Life at the end of the road

March 8, 2017

Pure ‘wabbit’ :-)

Golly gosh, feels like winter is over despite the hail, gale,  thunder and lightning of this morning. Sure it’s freezing outside in the biting westerly but the sun has a genuine warmth in it and it’s ‘light at both ends’ Smile That will be me arriving and leaving work for the first time this year in daylight. OK, not quite last night as it was a carpy day but it certainly felt that way.

So, that’s it, I am back at work and have spent the whole of my ‘rest period’ without doing any blogging. Sorry bout that but not only was I busy but I was feeling ‘pure wabbit’!!!! Twenty years I’ve known my Glaswegian wife and still she surprises me with her colloquialisms.

Half way through the fortnight off I’m struck with a virus that’s doing the rounds and floored with a sore throat that prevents me eating, sleeping and swallowing pain killers. The weather is amazing, I’ve a list of outdoor jobs ‘as long as my arm’ and I’m struck with my worst bout of ‘man flu’ in years. Of course ‘darling wife’ has already had it and gotten through it without a whimper. Not me, no I’m a guy so have to moan constantly, crave sympathy and think my own version of this bug is far, far worse than anyone else’s.

The most empathetic statement to come my way from the ‘egg lady’ was “you look pure wabbit”  http://www.dsl.ac.uk/entry/snd/wabbit , needless to say I had to crawl to my computer and look it up.

Still, she was dead right, I was Smile

The first task

The ‘rest period’ started off pretty ‘full on’ with the annual visit from the ‘English Director, the Swiss Surgeon and the Russian Art Dealer’ who assemble from the four corners of Europe to do their yearly butchery. The two Tamworth’s we’d been fattening for them had come on nicely but it was time for them to go and I had to do the ‘prep work’.

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The 100lt cast iron boiler had to be put in place and the chimney installed. This is to keep a constant supply of boiling water for dehairing the pigs, though ideally you don’t want to be using it on the creature over 80 degrees. The idea is to melt the fat in the hair follicles but not cook the pig. The cast iron bath was put in position at the correct working height and a drain made up to take the waste water away. The cast iron bath soon knocks down the water temp and then a hose of cold into the boiler cools that down a little. Temperature of the water being constantly monitored with an IR thermometer.

As it was the ‘wee girls’ last day we let them in the garden to clear up after the birds.

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This meant that they were happy and content right up to being led to the barn door to meet their end.

FIGURE 5

The ‘end’ being a .22 bullet at point ‘a’, roughly the centre of a cross drawn between the eyes and ears but from straight ahead as in ‘a’ on the right. If you don’t you’ll miss the brain and the animal may suffer, unlikely if you are slitting the throat too to collect the blood but many folk don’t. If you are collecting the blood then get someone to hold the rear of the pig slightly higher and pump the forelegs. Please don’t click on the images if you’re squeamish.

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We had both pigs slaughtered, de haired and split down the spine in around three hours which is pretty good. That was start to finish with all the clearing up done too, a far cry from the first ones we ever did which took around four hours each. The secret is most definitely in having plenty of hot water to hand and having it at just the right temperature, too cool and it won’t come out, too hot and you’ll burn yourself and cook the meat.

I have to confess that when I do slaughter my own for my own consumption, which incidentally is all you can legally do, then my most ambitious project is usually sausages. Not these chaps though, they go the ‘whole hog’ so to speak, salamis, chorizo, blood pudding, brawn, cotechino, Parma type ham and a whole host of goodies.

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Here is my share of the proceedings brawn, sausage, cotechino and various salamis for hanging. They’d worked flat out the whole weekend to produce these delicacies, luckily they took a few hours off on Friday night and I went round for dinner of brain and humus, kidney and paprika, followed by a main of pork fillet and broccoli.

