Life at the end of the road

August 3, 2018

Very educational :-)

Filed under: animals, boats, daily doings, food, stonework — Tags: , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 8:49 pm

Well, that’s it, just spoke to Angus Campbell at Kilda Cruises and it looks like we’re ‘good to go’ Smile Methinks that with a westerly F4/5 forecast it’s gonna be pretty lumpy right enough but I’ve no mentioned that to the girls yet Smile St Kilda is 40 odd miles out into the Atlantic Ocean so exposed to say the least.

Orca III at Rockall Hirta

However, Angus operates two extremely fast, safe and serious craft for his trips out there. A Safehaven Wildcat 53 and Interceptor 55 both of the highest spec.

Anyway, today, unfortunately was a ‘none diving’ day spent exploring the west side of Lewis and very enjoyable it was too. By the time the rest of the team had surfaced and we’d breakfasted it was well after 10:00am and my lips were sore from biting them. Me, I like to get up early and get on with stuff, had it been up to me we’d have been finishing our first dive by that time, not just thinking of where to go Smile Still it’s their holiday as well as mine and I’ve done all this stuff before, so after reluctantly leaving the Searider behind we headed off to the broch at Dun Carloway.

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Sure, I’ve been to many brochs, there’s even one on Raasay but this one, along with Mousa on Shetland and the one at Glenelg have to be the finest. They seem to be a truly Scottish phenomenon and if the archaeologists are honest with themselves not much is known about the people that built them or the reason why they’re so similar.  Over 500 of these structures have been found throughout Scotland, predominantly in Shetland, Orkney, the Western Isles and around the north and west coasts. By far the best preserved being the one at Mousa off Shetland then Glenelg but Dun Carloway is pretty impressive too.


As are some of the more modern ‘black house’ nearby, no doubt built with stones from the broch, recycling on an epic scale so to speak Smile

After that we drove a few miles north west to Gearrannan black house village


Which, beyond all expectations proved to be absolutely riveting, I kid you not. I had been before and guess it must have been closed so I spent most of my time inspecting the 3 Proven/Kingspan wind turbines nearby. However today it was fully open and we must have spent a couple of hours there.

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The highlight being watching a chap weave some Harris Tweed on a century old loom. Me, I was pure fascinated by this for you had what must have been (in its time) the height of technology inserted in what was basically a mud hut in the middle of nowhere. Can you even imagine getting one of these things from Keighley in Yorkshire to Lewis 100 years ago. The thing must have cost several years wages.

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To all intents and purposes this thing was a cast iron computer and required an operator with extreme dexterity and skill, it was boodly amazing Smile

And, as if that wasn’t enough antiquarian technology our next ‘port of call’ was a Norse mill and kiln at Shawbost.

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Now this truly was a marvel and allegedly pre dates the Vikings, not at this particular site but in China where these have been in use for millennia.

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Water was directed down that channel to turn the paddles below then exited from that square hole. the image on the right is the pit from the building in the foreground where the fire was lit to dry the grain.

Next stop was the Trussel stone at Barvas and it’s guard dog.

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Apparently the tallest standing stone in Scotland and the dog had an extra claw on its hind legs too Smile 

After that it was off to Port of Ness

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and then the Butt of Lewis,

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which quite bizarrely is the best spot I’ve ever found for edible field mushrooms. Not sure if they’re St Georges shrooms, field shrooms or horse shrooms but I’ll be having them for breakfast tomorrow Smile


July 6, 2018

On the move :-)

Apologies in advance for any errors in grammar or  spelling cos I’m ‘on the move’ being chauffeured to ‘snecky (Inverness) for an eye appointment. So between the bumps in the road an me cloudy left eye this may go a little pear shaped.

I did set myself the goal of actually posting something yesterday but the day ended up being much longer than expected and it was a case of in, shower, bed Smile 

The plan for the day was to service my old wind turbine next door for the neighbours in me old house. It’s been on the ‘to do’ list since May but I just keep getting distracted, nothing fresh there then. The Proven/Kingspan and now SD Energy   turbine has been working away for some 13 years now with little more than routine maintenance. Sure it’s broken a few springs and worn out a couple of sets of yaw rollers but I’ve always managed to scrounge, repair or botch it without actually spending a great deal of money on it.

