Life at the end of the road

August 23, 2014

‘Meet the neighbours’ :-)

Filed under: Croft house for sale, daily doings, life off grid — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 10:10 pm

Considering I’ve been at home for days doing very little I’ve spent hardly anytime ‘on line’, not just blogging but anything ‘virtual’ has been very much on the ‘backburner’ of late. Sure I’ve done more than a little ‘pottering’ in the shed, managing to finish the overhaul of my Warn XP9.5 winch.


The ‘battleship grey’ finish turning out far better than I expected, though that’s hardly surprising after me giving it three gloss coats with a rub down between each. I do hope I don’t have a bad back when I retire, there’s only so many light jobs you can do on a croft, Land Rover or house. I think I’d go barmy very quickly, it’s only since my son has returned from school that I’ve actually been able to do any serious work. Or should I say direct him to do any Smile

I must say though I’ve been getting quite involved with the wife’s chooks since I’ve been off, lugging feed sacks for the pigs is still out. One thing for sure though, that ‘solar powered’ hen shed that took me months to construct was worth every minute, penny and chilblain I suffered in freezing wellies.

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Those ‘roll away’ nesting boxes just make life so much easier and result in far less dirty or damaged eggs. They were larger than we needed so we closed off the bottom row of both as they seldom used them for some reason and they were harder to clean, though even that wasn’t difficult. Having both the feed and bedding stored in the shed means far less fetching and carrying and the house is large enough to clean easily without bending down. Electric light will make such a difference for wifey in winter and feeding the chooks inside saves a fortune on feed and shotgun cartridges for the crows and pigeons.

Yes, considering this was just built as a frame for a 4kW solar array it has to be one of the most useful of my constructions to date. OK, it’s not actually got any solar panels on yet but that is about to change Smile

Another enquiry about the house inspired me to remove the huge redundant satellite broadband dish off the rear of the house. Or should I say it persuaded me to give my son a lesson in how to remove ‘Rawlplugs’ and unused hardware from an old stone building then repaint it.



I had a good feeling about this inquiry, we’ve had quite a few of late but this particular one sounded very encouraging. It’s one thing selling a house but for us here at the ‘north end’ we’re also purchasing a neighbour so to speak. The folk that live here will be an integral part of our tiny community where we all at times have to rely on each other. Consequently I don’t think removing an old dish, mopping the kitchen floor, hiding the bills and hoovering the bedrooms was going to make a blind bit of difference. It did however make me feel much better and to my mind at least made the wife’s ‘meadow’ look much better.



We used to have a lawn out here but the wife stopped me cutting it this year and I have to say I’m glad I did, dunno what it’s going to look like in the winter but just now it’s amazing and must be good for the birds and bees.

As has been quite normal for several of our prospective buyers we’ve let them stay in the caravan so they can get a feel for the place. Not only that there’s precious little accommodation to be had for folk with dogs at the best of times and in August hardly a bed on Skye let alone Raasay.

It was of course typical August weather when the ‘old Jeep’ arrived,


well if that’s old then I’m ancient Smile

Anyway, despite the grim weather we went on a tour of the estate picking up a few chanterelles on they way, returning wet, thirsty and hungry to our cosy kitchen and its round table. At a lightning quick pace our guests unpacked all the goodies they’d brought and I rustled up a quick salad. The empty stomach, rich cheeses, olives and sun dried tomatoes conspired with the wine to very quickly ‘get a good head on’ and the house was sold. In all honesty I think the house was sold the moment they stepped out of the Jeep, the evening just sealed what I think will be a great friendship. It also gave us flavour of things to come, I can’t wait Smile

The day after was like August should be, a fresh morning and sunny day with five sore heads,


well perhaps not that sore. Anyway after several pots of coffee, lots of deliberation and another quick tour our new friends left to set the ‘ball in motion’.

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Taking with them some bog myrtle


their two Venezuelan dogs and almost a stowaway.

The euphoria of finally selling our very special, quirky and cosy wee hoose was not in the least bit tempered by the thought of spending the winter in a caravan, at least not yet anyway. A few nights have past and I’ve been sleeping better than I have done in a long while as the thought of servicing two mortgages recedes over the horizon Smile 

A real community

I kinda lost track of things after that  but my camera would seem to say that I repaired my mates trailer.

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Probably the most taxing thing I’d done in three weeks and a job that was long overdue, it being me that probably did most of the damage anyway.

