Life at the end of the road

May 13, 2017

The lonesome midge :-)

Filed under: animals, boats, daily doings, pigs — Tags: — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 8:15 pm

That’s it, I’m in for the night now and it’s not even 19:00, truth is, I was in almost an hour ago and have just demolished an awesome risotto cooked up by ‘wife and child’. Better start teaching ‘the boy’ to cook if he’s going to uni Smile Contrary to all predictions it’s been a fine warm, nay even hot at times day today with just a few specs of rain around 17:00. Looks like there’s been plenty of it round and about right enough but we seem to have missed it.

I kinda ‘fell asleep at the wheel’ yesterday so never really finished posting, it had been kinda physical with me making shuttering, moving rocks by hand and digger. Not to mention making a wooden fence and creosoting it. I was hoping to get a couple of tons of concrete mixed and poured yesterday but as usual it ‘got complicated’.

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The plan is to ultimately concrete all the way down to the caravan about 5m out from the fence then just do the rest of the area in those 20mm blue ‘chuckies’. This is a task I had no intention of starting, planning instead to continue build my road through the hen enclosure. However I’d 2 tons of 20mm concrete mix sitting in my tipping trailer and I needed that to collect the 20mm ‘chuckies’ from the quarry. Of course I could have just tipped it out onto the 2 ton pile I already had ‘in stock’ but I got it into my head it would save time to use the stuff now.

No sooner had I finished the shuttering when I had a brainstorm. There’s a 50mm duct running through the wind turbine base and if I was canny I could feed some twine through it to pull a cable through after. This seemed like a good way of supplying mains power right down to the other end of the croft. It would save me running a 50m plus extention lead down to the caravan and would give me a suitable connection for the digger/dumper shed.

This ‘simple’ task took me most of the afternoon once I’d dug a trench, dragged some heavy duty water pipe up from the chalet and then fed the twine through with a length of regular 32mm MDPE water pipe. It was only the section under the road that I’d do in the thick walled water pipe, the rest would just be in 6m lengths of 50mm Polypipe.

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As I hadn’t actually planned doing this I’d no reinforcing mesh so had to ‘improvise’ with steel scaffolding tubes Smile Me thought that 5m by 2.4m would be a good size to start off with as I’d got 12 bags of cement and just shy of 4 tons of 20mm mix. Typically, by the time I’d finished ‘faffing’ about it was late afternoon and it wouldn’t have been sensible or good for my marriage to start mixing concrete.

I did get everything ready for making a start today right enough so on the whole I was pretty chuffed with the result. Other things achieved since my return from the 1940’s have been a new gearbox fitted to my mate’s 9.9HP 2 stroke Yamaha outboard.

Four into Two will go

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My mate’s gearbox failed at Easter on account of the oil drain plug going AWOL and the bearings being lubricated by sea water Sad smile Methinks the parts to repair were about £1000 !!!! Anyway, as fortune would have it another mate had a newer model four stroke engine that was seized but had a good gearbox. It wasn’t a completely straight forward swap as the gear selector pushrods were different lengths and of course the water pump housings on both gearboxes were seized into the casings. Still, lots of heat, WD40 and new seals and water pump impeller had it sorted.

As I mentioned yesterday, my son and I gave it a good testing by heading up to see Bill Cowie on Rona.

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By the time we returned to Torran ‘bearing gifts’ of wine and venison burgers the tide was well out Sad smile

 

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That’s where a plastic boat quad and winch come in handy, these Pioner boats are all but indestructible.

A new exhaust for Phoebe

The front pipe failed on the Daihatsu and I could probably got a new one for £50 or £60. I seldom repair exhausts as it just does not usually make sense but on this occasion it was just the flange that had broken so I made another from scaffolding pipe and 6mm steel plate.

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The scaffolding pipe was just the right to slip over the front pipe so I just cut two slots in that and clamped it. The flange got a weld run all the way around it, methinks the car will fall apart around this repair Smile

The pigs never turned up for dinner the other night, which is very strange, however cos we’d been away for a few days and they were being irregularly fed by the boy, I thought nothing of it.

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That was until the following morning when they didn’t turn up for breakfast either, had they been rustled!!! Apparently not, they turned up at the Torran Schoolhouse, someone must have left the gate open or I guess they could have followed someone through. These two boys are very sociable and do like following people about.

Today

Having got all prepped yesterday I started mixing at 9:00 and worked right through until 15:00.

 

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The first half went really well and I got a great finish on it but it started getting really warm in the afternoon and I started to slow down so that last half was going off too quick. Stupidly I didn’t put any retarder in the mix even though I had some!!!! That’s old age fer ya.

 

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The boys were never far from the action either, chewing at the sleeves of my overalls through the fence as I was smoothing out the concrete.

The first bite Sad smile

I usually get the first midge bite around me birthday a week ago but like the cuckoo it was late this year. The first ‘wee blighter’ sunk his teeth into my arm last night!!!

Anyway here’s a log of the battery current from yesterday, much to my surprise considering it was a cloudy day with no wind.

A day mixing

The line above zero is discharge and the negative value charging (typical German logic). The sun comes up at 6:45 (clock 2 hours fast) and the mixer starts at 9:01but after that it remains fairly positive until the wife arrives home and switches on the washing machine and immersion Smile Whereupon I start the generator for an hour Smile

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.

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