Life at the end of the road

January 28, 2020

OK for another year :-)

Filed under: boats, daily doings, hydro — Tags: , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 7:34 pm

Well, my outdoor thermometer says 2 degrees but I’m sure it’s lying, certainly the bitter east wind makes it feel that way. I’m just back inside for a warm and more coffee, having given up on some early morning pottering with my ‘Stream Engine’ in the shed.

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I didn’t leave the house until 8:00am right enough, the Storr being shrouded in cloud and even the hills of Harris having a dusting of snow.

The ‘high’ of, not only completing my annual ‘self assessment’ for HMRC yesterday before the 31st deadline but also TWO VAT returns!!!! Sure one of those was three months late and one a week early but I almost tore into the 12YO malt in celebration. I didn’t do that though cos I’ve not had a drink this year, well not since the ‘first footing’ at least Smile


Anyway, I really must get back outside or I’ll be stuck in the toasty house all day admiring the view and taking pictures of the Trotternish ridge all day.

Stream Engine Hydro

The first job I tackled was my ‘Stream Engine’ hydro turbine that had died the best part of two weeks ago. Stupidly I didn’t even go and have a look at it as soon as I finished work a week ago. Nope, apart from checking the water input the night it failed and checking phase voltage at home I left it alone. Hardly surprising really as it resides almost half a mile away from Sonas, through a wood, down a cliff and almost on the sea shore. Ten years ago, I’d have been down there like a shot with head torch, clad in oilskins, carrying all my tools and followed by a muddy wee dug. Nowadays I seldom stick my head outside when it’s dark and certainly not after work in the pishing rain.

It was yesterday when I finally got around to it, after yet another visit to Brochel on ‘generator duty’ Smile 

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Leaving the Kawasaki Mule as near as I dare to the turbine, I could hear straight away that all was not well. Even though still is still quite a way from the turbine I heard the rumble of duff bearings or a ‘lost phase’ and as soon as I got down there I could see the problem, or at least its cause.

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One of the three hoses feeding the various nozzles had split, spraying water onto the wall mounted isolator. This in turn had shorted out causing two or more of the wires from the alternator to melt together and make the turbine vibrate. The two weeks inaction on my behalf sealing the fate of the bearings.

There was no point investigating any further so I removed the whole assembly and took it home, easier said than done,


it’s steeper than it looks Smile

Taking it back home I gave it an inspection and found it to be very rough and stiff as a result of the shorted phases and worn bearings. Removing the melted wiring improved matters dramatically so I tested it on the bench using a cordless drill to drive the alternator.

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All voltages were around 60V at the same drill speed so all was peachy with the windings. There was a little play accompanying the roughness so I ‘dug deeper’. The Stream Engine is built in Canada but infuriatingly all the threads and sizes of the fastners are ‘Imperial’ so if you loose any nuts or bolts the chances are you won’t have any spares. Same with the Allen screws, they all have ‘Imperial’ heads and of course I didn’t have a 1/4” one so had to file down a 6mm one to fit!! The bearings are a really common size (6203), there are three of them and the replacement procedure is well covered here

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Luckily, perhaps by design, they are also the same bearings as in the Harris turbine and even some of the Navitron Chinese ones. As I look after a couple of these I had some spare.

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Interestingly the bronze ‘Turgo runner’ was quite worn, not enough to justify replacement yet, but perhaps in the near future. The ‘head’ on this setup is 40m and the water quite dirty, even so it’s surprising how much damage water can do.


The image above is the ‘Stream Engine’ Turgo after ten years at 40m head (left) and a ‘Harris’ Pelton runner after just two or three years at 90m head, notice the holes in it!! I replaced that one some years ago with a stainless steel one.

Anyway, that’s my new 6302 bearings on the shaft now with some Loctite 638 to hold them there and the monk fish casserole is just cooling out of the oven so I’ll just leave you with some images from the rest of the day Smile

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Brochel Bay and the ‘White Face’ from ‘Calum’s Cairn’, not that you can see much of it for the mist.

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Snow at Sonas and Brochel Castle yesterday.

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Two very serious boats at the Skye Bridge on Sunday, only the military could afford propellers like that and these ‘secret’ boats are so streamlined even the anodes are recessed in the hull.

