Life at the end of the road

January 31, 2020

Unintended consequences :-)

Filed under: boats, daily doings, hydro, life off grid — Tags: , , , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 6:41 am

January by with already, or at least it will be by the end of the day, already the days are stretching, Raasay House will be open in a couple of weeks and the Easter Bunny has arrived early. Not the chocolate ones, they probably arrived shortly after  Christmas along with the Cadbury crème eggs. Nope, I’m talking about the real ones that have been absent from the North End and my dinner plate for years.

When I first arrived here, thirty years ago in May, Raasay was ‘awash’ with bunnies, I kept a rifle in the car (as did the postman) and rabbit was a regular addition to the weekly menu. Sure they came and went in cycles along with the  ‘maxy’ or myxomatosis a virulent disease introduced in the 50’s. The population would peak, the virus would get a hold within a year or two and dazed, disoriented, blind rabbits that would shortly die became commonplace. A ‘maxy’ infected rabbit is not a pleasant sight but inevitably the population would recover within a couple of years and rabbit pasta would be back on the menu.

I remember at least three outbreaks but that wasn’t what exterminated them I’m sure, no, I think that accolade goes to the explosion of mink and sea eagles, themselves, like the virus, both introduced by man. Me, I can live with the magnificent birds but then I don’t have and am not a fan of sheep. Unfortunately, in the absence of fish the   Iolaire sùil na grèine, the ‘eagle with the sunlit eye’ will and does take lambs Sad smile


And don’t for a minute think I took that picture Smile

They also seem to have driven out the resident and native golden eagle which is slightly smaller. I guess this is just one of the ‘unintended consequences’ of their reintroduction from Scandinavia in the seventies. Hailed as a great success at the time, they are now becoming a bit of a problem Sad smile As for the mink, well, not only have they decimated ground nesting birds, rabbits hens and ducks, they contribute ‘not a jot’ to the local economy. At least the white tailed sea eagle brings ‘twitchers’ and ‘puts bums’ on the local tourist boat seats Smile

Anyway, despite the ‘bird’ and the mink, the rabbit is back, perhaps ‘not in force’ but at least in ever growing numbers. I’m seeing more and more, even around Sonas and I’ve never seen one up here even when they were plentiful. Hopefully, rabbit will be back on the menu soon Smile

The Steam Engine

Well, yesterday ‘was a pure s**t of a day’, ferry disrupted rain torrential and dark until almost 9:00am, at least that’s what it felt like. Luckily I’ve a very nice shed and that’s where I spent most of the day, pottering about with my wee hydro turbine before it fined up in the late afternoon.

Actually, all I did was connect new conduit and wiring to the turbine, I spent most of the day looking for a ‘three pole rotary isolator’

SCL 20A 3 POLE IP65 ENCLOSED ROTARY ISOLATOR which I could have sworn I had. Unfortunately much of my day seems to be spent suffering such delusions and looking for things that I have just put down Smile Anyway, I gave up, ordered two online and figured I’d just have to manage without for now.

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So I loaded everything I thought I needed into the Honda and headed off into the woods, ‘turning off’ the water supply on the way.

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It’s a bit of a trek down there and at this time of year extremely muddy, not the best place to carry tools and a heavy turbine.

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It is however a beautiful and sheltered spot ideal for adventurous ‘wild swimming’ at high tide the sea comes up and sometimes over the shiny rock in the foreground.


The ‘shed’ I built ten or twelve years ago when I fitted the Stream Engine, prior to that I had a 200W Navitron Chinese turbine there.

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Mounted on an old galvanised bucket in the long grass and then covered up with an old polyform buoy it served me well for a couple of years. Proving that a turbine was viable until I replaced it with the current one mounted on a concrete base and covered with that ‘shed’ Carrying buckets of mixed concrete down there to cast the base was no easy task, don’t think I could do it now Smile

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I replaced the split PVC hose with an armoured rubber one but only had enough for the one (large jet),


not having an isolator I temporarily connected it with ‘chocolate blocks’ and tested it on the small jet.


A couple of amps at 60V giving me 120W at the battery bank. Not wanting to risk leaving the PVC hose connected I then turned on the large jet.