The bad back has driven me to do something I’ve not done ever, buy some wood. Luckily the Raasay Community company does a really good deal on split logs. It does an even better deal if you uplift and cut it yourself, for residents, that service is free!! Anyway, I wasn’t fit for doing that and my son is only home for the weekend, with more pressing things to do than cut wood. However we arranged to go down to the pit and collect a mixed load of split and unprocessed timber for a nominal fee and the Dude came along to do the donkey work.

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There were already a handful of volunteers there cutting and splitting wood for sale and another couple delivering uncut lengths to elderly people fro neighbours and relatives to cut. Perhaps when I retire I can get more involved in this kind of work, it’s just amazing watching people ‘pull together’.

The day was turning into a pure belter with just the odd shower that was soon forgotten and I spent most of the afternoon teaching my son how to use a chainsaw.


My mates Sthil MS180 was needing a service so I ran through that with him, but the first thing I noticed was the brake wasn’t working.

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Removing the cover I saw the clutch housing was blue and the plastic shroud melted, someone had been running it with the brake on!!! The linkage was also broken, probably as a result of being forced after the brake band melted into the plastic. Anyway we removed the chain and I showed him how to sharpen it before putting him to the wife’s Kevlar trousers, lecturing him on safety and giving him a shot with the electric one.


To be honest it’s at its limit on that piece of wood but it’s quiet and does give you a feel for it. After that he graduated to my 026 and the chain snapped!!!!!!


It’s almost new, I don’t think I’ve ever sharpened it and it wasn’t even being worked hard. It’s a genuine Sthil chain too, or at least that’s what it says on the links, 30 years I’ve been cutting wood and I’ve never seen a chain snap until today.


Didn’t put the boy off though and as soon as I’d fitted another chain he was right back into it.

A solar hen shed at last

I know I keep referring to the solar powered hen shed, which was in fact a wooden solar ground mount made from reclaimed pier timbers and parts of Raasay House. The mount got turned into a shed, or at least I started to build it in September


and that’s it in March, so it gives you some idea how long it took. Anyway, the panels and mounts are at last being fitted to it.


My son will be doing solar PV in physics soon so this is good practice for him,


what a guy Smile


July 9, 2014

Just like the nineties :-)

Golly gosh 22:25 and that’s me just in the house, it may be late for me, but not much later than I’ve been coming in all week. Nine, nine thirty has been about ‘par for the course’ for me this last week. Totally out of character for me since the millennium, but certainly just like I used to be back in the nineties when working from dawn till dusk was normal. Well, perhaps not working all the time but at least indulging in some form of activity other than ‘veg’ing’ in front of a ‘puter, or TV. Yes even I used to watch TV once upon a time, it was only a passing phase. Unlike the Malaria like ailment of Land Rovers that keeps returning like the common cold my contraction of the ‘one eyed monster’ was more like mumps.

I caught it briefly in the nineties when analogue satellite TV came to Raasay, probably several years after everywhere else right enough but I had it quite bad for a year at least. Which reminds me, I really must fix our TV for the wife and MiL before they return, it’s just me Molly and the Dude for a few days. It was really, really great  to rediscover the art of conversation a couple of months back when it died. However Utopia is about to start ‘season 2’ and I’ve been ordered to sort it. From what I can gather I’d like it if I could find the time to watch it.

Boodly hell it’s almost 23:00 now and I’ve still not had a shower or got changed, my hands resemble the dried and cracked peat that was once bog on certain parts of the croft. Sure we’ve had no shortage of rain or water this year but the hill has dried out nicely for all that. It’s now possible to do the entire feeding round in steel to capped sandals, ordinary ones have the hens eating my toes and are a little dodgy around the pigs.

It all begins again

The major project and reason for the long days has of course been the Land Rover and Discovery but in between removing the engine, gearbox and transfer box from the Disco there has been much action. Many rushes have been cut, much weeding done in the garden, pigs have been wormed and twelve of them delivered to Skye.


Whereupon we met our Christmas dinner,


not sure which one it was right enough but we’ve placed a firm order with Brian Green at Portnalong  for one to grace our table this year. We had one of Brian’s turkeys last year and it was moist, tender and delicious like only a home reared bird can be. Normally I think he buys young birds in around August and just fattens them for Christmas. However these were bought as ‘day old’ chicks and that’s them just three weeks old.

The right tool for the job

I may well have had the enthusiasm and stamina for working this last week but I’ve certainly had no clear plan, or at least I didn’t until I remembered Lachie’s telehandler.


This will be the Disco prior to me ‘modifying’ it with a 9” grinder. They must be a real pig to lift the engine out of without cutting gear and a telehandler.