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All washed down with a fine Japanese single malt Smile

More chooks

I dunno whether we killed them all or if the arrival of the two girls we just slaughtered put them off but since last September we’ve not seen any sign of the dreaded mink that killed so many of the wife’s hens. Personally I’m convinced it was the two Tamworth’s that did the trick, for when they first arrived we kept them in section of the hen house until they were too large to get in and out of the hens ‘pop hole’. After that we kept them in one of the fallow hen runs for a few weeks prior to letting them out on the hill. I’m certain that their smell has kept the unwelcome American import at bay, so buoyed up by that belief we got some more.

Donald the Hen had a new batch of ‘point of lay’ Lohmann’s  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lohmann_Brown for sale so on Saturday we paid him a visit.

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After some of Katy’s fine home baking and coffee, we left Struan with 8 new chooks in a cardboard box. Donald ‘lives and breathes’ hens and not only are they very favourably priced he’s always on hand for advice and can also supply excellent hen house, feeders and drinkers. Donald can be contacted on 01470 572 213 or via Facebook.

Once home the chooks were put in a section of the hen shed adjoining the current five we still have. The various 8’ x 8’ sections of the shed are separated but have mesh windows between them so the hens can see each other. This gives them chance to get used to each other and vastly reduces bullying and ‘hen pecking’ when they are finally mixed.

The Mitsubishi MM30SR 

One of my main preoccupations this last fortnight has been Lachie’s 3ton digger

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which has been taxing me to say the least. Basically this far eastern ‘grey import’ is far too complicated for its own good with sensors on the bucket, boom and dipper, two electronic joysticks on a CANBUS network to a large CPU under the seat.

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My initial optimism at finding this dodgy connection on the unloading valve solenoid soon faded.

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Replacing the plug made absolutely no difference and many days of tracing wires, checking sensors, plugs and connections proved fruitless. Of course having absolutely no information, wiring or piping diagrams didn’t help and the greatest help I got ont tinternet  http://www.heavyequipmentforums.com/threads/mitsubishi-mm30sr.7464/#post-225364 was soon exhausted.

This left me with three options, 1 to buy a proper ‘plug and play’ kit from IM Dynamics http://www.imdynamics.com.au/  in Australia at $2000 AUD plus taxes and shipping. This would bypass the CPU and interface directly with the original Kawasaki joysticks. However IMD recommend sending the joysticks to them for checking and or overhaul, another $40 – $400AUD plus shipping and taxes. Option 2 was to try and make my own electric kit up using new electrical joysticks and ten relays, doable, but without a wiring diagram I couldn’t figure out what each of the six wires on each of the five spool valve solenoids did. I guess I could have worked it out with ‘trial and error’ but they were not easily accessible and I’d have had to do an awful lot of wiring and cable crimping. Which, lets face it isn’t ideal on something that has no cab, sits outside all its life and operates in mud and carp. So, I opted for making up a cable operated and joystick system from http://www.hycon.co.uk/products/byhierarchy/42/156.html . That’s been ordered and with a bit of luck will be here for the start of my month holiday Smile Can’t wait Smile

Meanwhile I made up a tool to manually operate the Nachi spool valves

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from a sheet of 3mm steel and some M6 bolts.

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The spacing between the fulcrum and spool valve is 25mm but I slotted one of the bolt holes slightly to allow for it moving through and arc. The spools themselves are 14mm and the spacing of the retaining bolts is 35mm.

The tool works really well and allows me to easily move the machine now without danger of clattering myself with the boom or cab.

Yamaha YFM350 Bruin steering column bushes

Having abandoned the digger I turned my attention to the Yamaha quad and its worn steering column bushes and bearings. The top bearing is just a plastic bush that I’ve previously replaced, often greased and occasionally ground down to reduce the play. This time however I got a full kit that included the bottom ball bearing set and seals.

First of all the whole front plastic panel and handle bars need to come off, all straight forward, just a few bolts and electrical plugs, none of which you can mix up. Then a 22mm nut and split pin off the bottom of the column after which it should lift out and present you with the bottom bearing carrier.

 

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The top seal can just be prized out with a screwdriver, the bearing itself presents a problem as it’s held in with a large fine threaded retainer which is 30mm AF. I overcame this by ‘double nutting’ an M20 bolt and using an 30mm spanner.

