery a treat in the coldest of weather.

The tups were being ‘put out’ to get on with the business of making lambs, traditionally, at least for as long as I’ve lived on Raasay, they’ve been let loose on the 4th of December. Dunno whether it’s a sign of climate change or a ploy to fool/miss the ‘lambing snow’ but last year and this they’ve  gone out a week early.


I guess that was just about it really on the daily doings, when back at Brochel I removed the injector and pipe then swivelled it round to test it on Stephill’s instructions. Sure enough, fuel was getting as far as the injector but no further. I then installed the SDMO petrol genny in the shed using the Stephill plug and flashed it up.


The big Victron 48V Quattro 5kVA inverter sprang into life and started charging the very flat batteries.


That was it really, it’s 8:00am now and time to feed the pigs, I went out at 7:00 and someone with a torch was already halfway up the Storr in the dark!!!

November 29, 2019

Where’s the November wind & rain :-)

Filed under: daily doings, How I, life off grid — Tags: , , , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 7:35 am

Now, I’m not complaining, far from it but there’s something quite peculiar about awaking at ‘stupid o clock’ and seeing Orion  staring in through the bedroom window. My favourite winter constellation, Zeus’s hunter has been sadly absent this autumn, the thick cloud cover of late having made star gazing impossible.

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Not just Orion on the left but the Pleiades or Seven Sisters top right, which the Japanese call Subaru Smile

Pleiades large.jpg  Subaru logo stars

Sure Subaru rearranged them and there are only six on the badge but that where the name comes from Perhaps they see it upside down in Japan Smile

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And whilst I was outdoors admiring the heavens at a balmy 5 degrees Centigrade the wee dug took the opportunity to rearrange my bed and get inside it Smile

Stupid o clock again

Well that effort didn’t last very long, by 20:30 I was falling asleep at the keyboard and went to bed! Out like a light I was then woke up just in time for ‘Sailing By’ !!!

Which, for those ‘not in the know’ is the theme tune to the last Shipping forecast (or first) of the day and close of Radio 4. Been listening to this since I started diving some 40 odd years ago Smile How sad is that? So at around three quarters of an hour after midnight I made me a hot chocolate and ate a banana. My dear old Mum always said that got her back to sleep, well, it did, after a chapter of An excellent tome about the Panama Canal by David McCulloch which is about as thick as breeze block and will take me the rest of the year to read Smile

Well, I then managed to sleep right through until the World Service handed back over to Radio Four five hours later so I suppose I got my eight hours in more or less Smile

More generator woes Sad smile

Right, back to yesterday, well it was a ‘pure peach’ here at the North End, the first task being

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to repair one of my many ‘wheelie bins’ that had been just emptied by our illustrious men in the yellow truck. Sure it’s the HRC’s job and it’s very much in vogue to moan about councils and the bin men. Our bin men are pure brilliant and nothing is too much trouble, one of the fresh crew arrived from Greenock on Tuesday and said their bin men moan like feck if you don’t put the bins the right way round!!! Ours are happy to drive ten miles up a single track road and remove the boulders off the lids to stop the wind blowing them away Smile

Then it was the main task of the day which was getting rock and sub base for repairing the Torran track to make it more ‘Mule friendly’. The Kawasaki SX 4×4 Mule copes admirably on the journey to Torran but there are one or two places where it ‘bottoms’ and this is only gonna get worse with a barrel of diesel or heating oil in the back.


That kept wee dug and I occupied until lunch or was it third breakfast and a mackerel sandwich Smile


A phone call from Brochel about yet another broken generator confirmed what I’d be doing in the evening, meanwhile I did another couple of loads for the road. My imagination running away with me at Rainey’s Wall where the low sunshine revealed (to me at least) an Easter Island Moai watching over Tarbert.

Easter Island "heads" on the slope of Rano Raraku volcano.

And I’ve no had a drink in months Smile

Next, much to ‘wee dug’s’ excitement I ranged the sights on my rifle. I had shot a deer recently at around 100yds with a perfect shot to it’s neck.

Image result for where to shoot a deer Image result for where to shoot a deer

The deer went down like a stone but I was actually aiming for the chest.

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After some 20 rounds I did eventually find the centre of the target, honest Smile As my wife used to say “If we had to rely on your hunting skills for food we’d starve” Smile

That done I loaded up my tools and went to see what I could do with the brand new Stephill 6kVA generator that wouldn’t start, in fact has NEVER started!!!

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Well, as you can see, the clowns who fitted it managed to wedge it in a corner with absolutely no room to work on it. They had the whole feckin garage to mount it and the lithium battery pack yet they shoved both in a corner leaving no room to work on the generator, which would not start and to my knowledge has never started Sad smile


Right enough though, they did make a lovely job of the wiring, that rubbish in front wasn’t there when the inverter and charge controller was fitted.

Anyway, due to their stupid positioning I had to hack several spanners to get to the injector and pump on the Yanmar diesel engine.

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Initially I set about the cheap Indian ones but they just kept breaking and I had to resort to cutting my trusty Snap-On 17mm combination spanner which I’ve had for 35years Sad smile Someone will be getting the bill £36 for one friggin spanner !!!!! and whilst it did undo the nut I still couldn’t get the generator to start Sad smile Well, that’ll be today’s project then Smile

I finished off last night’s tasks by doing some work on the new pig de-hairing bath.

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Unlike the cast iron one I broke last year this fibre glass one is at a better working height, at least I hope it is, it will be getting ‘Christened’ next week with May or Snowy.

Right, that’s it then, 7:30 is here, no sign of the stars but it is ‘black as the fire back’ outside, better feed the animals and get some work done hey.

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