To be perfectly honest when the weather is like this and you have the use of one of those it’s far nicer working outside than in a workshop. For a start it’s much lighter, there’s far more room and you can also drain the water off without having to catch it Smile

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In fact, I doubt very much if you’d get the whole lot out without hacking away the ‘slam panel’.



That really is a long and heavy lump and once it was out it got severely cleaned. We carried it well away from the garage and gave it a damn good scrubbing and soaking with Jizer before power washing several times prior to splitting the three major units.


The transfer box is lovely and quiet but too highly geared for a 110 with 33×12.50×15 tyres that does most of it’s mileage on Raasay. I’m tempted to leave it’s 1.222 : 1 ratio alone just tom try it though, even if only to save a couple of hundred quid for an ‘Ashcroft 1.410 : 1cluster’ like this

 1.410 Gear Set . It’s a 1.410 I put in the other week and it’s way too high for towing with the old 2.5TD but I reckon it will be ideal for the 200TDi. Travelling down ‘Calum’s road’ on Monday with 12 pigs had me in ‘low ratio’ until the ‘Bealach Ruadh’. OK, that will mean ‘diddly squat’ to most folk and I’ve probably spelt it wrong anyway, but suffice to say it’s almost 4 miles from home.



After the major clean up and splitting I set about removing the flywheel, clutch and flywheel housing, the lovely oil free engine I saw last week at the south end had developed a slight leak on the way up the road. It was probably just a dry seal gone hard because the amount of rust on the sump clearly indicated an ‘oil tight’ motor. However it’s far easier to do these things whilst the engine is out and both the ‘spigot bush’ in the end of the crank and clutch were shot anyway.

Next I turned my attention to the timing belt, just as well for it was rubbing on the tensioner and had left many bits of frayed rubber and nylon in the casing.

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The beauty of working with a telehandler is you don’t have to bend down Smile

One thing I had been impressed with was the Disco’s steering and that was one of the jobs on my ‘MOT list’, I’d even bought a repair kit for my own steering box which was pishing out oil. As luck would have it the early Disco has the same ‘four bolt’ Adwest steering box as mine so I started on swapping them today. Of course most of the time was actually spent cleaning and painting the Disco one, I’ll be loosely fitting mine onto the Disco just to keep it ‘towable’.


I really do have to get all this carp tidied away for the weekend, it looks like a ‘scrappies’ and we’ve a few people coming to view over the next week.


I mean, would you want to live next door to this lot?

The gearbox dilemma

My next snag is going to be the gearbox, you see the lovely quiet LT77 in the Discovery is several inches longer than the one in the ‘Old Girl’. Many people do actually fit them to Defenders (I hate that name) but it means carving up the transmission tunnel and puts the gear stick in an odd place. Not only that but I spent several hundred quid and a lot of effort ten years ago soundproofing my old tub to the level that you can actually speak and listen to the radio above 40mph. Or at least you could before I fitted the rusty transfer gears the other week Smile


Now, I do have a spare ‘Defender’ LT77 (the bottom one) with a shot main shaft and it should be possible to use the selector housing and input shaft off that if the internals are OK, so ‘watch this space’.

Sadly I’ve been a little too distracted to take pictures of the amazing sunsets and Rocky humping the sows but I guess he deserves a little privacy Smile We did give Ellie and Jamie a few days rest after weaning them but there’s just no keeping a horny sow away from the boar and JL just burst out of her paddock to get to him within a couple of days of weaning.


It’s nice to see our harbour getting used but I’d prefer it wasn’t by clam dredgers Sad smile Sure they’ve got to make a living but if they just saw the devastation they caused they’d perhaps not be so keen. I see there’s a boat on the seaward side of the pier, though that looks like Jim Kilcullen’s MV Kylebhan, probably the longest serving and most experienced charter boat skipper on the West Coast.

Quadzilla ‘Crapzilla’ again

Then of course there was that piece of ‘Chinese junk’ to fix yet again, for my mate is coming up this weekend. I serviced and replaced the voltage regulator some months ago, during which time it’s covered around a full six miles before breaking down once more. In all fairness one of the problems was a dud battery that was only a few months old but even fitting another failed to make the starter work.




I eventually traced the fault to a faulty starter solenoid, that will be the offending article beside the meter. One thing that I have discovered with these pieces of sh1te is that they use clones of good parts and I managed to graft a Yamaha part onto it by simply breaking a tag off the terminal block and enlarging the terminal holes from M5 to M6. I dread to think what Quadzilla want for a new one but this Yamaha one was less than £20 of eBlag. The last (of the many) electrical failures was a voltage regulator that Quadzilla wanted £90 for, I got a better new one off eBlag for less than half that. 

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