I had to make up a puller to remove the bearing after prizing out the lower seal but the bearing broke Sad smile

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Luckily I had a small grinding stone and cut through the hardened race with a die grinder.  Built it back up with plenty of grease, job’s a good un Smile

Persian rug anyone

At some point during the fortnight off I’m working away in the barn when this chap shows up selling hand made rugs from Iran.

 

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I kid you not and they were lovely rugs too Smile Now we rarely get the ‘door to door’ types here, the Jehovah’s witness’s every couple of years, the Mormons every decade and one kitchen salesman in thirty years so there’s no need to be impolite. Indeed I seriously considered buying one off Asa, who hailed from Skipton in Yorkshire, not a lotta miles from where I was born. Still, I took his phone number and promised to give him a tinkle if we ever got fed up with our concrete floor Smile Well, you never know, I gotta say though, it’s unlikely, I do love that warm feeling from the UFH as you wander over the industrial flooring.

 What else

Well, it’s been a while and me memory is carp but looking through the pictures it looks like the ‘pirates’ were out scratching away.

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The ‘seven a side’ clam dredger Novante was busy ploughing up the Raasay Narrows again

We’d also a good few commercials delivering to the new distillery.

 

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Ian S Roger’s Scania delivering plate heat exchangers and JG Stampers MAN bringing in a 22000lt water tank one day.

The turbine base

I had hoped to get more work done on the wind turbine mast but my ‘man flu’ cut that short and the best I could manage was fitting the winching anchor point.

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The positioning of this is quite crucial and it took quite a while to bore a 32mm hole some 300mm down into the bedrock so I could bond some M30 stud in there.

Anyways, I got all that done as well as almost doing my VAT return, so not bad really.

December 23, 2016

Three forward four aft!

Gosh, it’s exactly 36 hours since the winter solstice, so officially the days are getting longer. Not that we’ll actually see any difference for a while but it’s another of the year’s milestones by with. Almost 23:00 now on Thursday night and that’s the ferry cancelled for Friday so I’ll not be rushing off to work tomorrow. The Hallaig is firmly attached to Scotland with ‘Three forward, four aft, two springs and two breasts’ so she’ll not be moving anywhere until Saturday at the earliest. This may make my life a little easier but it’s not so great for those wanting to travel, or the poor ‘post lady’ who’s gonna have double mail on Saturday.

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This is the mountain of mail we had locked in the store on Wednesday Sad smile Fine by me but it does make the post lady crabbit Smile

Severely ‘pear-shaped’ from day one

With the shortest day behind me I was gripped with great enthusiasm so thought I’d tackle this job that I’d not been particularly looking forward to. Changing a stainless steel one way flap valve on one of the ships sprinkler systems. The Hallaig has three of them and more fire fighting and prevention systems than you can ‘shake a stick at’. This is a ‘wee job’ that ‘reared its head’ in September, the valve was passing a very small amount of water, which after time was building up pressure and setting off an alarm. Now the worst thing you can have on any alarm system is spurious alarms, cos pretty soon you get used to them and human nature being what it is. Well you get the picture, so at the time I tried to remove it, couldn’t and then managed to repair it in situ with a large hammer. Don’t ask but it did work, however, with the dry dock coming up in November my ‘back to back’ ordered another from the usually very efficient manufacturer of the system. Tyco https://www.tycoifs.co.uk/ Integrated Fire and Security are normally first class in both the service and replacement parts department but the failed sadly on this occasion.

To cut a very long story short, first the wrong one arrived and was promptly returned after much explanation of the problem. The right one was listed on the delivery note but the wrong one was sent, much apology followed with the promise of correct valve to be sent as soon as wrong one received. Many phone calls, emails, threats and months later the valve arrived on Tuesday so I set about fitting it on Wednesday.

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Not the easiest thing to access but with some minor surgery I managed to remove it only to discover the new one was a bit longer.

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Not a major issue methinks that a few alterations to the pipe work and I’d get it so I removed the fittings off the old one to transfer them to the new one.

