Life at the end of the road

January 2, 2017

Nine years on!

Almost midnight now on the first of January so still officially New Years Day and that’s me not long out of bed! Methinks the old body clock has been a little confused, probably pickled  in alcohol if the truth be known. It was a ‘late one’ last night and I never really faced the day until 10:30 this morning, when I awoke minus wife and plus dog!!

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Dunno what happened there right enough, I do have a vague recollection of the post lady taking me home last night. Don’t recall going to bed but me suspects I must have been snoring like a pig before I hit the sheets. Methinks the wife must have left the bedroom door open whilst making a hasty retreat to a quieter bed at the other end of the house. The ‘wee dug’ is obviously not averse to my nocturnal growling Smile

The day that I eventually saw around 10:30 this morning though was a ‘pure peach’ by recent standards with some proper sunshine and no rain that I recall. My weather station says otherwise but it’s hardly surprising, the nick I was (am) in. Hogmanay had been a very long day indeed Smile

The poorly digger

It was actually the 30th when things started to go a little ‘pear shaped’,

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that was after the day spent visiting my dad in his care home on the shores of Loch Ewe. Moored ‘stern to’ on a buoy in the old fleet anchorage was Briggs Marine’s Kingdom of Fyfe This time last year Douglas Clyde, one of her current masters was working for Cal Mac as a master on Hallaig. Seem to remember having a pretty good bash in Raasay House with him last Hogmanay Smile Sadly the lure of the open sea proved too much for Douglas and he left us for Briggs shortly after.

Hoping to get stuck into some serious welding outside on my wind turbine foundations on Thursday, I was disappointed by A, the weather and B, a broken digger!!! Calum had died whilst my partner was using him to make some drains on the Torran track. The KX71-3 had suddenly stopped responding to all hydraulic controls bar the dozer blade and was quite a way from home on a really shitty day.

I went to have a look and very quickly came to the conclusion it was just a simple electrical fault relating to the ‘lever lock’ that prevents you using the hydraulics unless you’re actually inside the machine. All the diggers I’ve used have this lever/arm rest that has to be lowered prior to the ‘unloading valve’ closing. The Kubota will also not let you start the engine unless it’s in the up/safe position, though that’s a function I’ve not come across before.

Of course, as soon as I arrived at the digger it worked just fine so I started to ‘track’ home, whereupon it suddenly stopped after a few hundred yards. Calum was revving away, the blade would go up and down but that was all. I switched him off and without realizing the arm was still down I tried starting him again. It wasn’t until the Kubota was actually running that I realized it shouldn’t have been. Well that’s pretty easy to sort I thought, it must just be a faulty switch.

Eventually I got the digger into the barn, it would have been an impossible repair outside in the pishing rain. In the comfort of the shed I took the safety lever/arm rest apart and tested the switch.

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That’s the rascal in the centre of the picture below that bit of orange plastic, it’s easy enough to get to after removing the 2 x 14mm head bolts off the wrist rest and half a dozed Phillips head screws from the arm rest. Trouble was the switch tested OK so it was time to ‘break out’ the workshop manual which I’d bought off eBay for less than a fiver, all 440 pages of it on CD. This was great, apart from the poor Japanese translation, abysmal photographs and lack of index. Now do not get me wrong, it was invaluable, the wiring diagram was accurate  and the seller first class. Not only did he send me the CD but I got a link to download it directly onto my laptop too, so I didn’t have to wait for the post.

The wiring diagram was on two pages which was kinda awkward but I printed that off and stuck them together so that was just fine.


The favourite culprit now that the switch had been eliminated was the relay that controls it all or the wiring to it.

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There are four relays under the seat and all are the same, though only one controls this ‘interlock’ function and that one did have a dodgy connection which was burnt and had verdigris on it Smile Sure enough I cleaned it all up, swapped the relays around tested it and rebuilt all the stuff I’d ripped apart like the floor and seat. There  really isn’t much room in a Kubota KX71-3 cab! All was fine and I sent my mate on his way in the digger and the pishing rain, He barely got through the gate when it died!!

By now it was getting dark and I’d still got other stuff to do so ‘called it a day’ and went inside to study the manual in the comfort of the house. I now needed to find the solenoids that actuated the unloading valve and test them but on this score the manual was useless Sad smile The pictures were just so bad that location proved daunting to say  the least, though the digger aint that big and surely all i had to do was follow the pipes, yes.

Out for dinner

Having studied the book and come to the conclusion that it would be simple enough to sort in the morning I got myself cleaned up and we went out to the local restaurant. OK, we went to my mates house along the Torran track almost a mile away in the dark on foot. Whereupon, suitably laced with a fine red wine I confidently  enlightened my audience as how I was going to fix Calum in the morning, aye right. Well, the night went well, we dined on a fine soup consisting of cod and ground up crab shell followed by a fine mushroom and venison risotto. After which the three of us wobbled unsteadily homewards under a starry sky. At least that’s how I recall it, darling wife assures me it was pishing down, funny how good food, company and wine alters your perspective Smile 



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As usual, the first task of the morning was feeding the animals, though this time it was in daylight, not because the days are appreciably longer but cos I was stuck in my bed until almost 8:00am. Still the two Tamworth gilts are so happy in their new surroundings that they had to be woken up for breakfast.

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Their ‘hearty breakfast’ didn’t stop them breaking into the croft to raid the birds fat balls right enough.

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It was after that that I started removing yet again just about every one of the panels off the Kubota in my quest for the unloading valve solenoid.