This gave me a respectable 13A, around 780W, which was better than before I’m sure. Normally it’s around 800W with both jets switched on but having a ‘pin hole’ in the PVC pipe on the small jet, I just left it on the one. That will give me a good extra 18.7kWh per day, time to switch the dehumidifier on in the caravan methinks Smile

Well, that’s just about it really, I collected my Wife’s Subaru from the village to look at the power steering, did a little shopping for the builders at Brochel, made a Lancashire hot pot for dinner and went to bed with a good book.

Sad, I know but HMS Warspite saw more action than any other ship of the Royal Navy, coming to an inglorious end in Mounts Bay Cornwall, I dived on her remains in the early nineties. Truth be know it’s herself and the Royal Navy’s move from coal to oil at the turn of the last century that’s responsible for much of the current chaos in the middle east Sad smile Another case of ‘unintended consequences’ I fear Smile

January 30, 2020

Good for another year :-)

Filed under: daily doings, hydro, life off grid — Tags: , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 7:43 am

Well, that’s the ‘Egg Chariot’ tested and passed at last, some three months after the MOT ran out, luckily one isn’t required on Raasay so I managed to tax her without. Not actually sure what the legal position is that were you to try and make an insurance claim or be involved in an RTA right enough. Certainly the vehicle wouldn’t be legal off the island without one for sure but on Raasay roads at least she is, I think Smile

Sure I actually finished the work a few days ago but have been trying to fit the visit to Skyefit for a retest into my busy schedule Smile

Isle Of Skye Tyres Tyres

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Luckily Bruiser was pleased with my work and the Subaru got a clean bill of health for another year. If I could find another Forester SG5 or older with low mileage in mint condition I’d certainly get one. I’ve had this one almost five years now, it’s done 166K miles, most of them on Raasay’s dreadful roads yet they have failed to destroy the suspension!!! Sure I had to put one ball joint and wheel bearing on her this year but barring that and a few anti roll bar links over the last 60K that has been all. A well built, comfortable, durable and reliable car indeed. The only thing that lets it down in my book is the 2000kg max towing weight against the Land Rover’s 3500kg. My Range Rover, Discovery and 110 can all pull the digger whereas the Egg Chariot can’t. Still, at least you know you are going to complete your journey without breaking down in a Subaru. More than can be said for products bearing the ‘Green Oval’ Smile

Image result for land rover green oval

I’ve never been without a Land Rover or puddle of oil on my drive since 1977 and I’ve loved them all but I’d certainly not recommend one to a friend Smile Whereas a Subaru I would, even one who knows sweet FA about how to fix them Smile



The red sky that I left behind on Raasay yesterday morning was just about the best part of the day, after that it went severely down hill. Not so much in the wind department but certainly in the ‘pishing rain’ one. The car was booked in at Skyefit for 11:00 and I’d promised to collect Jamie from Brochel, he was there working on the house and the clutch had failed on his pickup a few days earlier. He and his compatriot were getting ‘cabin fever’ and needed shopping so off we went together. I managed to get my MOT, he got £200 worth of shopping that would have cost him half that in East Lothian and we both got back to Raasay on the 13:00 ferry, me with an MOT and he with a considerably lighter wallet AND there was no alcohol in his bag Smile

Back to the Stream Engine

With Biblical rain falling from above I spent the rest of the day in me shed putting the Stream Engine hydro turbine back together.


As with all PMG’s (permanent magnet generators) it has very strong magnets so to make fitting the rotor easier I cut a slot in a piece of timber to reduce the attraction whilst fitting the rotor.


That done and with the ‘air gap’ set to what it was before removal of the rotor,


I rebuilt it,


tested it with the drill and made some blanking plates to cover the unused nozzle holes.

The Stream Engine has provision for four jets but I have only ever used three. To be honest after ten years plus of use I have discovered that two is plenty, one broke during removal and I thought I may as well remove the other as it is one less hose to fail and spray water everywhere.

I still have to attach new wiring conduit and an isolator before trekking down to the shore but that’ll be today’s task, just as soon as I finish coffee number three and daylight arrives. It’ll be well on the way to 8:00am now and still it’s too dark to see, methinks Thursday is gonna be a ‘pure s**t of a day’ Sad smile

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