From a recent email :- SD Green Energy of Tokyo, Japan are pleased to announce the acquisition of the wind turbine product range from Kingspan. SD Green Energy have established a new division called SD Wind Energy Ltd and will expand its team immediately with the addition of the staff and manufacturing capabilities of the site in Stewarton, Scotland.  This will also be supported by an existing international sales team based in Asia.


With all this dry weather I’d have been stupid to put it off any longer for the access to it is now good and hard. Normally it’s bit boggy which means I have to use the quad and a dubious anchor point for lowering it. When conditions are ideal like this then I can use the Land Rover and winch or Calum the digger. As the ‘Old Girl’ is still away having a new galvanized chassis, bulkhead and B posts it was down to Calum the Kubota.

Servicing a Proven wind turbine

First task was to fuel up, grease up, load up then track up to the site.

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After carefully positioning the digger in line with the axis of the turbine I fitted the ‘gin pole’ to the mast in preparation for lowering.

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The Tirfor winch was then attached to the digger and the wire slack just taken up prior to removing the base bolts, one of which had snapped!!! That must have been a helluva wind to snap an M20 high tensile bolt!

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Once the base bolts are removed on a 2.5/3.2kW Proven on 6m mast it’s possible to just tip it a few degrees manually before lowering with the Tirfor. On larger versions you need to jack them up a few inches with a hydraulic jack first. Normally you would do this with the brake on but replacing the brake rope was one of the jobs that needed doing. This was in part one of the reasons for it taking me so long to getting around to doing the job, it needed a very calm day.

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The mast is lowered onto a rest, an oil drum in this case but care is needed to ensure it doesn’t slide on the tapered mast. I usually put a tyre or some soft wood between them and just keep the winch wire fairly tight. A proper steel trestle like I use for my own would be far safer but it’s not very portable Sad smile


The ‘wee dug’ supervised as I removed the springs Smile


It’s the furling springs and their mounting hardware that generally require the most attention on these normally very durable turbines. Over the years these have undergone many modifications and improvements. Initially only two springs were fitted, then three, then the mounting yolks were changed from pressed steel tp cast steel and the mounting bolts upgraded from M8 to M10.

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Whilst very simple in principle there are actually a lot of components so it’s important to take note of where they go. This is a version with the pressed steel yolks and at this age I’d be tempted just to upgrade to a complete new spring set with the later yolks and bigger bolts. However, for now I just overhauled it as I had a few spare yolks.

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Check for wear in the bolts, washers and bushes, new nylon washers can be got from RS online or eBay from memory the washers are 1” x 1/2” x 1/82 or 25mm x 13mm x 3mm but do check, I’m driving past Cluanie Dam now with no Internet Sad smile  More info here The bolts are M10 x 110 and the bushes are made from 12mm air line with a 1mm wall thickness which can be had off eBay or any commercial vehicle factors (it’s the same as lorry air brake pipe and you just cut it with a Stanley knife.

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It was a great opportunity to try out the impact wrench that the new smiley postie delivered.


That ‘little job’ took me all afternoon, more because I kept getting distracted than anything else, and with wifey working a late shift at the Raasay Distillery I was glad of my son making dinner.

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Welsh Rarebit pork chop I was most impressed Smile Even had a fine view out of the window as the cruise ship MV Prinsendam glided by

After dinner I went round to the turbine and did an hours work replacing the springs, greasing the bearings and inspecting the slip rings.

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Needing some 7.5mm x 370mm tie wraps and some silicone sealer I left the turbine head itself and went to remove the broken bolt from the base.


The M20 x 60 bolt came out quite easily really, just drilled a 4mm hole through it and used an ‘Eaziout’.

These hardened steel bits are excellent at removing broken studs, they are kinda like a left hand threaded tapered tap. You drill a hole in the middle of the broken stud/bolt then insert the tool screwing it anticlockwise, as the tool bites it extracts the broken stud. However much care is needed when using them cos if they break they’re virtually impossible to drill out Sad smile A couple of things to watch, do not use one that is too big or it will expand the stud making it more difficult to remove. Do not use one too small or you may break it and these are no use for removing bolts that have snapped due to being seized insitu. Chances are if the stud was so tight that it sheared the head off a bolt, then it WILL break your Eaziout.

130 years ago

Came across this on Facecloth yesterday.


It’s a picture taken up at Arnish in 1885 by an unknown photographer so well out of copyright but copies can be had from Raasay Heritage trust .

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So, here it is today, can’t get the exact spot due to the trees,


Looking at the same spot from up on the hill.

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