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Who else would want to put these in an aeroplane Smile

January 27, 2020

Today is the day, perhaps :-)

Filed under: daily doings, hydro, life off grid, listers, weather — Tags: , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 6:56 am

4:30 in the morning, wee dug is still in bed having taken a shine to my new quilt cover and bedding.

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Me, I just love Gustav Klimt’s work, Molly, well I think she’s more enamoured with the brushed cotton Smile Anyway, that’s me the best part of a full week into my ‘fortnight off’ without ever having turned my attention to the blog. Truth is I’ve been far too busy avoiding doing my VAT return and counting down the days to the 31st of January and the ‘self assessment’ deadline for HMRC.

I really am thinking that ‘today is the day’ but then I’ve been saying that since Friday. Sure I did make a serious start on Saturday by tidying up my office but got distracted by all the unopened mail and some treasures that had been lying in there for three months since I did my last VAT return. If they awarded Olympic medals for sidestepping paperwork I’s be up there with the best. However, I really must ‘bite the bullet’ today, well tomorrow or the day after at the latest Smile

A busy fortnight

Like I said, I’m well into my first week off, having left a hectic fortnight ‘before the mast’ behind me with storm Brendan dealing out chaos and destruction in his wake. The good ship Hallaig missed more than its fair share of sailings and power was off to a third of the village for two days.

 Image may contain: ocean, water and outdoor Image may contain: ocean, outdoor and water

Brendan passed through having arrived with plenty of warning but the 55knot blast above that came unannounced a day or two later didn’t Sad smile

This one caught everyone unaware and left more than a few people stranded at Sconser and on Raasay until it abated later in the day.

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Brendan had torn through the village bringing disruption but another of his ‘followers’ brought a tree and lamp post down outside the shop around 22:00, by the time I headed to work at 6:30 it had already been cleared. Well someone had been working very late or early at least cos Ross James posted the image below on Facecloth at 22:30!!!

Image may contain: plant, tree, night, outdoor and nature

Me, I arrived at work early having left home early just in case other trees had come down, just as well cos Hallaig was also in a bit of a state Sad smile

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Total blackness greeted me aboard with all UPS systems completely depleted and pages of alarms active once I started to restore power.

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Still, I managed to restore everything, well almost Smile and we did sail on time.

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Molly and I going to check on Peter and Bonzo at lunchtime just to make sure they were OK, having a cup of tea and helping finish his birthday cake in the process Smile

Still on the ‘to do’ list

Just realized whilst wading through the last fortnight’s pictures that one of my hydro turbines packed in last week.

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The 800w ‘Stream Engine’ barely producing any power. A quick look after work revealed plenty of water going down the penstock but a meter ‘across the phases’ before the transformer indicated next to no voltage. With plenty of wind and the other hydro ‘pumping away’ I’ve certainly had plenty of power to heat and light the house but it does give me another good excuse to postpone the paperwork Smile

The first one being an MOT on the Subaru, which I’m reluctant to admit failed Sad smile and that was after me checking it over and managing to miss a defective offside front ball joint and nearside front wheel bearing Sad smile

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Both of which turned into a bit of an epic, the ball joint pinch bolt shearing on the nearside requiring me to drill it out. Must be a Subaru issue cos I had to do the same on the offside a few years ago.


The offside lower ball joint all came undone easily enough but the old joint steadfastly refused to come out of the carrier. A ‘slide hammer’ would have drawn it out easily enough but I’ve not got one so had to improvise by attaching some Mole grips to the joint and belting them with a lump hammer. Didn’t do my grips much good but the joint did come out and I’ve now ordered a Chinese slide hammer Smile

More boodly generators

Apart from that I’ve been somewhat involved with moving and repairing generators.

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A poorly installed Stephill 6kVA a couple of miles down the road being ‘work in progress’ and a trusty Lister SR2 with broken wiring at Torran.

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These Lister generators need bolting solidly to at least a ton of concrete, preferably two. No rubber mounts, no railway sleepers, nothing at all that is flexible. Mount them solid like that and they will give decades of trouble free service. Mount them on anything else and they vibrate, work harden the copper wiring, which then breaks and stops em working, which is exactly what happened to this one. One of the wires to the slip rings had snapped but I managed to repair it OK (until the next time) Smile

Right, that’s it, almost 6:45 now and I’ve got things to do, snow is forecast for the whole day but I somehow doubt it so we’ll see what I manage to achieve today. Will it be the overdue paperwork, broken hydro turbine, generator repositioning, car MOT or what Smile

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