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Eventually I found it, though it bore no resemblance to what it was depicted as in the manual. Having found it and having ascertained that the fault lay within the wiring loom I ran a separate 5 amp fused supply from the switch to the solenoid and all was peachy. Just had time to move my weather station sensors to a more suitable location before a hail shower and failing light.

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It’s now up near the wind turbine on a taller fence post and the wind readings have increased accordingly.

The ‘Boat Shed Bash’

That done, I gave the digger a good testing and deposited it back down the Torran track for my mate. The day was disappearing and I had to go to work to cover for my ‘back to back’ who was gonna ‘flash up’ the barbecue for the ‘Boat Shed Bash’ that was the night’s highlight. With Raasay House bizarrely closing for Hogmanay a couple of the Hallaig’s crew had taken it upon themselves to organize a night out at the old boat shed. So, I joined the Hallaig at 17:00 to let ‘Captain Cook’ Mackinnon away for duties in the galley so to speak.

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We had a ‘late run’

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which involved just one car and the finest bit of parking I’ve seen on an empty deck yet Smile

Seriously though, it was just great to get extra bodies on Raasay for the celebrations and I know they’d made a supreme effort to get here.


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And what an amazing night it turned out to be.

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One of my PA’s that hadn’t seen action since my 50th some ten years ago was ‘pressed’ into service and between ‘Big John’ and,

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well, everyone else, belted out some fine tunes until the ‘wee hours’.

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As for today, well, that’s been a bit of a ‘right off’ in the actual doing stuff front but we’ve done a little ‘first footing’ been first footed and I’ve repaired a grateful holiday makers wiper motor. All in all a pretty good start to 2017, well apart from me still being awake at 2:30 on the 2nd of January!

December 11, 2016

Back down the ‘ole :-)

Filed under: daily doings, food, life off grid, wind turbine — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 9:46 pm

Gonna be a little dull tonight peeps on account of me spending much of the day in the hole.

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After of course I’d pumped it out with the trusty Honda that is. I’m not very good at planning things, they just seem to happen and then organically evolve, this little project being quite typical of my haphazard approach to even a major project like this. I have had a change of plan, mainly in the interests of continuity and my lack of rebar.

Sure, I spent hours digging some out of the long grass yesterday and had great plans to wire it all up in a lighter version of Proven’s own spec.


However, I was a bit short of materiel and came up with a better plan which I’ll go into more detail about tomorrow as it’s a bit complexicated. Anyway this plan involved  good deal more cleaning out of the ‘ole and adding a few more threaded rods into Scotland.

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Truth is, with all these steel rods firmly bonded into the bedrock and at the very least 20 tons of concrete tied into it, then this mast aint going anywhere. Especially with a large steel frame made out of girders embedded into it too. In actual fact the method I’m using is probably more expensive than using rebar but it’s just that I’m actually using stuff I have ‘in stock’ so to speak. The HIT-RE500 resin is about £50 a pack and I’ve used three already but it’s stuff I had anyway and it has a limited shelf life. Again, steel beams are far more expensive than rebar but I have 8 x 5m ones left over from the burnt out chalet. OK, they’re a wee bit distorted by the intense heat but perfect for burying in concrete.


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So, after cleaning out the ‘ole and bonding three more studs in I set off to the chalet site to hack up some girders using a portable genny and grinder. First thing I was gonna do was make up a  square frame and see how that sits in me ‘ole.

Of course it was pishing with rain by this time and after getting it up to the barn and laying it out I had to make dinner Smile I was thinking it’s about time I started doing the odd Sunday roast specially when the postie was working. It’s all part of my new chilled and ‘laid back’ approach to life Smile 

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The frame is 6’ x 5’ in ‘old money’ and made from 6” x 5/16” channel so needs a good 200 amps and some thick rods to weld it with any success. Luckily this little 200A inverter/welder of my mates is just the job and even runs well off a regular 13A plug!!

Roast Arnish pork rolled leg

The leg of pork I roasted after rubbing with olive oil then stabbing it deeply prior to forcing sliced garlic cloves inside. I then sliced an apple and stuffed that under the netting it was rolled in. Then, after covering in tin foil I bunged it in the oven for an hour at Gas Mk6.

The spuds I always boil first for a few minutes prior to draining the pan into another pan to save the water. With the spuds dry I tip olive oil in the pan, replace the lid tightly then give it a good shake to ‘bruise’ them. They then go in the oven with the pork.

Gravy was half the spud water, a stick of celery, a carrot, half an onion all finely chopped then boiled to death with a little veggie stock and frequent ‘collections’ from the joint in the oven. A spud masher gave it all a good bashing and I thickened it a little with some veggie Bisto I found.

After an hour I took the tinfoil off the leg, stuck it back in the oven at the top and cranked it up a bit for half an hour. The spuds came out and sat atop the oven and under the tinfoil to keep warm. With ten minutes to go I chopped up half a dozen mushrooms into four and sliced an apple into the gravy and cooked that for a few minutes.

Apart from not having anything green to go with it I was most impressed, as was the wife, though she’s always impressed with my cooking. Not cos it’s any good, just cos she didn’t have to make it Smile

Back to the welding

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And apart from the spell at the chalet with the portable petrol generator it was all down with wind and hydro power Smile In days gone by I always used to fire up the generator to do any welding. I was always under the impression that arc welding was bad for inverters but it would certainly appear not to be the case with modern quality inverters like the Trace, Outback and the Sunny Island I’m using. If anything they appear to produce better welds than the generator, or perhaps I’ve improved with all the practice I’ve had lately on me Land Rover Smile

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