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Bit of a problem though, the 1 3/4” BSP threads on the new one were not tapped deep enough causing the fitting to ‘gall’ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galling . Galling is when the threads weld themselves together, usually due to poor machining but not always. The roughness caused by poor thread cutting can exasperate the issue but stainless is prone to it anyway. This being even more common in Indian and Chinese bolts, we had some Indian stainless M12 x 50 bolts and more than half of them locked up solid and had to be cut off!!!

Galling can often occur in screws and bolts, causing the threads to seize and tear free from either the fastener or the hole. In extreme cases, the bolt may lock up to the point where all turning force is used by the friction, which can lead to breakage of the fastener or the tool turning it. Threaded inserts of hardened steel are often used in metals like aluminium or stainless steel that can gall easily.

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This fitting was well and truly galled into the new valve and took some serious effort to remove. When I’d finally removed it

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both the valve and fitting were in poor shape so I decided to have a go at cleaning up the threads on the new fitting and then refit the old valve. It had after all been working OK since September and now it was out I could lap the flapper so it would seal even better.

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Sadly my efforts with a hacksaw blade and small triangular file proved fruitless so as a last resort I cut the top two threads off with a 1mm cutting disc and all was peachy. Had I one of these on the ferry,

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a ‘thread file’ I could have sorted it but mine were at home Sad smile I bought two of them over twenty years ago in a sale at Jansvans in Portree, they were £9.50 each and at the time it was money I could ill afford but they’ve ‘saved my ass’ many a time. Why only the other week I was using them on the threaded bar for the ‘ole Smile

Ten minutes lapping with some coarse and then fine grinding paste had the valve nicely lapped in.

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Then it was just a matter of putting it all back together, then topping up the water and nitrogen.

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Our own little carol service Smile

The weather may have been pretty grim on Thursday, at least in the frequent hail showers but that didn’t stop Raasay Primary School from spreading good cheer throughout the island. They had already been to the shop and sung in there for the staff and postie. Now when I went carol singing in the dim and distant past it was for money. The Raasay Primary School children dished out little presents after their recital Smile

After the shop they came down to the ferry and gave us all treat too, first up in the wheelhouse for the rest of the crew and then in the lounge for some customers and myself.

 

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Poor Santa was at the other end of the lounge and missed out Sad smile 

The rest of Thursday was taken up with trying to replace some hydraulic hoses and bunkering.

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I say ‘trying cos I’d planned to change four at lunchtime and only managed 1!!! The first one went easy enough but the one on the left was seriously tight and given my ‘track record’ with the sprinkler system I left it alone. Methinks that this is gonna be a Sunday job next year Smile

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3000lts of marine gasoil will normally do us the whole week and we’ve capacity for going on 10,800lts but best to keep her ‘topped up’. If for any reason we loose our ‘hybrid mode’ and the weather is bad, that 3000lts can easily be 5000.

Friday

Having cancelled the ferry yesterday for the whole of Friday we secured Hallaig with extra ropes had today off. The way the forecast was boarding the vessel would have been dangerous and pointless. All the planned maintenance and paperwork was up to date and the chances are we’d be working late on Christmas eve as Saturday would still be seeing Barbara’s tail end.

With the family all here yesterday and me not working I treated myself to a few glasses of vin rouge and had a lie in until 6:00am Smile It was pretty boodly wild then, probably what woke me, so I went out to check for damage. A rattling from the barn had me worried but that turned out to be just the doors and all was well.

There wasn’t any damage but there was certainly a lot of water so when it was light I went back out to clear the drains and feed the pigs.

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That done and with some breakfast inside me I accompanied the postie to work, not that she’d be doing anything but it would give me a chance to have a look at Hallaig.

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It was pretty scabby but she was sitting nicely on those four huge stern ropes, the power was on and no alarms sounding Smile Just as well really cos there was little chance of getting safely aboard

After the postie had finished work we headed up to the Orchard for some ivy to go with the rest of the locally sourced and made decorations.

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It’s never going to be a classic, dunno how old this remnant of the Soviet Union is but Lada’s quite often looked this bad after three or four years Smile 

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An atmospheric tree and a fine set of horns on the way home Smile

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